Saturday, 13 June 2009

Bye bye old friend

Well as I type this a Sky man (as in an engineer from the satellite tv company, not as in someone who with a jetpac or cape) is installing Sky + HD, so my dear old Tivo has been flung into a cupboard.

I did sigh slightly as I went to switch it off for the last time, the wee Tivo logo - a little man, improbably, made of those four letters, swaying slightly in the corner of the screen as the cloudy sky background did the familiar-but-still-swishy animated loop it always does.

I put the Sky box in last night (without the '+' capabilities of recording and that) and have to say HD is very good indeed. I sat through some right shite just to see it in HD, just like everyone does when there's something new on offer. When Sky first started, I had a dish and proudly showed off the four channels to gawping onlookers. Oddly enough my mates mainly came over after 10pm perusing the German and Italian channels for the legendary gameshows-with-ladies-of-little-clothes. There were a few of them - chin,chin! one of the theme tunes went, as busty presentresses opened their carefully-hinged bras and revealed prize logos stuck to one of their chests.


I got a stereo telly just before then, a posh Sony with speakers on ears. It was reet fancy, a fully flat screen in 1995 and everything. Hearing music like off of a CD was quite a gimmick... for about five minutes.

Before that I can remember when C4 started, a long hot summer holiday as a kid, little to do except watch their endless preview broadcasts, six minutes on the hour, every hour, on the portable TV in my bedroom. I can't remember the change from B&W to colour, not really.

Watching Jonathan Ross in HD was... well, the same really, colours brighter, sharper image obviously (boy do most people look older and/or more heavily made-up, including Mr Ross). I did notice how limited the HD range is - I expected more channels really. BBC HD, for example, didn't show the trooping of the colour this morning - surely it's filmed in HD? Not that I approve of such programmes, obviously...

Putting on boring old standard def Sky News made me realise just how nice HD is. But then the new Sky box seems to give a much better picture on standard stuff too, so hey ho.

The Skyman is finishing up, must catch him before he jets off up into the stratosphere. I have to say Sky's EPG and box are nicely put together, well designed and simple to use, if slightly more functional and basic than the lovely design and intuitive nature of TiVo. But when I press channel up or down, the channel goes up or down INSTANTLY. For us TiVoites, that's astonishing, as it takes around 5 seconds to change anywhere. A cable linked to the Skybox and send '1' then '0' then '1' and then a pause... and then channel would change. Believe me it made channel hopping a nightmare...

Comparing Sky+ and TiVo is like comparing a PC - universal, popular, functional - to a Mac - fancy, well-designed but a bit too all-knowing. I say this typing on my week-old MacBook with my iPhone next to me, a dramatic switch to the dark side after 20 years of PCness.

Skyman is now on the roof, checking the second feed for the recording thingie. I've even read the instruction book. The bit about how you can only record TWO programmes at once whilst watching another nearly made me fall over. With TiVo it was like early video recorders, you could only record what you were watching.

Sadly, I can now watch and record more TV than ever, at high-definition resolution and with brilliant digital sound - just as the tv industry cuts production of anything and everything to save money in a recession-hit world. Oh well.

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