Saturday, 03 July 2010
The technology push to your living room

I've been reading articles about Google TV, Microsoft, Sony, BT, Sky and (now) Apple with interest regarding their push to your living room to put content on your TV.  There's a hell of a lot of content on the web and the age old issue of watching this content conveniently on your TV instead of having to fire up browsers on your PC is a problem none of the big companies appear to have really solved.

Sure you can watch some of Sky's content on your Xbox 360 now. But you won't get all of Sky's content because of content restrictions enforced by content distributors. You also won't get 4OD, BBC iPlayer or the ITV Player on this service. In addition to that you won't get YouTube, Hulu or Joost. Basically there is not one set top box that will give you all of these services through your TV without having to switch or unplug some box out of the VGA, SCART or HDMI slot on your TV. My guess is that Google are trying to address this with their new set-top box idea. Weather it will work remains to be seen, because at the end of the day it doesn't matter how fancy your platform is, content is still king.

Content distributors also hold a lot of sway, they dictate how their content can be distributed. If a channel is distributed via the Internet and over encrypted satellite in the eyes of the content provider they are separate mediums which require separate content rights. Hence Sky's problem of only being able to broadcast some of their Sky 1 shows via SkyPlayer and blocking the channels for the duration of that show for SkyPlayer customers while satellite customers get to view it.

Likewise content providers may give the writes to distribute a show over a streaming Internet Service with the caveat that it cannot be streamed to a service that connects to a TV as this right could have been solved to a terrestrial provider. This arrangement makes things incredibly difficult while all the user wants to do is watch their TV shows in the most convenient way possible.

I wish Google TV every bit of success although I am struggling to see how they will be able to offer the content we want all through one set top box. In addition to this problem when watching a series on TV sometimes people would like to start from the beginning of a series people are all raving on about. Content providers don't make it easy to get to this content and their appears to be a high amount of people using illegal downloads via services such as Bit Torrent to get to this content. The video/TV entertainment industry appears to be out of touch with how people would like to consume their content. The same thing happened in the music industry which saw a huge shift in how music was distributed which lead to services such as Spotify.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a service that held just about every movie, TV series, documentary that had ever been made, made available on demand? You could pay for the content per item or for a monthly fee have access to all of it?

posted on Saturday, 03 July 2010 10:42:38 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 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]

 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]

 Thursday, 15 November 2007
Goodbye Video Machine

My video machine has finally left the TV cabinet and here ends an era.

It started gradually I suppose when DVD's started replacing Video tapes in the video shops and I got my very first DVD player in the form of a Playstation 2. It was quite an exciting time, movies were crisp and all of a sudden I had Dolby Surround Sound - virtual bullets were flying through my living room along with a a stampede of horses. This was the true magic of home cinema I would no longer be able to go back to VHS after I had discovered this new and wonderful way of watching movies. Soon my video machines only use was for recording the odd program on TV I desperately wanted to watch. But alas - soon the poor video machine was no longer doing this when the Sky Plus box entered my household. Gone was the issue of ensuring you selected the correct channel on the video machine, setting the time on the video machine and finding it had recorded nothing but static. The Sky Plus box made recording live TV, pausing and rewinding it child's play. So much so the only job left for the poor video machine was to show the time. Later it was not even useful for this when it was replaced with a small LCD clock and eventually consigned to the loft. Maybe one day old videos machines will become expensive collectors items for watching old VHS video tapes not available on DVD?

posted on Thursday, 15 November 2007 19:51:10 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]