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Tag Archives: Syfy

HD

The basic (M+) package I tried has HD for BBC1,2, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, and Film 4. Frustratingly there was nothing on most of them (half the content isn’t HD anyway – check in the schedule).

I watched a live football match on ITV HD (MPEG4). In HD, you can see the texture of the turf and the pattern on the ball as it rolls; In regular broadcast (MPEG2) you can’t.

Good

I saw a trailer for paranormal series Lost Girl (Syfy) a while ago. I believe series 3 still has the same music; it still rocks (it reminds of Covert Affairs – I think it’s the same).
A whiff of male fantasy but strong writing lets the story live; it’s not overwhelmed by sex/nudity vs e.g. Spartacus.

I also recorded Defiance (Syfy) – science fiction, post-Civil war -style aliens, monster-of-the-week. And Fringe (Sky2), well-made detective/parallel-world fusion.
New channel TLC (seems not to be on Freeview?) is similar to Really, but more so (BBC Worldwide source?).

I watched the pilot of Unforgotten (Sky Living On Demand) via On Demand (internet-streaming). Quality was as good as broadcast (MPEG2). (Poppy Montgomery is an ex-detective who can relive her memories. I plan to watch more.) Not sure how to re-find On Demand series you have started.

You can set the box to request the 4-digit PIN (Personal Identity Number, the default is in the manual) before doing something with a fee (e.g. pay-per-view). When I tried to access unsubscribed On Demand channels (Sky Living HD) I got a page with a phone number to subscribe.

Bad

Inconvenient to flip back-and-forth between an On demand (internet-streamed)/recorded program versus a live broadcast (e.g. LastChannel controller button only works for broadcast programs). Especially (in the first day) I didn’t (know how to) turn off PIN guard for adult content and I was watching recorded night time shows before 10PM.

Every cheap video recorder has PLAY, RECORD, PAUSE, FAST-FORWARD buttons on the front, but not on the VMedia/tivo box. To be fair: the buttons have everything you need to watch one recording or broadcast, or to browse the schedule (but not fine playback control or rating buttons).

After two days of heavy use the TV controller batteries are done. Rechargeables are a good idea but they may only last a few hours if you are a heavy user. If you have a computer you can do most stuff online, or buy a USB port (e.g. wireless) extension and connect a keyboard/mouse to your VM box.

Ugly

If you haven’t seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer before avoid the Syfy broadcast. Back in the day (analogue broadcast) the quality was similar but not with the graininess in the mpegs (from old VHS videos?) on Syfy. Charmed is a bit younger and still has good quality (4:3 aspect) mpegs on channel e4. BTVS ran for many series so it had time to build a fanbase (we grew up with it when there were few channels) you might find it slow to jump in; it probably tried harder in earlier series. Try online or try out a DVD.

By default 4:3 aspect shows (about 25% of content on some channels – looks odd on wide 16:9 or 2:1 LCD displays, but that’s how shows were made decades ago) are stretched horizontally to fit your (presumably) wide display – looking odd. In the settings I changed it to “Panelled” so it was roughly normal (with black bars at the sides on my 16:9 display).

Recommendation discipline

You can thumbs-up (a button on the tv controller) a show (applies to all episodes) you like or thumbs-down a show you never want to see. The box generates recommendations (new shows) based on your choices, and what’s popular. These suggestions appear at the end of the My Shows (button on the controller) link.

For a self-interested user it’s best to make few ratings. Each counts; if you change your mind you can get new content quickly without a deadweight of too many to change in one old genre. You don’t need to rate every show in one genre, just a few.

Don’t use thumbs-down unless you’ve seen a show and you hate it. Especially if the box is shared, if everyone’s a critic, there can be a tyranny of the majority so that only bland stuff appears. It’s easy to lose the one good show in a genre you generally dislike by going mad with the thumbs-down.

I mainly ticked-to-record, one tick for interesting looking stuff, (by default “suggestions” are recorded – you can disable that). When I look through the suggestions I can drop my tick if the show doesn’t turn out to be good. Hint: Ticking daily or long items will take a lot of space.

For the shows you love most in all the world, you can give multiple ticks (up to three). This will help the box to recommend similar shows.