WebTV eBay Auction Test
is an easy to use, VCR-like set top box that allows you to surf the
Internet and send/receive email on your television's screen. It connects
to any TV with Audio Video inputs and has a built-in modem that connects
to your existing phone line. Since online auctions are all the rage, we
wondered how Internet auction behemoth eBay would perform on Web TV's
somewhat limited platform. Who better to put WebTV to the test than our
own eBay expert Marsha Collier.
First of all, I found WebTV comfortable and not too different from watching TV. Simple commands let you "go to" any website you wish - including eBay. Of course I saved my "My eBay" page in the "favorites" area. Once you are on the Internet, WebTV functions just like any other computer and is a convenient way to check your auctions and bid on eBay with your wireless keyboard from the comfort of your living room sofa. You can surf the net in the same way as on the computer at the office, but if WebTV is your only access to eBay, there are a few tricks to learn.
To put your auctions up on eBay with pictures, you'll also need a camcorder or digital camera. You can post your auctions on eBay with WebTV simply. Just go to the "sell your item" on the eBay front page and fill out the form. You may use any HTML code in your description - and simple code from any book (or from eBay's instructions) will take you a long way. Although WebTV's wireless keyboard has no "copy, cut or paste" keys, the "cmd" key works with other keys to give you access to all these functions. If you hold down the "cmd" key and press the letter "A", you will highlight all the text in the current box. If you only want to copy selected text, place your cursor at the beginning of the word (or words) you wish to copy, hold down the "cmd" key and press the arrow in lower right hand corner "®". Keep one finger on the "cmd" key as you tap the arrow key (letter by letter) until the entire word or phrase you wish to copy is highlighted. Press "cmd" and the letter "C" at the same time and the highlighted text will be copied onto your WebTV virtual clipboard. To paste this text elsewhere in your description, press the "cmd" and the "V" key. (Sounding familiar?) To cut text, highlight as described above and press "cmd" and "X". This expedites the copying of HTML codes throughout your description.
Now the fun part - adding pictures. It's so quick and easy that you might consider using WebTV to upload pictures even if you do have access to a computer! Line up all your items and film them, one at a time with your camcorder. Linger for a minute on each item - zoom in and zoom out. The auto focus on your camcorder will record quality images. Be sure not to turn your camera to photograph in "portrait" mode, or your pictures will end up on eBay sideways. (I always wondered how sideways pictures ended up in auctions).
To get your photos in your auctions you need to connect to the Internet. Log on to any website that hosts WebTV generated eBay pictures. A few are www.auctionwatch.com, www.manageauctions.com and www.ranchoweb.com. Each site has special options. AuctionWatch offers excellent news and information about running your auctions, as well as bulk counters - you can place counters on all your eBay auctions with just one mouseclick. Auction messaging and planning is also available, and their service is free. ManageAuctions offers a very intensive management service for your auctions, with hour by hour - day by day counter statistics, a service to leave feedback for all your auctions, winner email and accounting services (with more services added almost daily) and a full 4 megabytes for your images - their services are also free. Ranchoweb.com is a simple, straightforward, image-hosting site - with the same easy to use upload procedures - without all the other stuff. It's run with a more personal touch and technical help is just an email away. They charge 25¢ per image to store pictures for your auctions. Readers of this article may upload up to 5 pictures for free, just type the code MCEBM in the "How did you hear about us", and they'll host 5 images without charge to try out their service.
After you've registered for image hosting, the procedure for uploading is common to all services:
All services but ManageAuctions will allow you to name the picture (ManageAuctions lets you change the name of the image after it has uploaded). After uploading, you will be presented with the URL (location needed on the eBay "Sell your item" form) of your picture in Ranchoweb, and ManageAuctions assigns the URL as follows: http://ManageAuctions.com/member/yourmemberID/picturename.jpeg. AuctionWatch offers a complete auction posting service that links directly to eBay; it's a one-stop posting center! With a mouse click, you can go directly to a "Sell your item" posting form, and your images and/or counters can be attached and posted directly to the auction site.
Using WebTV can be an excellent adjunct to your online auction toolkit. It gives the entire family a great deal of service and can bring the family together to surf the net - rather than keeping each member isolated. At our house, we feel playing Interactive Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune easily covers the cost of the service. At 7 pm we try to meet at the TV set, and get together for a few rounds of playing - we can even win prizes! Of course, once the games are over, I just have to check on eBay - even if it's briefly. Don't forget that you can always watch TV while you're on the net, by pressing "cmd" and "W" - this will give you a TV PIP (picture in picture in the corner of your screen.
WebTV has also joined with the DISH Network to provide satellite driven enhanced personal TV services including digital recording and live TV pause.
A WebTV box sells for $149. Your Web TV Plus Internet service will run $24.95 per month. If you already have an Internet Service Provider (like MSN, Earthlink or Mindspring), you can bring along your ISP and only pay $14.95 a month for the service. Editor's note: WebTV is currently offering two months free Internet service with purchase.
WebTV? It's a good thing. It conveniently gives you a solid way to get up and running on eBay.
Copyright ©1999, 2000 The Collier Company, Northridge CA • All Rights Reserved