Pure Digital Tempus-1S Comes With Natural Sounds

Pure Digital Tempus-1S Comes With Natural SoundsDAB digital radio dynamos PURE Digital have announced the TEMPUS-1S, the third update to their popular TEMPUS family of DAB bedside radios.

Sporting the same bedroom-friendly real wood, cherry veneer casework, the TEMPUS-1S hopes to soothe twitchy sleepers and all-night insomniacs into a deep slumber with its collection of ‘Natural Sounds.’
Continue reading Pure Digital Tempus-1S Comes With Natural Sounds

Sky Remote Record Via The Internet

Sky Remote Record Via The InternalSky has gradually been increasing the number of ways to program your Sky+ and HD boxes to record. The latest, via the Internet, joins interactive via mobile phone and the rather convoluted mobile text message services.

In those situations where Sky subscribers find they haven’t set their boxes to record the latest episode of Celebrity Trouser Press, and can’t live without seeing it, relief will now be at hand.

By grabbing the closest (compatible) Web browser, Sky subscribers bring up the Sky site, login and take themselves to TV Listings. The next seven days of TV programming will be brought up, and, when Celebrity Trouser Press is found, by clicking on the title, the description of the programme and its options are brought up.

Sky Remote Record Via The Internal

All that is needed to program the box is a click on Remote Record, and a subsequent confirmation to send the request to the box nestled under the TV at home.

Sky tell us that it can take up to 30 mins for the programming request to reach its destination, but it’s highly likely to be significantly quicker than that.

Sky Remote Record Via The InternalStrangely they have decided to impose a limit of 10 recording request a day via the Internet – but, in our view, anyone who need to remotely programme their box more than that needs help anyway. Those afflicted can reach for their mobile to carry on programming until their thumbs bleed.

Well that’s it. The remote programming circle is now complete. All ways to program your Sky+ box are now available … err, except the direct brain method. We await the call from Sky on that one.

Sky Remote Record

PURE DMX-25 DAB Micro System With MP3 Playback Launched

Those lovely people at Pure have launched another means of listening to DAB radio and other audio, this time in a compact micro Hi-Fi form.

PURE DMX-25 DAB Micro System With MP3 Playback LaunchedThe new PURE DMX-25 DAB Micro System with MP3 playback comes with the ability to playback MP3/ WMA files from portable USB flash memory drives, SD memory cards and CDs. Beyond those terribly modern means, there’s also two auxiliary inputs, letting you connect iPod, MiniDisc or MP3 player.

This micro system is Micro with the main unit being 140mm wide and 150mm tall – not much wider than a CD case.

All the DAB goodies are available including autotuning to all available stations and scrolling text showing news, sports results, artist names and track titles (as long as it’s supported by the broadcaster). Pure tells us that some areas of the UK have up to 55 DAB stations these days.

The CD player isn’t just for the run of the mill audio CDs. It will playback CD-R and CD-RW disks with support for CD Text and audio CD playlists. The DMX-25 also plays back MP3-CDs, including support for ID3 tags, giving significantly increased capacity.

For those of you who love to know about the guts of what you’re buying – The DMX-25 is powered by the Frontier Chorus FS1010, which incorporates the revolutionary META multi-threaded processor and Universal Communications Core technologies developed by Imagination Technologies. So there!

DMX-25 is on sale from April 2007 from major retailers and independent hi-fi dealers nationwide for just £129.99 (SSP inc. VAT).

Tech Specs

Tuner: Stereo digital radio with full Band III and FM reception. ETS 300 410 compliant and capable of decoding all DAB transmission modes 1-4 up to and including 192 kbps. Supports FM RDS and RadioText.

Frequency ranges: Band III 174-240 MHz, FM 87.5-108 MHz.

CD Player: CD-R and CD-RW playback compatible. Support for 20 track audio CD playlist. Multiple playback modes (repeat, shuffle, etc.). MP3 & WMA playback, including support for ID3 tags.

PURE DMX-25 DAB Micro System With MP3 Playback LaunchedSpeakers: 4 Ohms (nominal) impedance. 10W RMS power handling. Two-way design. Treated paper mid-bass driver. Custom-tuned crossover. Rosewood finish. Removable grilles.

Input connectors: Two 3.5mm line-inputs for auxiliary devices. USB host port for flash-based memory sticks (key drives) and powered media devices. SD memory card support.

Output connectors: 3.5mm stereo output for headphones.

Controls: Power on/standby, clock/sleep, source, tune/select, menu, timer, info, presets, volume, play/pause, stop, fast forward, rewind and MP3 directory navigation.

Remote: Fully featured infrared remote control. Uses 2 AAA batteries (supplied).

Presets: 30 presets (10 DAB and 20 FM).

LCD Display: LCD display with 16 x 2 characters, plus additional function icons.

Mains power supply: 240V. Euro/UK power socket adapter.

Approvals: CE marked. Compliant with the EMC and Low Voltage Directives (89/336/EEC and 73/23/EEC).

Dimensions (mm): Unit – 140 wide x 150 high (280 with CD compartment open) x 230 deep (including controls). Speakers – 130 wide x 205 high x 160 deep.

Aerial: Wire dipole DAB/FM aerial.

Warranty: Comprehensive two year warranty.

Pure DMX-25

Sharp 911SH Mobile With TV Recording And Playback

Sharp 911SH Mobile With TV Recording And PlaybackLike a hungry child with its drooling face depositing dribble all over the cake shop window, we’re only able to gaze at the sleek lines of Sharp’s swanky new 911SH TV phone from afar as the Japanese giant has announced that it’s for their home market only.

The swivelling phone looks a beaut too, offering a built in TV tuner and a super sharp 3 inch display.

The display uses technology from Sharp’s well regarded AQUOUS LCD TVs, so comes with a brightness sensor which adjusts the brightness based on the ambient lightning.

There are also three different TV modes, with the 262k colour screen able to swivel 90 degrees to offer portrait or landscape viewing formats.

A built in Micro SD card means that users can record TV programmes and watch pre-recorded films on the move, and the phone can be programmed to record favourite shows.

Sharp 911SH Mobile With TV Recording And PlaybackSlapping in a 1 GB card would deliver a mighty 4 hours of recording, although we’re not sure how long the battery would fare when playing back videos.

Technical details are still a little vague, but the 911SH looks to come with a 2 Megapixel camera, offer video recording and Bluetooth 2.0 support and run on 3G networks.

The phone is expected to be released at the end of the week to lucky, lucky Japanese consumers, and made available in a range of seven colours.

Meanwhile, Brits looking to watch TV on the move will have to settle for the considerably less stylish Virgin Mobile Lobster 770TV phone.

[From NewLaunches.com]

Virgin Mobile Lobster 770TV: Review

Virgin Mobile Lobster 770TV: ReviewThe last 18 months have seen a growing crescendo of excitement in the content and mobile phone worlds about the possibilities of delivering TV to mobile phone. The ideas been around a lot longer than that, but it’s the smell of money that has heightened senses.

Virgin Mobile have been keen to show the pace in this area and BT Livetime).

The handsets are now in pre-production and are getting into the hands of a few people.

James Cridland, Head of New Media Strategy at Virgin Radio has had a pre-production Virgin Mobile Lobster 770TV in his hands for a while and has written up a review of it, complete with the four TV services and 49 radio stations.

Built by HTC, its guts are an Orange SPV C600 but the protrusion on its right hand side holds the DAB chippery. James reports that the headphones are better than SPV600, which the 770TV is based on. They also act as the aerial for the DAB receiver.

James goes into a lot more detail about the handset, but let’s get down to how it performs as a TV.

The content
The four TV channels he had were BBC One London, Channel 4 Shortcuts, E4, and ITV-1 (only available in London). It sounds like the programming on the commercial channels hits a few interruptions due to ‘rights.’

BBC One London is in full and free. E4 and ITV-1 generally shows a simulcast of the main channels, but at some times of the day you get a notice that the current programme is unavailable for ‘rights reasons’ – which, at the time of writing, includes all of E4’s daytime music programming, all advertising, all of GMTV, and quite a few other programmes too: it’s unusual to be able to get all four channels in full, in my experience. Channel 4 Shortcuts shows short clips of Channel 4 shows.

Using it
Starting to watch TV couldn’t be easier, just hitting the TV button, which brings up the TV Guide, which he describes as a fairly comprehensive EPG (electronic programme guide), interestingly updated over-the-air on DAB.

The quality of the service doesn’t sound amazing currently.

Clicking on a channel name opens a screen with a larger logo and a Windows Media ‘buffering’ sign, which disappears fairly quickly to be replaced with a passable picture. The framerate appears quite low – probably no more than 10 frames a second – and the picture quality does break up in fast movement; this isn’t picture quality to write home about, but conversely it is pretty good at coping with variable signal quality – on occasion, you can sometimes lose the picture but keep the sound. Watching live television in a moving taxi is an interesting experience, but works very well.

Radio service
James is significantly more impressed with this Lobster as a DAB radio, finding “the reception quality is rather better than I’ve experienced with an FM radio,” indeed, “it’s no exaggeration to say that this is the best hand-held DAB Digital Radio that I’ve ever had.”

Given his role at Virgin Radio, he’s a man who knows a thing or two about radio too.

Despite liking the other functions of the Lobster, it appears James won’t be chucking out his TV anytime soon, finding the current channels available not good enough.

I can’t see too many people sitting down for half an hour of Coronation Street on this thing; and it would seem to me that the television offering needs changing – to offer more grazing-friendly programming. Sky News or BBC News 24 would be a great addition. The absence of GMTV on the phone shows what disarray the commercial broadcasters are in – why cede peak commuting time to the BBC alone?

Clearly early days in this fledgling area.

Full details are over on James’ blog
Photo credit: James Cridland

Sky+ Remote Record: Mobile Sky+ Programming

Sky+ Remote Record: Mobile Sky+ ProgrammingDesperate to program your Sky+ PVR, while out and about? Or can’t be bothered to reach for the TV remote control when you’ve got you mobile in your hand?

Help is at hand (ha ha) as Sky announce their program-your-Sky+-box-via-your-mobile-service, that they’ve catchily named Sky+ Remote Record.

There are two ways to use the service. Either download an application to your mobile phone or via SMS on a mobile.

Remote Record
This is the comprehensive offering and only works on data-enabled 2.5G, 3G or GPRS phones.

To get setup, subscribers have to be registered via Sky Active and download the app to run on their mobiles.

From what we’ve seen it looks pretty slick, with a similar feel to the Sky EPG. It contains 7-days worth of programming listings and details on the shows.

Be aware that updating the EPG data will require updated information to be retrieved from Sky – along with corresponding data charges from your mobile operator. Beyond the mobile operators data charges, the service is free.

Text Your TV
We’re sure you’ve guessed the basics of this already – you text the programme you want recorded from your mobile.

Sky+ Remote Record: Mobile Sky+ ProgrammingIt looks like using it might be a bit of palaver with the need to SMS quite precise and long winded instructionsThe Simpsons. Sky 1. 11/06. 18:30.

to the dedicated ‘Remote Record’ number 61759.

At the Sky-end a massive brain works out what they could have meant and sends them back a confirmation SMS, charging 25p in the process.

We’d imagine that great confusion will reign on Friday nights as the pissed up masses send their best guess at what a Television X programme might be called.

It will work with all Sky+ boxes including Sky HD, but is only available to subscribers with Sky Sports 1 & 2 and/or Sky Movies 1 & 2 in their package or be a Sky Bet customer.

Up to eight mobiles can be registered with either service per Sky+ box.

Following these mobile-focused announcements, Sky will be bringing out a similar service working over the Internet ‘over the summer.’

Sky continues to expand their application of technology to what was originally a satellite TV service.

A little bird tells us that Sky will be officially unveiling their Broadband ISP service soon. Back in October they bought EasyNet and have been busily bringing it in to the Sky fold and are planning to offer communication services, widely expected to be voice services as well.

Sky Guide To Offer Personalised TV Listings (News release)

Sky is giving millions of customers the chance to create their own personalised on-screen TV listings with the launch today of important improvements to its electronic programme guide, Sky Guide. The upgrade programme, the most significant since the launch of Sky digital in 1998, is intended to make it even easier for viewers to navigate the 500 plus channels now available on digital satellite.

Sky Guide provides TV listings information for all of the TV channels available on digital satellite for the full week ahead. Following the enhancements, Sky digital customers will be able to create their own personalised grid of their favourite 50 channels for the first time. When a viewer presses the blue key on the Sky remote from within the “TV Guide” section of Sky Guide they will be able to see full seven-day TV listings for all of their chosen channels at a glance.

The Sky Guide upgrade will be rolled out automatically to more than eight million Sky customers from today and will take up to the end of February to complete. Additional features include:

  • MORE GENRES: The 500 plus channels available on digital satellite will be categorised into 15 programming genres, instead of the existing seven*, making it even easier for viewers to find their way around Sky Guide. For example, radio channels, documentary channels and shopping channels will each have their own dedicated categories for the first time.
  • CHANNEL NUMBERS: Most channel numbers will change on February 28 to reflect the introduction of the new genre categories. All Radio channel numbers will also consist of a four-digit number beginning with ‘0’ to accommodate the increased demand for digital radio services on the satellite platform. So, for example, BBC Radio 1 will be found at 0101 and Virgin Radio at 0107 (full channel line up available upon request).

A marketing campaign will inform customers about the changes and help them to get the best out of the new features.

Brian Sullivan, Sky’s Director of Customer Products and Services, said:

“Sky has a huge choice of programmes that match the individual interests of millions of viewers. With this upgrade, we’re taking personalised choice even further by giving customers the chance to tailor the Sky Guide to suit their own preferences.”


Doctor Who Interactive TV Christmas Special Planned

Dr Who TV Christmas Special Goes InteractiveThe BBC is hoping to get Dr Who fans reaching for their red buttons en masse with a video-rich interactive TV application scheduled to run straight after the airing of the Christmas Day special (7:00PM GMT).

Dubbed “Attack of the Graske,” the application hopes to get sofa-loafing viewers taking part in an interactive adventure with the aim of preventing an evil alien creature, called the Graske, from taking over the earth.

Dr Who TV Christmas Special Goes InteractiveIt looks that the BBC has invested muchos cash into the venture, employing live-action video and “state-of-the-art” special effects produced at the high end visual effects studio, The Mill.

Christmas-pud gorged viewers will be tasked with using the arrow keys on their remote controls to perform a series of challenges which will test observation, dexterity, memory and – according to the BBC – their bravery.

There’ll also be an opportunity to fly around in the Tardis with the Doctor “on hand to give advice, encouragement, and even step in when things go wrong.”

Dr Who TV Christmas Special Goes InteractiveProduced in Cardiff by BBC New Media and BBC Wales, producer Sophie Fante commented, “Attack of the Graske gives the viewer the unique opportunity to immerse themselves fully in the world of Doctor Who.”

“We aimed to make the challenge with the same scope and feel of the main series and, in ‘Attack of The Graske,’ the viewer finds themselves not only flying the Tardis with the Doctor but fighting the Graske on the planet Griffoth and hunting him out in Victorian London,” she added.

Filming the program involved creating an authentic Dickensian Christmas scene, complete with snow, in Cardiff.

Dr Who TV Christmas Special Goes InteractiveWe can’t wait to watch this latest installment of the highly rated Dr Who series and are hoping to witness another kind of winter wonderland the day after when the mighty Cardiff City FC take on Plymouth.

Dr Who

Wharfedale DV832B Review: Digital TV Box

DV832B Wharfedale Digital TV BoxAfter several years of battling with the clunky interface and weird quirks of our museum-ready OnDigital digital terrestrial television box, we decided it was time to replace it with something a little more contemporary.

With digital broadcast delivery technology moving so fast, we weren’t minded to shell out too much for something that may be rendered obsolete by some funky new feature in a few years, so we went looking for a cheap’n’cheerful option.

A quick visit to box-shifting supremos Argos saw our eyes fixing on an ideal candidate: the Wharfedale DV832B digibox.

Sure, it’s not much to look at and the plastic case – with its cheap, old-school red LCDs – is unlikely to woo the neighbours, but the feature list was far more than what we expected at the price level.

DV832B Wharfedale Digital TV BoxFor the princely sum of just £35 (~$62, €52), the Wharfedale offers a digi box with a 7 day electronic programme guide (EPG), digital text, digital interactive services, DVB subtitles, auto scan and setup and 2 SCART sockets.

Suitably impressed, we shelled out the readies and plugged the unit into our home entertainment system.

Once powered up, the unit asks if we want it to automatically scan for stations and after saying “Yes please Mr DigiBox”, we were presented with a long list of available digital TV and radio stations.

DV832B Wharfedale Digital TV BoxOnscreen menus

As with most digital boxes, you need the remote control to access the key functions with the front of the unit only offering controls for on/off and program up/down.

The onscreen interface was simple, crisply designed and easy to navigate, and proved fairly intuitive in operation.

Using the onscreen menus we were given options to delete channels, rename channels, select favourites, set up to five timers, add a parental lock, choose TV type and set up Over-Air software downloads.

Within minutes of getting the DV832B out if its box, we were skipping channels with glee, pausing momentarily to wonder who on earth watches those dire Bid TV programs.

DV832B Wharfedale Digital TV BoxPicture quality

Picture quality was good with no nasty outbreaks of the jaggies to be seen (although we do live within eyeshot of the Crystal Palace transmitter so we can’t say how it might perform in areas with weaker coverage), and we found the overall performance to be perfectly satisfactory.

The slimline silver unit (4.8 x 30 x 20.6cm) comes with a simple and straightforward 24-page manual, a SCART lead and a run-of-the-mill remote control (there’s no Top Up TV compatibility on board, but we’re not complaining at this price!).

Our conclusion

The Wharfedale DV832B provides outstanding value for money, is a thoroughly capable performer and we have no hesitation in giving it five stars.

John Birt – Current EPGs To Become ‘Antediluvian’

Luke Gibbs of OfcomWatch is nestled in at Edinburgh Television Festival – listening, watching, reporting, and we suspect sipping the odd cocktail at the TV exec love-in.

Birt At Edinburgh - Current EPGs To Become Antediluvian!Most of Lord Birt’s speech in Edinburgh was numbingly dull – a long list of his own achievements, all of which had made UK television the best in the world. Indeed, the industry has seemingly only hit the dumbing down buffers since he went off to tinker with various policy train sets at Number 10.

Birt At Edinburgh - Current EPGs To Become Antediluvian!However, he did manage to mention a couple of issues which aren’t directly about himself. For example, he said the following in regard to EPG’s, searching and the gateways to information – this is already a fundamental issue for regulators and one where we all need to pay close attention as to how they look to regulate…

“…there will be taxing new issues for the regulators. The electronic programme guides that currently help us navigate the multi-channel universe are not even currently fit-for-purpose and will be antediluvian in an on-demand world. Compare the current generation of slow, clunky television EPGs with Google. If I want to know which live football matches are on TV tonight I have to embark on a slow, manual search through multiple channels. With Google I can find a needle in a haystack in less than a second – the fruits of a search of literally billions of items.

So time to think again about not only the nature of the search and navigation gateway into the television digital universe, but who should control it? How can we ensure a level playing field for all programme and service providers? Should regulators encourage competing search and navigation systems in the television domain? How will the viewer find ready access to the public service offerings?”