By Steve Bass | Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 10:59 am
Last week I told you about Sling’s MediaCatcher, the device that’s ideal for viewing streaming videos on your TV, as well as MediaGate’s MG-800HD, the other gizmo for watching downloaded movies on your TV. (See “Stream Movies from Your PC to Your TV.”)
This week I’ve got a score of spots where you can watch legal movies and TVs shows, some streamed, others downloaded, and a few sites with illegally pirated movies. I’ll also review MediaGate’s inexpensive, portable media device.
Next week I’ll spend a little time showing you how to capture streaming video.
I’ve got a cheap, small gadget you can connect to your TV and play downloaded videos, show photos, and play music. The M2TV (about $100 discounted) can grab files in two ways: There are two USB 2.0 ports (for attaching external hard or Flash drives) and a memory card reader (SD, MMC, or Memory Stick). The M2TV plays video in high definition, handling over 15 video formats (including RMVB, MKV, VOB, and others), 10 music formats (including MP3, WMA, OGG, and RealAudio), and standard photo formats (.jpg, .bmp, .tiff, .gif, and .png). Read through the manual for more specs.
The no-nonsense media player is about as plug and play as it gets. I copied a stack of photos and a video on a 1GB Flash drive, brought the M2TV to my parents’ house, plugged it into their ancient Philco black and white TV (just kidding, it’s a standard Panasonic), and showed them images from our last vacation.
Here’s a stack of Internet TV and movie sites, the ones I think give you the most streaming band for your buck. Well, most are free, so few bucks are necessary. Some are strictly TV shows, others have movies as part of the mix; some let you download the content to your PC, while most just allow streaming. It’ll take you two or three lifetimes to watch everything, and I know you’re eager to try.
At the top of the heap is Hulu, with a massive amount of content, including TV shows and full-length movies. It’s a well-designed site, easily navigated, with a quality selection. For instance, it’s got Super Size Me, a feature documentary; Dawn of the Dead, Pushing Tin (a great comedy from 1999) The Daily Show, The Office, and tons more.
Joost is loaded with channels I’m apt to watch. For instance, I spotted Dead Again (IMDB 7/10), a decent film I hadn’t seen and didn’t know about. On the Films page, I found one spot loaded with almost 1,000 documentaries and a bunch of Indie films. One gem I found was Jazz on a Summers Day, a film we recently rented from Netflix.
Eztakes has movies you can download or stream for free; it also sells films you can burn to your PC or DVD. I found the entire series of The Newsroom, a brilliantly funny Canadian TV series that we rented on Netflix last year. On Eztakes, it’s a free download. I found over 60 films you can stream to your PC, including classics such as Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps and Peter Lorre in M. Of course you’ll need to wade through the likes of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and the Eunuch of the Western Palace. (Nope, I won’t supply links to these. I figure you’ll enjoy hunting them down yourself.)
AmericaFree.tv is a hoot for off-the-wall movies, such as Roger Corman’s 1955 classic, The Fast and the Furious, or the 1936 Marihuana. Unfortunately, I can’t provide specific links; the other irritation is there are no controls to pause the movies.
wwITV is perfect if you’re interested in watching Channel 9′s weather report from Dunedin in New Zealand, Express News, an English-language news station from Pakistan, or movies from TV stations across the globe.
Bravo makes many of its shows available. The catch is you have to spend time digging around the site to find them. Best bet: Look for “full episode” links and you’ll end up at a page with “browse all full-length episodes.”
IMDB, the famous Internet Movie Database, has a decent number of TV shows, some that are brand new and terrific, while others you’ve never heard of (nor would you want to).
There are dozens of other sites you can try. Of the bunch, FreeTube does the best job by acting as a portal to seemingly 6 million listings (give or take a million). It’s worth a visit to FreeTube, just for the experience of seeing how incredibly much content’s available. If you have kids, be aware there’s a link at the bottom of their list for adult videos. Other sites to try: Tvover.net has scads of TV stations for you to choose from as do FreeeTV and BeelineTV. FreeeTV claims to have more than 1,650, for example.
I’ve heard of sites where you can safely, albeit inconveniently, download practically any movie that’s out in theaters. In fact, some of the independent films that play at film festivals, but haven’t even been released, are available on these sites. TorrentFreak recently listed the Top 10 Most Pirated Movies on BitTorrent.
I’m reluctant to talk about these sites for a couple of reasons. I don’t think it’s ethical on my part to supply you with info on doing something illegal. I also didn’t want to get sued by any of the anti-piracy organizations, such as the MPAA.
I did some digging and in a Google nanosecond, I found dozens of Web sites offering copyrighted material. And my sense is anyone with a modicum of Internet experience can find them with simple Google searches–RapidShare movies, pirated movies, or other combinations that come to mind.
Be careful, though. Too many of these sites are malware and spyware drive-by traps. I have enough protection–SpywareBlaster, AdMuncher, and Kaspersky Internet Security–so I didn’t get nailed. Some spots are simply scams, promising access to any movies you want, all for a low membership fee. I didn’t try any, but my guess is they lead to sites offering BitTorrent downloads.
And yes, there are sites that you can pick up movies for the price of a download, with little risk or danger to your PC. You’ll need to learn lots about downloading from a dozen services, such as RapidShare and MegaDownloads, figure out how to deal with split files, and suffer from not-always-terrific quality movies. Unfortunately, I can’t give you specific sites, but if you really want to find them, with some due diligence, you will.
[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]