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Summary:

Michael Arrington is breaking up. With Netflix, and switching loyalties to Blockbuster, the video rental store which conjures up late fees and bad customer service in my mind. Mike is making good arguments for switching to Blockbuster, but for me the future of video is not […]

Michael Arrington is breaking up. With Netflix, and switching loyalties to Blockbuster, the video rental store which conjures up late fees and bad customer service in my mind.

Mike is making good arguments for switching to Blockbuster, but for me the future of video is not Netflix or Blockbuster. Instead it is Akimbo and services like Akimbo.

Ever since going pro with GigaOM, my life has become extremely hectic, forcing me to prioritize the health and future of the company over frivolous activities like watching television. I have given the cable TV premium package the heave-ho, and ever since the Yankees embarrassed themselves, I have not turned on the television.

Whenever I feel like watching some entertainment stuff, I often go to the iTunes store and download a couple of episodes of Monk or some show I actually care about.

But last week, Josh Goldman, CEO of San Mateo, Calif.-based Akimbo, convinced me that I should try the new RCA Akimbo Player. He said I would get great programs and movies and still wouldn’t need to watch TV in the traditional sense.

“You have now have five out of seven major studios supplying movies on this box,” he said. “There are 15,000 videos on it. It is not a cable replacement, it is like a DVD player or a DVD rental service. So you have to really see it.”

An hour later, one of his people dropped off a box. Now I actually had to play with it, though I was dreading the idea of setting it up, mucking around with network settings and what not. Typically such boxes take about three hours to get working properly. It was late at night, but I unpacked the box anyway. A handful of cables, a remote control, and that’s all.

One of the tricks I have learned with any network device is that you are better off using a wired Ethernet connection than trying to get wireless settings to work. I know it is not pretty! I turned off the modem, and the switch, plugged the wire into the back of RCA box, and connected the S-Video and audio cables to my LCD TV. And then switched everything back on, and turned on Akimbo.

It took me to the set-up screen, only to find that the network was configured, and there was a list of channels to chose from. I quickly went to the Movielink channel, and queued up four movies; went to BBC to download Fawlty Towers, and a bunch of Bollywood programs. The whole process took less than 30 minutes.

The downloads started pretty fast, and I could have started watching the movies right away if I wanted, but this being the first time, I decided to wait till next morning. I kept adding items to my queue, including new movies, and by the weekend there was nearly 24 hours worth of movies, television programs and Rocketbooms – stuff that I actually wanted to watch. This is television…. exploded.

Damn you Josh, you just distracted me from work!

My initial impressions of Akimbo are – from a usability stand point, it gets full marks, but its user interface is well… like Kate Moss without makeup. The picture is not as crisp I would have liked it to be, but you can barely tell the difference between a DVD and the download. The biggest issue is that of price: a monthly subscription and then per movie downloads can get awfully expensive pretty fat. Nevertheless, I am getting used to watching the television programs that are all good — so, Akimbo is staying with me for a while. No DVDs, no envelopes, no visits to the store, just click and add to the queue. What’s more, no PC necessary!

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  1. Om

    I agree re being wired…and this is the sort of thing you find out only by playing with real test rigs.

  2. i did forget to mention that the pricing on this kind of a service is always going to be an issue. they need to make the monthly service free and then let people pick their stuff, and get a piece of the action.

  3. michael arrington Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    Om,

    I have lots of comments, but the most important thing I have to say is: I think Bollywood movies generally suck. :-) Can you please defend your position on them? I dated an Indian woman for 6 years in college and fell in love with the food and just about every other aspect of Indian culture. Except the movies. Don’t get them. Like Cricket in England.

  4. Om’s a Yanks fan? Impressive ;)

  5. In fact, another revolution occurs, hundreds of P2P live video channels are broadcasting to global users with very good quality, much better and stable than video streaming by CDN structure.

    If you tried the channels from http://www.TVKoo.com, you will realize the time of cheap global TV is coming. The small team are streaming 200 channels from China with 7 servers of 100M bandwidth each. Sometime,hundreds of thousands users from different countries were watching live TV on TVKoo test platform, “the cost of bandwidth on one channel is less than 25M, if 30,000 users were watching this channel similtaneously”, said the Jerry Xie, the COO of TVKoo.

    How to reduce the cost of bandwidth to US$1 per year.user, I think it is ready.

  6. So Mike, the thing with Bollywood movies is that you really should have the ability to suspend reality. then you get them. Escapism, as in the best sense. Food, cricket etc… all those are simple things. Bollywood movies = 3 hours lets forget everything.

  7. You mentioned Monk. Realize that Monk is on USA Network, and that’s not carried by Akimbo, not from what I can tell anyway.

    I’d be willing to get rid of my cable tier if I could get these types of things on Akimbo. But if I can’t get that type of content on Akimbo, then I might as well stick with cable for meeting my time-shifting needs. Seems like an either/or to me.

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