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In2TV

SitcomsOnline.com's In2TV System Review

By: skees53 on 03/13/2006

Service: In2TV
Website: http://in2tv.aol.com
Launch Date: March 15, 2006
Features vintage Warner Brothers Television programs and bonus items related to them


Introduction:

In2TV puts a new twist on something that has become the new way of delivering media (even if it hasn't FULLY caught on yet) over the past couple of years--the whole concept of video-on-demand. The "new twist" with In2TV is that, rather than presenting you something like that episode of Survivor that you missed last night and just HAVE to see now, In2TV provides episodes of some of the great television programs of our past. These aren't just programs that you can turn on the television right now and watch. These are programs that, for whatever reason, are not currently shown on television (with some minor exceptions). You don't need to live in a certain geographical area (unless you live outside of the United States) and hope that your cable company adds the service, because In2TV is available online, not through any cable service. And the best part about In2TV? Everything is (minimally) supported by advertising, and thus is free!


Programs and Episodes on In2TV:

It is important to remember that In2TV is a service that is presented by Warner Brothers, so if it isn't a show that Warner Brothers has the distribution rights to, it isn't going to be on there. So you will not find shows that are distributed by Paramount, Sony, Buena Vista, or any other company on there. And unless some bizarre circumstances take place, such non-Warner programs will never appear on In2TV. The best that you can hope for is that those other companies will create their own similar service.

In2TV presents their programming through a variety of "channels." These include "LOL" (comedy), "Drama Rama" (drama), "What a Rush" (action), "Vintage TV" (classic), "Heroes Horror" (sci-fi), "Toon Topia TV" (cartoons), and "Pilot Theater" (first episodes). There are other "channels" that will be discussed in the next section.

Since this is Sitcoms Online, our main focus will be on "LOL." This is where you'll find all of the sitcoms, although some episodes of some shows do overlap onto the other channels as well. These are the shows and episodes that are available for the launch of In2TV:

Alice Launch Episodes ("Vintage TV")
#1 "Pilot" 24:16
#2 "Alice Gets a Pass" 25:35
#3 "A Piece of the Rock" 25:32
#4 "Pay the Fifty Dollars" 25:33
#5 "A Call to Arms" 25:04
#6 "The Last Review" 25:33
#88 "My Funny Valentine Tux" 24:42
#115 "Who's Kissing the Great Chefs of Phoenix?" 24:48
#126 "The Wild One" 24:47
#179 "Alice's Hot Air Romance" 24:54

Chico and the Man Launch Episodes ("LOL TV")
#1 "The Man Meets Chico" Pilot 23:27
#4 "New Suit" 25:53
#6 "E Pluribus Used Car" 25:50
#9 "No Room in the Garage" 25:45
#10 "The Letter" 25:50
#16 "If I Were a Rich Man" 25:34
#37 "The Hypnotist" 24:32
#47 "Chico Packs His Bags" 24:38
#59 "Chico's Padre" 24:37
#62 "Ed Talks to God" 25:21

F Troop Launch Episodes ("Vintage TV")
#1 "Scourge of the West - Pilot" 25:32
#2"Don't Look Now, One of Our Cannons Is Missing" 25:34
#3 "The Phantom Major" 25:33
#4 "Corporal Agarn's Farewell to the Troops" 25:33
#5 "The Return of the Bald Eagle" 25:22
#35 "The Singing Mountie" 25:22
#36 "How to Be F Troop Without Really Trying" 25:23
#37 "Bye Bye Balloon" 25:24
#38 "Reach for the Sky, Pardner" 25:19
#39 "Great Troop Robbery, The" 25:25

Growing Pains Launch Episodes ("Vintage TV")
#3 "Jealousy" 24:06
#4 "Carol's Article" 21:52
#6 "Mike's Madonna Story" 23:56
#42 "Born Free" 23:49
#59 "The Marrying Kind" 24:19
#72 "Birth of a Seaver" 24:14
#79 "The Nanny" 24:30
#84 "Feet of Clay" 23:48
#138 "Not With My Carol You Don't" 23:49
#159 "Menage a Luke" 23:24

Hangin' With Mr. Cooper Launch Episodes ("LOL TV")
#45 "Call Me Irresponsible" 22:43
#46 "My Bodyguard" 22:43
#49 "Matinee" 21:45
#50 "Mo' Money" 22:05
#51 "Instant Replay" 22:05
#52 "House Guest" 22:14
#53 "My Achy Breaky Back" 22:14
#54 "True Romance" 22:15
#55 "Clothes Make the Man" 22:00
#57 "Coach" 22:09

Head of the Class Launch Episodes ("LOL TV")
#1 "Head of the Class" (Pilot) 24:24
#2 "Back to the Future" 23:31
#4 "Love at First Byte" 23:02
#6 "The Teacher's Teacher" 23:16
#7 "Volleyball, Anyone?" 23:27
#8 "Critical Choices" 23:10
#9 "Cold Turkey" 23:31
#10 "You've Got a Friend" 23:22
#18 "Valentine's Day" 21:35
#55 "Arvid's Sure Thing" 24:17

Perfect Strangers Launch Episodes ("LOL TV")
#3 "First Date" 23:59
#7 "Hello, Baby" 25:21
#8 "Hunks Like Us" 25:25
#15 "Can I Get a Witness?" 25:20
#16 "The Rent Strike" 25:18
#18 "Dog Gone Blues" 25:21
#21 "Beautiful Dreamer" 25:21
#23 "Ten Speed and a Soft Touch" 25:19
#24 "Snow Way to Treat a Lady, Part 1" 22:14
#31 "Sexual Harassment in Chicago" 24:19

Welcome Back, Kotter Launch Episodes ("LOL TV")
#1 "Welcome Back" Pilot 25:31
#3 "Basket Case" 25:31
#4 "Whodunit?" 25:11
#6 "No More Mr. Nice Guy" 25:11
#10 "Barbarino's Girl" 25:11
#11 "The Reunion" 25:10
#18 "Follow the Leader, Part 2" 25:12
#22 "Father Vinnie" 25:11
#32 "Sweathog, Nebraska Style" 25:10
#85 "Bride and Bloom" 25:07

There doesn't seem to be a set standard for how to pick episodes, other than episodes that are considered the "best" episodes and those that feature certain guest stars. The random selection is actually already proving to be a bit flawed; observe, for example, that episode 24 of Perfect Strangers is part 1 of a two part episode, yet part 2 is missing. Even more frustrating, episode 18 of Welcome Back, Kotter is the SECOND part of a two-parter with part 1 missing. They probably should have been a little more careful in selecting that. Perhaps a smarter way to select episodes would be to put the episodes out in order, like having starting with the first six episodes one month and four "special" episodes, and rotating on a model like that every month.

Additionally, the episodes are mostly unedited--but read that carefully--MOSTLY unedited. It seems that, like some DVDs released by Sony, a few edited episodes have slipped through on this. I can't really prove that some of the ones that I'm suspicious about are syndicated copies, but the Growing Pains episode "Carol's Article" is definitely edited, as there are scenes there that are not in the Complete First Season DVD set. Fortunately, this seems to be a minor problem here and there, and not widespread.

Another thing to note about the episode selection is that supposedly, the episodes will change every month. The plan is to remove five episodes each month, and replace them with five different episodes. So, make sure to watch the shows that you want to watch when they are put up--you never know how long they'll last!

Other programs are included on the In2TV launch include The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Babylon 5, Beetlejuice (cartoon), Dark Justice, Eight is Enough, The FBI, Falcon Crest, Freakzoid, Freddy's Nightmares, The Fugitive, Histeria, Kung Fu, La Femme Nikita, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Maverick, The New Adventures of Batman, Pinky and the Brain, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Sisters, Spenser: For Hire, V, and Wonder Woman.


Bonus Items on In2TV:

The bonus items aren't too great, but they are nice little extras. "TV Karaoke" allows you to sing along with the theme songs from all of your favorite In2TV shows. "Star Play" lets you see the best guest stars from episodes on In2TV. "Betcha Didn't Know" gives you fun facts and trivia about the shows. "Punchline," as the name suggests, is a bunch of short jokes from the episodes. "Retro Runway" is a series of clips from episodes about fashion disasters of the 70s. Honestly, none of this is really exciting, but the episodes are the main point of In2TV anyway.


How to Use In2TV:

In2TV is available at http://in2tv.aol.com. When you go to this website, you will be greeted with a menu that gives you a myriad of options--there is no algorithmic way to explain every single option that you can choose. At the top, you can select one of the channels. On the right hand side, you'll find the Creme de la Classic menu's listing of the "best" episodes of various shows.

To be as general as possible, however, I'll discuss how to play episodes using In2TV. The selection of an episode using this is very simple. You just find the show and episode that you want, and click on the episode. You'll get a menu where the episode begins to stream (whether you want it to or not) and an episode description of the episode. You can select to play using Hi-Q Video from this page, and you can also select episodes on this menu. If you have high-speed it is recommended that you use Hi-Q. The episodes download at a very fast pace and you can watch the episodes over and over again without re-downloading. This option has no buffering and no advertises--can't beat that! You can also get to these episode menus using MANY other methods; however, it is not possible to discuss all of those here.


Technical Requirements for In2TV:

The bare minimum requirements for In2TV are as follows: an Internet connection (if you are reading this, then you obviously have that one), Windows XP, and Windows Media Player Version 10.0 (download it for free at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/AllDownloads.aspx?displang=en&qstechnology=) and of course, unless you don't want audio for some reason, speakers. The In2TV website says that you will need Macromedia Flash Player 8 too (download it for free at http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash), but that seems to be mainly so that you can use certain menus on their website. Internet Explorer 6.0 is needed if you want to use the AOL Hi-Q video player. It will NOT download on Mozilla Firefox unfortunately, but Firefox can be used to watch the streaming episodes right on the website via the AOL Video Player.

For an optimal experience with In2TV, it helps to have a high-speed internet connection (cable modem, DSL, etc.), a good sound card with good speakers, at least a 1 GHz or better processor, and 1024x768 monitor resolution. If you are lacking one (or even all) of these, don't worry--you can probably enjoy In2TV as well, it is just that your experience will not include video and audio quality that is as good as those that have those.


Video, Audio, and Service Quality:

Generally speaking, these factors will all vary depending upon your personal technology. If you are using high-speed Internet access, you are going to enjoy seeing the shows in a flawless (well, almost flawless) manner. But if you are using dialup, your audio and video quality is going to be kind of rough... unless you have tons of patience and can wait several hours for high quality video to download.

For those using high-speed Internet access, there are two PRACTICAL ways of watching In2TV programming. You can stream the video using the AOL Video Player, or you can download the video (don't get too excited about the possibility of "downloading," it WILL eventually expire on your hard drive) by using AOL Hi-Q Video. By using the AOL Video Player, you can watch the programs instantaneously with fairly high quality video and audio quality, but you'll have to deal with advertisements and buffering as your connection speed fluctuates. Hi-Q Video does not have any advertisements (although I am willing to bet that once they figure out that this needs to be included, they'll include it...), allows the video to stay on your hard drive until it expires, and it does not require any "buffering" while the video plays. However, it does require several minutes to download (about 10 minutes for a half hour series); each episode will take up substantial hard drive space (nearly 300 MB per half hour episode), and "full screen" mode is available by double-clicking on the video. All the downloaded videos will save in the "My Videos" tab in the Hi-Q player, so you can watch at any time without re-downloading, like mentioned earlier. It is hard to say exactly which one is better; it is really more of a personal preference. The video quality on both of these is comparable to watching a DVD on the computer (which of course is not nearly as good as watching a DVD on television) and the audio quality is very loud and clear, but from what I have experienced, it tends to all come from one speaker, which means it is extremely mono.

If you are using an Internet connection that is not high-speed, such as 56K, your best option is to use the streaming video for sure. The video will play instantaneously, just as it does with the high-speed connection, but you aren't going to get very good video or audio quality. In fact, the video and audio quality is about comparable to a webcam. The video is extremely blurry and the audio sounds like somebody is talking into a tin can. But, if you want to see the episodes, they are perfectly watchable in this mode. You can also use the Hi-Q Video to download the episodes if you are using dialup, but that is a very bad idea. You'll be waiting an entire day to download one half-hour episode!

The bottom line about both of these, though, is this: the video and audio quality is adequate, but in a world where some people are so demanding that they have to have a certain specification on their television, require special speakers for their TV, and have other picky habits about their viewing standards, this is like going back to a 13 inch television from the 1980s with a decent VCR. Not that that should bother you, many people were happy with such standards back then (and some, like myself, can even be satisfied by such standards now), but this is not the high-definition standard that some people demand these days.

As far as the reliability of the service itself, that is usually pretty good, but not necessarily perfect. One problem that I noted quite frequently is that sometimes episodes will just freeze up on a certain picture frame while the audio will continue playing. I've also noticed this problem with the whole episode just stopping at some random point within the episode on some episodes. Certainly, there are some flaws to be worked out, but this is all new, so hopefully these issues will be worked out.


Final Comments:

In2TV is a very good service, and I hope that it leads to bigger and better things, both from Warner and other companies that haven't tried this yet. The biggest area that needs improvement, I think, is the episode selection. The episodes need to be selected more wisely than the "dartboard" manner in which many were chosen (which is even odder considering the fact that the episode selection for some shows is very random, but at the same time, biased toward earlier seasons of the show). This is a great service that, despite how you are connected to the Internet, you should use and enjoy.

Recommended!

Links:
In2TV
SitcomsOnline.com News Blog In2TV Preview

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