89 posts • joined 18 Jul 2007
I fully agree.
IMO IBM (and Microsoft for that matter) have ruined pretty much every piece of software they've bought (or where they've bought the company, such as was the case with IBM's purchase of Lotus). Neither of these companies seem to have been passionate about the software they've acquired via these methods (especially not IBM). Their only passion would seem to involve taking out the opposition. Great big bloated* money-making bean-counter-ran machines.
* - Bloated just like all the software they've acquired, two or three years after acquisition.
Since Lewis is talking about ceiling spotlights he probably means an arrangement where multiple lights are controlled with one switch. Low voltage ceiling lights usually have one transformer per light and all of these transformers will be controlled by one switch. In this case the switch would carry 240v to all transformers when switched on.
So, in the vast majority of cases, the idea of wasting power by having low voltage ceiling lights is garbage - when they're off they're off (transformers and lights).
You should try Serviio for DLNA - it's free(!) and works a treat with my Samsung 37" TV (which is about a year old). I've hardly found any types of encoded video that it doesn't like (although uncleaned .TS (mpeg) files really give it a headache). Most h.264 stuff plays great too (generally speaking if a h264 file won't play, or doesn't appear in the file list, I rename it to MP4 and it plays fine).
I'm surprised you've had problems with your Samsung playing DLNA - although I've always used Serviio I've hardly had any issues with it.
No Humax to review? (not 100% sure they brought out any new models in 2011 so maybe that's why). But either way I don't think the lineup is much cop. The TVonics looks OK but the software doesn't look particularly slick. And I can't get cable so the virgin box is out for me.
If I had to list my "wants" for a dvr/streamer they are (in no real order):
Freeview HD recorder with iPlayer and 4od built in (or youview if it ever arrives!). Ability to upload and download media via ethernet. HDMI output. Nice remote control. And, most importantly of all, reliable recording including series links that work (and don't disappear or fail to record!).
Unfortunately I don't think any manufacturer is interested in delivering all of the above (or even part of the above). They often seem to be let down by immature or clunky software that's coded to order by outsourced teams. Once their products are released companies seem to have little interest in fixing the bugs or adding (god forbid!) extra features*.
* I could live with this if only they fixed their bugs!
Humax used to update their DVR software regularly but they seem to be hampered by their offshore dev model (or financial constraints - or both). And Topfield seem to have disappeared from the market :-(
There was a time when I thought this area of tech would eventually mature. Now I'm not so sure. Hey ho!
Maybe they've regressed. It wouldn't overly surprise me if they've got a brand new app to sit within their new UI rather than the one that came with the older models. On a similar note I saw a brand new Humax freeview box a couple of months ago (with HDMI output) that had no HD within the iplayer interface. The default "quality" for SD viewing in the Humax iPlayer was also poor by default (to get the same standard picture as my Samsung you have to click to say you want "high" quality before viewing each program - but this still only gives you 576i).
"All the sets I looked at incorporate iPlayer, though in the case of the Sony and the Samsung, what you get is really just the standard big screen version. It works, but there’s no HD and it’s a little basic – especially for a really large screen."
Are you sure? My 1 year old Samsung LCD TV has all the HD content available via iPlayer (either via the BBC HD channel icon or select the "also available in HD" link on suitable program info pages). Works well too as long as my router's managed to connect at 5mbps (can stutter at lower speeds).
Admittedly the HD content comes across 720(p/i not sure which) and not in 1080i. But it's still HD of sorts.
Bought an HDMI cable from them a few months ago for £10. They sold similar cables "online only" for £2.99. But as I was in a hurry (long story) I had to pay £7 more for the privilege of collecting it myself from their store.
I guess they were still cheaper than Curry's, etc, for the same cable but I still won't morn the loss of a shop that sells the same thing at two, vastly different, prices.
"Buy it safe in the knowledge that you’ll never have to fork out for these movies ever again – or at least until the original version of A New Hope gets the green light…"
Or until we're all watching tellies capable of 2160p or 4320p - then they can sell us the same old stuff all over again <yawn/>
Yeh I bought one of those. That was my first (and last) Hauppage purchase. The software was clunky (even for its time) and it was a real git to get working. I seem to remember software updates were few and far between, and soon after I bought it Hauppage quickly moved on to their next TV card (and that was, it seemed, the end of support for the WinTV PCI). I vowed never again, and I think having seen the screenshots for this card (not particularly slick IMO) I'll stick to my vow.
Now when I consider buying either a capture or TV receiver card I try to wait at least 6 months from launch date to work out whether it's worth the outlay (i.e., by checking the forums to see just how many issues a card has and whether the manufacturer is actually doing anything to fix them). There are just too many factors that can result in problems (drivers, hardware compatibility with motherboards / BIOS, etc) and being an early adopter in this area just isn't worth the grief IMO.
If you've got a PC and you don't want to spend any money you could take a look at Microsoft XNA Game Studio (XNA games can be coded with MS express tools which are free too). There are some good tutorials around too about cobbling together 2d and 3d games using this.
Flame icon cause I'm sure I'm about to be (for suggesting an MS freebie)
The last WD network device I bought about 3 years ago was supposed to be 100 megabit LAN. Unfortunately it could only serve about 1/4 of this due to the limited power of its CPU. So I wouldn't hold your breath if you expect gigabit transfer rates - it might connect at 1000mbps but that's where the excitement will probably end.
I tried this last night, mainly to see what the quality was like (and whether it's worth paying for). Unfortunately the trailers appear in a small window in the centre of the screen. No option to make it full screen. So it looks like I have to pay to see whether the quality is up to scratch (bah). That is, of course, assuming that if you pay you get to watch the film in fullscreen (who knows!?!).
On the plus side the video didn't freeze (2.5mps connection) and the audio was excellent.
This review contains some rather confusing statements. Firstly this Humax model is not a recorder, so why mention that it can't record or timeshift in HD? Secondly it's not a recorder so why mention being able to export SD recordings to USB following a future firmware upgrade? (unless I've missed something and Humax are providing this STB with a hard-disk connection so a disk can be fitted, in future, following a firmware upgrade, maybe???? [sounds very unlikely])
Also, I haven't read anything that would lead me to believe that future T2 recorders will be prevented from timeshifting or recording in HD. If the reviewer could post a link to their reference on this one I'd be grateful (from reading the comments on this review I think several other peeps would appreciate this too).
Whatever the pros and cons of the Humax STB, as Nathan 13 has already pointed out, it's only the same content with slightly better detail. So quite why broadcasters are going to such lengths to enforce new protection on their HD streams is anyone's guess (unless, of course, they're using HD as a convenient lever to get what they would really have liked to bring in for their SD content but knew they'd never get agreement from the manufacturers or Ofcom).
Anyway the more I think about watching Phil Mitchel rant and rave in HD the more I'm tempted to give the whole thing a miss and keep my money in my pocket.
I know where you're coming from. From what I've seen there's a big gap in the market for a manufacturer who actually puts enough money into their set-top [recorder] software and designs a product that actually works - and reliably.
My favourite recorder is the Humax (9200) but even Humax seem to have had problems over the past couple of years (seemingly because they have scrimped on maintaining the software that runs on their boxes and now take the attitude that the customer's usually wrong [when they call to inform them that their recording software still contains bugs). I've no idea what software will be running on Humax's DVB-T2 recorders but if it's a port ot the old software I'll be very disappointed (unless they fix all the bugs that is!).
From what I gather these companies seem to spend quite a bit on the hardware design and then design and develop the software with whatever's left over in the budget. I recently saw a nearly-new Sony PVR in action - the EPG looked and "felt" worst than Sky's 1980's blue screen offering.
Maybe Apple should dip their toe in the set-top PVR market - if for no other reason than to put a rocket up the backsides of the other manufacturers who assume that their PVR software is just fine as it is.
But the scaling of the blocks seem to have been skewed in many cases (the budget deficit block is 2.5 times the size of the African debt but monetarily only 1.4 times bigger). In fact many of the blocks don't seem to be to scale when comparing their actual values with their areas.
But nice graph anyway I spose.
Many thanks, Nigel, for the article and for your further comments. Very informative IMO.
I'm looking forward to the launch of HD freeview, especially now I know a bit more about the specs. I'm surprised, on an IT site, that so many people are bemoaning having to upgrade their kit to receive the new transmission standards - it's been pretty obvious for a long time that "HD ready" kit was unlikely to be able to receive native HD freeview signals once the standards had been agreed (as obvious as a chicken and egg scenario can be).
If I already had a HD telly (which I don't FWIW) I'd look at buying an HD freeview PVR when they become available and effectively kill two birds with one stone. People don't generally moan about having to use a Sky set top box to get Sky HD (or SD for that matter) so I'm not sure why they always insist on DVB-T being built natively into their telly's hardware. Personally I'd rather have the best telly I can get for my money and the best PVR to plug into it. Of course this is just my preference, though.
Finally, out of interest, does anyone know if the BBC and Ofcom agreed on whether the BBC will be allowed to use DRM in their broadcasts? I don't understand why an organisation that *we* own should be so desperate to stop us keeping BBC recordings for more than a month or two.
So having tested changes to performance caused by 1) more ram, and 2) performance enhancing s/w, it would be godd if Emil could perform the same type of test but changing only the type of AV software each time.
I often read anecdotal evidence of which AV product's the most resource hungry (and most people, including myself, wouldn't miss a chance to bash symantec for their bloatware) but i cant remember seeing a line up of AV products running on a slightly dated PC reviewed for performance.
FWIW my favourite free AV (for performance) is Avira. And the worst I've ever seen (not free) was F Secure (I think that was what it was called - it was truely dire). But I couldn't say with any certainty if these are the best, or worst in their class. Nor could I say what falls in between and how they compare.
Footnote: IMO the type of AV software a user chooses is the main cause of a PC running slower and slower over time - especially as each new version takes more ram, more CPU, etc.
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