The world of Internet-streaming set-top boxes is getting more and more competitive—and some of the offerings look more like hockey pucks than boxes. Orb has announced its new $99 Orb TV device, that enables users to stream video content from Hulu, ESPN3, Comedy Central, YouTube, and more sources from their existing PC to their television. And instead of charging customers for a separate remote that will just be lost in the depths of a couch, the Orb TV leverages users’ existing Apple or Android smartphones to serve as remote controls.
“With Orb TV, people are no longer locked into watching their favorite online TV shows on a small PC or Mac computer screen,” said Orb Networks CEO and founder Joe Costello, in a statement. “We make it easy for consumers to enjoy popular TV shows on any TV, in any room of the house.”
Orb TV works by installing a free Orb Caster application to their PC or Macintosh that’s connected to the Internet and an in-home Wi-Fi network. Users then plug the puck-like Orb TV into their television via composite or component connections—it handshakes with the Orb Caster software via Wi-Fi. Users then download the free Orb controller application to their Android phone or iPhone/iPod touch/iPad. Orb positions the design as building on users’ existing investment in their TVs and smartphones. A built-in search function enables users to search for shows by title without having to worry whether the show is available via Hulu, CBS, or another outlet.
The Orb TV is available now for $99. Although the Orb TV is an interesting concept—essentially using customers’ PCs as an Internet video receiver and shifting that content over to a television via Wi-Fi—it remains to be seen whether the additional complication of the setup will let it compete with similarly-prices set-top units from the likes of Boxee, Roku, Apple, and any number of other players. And Orb TV doesn’t tap into premium content services (like Netflix, Vudu, or a branded RoxioNow service) which would seem to put Orb TV at a competitive disadvantage. But for folks already using Orb Caster to shift TV shows or stream music, Orb TV might be a no-brainer.