Comcast is one of the major suppliers of cable TV in America and this is their online portal to free, streaming material. Offering both full TV episodes and full movies, it displays both in the form of Flash presentations a la YouTube, at respectable sizes and good compromises between speed and quality. Some of the TV material is a little creaky - Wonder Woman, anyone? - and aside from a handful of better known titles the rest of the movie list is most definitely "B" rated if that. But you'll also find episodes of some of the top rated TV shows from as recently as six months ago, making this a viable alternative to watching the repeats on cable.
American TV is bland enough to make gossiping about it more interesting than actually watching it, so the site also provides blogs and comment for those whose need to know what's going on behind the screen can't be fulfilled by supermarket checkout magazines alone.
I chose to review this site with a laptop running a solid but much outdated 1.9Ghz Pentium 4 and 1Gb of memory, and even with a little rig like this, I was able to watch a TV episode with only the briefest of pauses now and then. The frame rate wasn't TV quality, but given the limitations of the hardware it was better than expected. I wouldn't want to try to run anything at full screen resolution, but the basic dimensions offered are good enough. If you have any sort of dual-core processor or above, and anything from 2Gb of memory upwards, you should get an uninterrupted stream here; at the other end of the range, you might just find this will run on a netbook, too, though the HD-sized shows will probably be out of your league.
My attempt to view a movie was a lot less successful, as the page just sat there and hung for several minutes before I gave up and moved on. That's probably because the servers were busy on Saturday night, and had I not been just passing through, I would have tried again and been more patient. But in any case, I suspect that given the current choices the bulk of the audience is going to be for the TV shows rather than the movies anyway.
I didn't test the site with a download helper or any of the many applications designed to download and save Flash movies to a local hard drive, so I don't know for sure if that method works here. It probably does, in which case you could always record a show at off-peak time and watch it later. Firefox users should check out Video Download Helper and see if that's a good choice for recording here.
The site itself is bright and tidy, and very easy to navigate with mainly plain text links. Not a lot of fancy scripting here, which is a pleasant change, and the pages load quickly. The site also gets full marks on the Spot-Jennifer-Aniston test, as she was right up there on the top of the front page. Dear girl, what would American entertainment gossip columnists do without her?
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