Recently I came across an interesting product called Rabbit TV (get it here). You may have seen this as well. The package advertises 5000 FREE TV channels. Amazing! I don’t even get that many channels with my Verizon FIOS television package. I decided to buy it and see if it could really deliver what was being promised.
I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical, but wanted to give it a fair test. As is typical of most “As Seen on TV” products, there were a lot of pretty big claims being made here. The front of the package said, “Just Plug In and Watch TV!” but the back, in smaller print, advised to “read full instruction manual enclosed before use”. It also claimed to make available 25,000 free movies and 50,000 free radio stations. This is what the package looks like:
I opened the package and removed the device itself, along with the “full instruction manual”. It is supposed to work with both Mac and PC computers. Since I use a Windows 7 PC, I read the full instructions for use. Here they are:
1. Plug RabbitTV into the USB port of your computer
2. Follow onscreen instructions to register device
Yes, that is literally the complete set of instructions. I guess that means this product is pretty easy to use, right?
As instructed, I plugged the device into an available USB port. This is what displayed on the screen:
I clicked to Run RabbitTV. This is the next window that appeared:
I clicked the Start button. That initiated a new tab being opened in my web browser. It took me to this URL: http://register.rabbittvgo.com/install/
On that page, the opening screen gave me the option to choose either Windows or Mac. As soon as I clicked Windows, it immediately downloaded a small file (487 kb) and instructed me to run the file and install it. The file name was “rabbittv-install.exe”.
(At this point I was wondering, why couldn’t the instruction manual just tell me to go to that website and download/install the file?)
I clicked to install the file.
NOTE: This is not something that I would recommend as a general policy. If you don’t know what you are clicking on, or you don’t know what will happen when you click on something, the safest thing is to NOT click on it. I created a System Restore point as an added layer of protection in case something went wrong, but that’s not a 100% guarantee of safety.
Here is what I saw next:
I clicked the “Install” button. That took me to a web page that asked me to complete registration information (user name, password, name, address, email, phone and date of birth). There is also a “Terms of Service” that you must agree to before submitting the form. I copied and pasted the Terms of Service into a blank Word document and it came out to 8 pages (2,372 words). I won’t go into all the details, but by clicking “Agree” you are signing up for their email newsletter and other emails with “new deals, discounts and new products”. They also get the right to sell or disclose your information to third parties who may also email you. To fill out the form, I used a “junk email” email address.
This is what came up next:
I had not noticed this earlier, but the back of the package says that my initial purchase of the device includes one year of service. After that it’s $10 per year, or you can do 5 years for $45.
The next screen verified that I have Flash, Silverlight and Windows Media Player installed on my computer.
After that, I was in to the actual content area. I have to say, I was surprised at what I found. There is a lot of stuff here.
The content is divided into categories (I’ll list a few examples from each):
Latest TV Episodes – Nature, Criminal Minds, Chicago Fire, NOVA, CSI, Law and Order SVU, Modern Family, The Middle
Classic Shows – Andy Griffith, Dragnet, Flipper, Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Star Trek, Gilligan’s Island, Dick Van Dyke, Beverly Hillbillies
Popular Movies – S.W.A.T., Glory, Resident Evil, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Universal Soldier
Pay-Per-View Movies – Identity Thief, A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher, Last Stand, Parker, Django, Safe Haven, Lincoln
TV Networks – Food Network, Cartoon Network, MTV, National Geographic, HGTV, SyFy, Comedy Central, Spike, Disney Channel
Live Web TV Channels – Aljazeera, NHL Network, FashionTV, HSN, QVC, CMC, KissTV, Hope Channel, Outdoor Cooking Channel
Radio and Music channels – Wolfgang’s Vault, Dave Ramsey Show, BBC Radio, I Heart Radio, Grooveshark, Last.FM, Pandora, MoshCam.com, Yahoo Sports Radio
There is also a search field where you can search for TV shows by the name of the show, actor names, network, etc. If you want a specific show, it is best to do a search on the title. There are so many different shows, it is unlikely that the one you are looking for will show up in the samples.
Every day there is a new “intro” video in the top left corner that plays automatically when the page is loaded. That part I didn’t really care for.
Frankly, what I expected going in to this was a cheaply-done web interface that just directed the viewer to other websites that had this content. RabbitTV definitely offers more than that. Yes, some of the programming comes from other internet sites (such as Hulu and TV Land) and is just displayed inside the RabbitTV website frame. But overall they have done a good job of aggregating a LOT of TV and movie content and put it all here in one place. I think it was worth the $10.
Currently they are offering a deal where you can get an extra Rabbit TV device free when you buy one (you just pay the additional shipping). You can get that deal here.