On-demand streaming video is where everything’s headed, but what’s available where? Not all services have the same titles, and there are services out there you probably haven’t even heard of. Many of these offer a la carte digital rentals and/or purchases, or all you can eat for a monthly fee, and some are included with your cable subscription (e.g. HBO Go). Availability is always changing, but you don’t want to have to search through every one.
I discovered a slick web site called Can I Stream.it?, at http://canistream.it, which solves this problem. You type in a movie name, and it will tell you where you can watch it, or buy it on DVD. You can also have it remember movies for you and notify you when it finds them on the service you want. It’s free, and homegrown in NYC. I like it. Caroline used Can I Stream.it? the other day when the TiVo recorded the entirety of a movie except for its final half hour, leaving her in suspense. Can I Stream.it? found the film at VUDU, and nowhere else.
Nearly all of the streaming services let you watch on your computer; some also have apps for iPhone and iPad. If you want to watch on your TV, you can use an Apple TV for iTunes Store and Netflix; for anything else, you can wirelessly display the screen of a recent-vintage Mac on your TV via AirPlay. Alternatively, you can get a Roku, which is like an Apple TV, and which receives almost everything except iTunes Store. Other devices, such as a game consoles, Blu-Ray players, and many modern TV’s, may offer access to various services, if they are connected to your home network.
On a related note for Netflix streaming subscribers, the venerable InstantWatcher is still indispensable. It gives you a non-nonsense alternative to Netflix’ own clunky web site, allowing you to find finding Netflix instant streaming movies quickly so you can add them to your queue.