IPTV Box for $199

How would you like to watch television programming from around the world on your regular television? There are many sites that make it easy to access streaming video from the US and other countries on your computer, but one of those sites — WhereverTV — is now offering a set top box for your broadband Internet connection that lets you access these stations on your regular TV.

The WhereverTV site is one of the best organized of its type that I’ve seen, and is a quick and easy way to watch free video from around the world on your PC. You can search by language, country of origin, topic, or keyword, so you can find the type of programming you want. I have always been a big fan of this sort of aggregating site, as I think the content is useful in many ways. If you’re learning a new language, you can find news shows and other programming that will let you practice your comprehension. Do you have family in another country? You can follow current events easily. Maybe you are a sports fan but have difficulty finding good coverage of cricket or rugby on stations in the United States.

The big deal about the WhereverTV Receiver is that it connects your TV directly to your home network, and the Internet. You can then use your computer to choose your own list of favorite “channels”, and then you can use the remote control to select them. I have not tested the device, so I can’t comment on the user interface on the TV. However, you buy the device for $199 — less than a full-blown computer — and then you have no additional costs besides your broadband Internet charge. (Note that the company is planning to offer premium stations for a fee starting later this year.)

There is one big limitation for this system, whether you’re using your PC or the WhereverTV Receiver to view the programming. The streaming content comes in low resolution, often lower than standard definition television. The WhereverTV Receiver only has S-video and composite video outputs, so it cannot produce high-definition signals even if the streaming program is in high resolution.

So the bottom line is that it is getting easier to watch various video streams on your television — for free — but we still have a way to go before the content will be in high definition.