Friday, November 28, 2008

Media: TV Via Internet

It has been a couple of months since we asked the community members if we could put a satellite dish on the roof of the house to get some extra channels for us, particularly Russian ones. A week ago or so we got a negative answer from them with the classic explanation that no one would be responsible for the accident if the satellite gets broken and hits another balcony or person. Well, nothing we could do here. I did a small research in the market of the alternatives and realized that there are several companies that are doing quite a good job at transferring TV content via internet. With 2 megabit line it is possible to get a really decent quality picture. It costs almost as much (15 Euros) per month as Swedish cable TV provider ComHem would charges just for one Russian channel. So, I gave it a try and decided to purchase it. It is possible to purchase a digital box that would transfer the video to your TV which becomes really handy if you want to watch it on the big screen or keep you computer for other needs. The picture looks like a good DivX movie on my 24" screen, so I guess it will be pretty good on the 46" TV as well.

What we have ordered now is 1 year subscription, and a wired digital box for the TV (it is possible to get a wireless one too). It cost 328 Euros including the shipping of the digital box. Now we can already watch Russian channels on the computer and the digital box has been shipped to us. Until now I cannot complain about the quality of the service. Even during the peak times when the news is shown, it does not get any worse and I am satisfied. If you are living abroad and are interested in seeing Russian channels via Internet on the TV (2 megabit line is enough), you might consider this alternative to the satellite TV. The service is provided by a German company Kartina GMBH (not Katrina as some people, including me, read the first time).


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Games: Buying A Console for Christmas

Christmas time approaching, I was thinking about giving myself a present in a form of a game console. I discussed the question with couple of friends and these are my thoughts.

There are 3 main game consoles available these days, which are PlayStation 3, XBOX 360 and Ninetendo Wii. Even though the sales of Will sky rocked:

September 2008 figures:
Wii - 34.55 million
Xbox 360 - 22.5 million
PS3 - 16.84 million

leaving behind PS and XB, the console, on the large scale, is concerned to be one for the kids and some sports enthusiasts. If you are into strategy, action and first person shooters, you can hardly go with Wii. Someone would ask, which console would deliver better graphics? The question is -- you can hardly distinguish between them. It is not like the time when you would compare Sega with Nintendo or Spectrum with Commodore. These days you must go with additional features, exclusive games and price. As always with MS, it took a year to fix the bugs with the red rings of death (or whatever it is called) and add HDMI input, so not the console is ready for a serious buyer. PS on the other hand has a BlueRay player which is considered to be a huge plus. Again, for me, I am satisfied with the DVD quality and the way my DVD player upscales it to the 46" TV. I am not a guge movie collector, so, BlueRay is unnecessary addon for me which I would skip this time and buy a dedicated player later on. Both consoles support HDMI, 5.1 sound and are noisy. Lastly the price. when I looked roughly at the prices in Sweden, I could see that comparing the most basic editions and most advanced editions of consoles, PS is 2 times more expensive than xBox.

There are not so many exclusive games for each of the consoles. Quite often a game comes out on both and there is a PC version as well. Some of the games come out on PC only, for instance. I must admit I prefer using keyboard and mouse to the gamepads but that is just a habbit that I will learn quite fast. There are some classic games being released for both consoles, like ones from Sega Genesis, for example, or Action Packs from Microsoft or Namco with Arkanoid, Pacman, Motos and so on. Everyone has got the favorites from that time (that time meaning if you are of the same age as I).

I have found one video with graphics comparison of the same game on XB and PS. Obsiously it depends on the programmatic implementation and not only on hardware limitations and not using a full potential on one of the systems. But it can give some ideas anyways.

So, mailny based on price and no-need-for-BlueRay-player, my choice will be XBOX360 Elite.


Music: Ace of Base 2009

Ace of Base was popping out hits after hits during my high-school years. They have an album called "Happy Nation" which one of the best albums ever produced and it managed to sell 23 million copies worldwide. 2008 - they are trio now (Linn [the blond girl] left the band) and have released a remixed version of Wheel of Fortune and are promising to come up with a single and album next year. This year they are releasing 2CD+1DVD pack of their greatest hits and videos. There is some information on their website with the video of WOF2009 and 2 interviews. WOF2009 has been quite electonized to compensate for the missing vocals but I think it is a good track for clubs and I kinda like it like that. They were/are touring quite a few countries, including Russia, Lithuania and Belarus.



Thursday, November 06, 2008

Music: Per Gessle - Party Crasher

A week ago, Per Gessle has released a single "Silly Really" from his forthcoming album Party Crasher. He seems to always experiment with the sound, so this time he picked up 70's disco style, not so much of a guitar, no live drums. The album will see the daylight on November 26 in Sweden, and depending on the success in Europe and then maybe worldwide. It feels almost like a comeback to the Joyride days with the catchy melody, bubblegum and baloons. Per Gessle will most likely go on European tour with that album.

Here are the previews of the songs on YouTube.

Silly Really

Stuck Here With Me

Sing Along