Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Remotely Access Your Home TV And Radio Channels From Anywhere With Your Cellphone, PDA Or Laptop

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Here is a new technology allowing you to completely enable remote access to all your home-based media resources: from your TV channels, to your video clips, music and photos, any live or recorded media on your home-based PC can now be remotely accessed from anywhere via your own laptop or mobile phone device.

Live television, Internet radio, webcam feeds, video and program recordings can now travel with you wherever you are, with no need to increase your portable storage space.

Just open up a browser and log into your Orb account from any Web-enabled device around the world and enjoy accessing your favorite home-accessible TV and radio content as if you were back at home.
Photo credit: Boulanger Damien

Orb users can in fact access any TV channel accessible to their home, tuner-equipped desktop PC and watch that live video content from any remote location that has a broadband Internet connection, as well as being able to rewind and play back up to the last 30 minutes of any live tv content being streamed to them.

Orb also fully supports 3GP video streaming - the standard for delivery of video and audio to mobile phones - allowing you stream bandwidth-intensive MPEG-4 videos or high-quality audio to your multimedia-enabled mobile device.

What Orb does is to provide a secure access to all your home-based digital media channels from any Web-enabled device.

Easy to use and free, Orb allows you to stream not only your live TV, but also photos, music and personal videos to anywhere there is a broadband connection and a portable device with you.

And as if that wasn't enough Orb comes packed with a lot more features. Here some of the most interesting ones:

Support for remotely accessing iTunes playlists
You can export playlists from your iTunes music library (in a .TXT extension and format) and then import it to Orb Music. Orb Media will display these playlists and play them from your remotely connected device.

Scheduled remote recording
Orb can automatically perform the scheduled recording of a television show, a webcam capture or an Internet TV or Radio program while you may thousands of miles away from your media station.

TV Guide grabber
Orb provides its users with TV Guide grabber allowing easier finding of the channels and shows you may want to see. US, French, German and Japanese TV Guide grabbers are now available in their respective Orb Media versions. On the other hand, in the Orb setup procedure for non-US and Canada users, a TV channel scan utility now detects TV channels and allows you to manually enter them in the Orb software TV configuration.

Simultaneous recording of multiple inputs
For those Orb users having both an analog TV tuner and an ATSC one can now schedule the simultaneous recordings of two TV programs received by these two types of tuners. In the same fashion, Orb fully supports the simultaneous recordings of two webcams.

Support for all major audio broadcasting formats
Orb supports MP3 radio broadcasts, .WVX and .WAX files, 3GP playlists, as well as .M3U and Shoutcast-supported .M3U extended playlists.

Support for HDTV
And while Orb allows the effective streaming and recording of High-Definition TV programming from remote Internet-connected devices, DVB (digital video broadcasting) tuners are not yet supported.

Watch and Record Internet TV
Watch Internet TV shows including those not available through cable or satellite. Orb can record these shows to watch at your convenience.

Watch your full library of photos without uploading it to Flickr
View all of your pictures in a given folder, or your complete library of photos. Orb can also play an automatic slide show for you to showcase your preferred content remotely. You can also view only selected images by entering either the photo name, the folder title, or a descriptive keyword. Finally, photo sets and image folders can be easily shared with other individuals and preset groups of people by creating dedicated acounts for them within the Orb configuration setup. The great thing is that while these people can now have access to your image folders, they are not in fact accesing your computer directly, but only streaming off the pre-selected content you have decided to share.


As of now, Orb "home station" runs only on Windows PCs running an updated Windows XP version and having enough CPU muscle to stream your best quality video effectively.

Orb has an open API that allows for third-party developers to tap into the Orb engine to create further extensions and complementary tools.

The first two of such API-based add-ons are already available online, with one providing direct remote access to your Skype voice mails from any broadband-connected Internet device.

When connecting remotely to your home-based media Orb automatically detects your connection speed and the upstream bandwidth available from your, and based on these, it determines the best delivery format, codec and bitrate to use.

Orb detects your connection speed and the upstream bandwidth available from your home PC. Orb streams content at the highest quality available to you, providing the best possible experience the device and bandwidth can support.

Team or family members can be added to your Orb account allowing each person to customize their Orb preferences without impacting others in the group. This can provide a tremendously effective means to remotely access a centralized database of rich-media content that needs to be accessed by field people from anywhere, or by a mobile team equipped only with mobile phones and PDAs.

Like all new technologies Orb is not privy from bugs and issues that limit somewhat its otherwise spectacular feature set.

For example I have had quite a few problems to remotely access a standard Windows Media video file while using a Mac running IE. The file type wasn't somehow recognized while I was positively recharged to see the video play back rather smoothly in a Quicktime window when called up from FireFox on the side Mac station.

Interface access to your media assets is not what I would define cutting-edge work to use as a reference, and here there is certainly major work to be done to make the look and feel live up to the expected user experience. Items and icons should be much cleaner, simpler and laid out by following strict information design criteria.

On the other hand, the access from a mobile device is rather straightforward and what looks like a not much refined UI feels much more accessible on the mobile small screen.

Speed and viewing are also quite acceptable on my mobile device even when connected from a modest GPRS line (about 50Kbps). Images load quite rapidly and can even listen to audio streams without major issues if your mobile media player is properly setup.

In my own testing access to remote .MP3 audio files proved not to be seamless, as the Nokia portable device requested to know some configuration data (first access point) which I did not have readily available.

Orb is available in multiple international versions including Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Japanese and Korean.

Please note that Orb was first announced in the fall of 2004 in
October 2004, Orb Networks received the "Best of Show" award at DigitalLife in New York City, and in January 2005, Orb Media 1.0 received CNET's "Next Big Thing" award in the "Software and Services"
category at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Photo credit: Rajesh Sundaram

System Requirements:
2.4Ghz Intel Pentium* IV processor or equivalent
512MB of RAM
100MB available disk space
Windows XP (Home or Professional) with Service Pack 2, or Windows XP Media Center Edition (2004 or 2005)
Broadband Internet connection

Supported TV Tuners
ADS Instant TV Deluxe PTV-305 PCI Tuner
ADS Instant TV Deluxe USB Tuner (external)
Hauppauge WinTV PVR-150 - PVR-150MCE - PVR-250 - PVR-250MCE - PVR-350
AVerMedia UltraTV Media Center PCI 500 - 550
ATI TV Wonder Elite - eHome Wonder (with XP drivers)
All tuners compatible with "Windows Media Center"

Supported Digital Tuners - ATSC Tuners Only
ATI HDTV Wonder* (Hybrid PCI card) (see NOTE below)
VBOX DTA-150 and DTA-151 (PCI cards)
VBOX USB-A 3560 (USB2 external)
All ATSC tuners that are compatible with Media Center
All ATSC tuners that are Microsoft BDA-compatible (i.e., that are compliant with the Microsoft Broadcast Driver Architecture).

DVB-T (terrestrial) and DVB-S (satellite) digital tuners are not supported at this time.

Supported Dual Tuners
Hauppauge WinTV 500MCE PCI
Emuzed Angel Dual TV Tuner PCI
Adaptec VideOh! Media Center USB 2.0
Novac NV-TV300D2 Dual-TV2

Supported Set-Top Boxes
To change TV channels in Orb you will need a Microsoft MCE-compatible Infra-Red (IR) Blaster (usually comes bundled with the MCE remote control). The following Set-Top Boxes are supported by Orb:
TiVo Series 1 and Series 2
Motorola DCT-2000 to DCT-6000
Scientific Atlanta (SA) Explorer Series 2000 to 8000
Echostar 301 and 501 for Dish Networks

Supported Remote Controls and IR Blasters

  • Philips Media Center Remote Control

  • SMK Remote Control for Windows XP Media Center Edition

  • Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition Remote Control

  • Hewlett Packard Remote Control for Windows XP Media Center Edition

  • USB-UIRT (Universal Infrared Receiver Transmitter)

  • ADS IR Blaster

More information about system requirements and technical issues can be found here.

A publicly accessible Support Forum is also available to all users requesting clarifications on technical issues, problems, or wanting to suggest new features and improvements.

You can immediately download a free copy of Orb right here:

Readers' Comments    
2007-08-12 01:29:35

ryan scott

I am finding Orb 2.0 extremely difficult to understand and use!

posted by Robin Good on Thursday, August 11 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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