Orb presents a free software-based alternative to the Sony LocationFree and Slingbox. Run the Orb Media Windows XP application on the host PC, and specify the directories containing your media. Then define a username and password, which is required to remotely access your audio, photos and video with a well-designed web interface.

Codecs are automatically chosen for different platforms: WM9 for PCs, and 3GP for mobile devices. Orb Media supports some TV tuners (DTT is not yet 'official') and external capture devices. The infrared system (which can use the MCE IR-sensor and transmitter) will learn 'commands', the Sky remote posing no problems.

The product would be more useful were Orb Media to include a manual TV channel-editor. Capture devices must support MPEG-2 hardware compression, which Orb recompresses in real-time.

With a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition PC as the server, streamed video was experienced with superb quality on a remote PC running Windows Media Player 10. At sub-300kbps transfer rates, though, 'stuttering' became a problem - the buffering clearly couldn't keep up.