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PREVIEW: Orb 2.0 MyCast Beta - Place Shift Media to PCs and Mobile Devices
Posted by Arne Hess - on Sunday, 08.10.06 - 00:44:55 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 32008x
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I'm a long time user of Orb Network's Orb and still I'm a big fan and supporter of it. Even if I have a Slingbox in use now, for place shifting TV, I use Orb on my Media Center PC to place shift my media files like audio files, photos, videos and recorded TV to any PC or Windows Mobile device, as long as either the PC or mobile device is connected to the Internet.
While Orb 1.0 worked simply great already (out of the box and it was even licensed by Vodafone Germany as" Vodafone Mein-PC"), the web interface was well, pretty basic and not using/supporting the latest web technologies like AJAX, etc.
This is changing now with the new Orb 2.0 version which was renamed to Orb MyCast now. While, at the moment, Orb 2.0 MyCast is available as public Beta only, it's already looking pretty promising and supports a bunch of new features for PC and mobile devices.

For instance, now you can even embed Flickr photos and YouTube videos as well as other RSS content you than also access from your mobile device!

This is how Orb 2.0 MyCast looks on your PC:

PC interface new features

  • Brand new interface that lets you organize and share more easily all your media and documents. The home page is completely customizable, like a web desktop.
  • Support for RSS content: standard feeds are provided and you can add your own.
  • Each "media" application works the same way, provides different views, search capabilities, playlists, access to shared content, etc.
  • Favorites in 1.0 have been replaced by ratings. You rate your media from 0 to 5. The views "Favorites" bring the top rated items at the top.
  • The TV guide was redesigned in a grid: better readability and customization of your program guide and favorite TV channels.
  • Sharing is expanded and more powerful. You can share any media, just drag and drop the item to the Share list in the right panel! Regular sharing is protected by E-Mail (i.e. your recipients will need to create an Orb account to access what you sent) "Public sharing" is done with Permalinks, i.e. links generated to access some content from anywhere.
  • New support for upload/download of files: Upload and download directly within the music, photo, video, and document apps.
  • Embeded Flash player
  • User settings & tools are expanded and grouped in a Control Panel popup available from the main menu.
  • A PC Status box (in "Add Content" menu) gives several stats for the PC where Orb is installed and also its IP address.

And this is how it looks on a Windows Mobile Smartphone:

Mobile device interface's new features
In addition to some of the new cool features shared with the PC interface (such as powerful search, new views or editable ratings) the mobile version has some specific new features:

  • The Home page is configurable: click on "Edit Content" at the bottom to select which modules to see and the number of items to display.
  • "Tools" page has been redesigned and renamed "Settings"
  • 3GP stream format was renamed 3GP/SDP (it's the equivalent of "3GP High Quality" in 1.0.) 3GP/RTSP is for devices who don't support SDP.
  • The speed test is now delayed until your first stream and you can choose to see the result (If you don't want to use the speed test you can still set a fixed speed in Settings)
  • TV guide improvements: you can browse the listings of a single channel, or show the whole listings over 2 hours
  • Photos can be displayed in a 3 column gallery instead of a list (Settings > Layout)
  • Improved pagination: simple links: next, prev, first, last.
  • Menu commands (record, search, etc.) have been moved to the bottom of the page. Play is always the first link for convenience.
  • Phones with slow internet connection: hide all graphics to speed up the display! (in Settings > Layout)
  • A new "autoStream" mode allows to launch the stream automatically once you reach the detailed view of a TV program, web channel, video or music file. (see Settings > Stream)
  • If you phone has a large enough screen you can switch to the PDA interface in Settings > Skin.

Orb 2.0 MyCast is sporting way too much new features I can neither show nor mention here; give it a try yourself and discover the world of place shift media access. Mostly I'm impressed about the new desktop interface with AJAX and JavaScript support. While loading the site takes a little bit longer now, the navigation is really sweet and looks way nicer than it was before. Another great feature is that you can customize the desktop now the way you want it, similar to Microsoft's Live Homepage or Google Personal Page.
Orb 2.0 MyCast is available as public Beta now but requires an Orb 1.0 account. So first you have to register for Orb (if you haven't already) but the 2.0 installation will remove the previous 1.0 installation from your PC.
Therefore please keep in mind, that it is a Beta at the moment and some features are not working yet; for instance I didn't got my TV cards configured yet.

Cheers ~ Arne

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