In the late 1990's, an unknown company called TiVo started a
revolution that forever changed how consumers would watch and consume
television. Their new device, now known as a DVR, allowed consumers to
easily "timeshift" their shows by recording them to a hard drive so
that you could watch them any time you choosed. While consumers had
been able to record shows to a VCR tape for years, the DVR made the
process significantly easier, and also allowed for other new,
innovative features like giving you the ability to pause and control
live television. Today, DVRs are common in households around the world,
and while not all of them carry the TiVo logo, they perform many of the
same functions that makes timeshifting possible.
Today there's a new revolution in electronics that's redefining not
only when you watch TV, but where. Even though timeshifting allowed you
to watch television on your schedule, you still had to be in front of
your TV when it came time to watch a show. Today, new pioneers like
California-based Sling Media are introducing the next big concept called
placeshifting, and the results of this new focus is bringing new
products and technologies that allow you to watch and listen to your
favorite television shows anywhere in the world.
Sling Media's product, the Slingbox, connects to your home cable line,
cable or satellite box, DVD player, etc., and allows you to stream the
content from these devices to any remote broadband connected Windows
2000/XP computer or Windows handheld in the world. Watching is only
part of the placeshifting experience, as control is equally important
to the virtual living room experience. Sling Media has you covered
there, as their virtual "Sling Remote" recreates the familiar living room remote
control on the screen so you can have complete control of your devices
from anywhere you happen to be. In many cases, the on-screen remote looks identical to the one at home on your coffee table.
Though Sling Media is widely considered to be the industry pioneer, they are not alone.
Placeshifting is starting to catch on, and more devices that perform
the same or similar functions are starting to appear on the market. Sony has their
Location Free product, Orb Networks has a pure software solution that allows
you to placeshift content from one PC to another, and Monsoon is
expected to release a similar "Sling-like" device in the near future.
As placeshfting further penetrates the consumer market, users will
have the ability to timeshift and placeshift their television
experience, effectively allowing one to watch whatever they want,
whenever they want, and wherever they want. In other words,
placeshifting is the last piece of the puzzle to ultimate control over
your television experience.