Michael Sprague can't wait for Microsoft to get its new operating system out the door. His New York company, Wavexpress Inc., has developed a video podcatcher that integrates with Windows Media Center, a bundled application in the soon-to-be-released Windows Vista OS.
He says it makes it as easy to watch shows like Rocketboom and Ze Frank as it is to watch regular TV.
TVTonic is already available on the Web as a standalone application. "So much of the industry is enamored of search," Sprague said. "We're betting that people will get tired of constantly searching for the nuggets, and that an editor can make sure that when you turn on your channels, you'll be entertained. With the PC's remote control, you'll only be two clicks away from CNN to Rocketboom."
While you can use other programs, including Microsoft's own Media Player to play video podcasts, Sprague's TVTonic.com organizes them into channels. "We pull them altogether so you don't need to go get them," he said. "It helps to have a bit of editorial expertise between you and the content."
The 12 defined channels include "The News" (video files from the Associated Press), "Rawdio" (alternative music videos), and "TechTonic" (a tekkie's paradise featuring the best tech video podcasts). "GTtv", a channel for video gamers, is huge, Sprague said. "For some reason, this community is avid to get access to high quality previews of games."
Listen to a conversation with Michael Sprague.
In the background, TVTonic pulls the RSS feeds and video files and downloads them to your hard disk to be available on demand. The Web site has pointers to about 300 video feeds, but only those with which Wavexpress has a revenue sharing agreement are bundled into its channels. While the prospect of a lawyer at the door is all that stands between him and the service offering a "CBS News" channel, there is nothing stop a user from adding any RSS feed, video or audio, to the video player and making their own channel, such as Google's Top 100 videos.
Sprague thinks Microsoft's Media Center is going to surprise a lot of people. "There is very little understanding how far Microsoft (MSFT) has gone to push this to make it so that people will begin to use their personal computers for full-length entertainment."