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A preview of AOL's In2TV

by Keith McDuffee, posted Mar 14th 2006 10:30AM
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By now I'm sure you've heard of AOL Television's new venture into the world of online delivery of television shows, In2TV. Though In2TV officially opens to the public this Wednesday, I was recently lucky enough to get a preview of its interface and offerings. So, what can you expect to see this Wednesday and beyond? Read on to find out.In2TV is a very ambitious project that's been in the works for quite some time now with AOL.com and Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution. In a nutshell, AOL will offer thousands of episodes from some of the most popular television series of all time via broadband distribution. You will be able to stream these television episodes in their entirety, with the option of viewing them in "Hi-Q" DVD-quality video. There will also be several games, puzzles and, yes, karaoke features available at launch time.

Upon launch time, some of the shows available for viewing are Growing Pains, Cico and the Man, La Femme Nikita, Sisters, and Wonder Woman, among several more I'll list later.

Besides the main hub (or landing page), In2TV will feature six genre pages (LOL, Drama Rama, What A Rush, Vintage, Heroes & Horror and Toon Topia) and seven other feature and games pages (Star Play, TV Karaoke, Punch Line, Retro Runway, Betcha Didn't Know, Creme De La Classic TV and Pilot Theater). AOL is said to have two more channels by late Summer and all game pages by mid-May.

Here's what you can find in each of the 13 pages at launch time:

LOL TV: Just as you'd expect, this is the comedy channel. Some shows that'll be available at launch time: Chico and the Man, Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, Head of the Class, Perfect Strangers and Welcome Back Kotter.

Drama Rama TV: shows during launch time: Eight is Enough, Falcon Crest, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Sisters and Spencer: For Hire.

What A Rush TV: Action related shows, such as Dark Justice, Kung Fu, La Femme Nikita, Brisco County, Jr. and The Fugitive (the newer version) can be found on this page.

Vintage TV: I have to admit, I feel pretty old when I see some of these shows listed as "vintage" television: Alice, F Troop, Growing Pains, Maverick and The F.B.I.

Heroes & Horror TV: Sci-Fi and horror shows are found in this category. Shows available at launch: Babylon 5, Freddy's Nightmares, Lois & Clark, V and Wonder Woman.

Toon Topia TV: You guessed it, this is the cartoon page. Beetlejuice, Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid, New Adventures of Batman and Hysteria! can be found on this page.

Those are the main television viewing pages. Each page has five shows, ten episodes each. I'm told the episodes will work on a rotating schedule, at least to start. Starting in May, each page will rotate out its first five episodes and add five new ones, though I'm not sure how often the rotation will occur.

As for the other pages:

Star Play: Watch the stars before they were stars. For example, did you know Brad Pitt appeared on Growing Pains?
TV Karaoke: Sing along with the theme songs of many of the shows featured on In2TV.
Punchline: Clips of the funniest moments of the episodes appearing on the show pages.
Retro Runway: Take a look at fashions from many of the 70's in2TV shows.
Betcha Didn't Know: Clips showing "surprising facts about your favorite In2TV stars."
Creme de la Classic: Top rated episodes.
Pilot Theater: Just what you'd think: just pilots of all the shows featured on In2TV.

Quite an offering, eh? Each episode is viewable in both the small in-page viewer and full-screen mode. You can also choose from varying qualities, including what In2TV calls "Hi-Q" DVD quality, which I wasn't able to preview yet. I'll be very interested in seeing how that appears once it's made available.

Now, here's some news that'll be a bummer for some folks. Firstly, the episodes are not downloadable; you have to view the episodes online and have a decent network connection to take advantage of the Hi-Q format. Also, I've got sad news for you non-Microsoft XP folks. You need to have Windows XP and Media Player 10 in order to view the videos. Mac OS X, Linux and other OSs will be out of luck. Some good news: you can use Firefox to view the videos on Windows XP.

Be sure to check out In2TV in all its glory when it officially launches tomorrow. I love the fact that I can just pull up any one of these shows at any time and catch them full screen and in DVD quality. I'll just have to be sure I'm using my Windows XP system.

[NOTE: I was asked by commenter J. Carter as to whether or not this is a free service. The site is completely free, though is ad supported. before viewing each episode, you'll need to sit through a short commercial that you cannot fast-forward through. At the time of the beta, there weren't many ads, so I have to say that sitting through the same ad over and over got old fast. I'm told they will definitely be adding different ones soon.]

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Jack Cassell

I also wonder if any of those programs are closed captions? More than often, when new technology or media program creates, they are not always up to speed or sensitive to other highly demand population who could help them boost their business by having access to thier closed captions.

March 15 2006 at 8:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a very cool idea...with only a so so launch. I don't like that videos load on every page and a million windows open depending on what links you click. I couldn't get it to work in Firefox...even though it told me that plug in install was successful.
My biggest gripe is the lack of info about the service. When will the shows get updated? I see 10 eppies per show...when will the next batch be available? Will they drop the 10 listed now and replace all of them?
Very disappointed to see that some of the shows don't have their premiere episodes. Who wants to randomly watch a tv show...esp. a show like La Femme where past things are connected from show to show!?!?!
Did love seeing the old Batman toon from when I was kid. Had totally forgotten about Bat Mite...lol..
I think the idea of in2TV is awesome..esp. since its free...but the layout, selection and lack of episodes in order bums me.
Overall...first impression...I give it a C+

March 15 2006 at 8:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kenban -- At the time I reviewed In2TV, Hi-Q was not available, so neither was a download option.

March 14 2006 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is a good idea and shows some promise, but basing it on WMP and requiring XP is a dealbreaker for me. I'll try it out if they ever decide to make it available for Linux or OSX.

March 14 2006 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How is it that people never seem to do the obvious before they write reports like this. First the author was lucky enough to get a preview? Just go to the in2tv website and click "Preview In2TV Now!".

Second Hi-Q already works when your watching a show just click that blue button that says HI Q next to a show name you get a pop up window that will install an active-X app that runs in the background and downloads the higher quality file to your hard drive. (Again this review is wrong they DO download so people with slow connections should be fine if they are willing to wait) The episodes of F-troop that I am downloading are around 275 MB and thats a 25 minutes show. The program even lists a subscriptions option so it looks like you can just select the shows you like and it downloads new episodes automaticly so they are waiting for you to watch.

Quality looks pretty good I am impressed by how good the show looks when paused. I look forward to installing the download manager on my media center computer and seeing how it does on my big screen TV. Also no commercials played when viewing the HI-Q files.

March 14 2006 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

AOL's In2TV will be available to anyone with:

1. A Pentium III 1.0GHz or better computer with Windows XP, 32 bit or 64 bit
2. 1024x768 monitor resolution with 32-bit color depth
3. Windows Media Player version 10.0+
4. Macromedia Flash Player 8
5. Internet Explorer 6.0+, Netscape 7.2+, Firefox 1.0.7+
6. An internet connection (DSL or Cable recommended)
7. Pentium sound chip or dedicated sound card

Visit http://in2tv.aol.com/ for more information.

March 14 2006 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hmmmm, I'm guessing this won't be available for audiences out of the US, right? (what with licensing deals and whatnot)

March 14 2006 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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