Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Project Canvas

The BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4 and TalkTalk have been given then go ahead for Project Canvas a project to enable people to watch Internet based TV on set-top box's connected to their TV's. Its a brilliant idea and one we disgruntled customers have wanted for some time. Its great content guys but I'd love to watch it on my TV screen easily instead of having to watch it on my computer screen. Yes there have been alternatives for instance Sony's PS3 openly supports and advertises that you can watch BBC iPlayer on its games console and the same service is also available on the Wii. The Xbox 360 being somewhat of a walled garden has snuggled up to Sky who also have rather good content but charge and horrendous amounts for their subscriptions to watch their on demand content on the Xbox and not all of Sky's content is available on the Xbox as it is on the PC.

So why Project Canvas? Well not all of the content from the above mentioned broadcasters Internet content are easily available on a TV as the BBC iPlayer is. Even if you do plug a PC into your TV, the usability of it still isn't as easy and seamless as it should be. The way we want to watch TV is changing we want to watch show's when we want to and not when a schedule tells us we can and the industry has been a little late giving us what we want and how we want it. The way I see it, is that Canvas isn't any different to another method of delivering content to your TV. In the past we have made use of set-top box's, the only difference with Canvas is - this set-top box gets its content over a cable, but so does Virgin Media's cable service? Ahh but we have quite a selection of broadcasters and its all on demand. Virgin Media does this to? Yes but you need a cable subscription Canvas in theory should work on anyone's Internet connection ah!

In theory Canvas should do away with the subscription model to see this content and break us away from a technology walled garden. Its no wonder BSkyB is not happy with the idea, Canvas would (if it worked) be open to all and on demand which gives it more coverage than Virgin Media's service. This threatens Sky's service which is mainly delivered over a satellite dish. Or if you are willing to pay for it get yourself an Xbox 360 and a subscription to a limited amount of their content on demand.

What I like about this partnership is that the broadband providers such as BT and TalkTalk are part of the group and can make allowances for the extra content that is being sent over their networks. This will inevitably be paid for with some paid for content being provided on this new platform.

posted on Tuesday, 22 December 2009 13:04:33 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 23 November 2009
My home entertainment revolution

You've seen the adverts on TV and on the Internet we are in the middle of a home entertainment revolution. Games consoles are at the forefront of how we are going to consume movies and TV shows in our living rooms, no longer will we have to watch digitally available content in front of our PC screens. Multi media consoles such as the Xbox 360 and the PS3 will revolutionise this experience they are  marketed as being the centre of your entertainment universe.

Are they? Well lets take my Friday night experience into account. Having survived the week, treated ourselves to takeaway and and collapsing on the sofa in front of our TV talking about how exhausting the week had been. We decided it would be nice to watch a film, I pick up the Sky Plus remote control and press the box office button 2 minutes before 8pm. The laboriously slow menu system on the Sky Plus box isn't very forthcoming on the entertainment it has to offer me tonight as it sluggishly provides very poor information on each film. We as usual look up the films available on www.imdb.com to see if they are any good using one of our laptops, and as usual there's not much that grabs us. Next I decide to fire up the PS3 as I've heard someone mention there are some new entertainment features available and I might be able to start downloading or streaming films. On firing up the PS3 I realise I need to plug the HDMI cable in as it was used earlier for my PC. I'm then presented with a hard disk corruption message and told the system will attempt to restore the hard disk corrupted sectors. The task succeeds but I'm presented with a message telling me that I will need to run a System update. I ignore the message click on the Playstation store icon and am told before I can proceed I must do a system update. Fine I'll do the system update, I set the PS3 to do a system update and decide while I am waiting I may as well fire up the Xbox 360 to see if there is anything in Zune or Sky Player.

I log into my Xbox 360 and enter the Zune store. But there's not that much new content in the Zune store, the majority of the content is old films and there are not many of them. The newer films that have been released such as the new Star Trek film and Moon are not available. I like the idea of Zune because it enables me to stream content instead of having to wait for a large movie to download. Having not found anything I want to watch there I checkout Sky Player. There's a lot of movies here but unfortunately I need to subscribe to the movie channels on my Sky Movie package before I can get any of these movies on demand. I already have a multi room subscription and I have a package that includes the entertainment and documentary channels. Having multi room enables me to use the Sky Player on my Xbox 360, I had kept multi-room because I had been locked in a contract on it from my previous home and had planned on cancelling it and taking the movie channels but this means I couldn't use Sky Player on my Xbox 360. What a dilemma! I can't even watch Sky Movies on the Xbox 360 on Pay per view because its on my Sky account. I shake my head and wonder how the PS3 is doing, it looks as though the update failed something about a server connection problem. So I decide to fire up the Mac Mini connected to my TV and look at the iTunes movie store. It also requires an update so I get that running and am eventually able to browse the store and find the film I wanted to watch Star Trek! I set the Mac up to download it. Apparently its going to take an hour.great. We decide to play Rockband on the Xbox 360 while we wait. After 40 minutes the film has download and I get it to play on the Mac through the RGB cable on my TV. The quality I must say wasn't stunning, for some reason films still have the "letterbox" view even on wide screen TV's. Why? The letterbox view is a lot narrower than usual and you can tell by the full screen mode that pixels are slightly stretched every now and again the action scenes give this away. I probably wouldn't have noticed this if I had watched it on my laptop screen, which I kind of feel seems to have been he target of this format. What family watches films on their laptop or PC screens together?

So what's the problem? Well there is no doubt that services are now available for watching shows on demand through your TV. I have a Sky Plus box, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 and Mac all connected to my TV. The problem is the Xbox 360 may provide a streaming high quality service which is brilliant for watching content on demand when you want it, but it lacks the content in Zune. The iTunes store has the content but it can't be streamed you have to download it and that's just as bad as having to wait for a film to come on at the right time on Sky Box Office. Besides the quality of the content on the iTunes store isn't as good, maybe I would have a better experience if I had bought the Apple TV box? (more money to spend and yet another box). The Sky Player service on the Xbox is prohibitively expensive, Sky appear to treat Sky Player content as though you were a completely new Sky TV subscriber. It doesn't work on the idea that you are a Sky TV subscriber already and just want another way of watching the same content on demand. It basically gives you that ability but it charges you for it in the way of multi room subscriptions.

What about the PS3? Well I eventually got the PS3 update to work and discovered it had a movie section which seemed to have the same content as the iTunes store. Great news I suppose, but it appears this content is not streamed content but has to be downloaded. Not so good..

Buying content to own is also another dilemma, what format do you purchase the content for? If I purchase the film on my PS3 I won't be able to play it on my Mac or my Xbox 360. I'm not a pirate all I want is the ability to play the media I bought on what ever platform I choose. Unfortunately content providers don't really understand or are unwilling to let their content be available on multiple channels even if it is watched by the same person who purchased it to begin with. Rights for content is distributed by channel not by who purchased the content to begin with. I believe we are going to face a big issue unless just like DVD and Blu-Ray, the industry comes up with a standard for the delivery of the same content across multiple platforms digitally.

posted on Monday, 23 November 2009 22:20:50 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Thursday, 18 December 2008
BBC iPlayer now officially working on PS3!

After discovering that Joost works on the PS3 browser I then decided to to see if the BBC iPlayer worked in the same way and it did! The BBC iPlayer web site now detects if you have a Playstation 3 and then serves up a smaller vision of the site for the PS3. It even tells you to press the right controller in to maximise the content you are watching. I must say there were a lot less complications with it than there was with Joost, probably because the BBC kept it simple, simple works for me it means less goes wrong.

Now I know the iPlayer has been working on the Wii for a while now but its nice to see it working on the PS3 as its the only console I usually keep plugged in because it plays my Blu Ray discs, DVD's and is a lot better at playing streamed content from my Windows Media Centre PC better than my Xbox 360!

You can also see past episodes of Hero's on the iPlayer now BTW.

posted on Thursday, 18 December 2008 14:49:27 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 07 September 2008
Army Of Two PS3 can’t get onto the monorail

I've been playing Army Of Two with my wife on the PS3 and we got stuck at on the level where you are supposed to take the monorail to your objective, but the doors just wouldn't open. We got so annoyed we ended up shooting out all the windows to see if we could jump into the tram. I then discovered a posting on Yahoo Answers which said after getting to the tram pause the game and then restart from your last checkpoint. It worked liked a charm! Restarting from last checkpoint places you directly in front of the tram entrance and you don't have to redo the power station level. Looks like a bug that shouldn't have got passed user testing at EA Games for the PS3. No one seems to have the problem on the Xbox version.

posted on Sunday, 07 September 2008 11:10:45 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Sunday, 24 February 2008
A PS3 with Singstar!

PS3  When our mates Dave and Anita purchased a PS3 for Christmas I couldn't miss the opportunity to have my phone taken with one (very geeky I know!). Anyway I got my first chance to try out a PS3, I had really wanted one for Christmas but I couldn't get hold of the 60gig versions for love of money (these are the ones that are backwards compatible).  Dave and Anita's PS3 was a 40gig version this meant that older PS2 and PS1 DVD's would not work on their console.

The game I was most interested in was Singstar for the PS3. I'll openly admit now that my wife and I were converted a few years ago to the joy of Singstar karaoke by a couple of friends and since then my wife has purchased just about every English Singstar game for the PS2. Its not that we fancy ourselves as rock artists but that the games are so much fun when you have a few friends over and have had a few drinks. The PS3 version actually allows you to download new tracks off the Internet, how cool is that? I can fast see a new market springing up.

posted on Sunday, 24 February 2008 13:32:10 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 19 January 2008
EzVision Video eyewear - the future of personal entertainment

ezVision Okay the title is a bit cheesy and I apologise for that, but the EzVision is sooo cool! I had seen one of these for sale ages ago and then when my wife left a Christmas catalogue from I want One of Those with the convenient little tabs you could use to mark what you liked (so Santa might buy it for you) on the coffee table. I made sure that this gadget was at the top of my wish list!

On Christmas day the first thing this little gadget was plugged into was my iPod video. I thought it would have plugged into the socket I used for syncing my iPod with my PC but it actually goes into the same socket as the headphones. The EzVision comes with its own headphones connected to the eyewear. The first thing I was expecting when I put these on was to feel as though I was right in front of a large 52inch TV screen or as if I was actually in the movie I was watching. Well its not quite like that, when the box it comes in says a 52inch screen its actually feels more like sitting near the back in a cinema and watching a large screen. At times you almost expect people to be getting up or arriving late to take their cinema seats.

The other thing I like about the EzVision is it just looks so cool, several times I've been tempted to rush outside with them on and say "Quick! What year is it?!"

Not just for your iPod

ezVisionConnectorIts important to note that the EzVision is not just for your iPod it also comes with a connector that will allow it to connect to any device with an RGB or composite video output. What this means is you can connect it to an Xbox, Playstation and Wii console. Yes you heard that right you can connect this to a Wii console. "But doesn't the Wii remote need to see the TV screen?" I hear you say. No actually, if you are playing games such as Wii Tennis it works just fine and I found it was even more fun playing it this way than it was on the TV screen! Just remember than when you are trying to select menu options on the screen before a game you need to be facing the Wii sensor that is usually located on your TV. Other devices this little gadget will connect to is your Sky box if you have a scart to RGB converter, these usually come with a PS2 or you can pick them up for a couple of quid from Maplin. You can can also connect it to your PC if it has a video output socket!

posted on Saturday, 19 January 2008 13:54:38 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 06 October 2007
Cut on PS3 price

Just been reading an article on my wife Karen's blog about a cut in the price of the PS3.

Sony will be releasing a cut down version of the PS3 which is cheaper however not backwards compatible with the PS2 and PS1. The price is quite attractive at £299, however I am not prepared to buy a cut down version of the PS3 if I can't play my old PS2 and PS1 games. However if you are looking for a cheap Blu-ray DVD player the PS3 is definitely it.

On another note the full version of the PS3 will be coming down from £425 to £349 which is a much more palatable price. I am still facing the dilemma between and Xbox 360 and a PS3.  I love the Wii console but I also want a serious games console and I really love all the amazing features that come packed in the PS3.

posted on Saturday, 06 October 2007 10:34:48 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Friday, 30 March 2007
PS3 Again

Interesting post containing a video on my friend Julians blog about the decline of the PS3 by Sony. The video does seem more inclined towards the Xbox.

As far as I am concerned I think the PS3 is an amazing machine and had the benefit of seeing one at a demo with the most amazing graphics I have seen in a long time. However I think the price tag will be its downfall, maybe what Sony should have done was specked down the machine so it wasn't so expensive when they launched it which I think is the only thing that puts people off the console. The console has just about everything included making it a powerful multimedia machine. If Sony had included a desktop OS, keyboard, mouse etc they may even have been able to target it towards part of the desktop PC market (maybe this would be included at a later date as an optional extra).

posted on Friday, 30 March 2007 20:49:40 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Friday, 23 March 2007
PS3 Launched

Well the PS3 Launched but the reaction seemed a bit mixed and Microsoft rained on the parade with quotes such as "Sony.....you're late!". The biggest launch was in London however over the rest of Europe in some cases the press outnumbered people purchasing the consoles. I was just wondering if the price was what was putting people off the console? I'd really like to own a PS3 but will probably have to wait until they became a bit more affordable. I was hoping Microsoft may have brought the price of the XBOX down but sadly that didn't happen yesterday.

posted on Friday, 23 March 2007 21:11:23 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Tuesday, 20 March 2007
PS3 or XBOX 360?

I am a huge fan of the Playstation ever since I got my Playstation 2 I have had hours of entertainment playing games on this console. However I noticed after a while I was buying PS2 games played them once or twice and then they stayed on the shelf collecting dust. Playing games started to become a bit of a task they weren't the type of games you used to play on the old Atari consoles where you could have a quick game of pong or space invaders. Each game has an intro and loads a bit like a movie its a great experience for those ultimate games but it gets a bit annoying each time you load the game. But none the less I still loved the console it provided a great Karaoke machine and it was my first DVD player (a darn cheap one at the time). My natural thought was to go onto the PS3 when it came out over Christmas 2006, but then it didn't turn up in the UK. The only console available was the Wii, I had heard little about the console until I started seeing people playing on it on TV and in shops, what a cool idea! Why hadn't anyone else thought of a such a cool way to play computer games. The Wii was a great console for playing fun games and it had made me forget about getting my hands on the PS3 it was a console that allowed all your friends to join in your games instead of waiting one at a time and then trying to figure out all the different combo's.

Now that I have a Wii console I want a more serious console for playing serious games and when I looked at the XBox 360 I was amazed by the game Gears of War there was nothing that seemed close to it on either of the other consoles and I am considering buying the console just because of the game. Also the fact that the PS3 will cost £429 from Amazon and the XBOX 360 is £269 and I have heard a rumor that the XBOX 360 may come down by £50-£80 in price when the PS3 launches. I am wondering who will pay £429 for a games console you can buy a plasma TV for that price in some places.  So what game will convince me to buy the PS3 or shell out so much cash, the truth is there isn't on at the moment and the console is much to expensive. I just hope Sony hasn't overstretched itself a bit too much trying to bring out the PS3 which could probably make or break Sony as the leader in the games console market. 

posted on Tuesday, 20 March 2007 22:22:39 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]