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SyncTV tries to sell subscription TV content

Unlimited DVD-quality downloads for Mac, PC, and Linux, with TVs and portable devices on the horizon.

A new TV download service is trying to one-up iTunes.

Though it has far less content than Apple's service, SyncTV offers themed channels of TV content available for subscription or purchase over the Web. Each channel will run about $2 each per month, and currently there are four subscription channels available.

In most cases, if you subscribe to a channel, you also get access to every episode of the shows on that channel, SyncTV CEO John Gildred says. So far, the biggest content name that has signed on is Showtime. That's not the most compelling for the average viewer, but Gildred promises more "major broadcasters" will sign on later.

SyncTV started as a project inside Pioneer, but was spun off as its own company in August. The most interesting feature is the ability to play the DVD-quality content on up to five devices in the home, and up to 10 different portable devices. The portable devices aren't available yet, because the SyncTV technology has not been developed for them. That's where SyncTV partners come in.

SyncTV uses an open-source DRM system called Marlin that will allow consumer electronics manufacturers to include the service in future devices. Gildred said that third-party devices will start to roll out in the first half of 2008. Beginning Monday, the service will open up in private beta only, and will work on Windows or Mac machines. Eventually it will work with PCs running Linux as well. You can apply to be a beta tester at the SyncTV Web site.