Streaming TV is on the up and up—that much is clear. What, then, does ZillionTV offer that, say, Hulu, Netflix, Vudu, and Apple TV don't? A little convergence, maybe.
That's not to say that ZillionTV is drastically more versatile than any number of existing set-top arrangements. It does, however, look attractively simple. Here's what it is, in a nutshell: a set-top box that streams free content, a la Hulu, except directly to your TV. After a $US100 setup fee, it's mostly advertising-supported—again, like Hulu. The company claims a wide range of content partnerships, which is clearly necessary to compete in this field.
But it's not just ad-supported TV that Zillions is focused on, as paid content will be available as well. They hope to offer up premium TV and film content for individual purchase or rental, though your payment won't net you an actual file—the system is entirely stream-based.
If all this sounds familiar, that's because none of it is distinctly new. ZillionTV hasn't created something that anyone with some time and a Boxee install couldn't patch together themselves—but it might be able to provide it in a simpler, more accessible package. The company is promising lots of features, including a motion-sensing remote (by the whizzes at Hillcrest) instant-on streaming on anything better than a 1.5mbps connection, that will make the system attractive as a do-it-all set-top box, but until we have more than promises and renders, we'll have to reserve full judgment.
For what it's worth, Jon Healey at the LAT has tried the system, and found it impressive. He does—and this is crucial—note that ZillionTV might be having some issues securing rights to all the content it wants, but again, we'll have to wait and see. [ZillionTV]