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This is the spatial analogue to timeshifting, which is the older and better established term for recording a TV programme to watch at a later time.

When you placeshift, you instead redirect the TV signal from your cable box, satellite television connection or computer so you can watch a programme on a device somewhere else. That might be in another room in the house or on a mobile phone or a PDA (personal digital assistant) anywhere in the world. The term was invented in 2005 by Sling Media, the makers of the Slingbox, a personal video recorder that provides the service.

Placeshifting is mainly restricted to specialist journals, but the concept is getting a lot of attention, not least from mobile operators who see it as a way to get their customers to use the currently under-exploited video facilities on their mobile devices. It is also being watched — but in a more negative light — by broadcasters, who are worried about matters such as copyright infringement.

Like so many new technological ideas, it’s the focus of a lot of hype at the moment, so it might yet turn out to be a solution to a problem that nobody thinks actually exists.

It’s quite clear that a wave of placeshifting technologies is on its way. The implications of such a wave at first seem to mean rough seas for wireless carriers. The spread of placeshifting will ultimately put wireless carriers on a crash course to compete with the full suite of video offerings from pay-TV and the Internet.

The Online Reporter, 9 Sep. 2006

With placeshifting, you can record the college football game you’re missing on Saturday afternoon and then view it on your notebook PC that same night at a hotel hot spot. Once placeshifting becomes a reality for a PC/TV, however, digital entertainment systems will become more compelling.

PC Magazine, 5 Dec. 2006

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 9 Dec. 2006

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 9 December 2006.