Right now and today, you can watch good quality streaming television shows on your broadband internet connected PC! This is no longer just a promise, but it's available this very moment
from AOL. And no, you don't have to be an AOL member. It's for everyone.
The service does show an ad in the beginning of your tv show. And selection is limited to a fixed set of shows. On the other hand, many episodes are available. Included are shows like La Femme Nikita, Babylon5, Wonder Woman, Eight is Enough, Lois and Clark, Chico and the Man, F-Troop, Maverick, The FBI, and the list goes on and on.
I've been waiting months for this to go from a splash page promising early 2006 to a full online service. So just to give it a try I picked the pilot of Babylon 5. I like scifi, but never really gave that show a look. Turns out that when I tried to view the show in FireFox, it objected. It asked me to download an ActiveX extension. I caved in and allowed it. Than I got an error saying that I needed a security upgrade for WMP. I said yes. Then finally, I got another error saying what they should have told me in the first place - you have to use the special AOL player.
At that point, it took me to IE anyway, so I went with the flow. Maybe someone will get it to work in FireFox, but I settled for IE to make my first attempt. It worked fine. You have to watch a blip about the service, and then a regular 30-sec commercial came on for KIA, and then the show started. At that point, I also had the option to see the program in full screen mode. A little blurry if I stay close to the screen, but if I scoot back a bit it's fine. Not HDTV by any means, but fine.
I did see a couple small blips for buffering hiccups at the beginning, but seems to be fine after that. All in all a great, great looking service even with the requirement to use their viewer.
Now if they would only come up with some pda/smartphone clients! Maybe this is one more reason to go with Origami!