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OrbTV Device Launches With Hulu Access

11/18/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Oakland, Calif. - Orb Networks launched Wednesday a hockey-puck-shaped
Internet TV set-top device that enables watching online movies and TV shows on
connected TV screens, just you would from a PC.


Orb

The Orb TV system joins
Orb's previously launched Orb Music product, which delivers Internet music to
connected stereo devices.

The new Orb combines
the functionality of Orb Music with video and still image content for the TV
sets.

Its advantage over
some other systems on the market is a low adoption price ($99 retail from the
Orb.com website), and the ability to bring PC-centric content streaming to the
TV, both from the PC's storage system and from selected Internet entertainment
service partners.

In some cases the
Orb system enables users to bypass extra fees that are applied to content
viewed on TVs but not PCs, the company said.

"We think we put
together a complete solution offering the things that people really, really
want at the right price point," said Joe Costello, Orb Networks CEO and founder.
"Our device is also super simple to set up and control."

What's somewhat
unusual is that Orb TV does not include a remote control, relying instead on
users downloading a smartphone app to their iPhone, Android, iPad or iPod Touch
devices to send user commands to the Orb box.

Users must also
install special software, called Orb Caster, on an existing PC and leave the PC
running when using the device to view content on the TV screen.

The software
enables Orb to replicate the PC experience on the TV, such as selecting Hulu to
play TV shows without the Hulu Plus subscription fee requirement.

"We found that the
No. 1 thing people want on their TV is Hulu -- they want that good quality,
premium TV content that they have on the Web for their PC," Costello explained.
"We provide that experience -- not Hulu Plus, and not some sub-set of things,
and it can't be blocked. The approach that we have taken is one that just can't
be blocked by these guys like you've seen in all the other boxes."

To find specific
programs, the system is designed to let users type the program name into the
smartphone app to fetch desired premium content without an extensive search
process, Costello said.

Also available
through the software at launch are Netflix, requiring a user account, YouTube,
for free Web videos, and Flickr, for digital images. Other services will be
added down the line, the company said.

The Orb controller
smartphone app features a global index of TV shows. Consumers can type in the
name of the show they want and then Orb quickly finds the it, without requiring
the user to specify its source.

Unlike competitive
approaches, the OrbTV bypasses use of an HDMI port, opting instead for
component- and composite-video outputs and stereo A/V jacks.

Orb Networks is
launching Orb TV through the www.orb.com website,
and will look to ramp up distribution through various distribution partners as
the launch progress, Costello said.

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