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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Free Internet TV - Miro


Free Internet TV using Miro is as easy as using your TiVo. Miro makes it a simple matter for you to boot up your laptop or PC and watch a 10-20 minute video about something amazing while having a bite of breakfast.

I've been using Miro for several weeks now and frankly I'm not sure how I got along without it. It's become THE answer for me when it comes to finding, saving, sharing, organizing and viewing online video content. It's a welcome addition to my software toolkit and the fact that it's free and open source just sweetens the pot.


Miro was formerly known as "Democracy Player". I didn't know about it then, but I guess the concept was and still is to provide free Internet TV and video for everyone. That's a noble concept and one I support. We don't need another Time-Warner media giant controlling what we see and raking in billions from advertisers. Commercial television is for the birds and everything now is "Pay this" and "Pay that". This is TV without advertising.  Well, almost anyway. Video makers sometimes put a watermark or an ad clip at the beginning or end of their presentations. But there's none of the annoying "We'll find out after this commercial" stuff you see on game shows like  Deal or No Deal.

A lot of the content is just individuals and small companies looking for an audience but there are some big guys as well. National Geographic, Wired Magazine, Reuters and lots of others. There's over 2500 channels and you can make your own channels from YouTube searches and RSS feeds. There's almost unlimited free video content to be enjoyed by just about everyone.

The YouTube search feature is what I like the best. I just search on a topic like "Polar Bears" and presto I'm presented with loads of polar bear videos. If I want to make this search into a channel, I just right-click and turn it into the "Polar Bear Channel". Then whenever I start-up the program, Miro will automatically search for new Polar bear videos and give me the option to play them or not. Nothing could be simpler or more efficient.

Other features include:

  • full torrent support, so you can download and view torrents in the same app
  • folder watching to manage only the hard-drive folders you specify for new videos
  • resumable playback so you can continue viewing where you left off
  • channel surfing, which organizes video feeds by topic
  • video sharing and hosting
  • and assistance in creating and publishing your own videos

The player incorporates VLC, which is the open video player that can play pretty much every file-format available on the net today.

The only thing lacking in Miro is the support of more commercial TV networks. That's only natural though, since there's really no money in it for the big concerns. Miro doesn't really replace commercial television but I can tell you that I have enjoyed just about everything I've watched so far. And as far as learning is concerned, Miro takes the prize hands down. I've learned more about my areas of special interest in a couple of weeks using Miro than I have in a couple of years of TV viewing. And it's stuff I can use in a lot of cases. If there's a student in your family, this is a no-brainer.

It's available for the Mac, Windows and Linux, with all versions being released at the same time. You can download it here. You'll need a beefy processor for video playback and large hard drive to store the videos you want to save. I use an external drive myself and I recommend that you use one too.

Miro makes Internet TV and video less frustrating and more enjoyable because it gives you a way to quickly and easily mine the vast video resources available on the Internet. If you're looking for an alternative to commercial and pay TV that gives you more viewing options for free, I highly recommend you download it and try it out for yourself.