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Zviewer beta 2 turns Firefox into a web-based media center

Over the weekend the folks at ZeeVee released a new beta of Zviewer, a PC-based browser for finding and watching web video. ZeeVee makes a set top box that's designed to provide a similar service for $499. But the desktop software is free while in beta.

I first took the Zviewer software for a spin a few months ago. While the software showed promise, there were a few drawbacks. First there was no search bar, meaning you'd have to do a lot of browing to find the videos you were looking for if your using the software on your PC. And if your PC is plugged into a television set videos didn't start in full screen mode which means that your remote control had better have a virtual mouse mode so you could hit the full screen button on sites like Hulu or YouTube.

Both of those issues have been addressed in Zviewer beta 2. There's a new search bar and videos start in full screen by default. You can also change the size of the network and program icons on your screen using Firefox keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+ and Ctrl-.

Zviewer is based on Firefox 3, which makes upgrading from Zviewer beta 1 to 2 a snap. When I started the Zviewer player this weekend it automatically downloaded and installed new versions of the plugins. I visited the Zviewer homepage to read the list of changes, and discovered that you can actually download these plugins as a package for Firefox 3 if you want. Instead of installing Zviewer as a standalone program, you can install the plugins and click a toolbar button to bring up the Zviewer interface from any web page.

Tags: media-center, online-video, zviewer