Back in 2005, CNET reviewed Orb, a software package that promised to let users access media files located on their home PC and stream them to any other broadband-connected computer and even some mobile devices. Orb scored a 7.0--"very good"--and that was that--except that Orb has offered some pretty compelling upgrades in the meantime.
Since our original review, the company has rolled out Orb 2.0 (fall 2006), which is essentially a Web 2.0 version of the product. You still run a small server applet on your home PC that catalogs and streams your media files--video, audio, and photos--but you can now access all of these files via a single Web page (available at mycast.orb.com). It's a user-customizable, AJAX-based page that's similar to the personalized home page that you can make at Google, Yahoo, Live.com, and elsewhere. In addition to keeping links to your home PC media files (or any other documents you choose to make accessible), Orb 2.0 lets you add pretty much any RSS-based resource from the Web. In addition to a variety of pre-fab options available (news, weather, sports, stock quotes, and the like), I was able to add several blog and news feeds, plus an array of my friends' Flickr, Twitter, and Jaiku feeds. In other words, you're able to mix your own "local" media with pretty much anything you can find online. Orb even supports Google Gadgets; I was able to include a Google Maps applet and even a decent game of Pac-Man.
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