The PC is becoming ever more ubiquitous - as well as games, you can receive radio channels, listen to various types of music, watch DVDs or other movie files, upload, download, share and do all sorts of other things. Television, though, has always seemed a little trickier - at the very least you need a TV card of some description.
We have a main TV in the house, but with 4 people and differing requirements, scheduling time to watch can be difficult. Especially when one half of the household only want to watch at particular times. Watching on the PC or laptop is, of course, possible. But because I don’t watch more than one or two hours per week, even the relatively low cost of TV tuners for the PC is more than I want to pay. The BBC iPlayer goes some way to resolving the problem, but maybe I want to watch the programme when it’s on rather than after it’s finished.
Zattoo solves that problem - for me. It’s a free to download program which uses peer to peer sharing to stream channels over the internet. Sign up, give far fewer details than most other services, download the program and install it and you’re good to go. It uses Adobe Flash to handle the viewing, but otherwise is pretty self contained. There are a number of channels available for it - in the UK this means the 5 terrestrial channels and a number of satellite/cable only channels, effectively all the Freeview ones.
At the moment it’s limited to the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Spain but there are plans to expand the service to other countries. The quality is very clear (I ‘m on wireless so encounter some artifacting) on wired internet, though I wouldn’t suggest using it on dial up. In theory, the more people who sign up, the better the quality and speed. You can view in a small window, in a full size window or go to full screen without losing quality. You can run it on Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac and on Linux (there are .deb files, .rpm files and a tarball available).Â It should be noted that, in the UK at least, this is a fully legal service.
Earlier today I watched a very relaxing program on watercolours (click to enlarge):
I will be following this application as it continues to grow and, hopefully, it will encompass the rest of the programming available on UK TV.