There's no doubt that online streaming is TV's future, and lots of programming is available all over the Web, including not only live streaming but also on demand and archived. We've tried several programs that attempt to bring as many of these scattered resources together in a single, user-friendly interface, including anyTV, a free program offering thousands of links to Internet TV and radio sites. AnyTV Pro is a shareware version of anyTV that offers some 3,000 additional channels, a full-screen view, automatic updates, and some other upgrades. While it definitely works better and offers more than the free versions, its shortcomings limit its appeal.
Like the freeware, anyTV Pro shows a lot of stations in a left-side panel. A drop-down list let us sort the offerings by country, and column headings sorted the list by Channel, Genre, Rating, Bitrate, and user-supplied Comments. We clicked on many channels from around the world, yet few loaded, and of those that did, many only showed a video play button, logo, or test pattern. Of course, anyTV Pro can only display active channels, but many links led to dead ends. Most of the programming we did access was public service TV, pop music videos in a variety of languages, public-domain movies from the 1930s, and grainy "Tom and Jerry" cartoons that issued warnings about trying to access full-screen views. While anyTV Pro does enable the fullscreen option that is disabled in the freeware, it usually just blows up the available window. Accessing sites directly yielded much higher quality, even streaming HD video.
We think Internet TV is a great idea, and more free content is available all the time, but users looking to access cable-quality content for free will be disappointed, and not just in anyTV Pro but in general: You get what you pay for. But we think you'll get better results accessing channels and programming directly than by using anyTV Pro's interface. From Hulu to PBS to The Internet Archive of Moving Images, the quality of online programming has never been better. However, if you travel or live where regular service isn't available, anyTV Pro is certainly worth a try.
Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of anyTV Pro 5.12. The trial version is limited to 5 days.