In the latest Game & Gadget Podcast, we discuss Sky’s £9.99 NOW TV Box, Microsoft, Blackberry, Apple & even Ducktales Remastered…
Yet another streaming media device is released to the market, to tempt us into expanding the capabilities of our television screens. We are becoming swamped by a never ending mountain of hardware that is designed to bring digital content to our homes via the Internet and even with this rampant frequency, I find myself intrigued by a new box released by Sky.
Why I hear you ask? Well, quite simply… price!
Digital television is quickly dominating the United Kingdom and replacing the fuzzy analogue we once fine tuned and could never get quite right. Rather than a selection of just four or five channels, we now have access to a vast array including dedicated music, documentary, news and even radio stations. If you wish to avoid a subscription service that involves contracts, there are currently three choices to consider and here I will explain the main differences.
On many newer televisions, a plethora of brightly coloured labels advertising the usual benefits of the model appear and in addition you will also notice ones that show the TV is compatible with Freeview, Freeview HD or Freesat. Although you can purchase a set-top box that includes one of these three methods for digital television, all modern screens include internal hardware to give you the wonders of digital without the need for yet another extra box.
Eventually all televisions within your home will be forced to use Digital TV as analogue is slowly switched off and in some regions this has already begun. Unless you have a compatible set-top box or television with digital hardware built-in, you will lose the ability to watch the BBC, BBC 2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. You can find out more information about the switchover on the Digital UK website.
It wasn’t that long ago I applied to be a Microsoft TV Ambassador as part of ‘I Love TV on my PC‘, which is basically an information gathering process Microsoft used to glean thoughts and feedback on Windows Media Center, specifically for watching and recording live TV. They also handed out free digital TV Freeview USB tuners which was a nice touch. Happily I was accepted and received my television viewing equipped piece of hardware not long after confirmation and with the power of Windows Media Center providing the required software, my testing began.
Viewing TV on a computer is certainly not a recent invention, in fact TV cards and even TV viewing add on cards that slotted onto certain graphics cards such as the Matrox Mystique have been around for many years. What really has changed though is that we have digital Freeview in the UK providing a much more pleasurable video quality than the fuzzy analogue signal of the past and rather than an additional internal card requiring you to open your computer as part of the installation process, the far simpler route of using a USB port is now the favourable option.
With so many channels on Sky Digital Satellite, you do find yourself travelling this vast amount one by one on quite some frequency. One of the shows I stopped at was the bonkers yet remarkably entertaining show from Japan, Takeshi’s Castle:
Takeshi’s Castle was a Japanese game show that aired from 1986 to 1989 on the Tokyo Broadcasting System. It featured the esteemed Japanese actor Takeshi Kitano (also known as “Beat” Takeshi) as a count who owns a castle and sets up impossible challenges for players (or a volunteer army) to get to him. The show has become a cult television hit around the world.
In the United Kingdom, a shortened version given a comedic voiceover by Craig Charles has been shown on the Challenge television channel since 2002, where fans of the show (as well as those in Japan) are known as “Keshi-heads”.
The challenges can be hilarious and you really have to rub your eyes in disbelief at some of the injuries that must be incurred during the challenges. My personal favourite has to be the stepping stones, so many bruised knees and indeed egos must have been tendered to. Worth a look if you like something a little different and almost guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.