My Watershed Week of Online Video

Sure we gripe about quality. And advertising. And content availability. And authentication. And monetization. And… and…. and….

But today, I’m not bitching at all. Yesterday was my personal online video watershed moment. The one when you sit back – lean back, in the parlance of our time – and say, “Damn. This Really Is GOOD.”

I recently built myself a new, dedicated HTPC Media Center for the living room. Equipped with a high-end video card (ATI 5850 if you care), an Intel i5 chip, 4GB of RAM, Windows Media Center, Boxee, connected to my surround sound receiver via digital coax, and my Netflix subscription, my Hulu queue, and a shortcut to ABC.com.

But what made me really say, “We’ve arrived,” was watching a live stream of the Trey Anastasio Band concert from The Pageant in St. Louis, delivered by iClips.net.

Words don’t really do the experience justice. Dolby Digital handled the audio decoding and enhancements (can’t wait for a 5.1 audio stream, but I digress), filling my (NYC sized) living room with ambiance. But iClips delivered video for three hours nearly flawlessly.

Below are some full screen screen shots that I grabbed. Video was displayed on a 42″ plasma, with a bare minimum of pixelation.

For anyone wondering, I would gladly have paid $1 -$5 for access to that stream. Maybe Ticketmaster will offer live streams of artists you already bought a ticket to see, or at least one free show.

And for anyone who is interested, here’s a full screen grab of Olympic hockey. NBC ain’t skimping on stream quality.