Ready to cut the cable cord yet? For most people the answer appears to still be no. After all, you can't watch every television show on Hulu, Netflix, or even the networks' own sites (Criminal Minds, I am looking at you). And if you want mobile TV? So far the solutions haven't been ready for prime time. ...Someone had to say it.
Now comes FilmOn.com, a site that streams live, HD television to your computer or iPad. We're talking ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, the WB, Ion, and even some non-American channels like Scuzz, Dubai Sports, and BBC News. The streams are what you'd see if you were sitting in front of your set, complete with commercials. (There are even a couple of porn channels that are most definitely porn and not Skinemax-like fare.) Once users pick a channel they can watch on the iPad in full-screen.
But who is FilmOn.com, anyway. And can they really get away with this?
When we visited FilmOn.com from a desktop browser the site asked us to download a file but wouldn't tell us exactly what the file did or would do. Support is currently pretty limited, and there's little explanation of the process, so we opted not to download and go back to the iPad, instead.
The mobile version of the site not only allows you to pick a channel to watch, but also see the schedule of what's on that day, search TV Guide, and pause the live feed. We couldn't get any videos to load on our Android phone, but the site was accessible and even listed more channels than the iPad showed.
Digging a little deeper into the FilmOn site, we discovered that the company has been around for a while and appears to operate in several different countries. They launched an HDi service -- HD video for broadband TV -- in early 2009. It appears to be the same thing as the stream on the FilmOn website. There's also a subscription service involved, but it's unclear whether this is necessary to watch everything on your computer as opposed to the iPad. Who knows, maybe FilMon turned everything on to draw users in, and will then start charging.
For now FilmOn.com is a fun diversion, and because it offers access to the major broadcast networks, you could use the service to watch your favorite primetime shows and NFL games right on your iPad. We're definitely interested to see if the site can weather the inevitable storm of C&D letters and lawsuits. The owner claims that the service is 100 percent legal, so maybe FilmOn will live on.
Check out our hands-on video below to see how the streaming looks on the iPad.