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TV2ME

November 12th, 2004 · No Comments

Bob Cringely writes about Ken Schaffer’s project:

Schaffer’s system, called TV2ME, is for the moment strictly a point-to-point solution, so you can watch YOUR TV in another city or country, but you can’t necessarily share that signal with anyone else. Yeah, right.

The current system, which costs $4,500-$6,500 (remember, this is a guy who sold $4400 microphones), is a Dell PC with a custom video capture board that you have to hook up at your house or whatever place it is where you want to capture local TV. So this is not for the faint of heart or the faint of wallet. But if you have an apartment in Moscow, as Schaffer does, it’s easy. The Moscow Dell is connected to the local cable system (actually wireless cable in Schaffer’s part of Moscow), and can be controlled over the Internet from any computer with a broadband connection anywhere in the world. Most of Schaffer’s early customers are notebook-toting rock stars who don’t want to miss their favorite soccer matches while on tour. For fixed installations, he’ll rig up IR remote controls and big screens, but many customers also watch TV over WiFi at Starbucks.

If all of this seems too far from your personal experience, let’s think about it in different terms. That $4,400 Schaffer wireless microphone is now mass-produced for $300. If all the brains of Schaffer’s video capture board (that’s where the secret sauce is stored) were reduced to an ASIC, TV2ME could be a $100 product, and probably will be at some point.

But what blew me away this week when I saw a demo of TV2ME in Schaffer’s cluttered New York apartment was the quality of the image. Sending live TV over the Internet is a very difficult thing to do, especially over distances like that from Moscow to New York. There are live TV feeds from Moscow available today, and they look terrible no matter how much bandwidth you have. But Schaffer’s feed, running at an average of 384 kilobits-per-second, looks like TV. When you change channels to any of the 60 or so on the Moscow cable system, it takes about 10 seconds to rebuffer, and then you have TV. Amazing!

Tags: Software

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