How Real is IPTV?

As many readers are aware, I’m a big fan of IPTV which some people call “Next Generation Television”. I’m convinced that it will reshape how we watch video. In fact, it already has; consider YouTube. But some people wonder if it’s a practical solution.

Well, consider this. According to a recent issue of The Bridge, the Diffusion Group has released a study that predicts 162 million households worldwide will be watching broadband television by 2011. An analyst from the company points to TiVo’s deal accessing Amazon’s Unbox service as a bellwether for where broadband TV is headed. Once we can make accessing Internet video as easy as changing channels on cable, people will use it more. And that’s what TiVo is starting to do for movie purchases and rentals.

But what about all that free stuff on the Web? There should be some easy way to access all of that, too. I just found a new service that does just that; it’s like a TiVo for online video. You can use it to search the Web for content that interests you, and flag the items you want to watch. It searches all over the Internet, including YouTube, and brings back the relevant video segments.

Instead of streaming the video to your computer, it downloads it and places it in a library. You can then watch the segments whenever you want. If you don’t watch them within five days, they delete themselves. You can delete a show after watching it, or you can save it to watch again in the future. And you can even set up “channels” that will collect video based on your selection criteria.

Best of all, you can even search for HD content on the Web. And since the clip is downloaded and not streamed, you don’t have to worry about choppy or broken images on playback.

So what is this service and how much does it cost? It’s called Miro, and it’s an open source project which means that it’s absolutely free. You can download the software and find out more about the service at www.getmiro.com. Let me warn you, however, that it’s addictive.