Connecting to the Internet

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have seen quite a number of articles that discuss Comcast and Net Neutrality (or their lack of). As I have said in the past, I currently have a Comcast cable modem running at 6.0 Mbps. I also have Comcast Cable TV service that costs about $65/mo. The issue that I am starting to have with Comcast is that believe that they have a vested interest in keeping my connection speed configured in a way that prevents me from fully enjoying streaming video online and ultimately canceling my Cable TV subscription.

For example, if I try to watch streaming content on Joost or Netflix WatchInstantly, both services hang or get a little choppy after a few minutes. I used to think that they problem was with the streaming content provider, but more recently I have started to wonder if the issue is with the way Comcast brings the content to me.

Ideally, I could go with another company for my internet service. The problem is that my only choices are: Comcast Cable or DSL (Verizon, Earthlink, etc).

I do not want a land line phone, so DSL is going to be a problem. Even if I did want one, as I wrote yesterday, Earthlink DSL does not really make any sense for me. I think that Earthlink is just a value added reseller of the 768 Kbps DSL service that Verizon will happily sell to me for half the price. The "value added" in this case being some type of magical compression technology that allows the Earthlink marketing folks to sell the DSL as being a 1.5/3.0/6.0Mbps service.

The problem that I have with compression is that I remember a time about ten years ago when the modem hardware hit the logical limit of 56k and there were no more dial-up modem upgrades coming out (with the exception of just making the modems smaller). Many of the dial-up ISP's offered "compression" technology with theoretical speeds of 2 or 3 times faster than 56k. I simply did not find this to be the case and this did not leave me with much faith in compression as a true speed boost.

I need more options.

Streaming Media to your TV

I recently took a look at Dell's Idea Storm site. It's a good concept. You log in to the site and post ideas. Other users can vote and comment on the posts.

While taking a look at Idea Storm, I ran across this article about Streaming Media to a TV.

In the future, I will happily buy the device the post describes (or the AppleTV for that matter.) I think that the current problem is that it is going to take a few more years before Streaming Media to a TV is really a practical choice.

The ugly things about any device like this are going to be the bandwidth and the support.

On the support side of things, there is probably less than 3% of the population that is going to be able to just set this up out of the box. No matter how Dell, Apple, or whomever color codes the labels, you are just asking for too much from the average user to get this thing setup. It's not like all TV's have the same jacks in the same places.

And then the device has to be hardwired to your network or setup for wireless. As there are still plenty of folks out there without wireless, how do you think those same folks will do when it comes to running CAT5 to the back of their TV's?

And then there is the bandwidth issue. I have decent connection, but when I stream full screen video to my PC it generally looks like crap. It's pixellated and hangs most of the time. How am I really gonna stream full HDVT content and have it look better? Streaming from around my home network would be good, but I still have to get that content from somewhere.

Just for fun, what percentage of US households have a properly setup Home Network that involves sharing files and not just an internet connection? I don't see this number being greater than 5%.

All in all, I think that there is a ways to go before the PC-to-TV device becomes a real choice, but I look forward to buying one some day.