Wow! Orb is really, really cool!

I tried to connect up with Orb Networks back during the beta program but was unsuccessful (can’t blame them, it was beta software).  After the announcement recently that their service was going to become free, I decided to try it out again.

Why is Orb cool?  It allows you to do some really amazing things with your media by simply installing a little tray icon on you MCE PC.  It’s simple, it’s elegant, and I have to think that under the covers it’s actually very powerful stuff.  Anybody can install Orb and transform their MCE machine into a web media server.

The buzzline is that you can use Orb’s software to view your recorded TV anywhere on any device.  Okay, I can see why that gets the top billing because it is indeed cool but there’s alot more going on at Orb that I think will be more useful than TV on your cel phone.

The thing that really caught my eye was the photo sharing option…  I have so many photos from my digital camera that any sort of hosted photo service option is out of the question.  The files are on my disk, I just want some way to share those on a website with my friends and family.  Orb allows you to do this very easily – just go to their web site, click on the folder you want to share and voila you have a public site that your family can get access to.  No web servers to install, no need to copy files to somewhere else, no need for your family to install weird P2P clients.  If the photo is on your Media Center, it’s automatically on your website.  That’s the kind of simplicity that average people need.

And there’s all the other stuff that’s very cool as well:

  • See what’s on TV, set it to record in MCE
  • Watch Live TV, streamed realtime at a filesize that works for your internet connection
  • Listen to your music files
  • Watch your home videos

It’s completely integrated with MCE, and I’m amazed at how well it works. 

Next step in my opinion is for Orb to work on the website UI and do some usability testing with non-technical users.  Make it look like MCE a bit more, make the buttons big and obvious, and clean things up a bit.  They’ve got a winner on their hands.