By Frank Rose
Greetings from the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Bling. Ken Schaffer is watching Russian TV in his New York apartment, and the ads keep coming. Maybelline Liquid Diamonds magenta lipstick! Tom Hanks in Hollywood’s latest! Then it’s back to the show, a crime dramedy starring Schaffer’s ex-wife, Alla Kliouka (known to HBO viewers as Tony Soprano’s one-legged mistress). But how is Schaffer getting Moscow television in Manhattan? Through TV2Me, his new remote receiving system.
TV2Me shifts space like TiVo shifts time. Same concept, different dimension. Want to watch Russian TV – not just the single channel offered by, say, Time Warner Cable, but the whole lineup? First, you have to get connected in Russia: Subscribe to Moscow’s NTV-Plus satellite service, hook up its set-top box to your $6,500 TV2Me unit, plug in a broadband Internet line, and stash all the hardware in your Moscow pied-terre (or a friend’s apartment). Then you just log onto the remote computer to stream video to a PC or TV anywhere on earth. If you’d rather tune into Tokyo, subscribe to Japan’s Sky PerfecTV instead. TV2Me works wherever you can put together a system.
This is not the first time Schaffer has stretched the bounds of radio transmission. A former rock publicist and child ham-radio operator, he invented the wireless guitar in the ’70s and sold it to bands like Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones. In 1980, long before DirecTV brought commercial satellite television to the US, he built an earth station on his roof, only to find his reception blocked by skyscrapers. Then he heard about a Russian satellite with an unusual orbit, trained his dish on the northern skies, and became the first American to pick up Soviet television. Before long he was selling $25,000 receiving systems to US government agencies (he’s mum on which ones). “Satellites are longitudinally challenged,” he says. “I’m just an extension cord.”
Original Article here