Web services like Hulu and Fancast are great for watching shows online. But what if you're on a plane or otherwise disconnected from the Internet? Can't you download shows for offline viewing on, say, a PC or iPod?
Unfortunately, Hulu, Fancast, and similar video-on-demand services don't allow you to download their media. Instead, it's streamed in real-time, with nothing actually getting stored on your PC.
And because the services rely on Flash software for playback, you need a desktop Web browser. Sorry, iPhone owners.
Of course, if you're willing to put a little time, money, and effort into it, you can work around these limitations.
Applian Technologies Replay Media Catcher 3.0 can capture just about any streaming media and save it to your PC, where you can then watch it at your leisure (without an Internet connection) or convert it for viewing on a mobile device.
I used the $40 program to record the Jim Carrey classic Liar, Liar from Hulu. It was incredibly easy--press the record button, then start and pause the video--but it took a while to finish. That's because Media Catcher records in real-time, so whatever the duration of the video, that's how long it'll take to capture.
The program stores files in a format called FLV, which can be viewed on your PC using an included player. However, if you want to convert them for, say, your iPod or iPhone, grab a copy of Videora iPod Converter. This free utility easily converts FLV files to an iPod-ready format. But it, too, takes time: just over an hour for a 90-minute movie.
Hey, I never said this was a quick, easy, or free solution. But if you want to stock up on episodes of Arrested Development, Firefly, and other gems to take on the road, this does the job.