By Ron VandenBoom
If you're one of those who likes the idea of watching movies on your computer, then the next millennium is probably going to be your cup of tea.
Already there are several websites that have found a niche offering movies, TV shows, and music videos over the Internet.
What is most appealing about these sites is not the quality of the picture or the size of the image -- both leave a lot to be desired even with the new and faster connections speeds -- but the convenience of the medium.
Click on the movie, video, or TV show of your choice, and enjoy the show. No commercial interruptions and you can do it when you have the time.
Many, if not most, of the movies are free, but I have run into a few sites that charge. Other sites offer the movies for free but they ask you to sign up before allowing access to their site. There's nothing wrong with this if you don't mind taking the time to fill out the form, but it is not at all uncommon for them to require a return e-mail address that will ultimately lead to garbage messages in your mailbox from any number of different sites.
One of the better free sites is www.kkrs.net/netmoviemaniahome/netmoviemaniahome.html.
About 220 feature films ranging from the 1930s-1980s can be viewed with the click of a button -- providing of course you are using at least a 56K connection and you have installed the proper plug-ins. The most common are Real Video, Windows Multi Media, and for you Mac buffs, Quick Time. If you're using a Mac, though, don't be surprised if you can't install the right plug-ins. They are meant mostly for PCs and Windows. Sorry, guys.
You can choose from 13 different categories of movies from sci-fi to drama and action to horror. There are also family and romance movies available, to name just a few.
If westerns happen to be your thing, check out www.westerns.com/frames.htm and click on 80 classic films.
Scroll down a list of films and click on the one you find most appealing. That's all there is to it.
The future is also coming at www.metv.com/wm/lift.htm.
MeTV.com is claiming to be the Internet film site of the next millennium and, indeed, it may well offer something the others don't. It has signed a deal with Encoding.com to provide more than 750 movies to a database that it claims will offer up to 40,000 on-demand movies to the Internet public.
This is also one of the sites that surfers will need to join before they gain access to the database. It also is expected to charge for viewing at some point in the future.
Still in development, the site is offering 20 free movies to visitors now if they sign up.
The site expects to offer its selection of movies at only the higher Internet connection speeds and only in full screen format. It uses the Windows Media Player, but the quality is extraordinary.
It is a direction all the Internet will be trying to follow in the not too distant future.
Sightsound.com is a site that doesn't offer streaming movies, but allows you to download to watch at a later time. It will also charge for the movies on a rent or own basis.
Be prepared to wait a while if you decide to download one, and be sure you have plenty of room on your hard drive before you begin.
Most of the movies will run about 150 mb or more (mostly more and it will take several hours to download most of them). Be careful with this one.
Another channel you might want to try is, The Military Channel. It offers mostly documentary programming you select, but there is a regular program scheduled when you can get it. In the meantime, enjoy the documentaries.