Chris Nuttall Web video on TV gets smaller box, bigger choice

Verismo The latest box to make internet content viewable on a TV is also the smallest.

 Verismo Networks’ VuNow fits in the palm of your hand and at 3.5″ x 4″ looks about half the size of Netflix’s Roku box, the SlingCatcher or Apple TV.

VuNow was unveiled at this week’s New TeeVee Live conference in San Francisco and, in the demonstration I was given, seemed to have a wide range of content available through an attractive on-screen interface.

The box itself has a remote control and just an ethernet connection,  a couple of audio/video connectors and two USB ports – to connect a wi-fi dongle or play back content from external storage -on the back.

It connects up to Verismo’s servers and allows users to choose from around 1400 “channels” , from YouTube to live TV streams such as BBC World. Video can also be found through intuitive on-screen searches.

Verismo says it is adding partners all the time and the service seemed able to play full episodes from ABC.com but not from NBC and Fox’s Hulu.com. There is also integration with CinemaNow, the premium movie service.

Ten different video formats are supported. Quality is dependent on the source’s encoding and the capacity of the broadband connection.

Verismo, based near Google in Mountain View,  is a five-year-old privately funded company employing around 70 people. VuNow is its second-generation version of a bigger set-top box.

It aims to sell the box to telecom operators and content providers who want to deliver their own programming and branded interface, but consumers will be able to buy it online from the end of December for $99 to $149, depending on whether HD connectivity and other features are required. Verismo also aims to make money through advertising and sharing revenues with content providers.

Verismo is focusing on offering hardware and managed services rather than trying to get into the content business itself – a wise move given the failure of other start-ups pursuing that strategy, such as MovieBeam and Akimbo.