2010 has seen online video streaming become considerably more mainstream in Canada than most expected a year or two past. With Netflix freshly launched here, in addition to Bell's new service, plus Zip.ca on its way by year's end, our options have expanded far beyond Apple's meagre offerings. So, which should you choose? Here's the lowdown on each.
One of the originals, and also one of the worst. Or it was, at least. This Fall, Apple revamped its hardware and software for the TV service. Purchase the $120 palm-sized device and stream movies, podcasts, radio, etc. to your television.
PROS: Offers high-def content, supports new releases, sleek simplicity of the Apple experience. CONS: Upfront cost, physical device, rentals only.
Google combines web surfing with streamed content viewing, both on a TV set. Its integrated with Sony TV hardware, a trusted television brand. If you don't own a Sony with Google integration, you need an Android-based box connected via an HDMI cable. Google TV won't be around until 2011, however.
PROS: Integrates with high-quality Sony TVs, lets you use the internet on your TV, will be enhanced by third-party apps, free content. CONS: Not available yet.
This U.S.-born online and DVD mail-order giant came North last month to much fanfare. For $8 a month, you get unlimited streaming. And it can hook up to your Xbox, Wii, or PS3. It boasts a library of more than 7,000 movies and TV shows (and all the best ones at that).
PROS: Low monthly fee, large library of quality content. CONS: No new releases.
Bell recently launches its IPTV, a service that streams video over a fibre-optic network. It's not much different than Bell's satellite service (but obviously doesn't require a satellite). It does need a box, though.
PROS: Can record four programs simultaneously, apps connect to web and social networks, supports new releases. CONS: High monthly fees (up to $100), restricted to Bell subscribers, requires a package subscription.
Rogers On Demand Online
Unveiled in 2009, Rogers launched the online edition of its On Demand service.
PROS: Supports new releases, doesn't have any upfront hardware costs. CONS: Hefty per-item rental costs, limited library, must be a Rogers subscriber.
Zip is planning to tap into the online realm by year's end. Still shrouded in mystery, hopes are high that Zip offers Canadians a real streamed content solution.
PROS: New releases, viewable on TV or computer. CONS: Not available yet, unknown pricing, unknown which distribution deals it can strike up.