Life With a Plugin, Episode 5: MiraWorldTV
A large buzz has been surrounding Internet TV since you could first hookup your computer with internet into your television. It got so large that even Microsoft couldn't continue to ignore it and actually started shoving it down users throats (don't remember anyone asking you if you wanted that "Internet TV beta" app on your TV+Movies menu, do you?). That being said, there's little to not like about internet TV: It's free, it's free.....and well, with writers strikes, you can never have enough to watch on the tube.
|Easy to find on the start menu||View thumbs of popular streams|
MiraWorldTV is a small application I came across which provides a very attractive 10' Media Center interface giving you access to a number of internet TV streams across the World. The plugin provides graphical icons and a brief description of channels available online. You can choose to view the available options based on Country, Category, or just create your own group of favorites to watch. There is a large number of channels available, and accessing them is very simple.
Keep in mind, the resolution on these freebie feeds is average at best, think more along the lines of YouTube quality. But, the interface itself is very attractive, using MCML really makes it feel like a part of the entire Vista Media Center experience. Browsing through the various channels couldn't be easier and the number of channels available is equally impressive.
Above & Beyond
So MiraWorldTV does exactly what it sets out to do and gives you a large number of channels across the world to watch. But what if you have a specific TV feed that you'd like access to from the beautiful interface? The folks at MiraWebWare.com thought of that and added a manual add section where you input all the information you want, and then they'll test & add it to their database.
Additionally, it's nice to see an application actually take advantage of MCML (Media Center Multimedia Layer), and the difference is quite noticeable from apps that use the older API. It's good to see small developers embrace the new layer, as it really makes the plugin feel like a part of the Media Center experience.
|Short but sweet channel info||Multiple ways to view channels|
So the idea sounds great, and I think the MiraWebWare guys have done as good as they could given the control limitations with what they're working with. They do not control the streams, so they have little to do with the performance, quality, and even availability. That means, that on any given day, the stream can just stop working, or suddenly change.
In addition to that, not all the streams are as current as others. I hopped on a few streams that were from a year ago...but on the bright side, I now know what "Sportscentre" in Canada is like. As for quality, it definitely depends on your internet speed, so dial-up users need not apply.
|Sort by Countries||Add your stream to their database|
Grade: Once a Month is Plenty
I'm giving this application the 2nd best grade available, for the simple reason that, well....it's so simple. It's easy to use, and does exactly what it accomplishes. In my testing, the quality & performance was comparable to that of Microsoft's Internet TV beta, but offered a much larger collection of streams from around the world. Being Cuban, I was very impressed to see a Live TV news stream from Cuba. The global reach of this software means that you can travel anywhere in the world, and still stay connected...at least somewhat. And of course, the MCML interface is gorgeous & integrated seemlessly.