BBC tech news insanity

Over on the BBC News website they have up an article talking about the new Portable Media Centers (they actually fail to mention their names). It's based upon some of Jupiter Research's findings on consumers demand for portable players that can handle video.

It reads "the analysis of the portable media player market found only 13% of Europeans want to watch video while out and about" "By contrast, almost a third are interested in listening to music on a portable player such as an iPod." and continues "The firm said gadget makers should avoid hybrid devices and instead make sure music reproduction was as good as possible."

Now I don't usually have a problem with the BBC's coverage of technology, (other then the fact it is very dumbed down, and Bill Thompson's columns where he always seems to reach an either nonsensical or bogus conclusions), but this has gone too far. I'm not sure if this is the BBC news technology team twisting things up or just some poor advice from Jupiter.

But let's address some issues here;

1) 13% of Europeans, they make it seem like a small number it's actually 95 million people, doesn't sound so small any more does it?

2) Yes of course more people are interested in listening to music on the go, you don't need to look at anything you can just keep the player in your pocket. But the way they dismiss the option is nothing short of plain stupidity. They mention the iPod, as you would expect as they do seem to be obsessed with the device, despite there being far better players out on the market and for lower price points.

3) Concentrate on better music reproduction, well that's a joke to start with as any audiophile will agree with me when I say the iPod sounds a lot worse compared to Creative's offerings, who also do manufacturer a Portable Media Center, an image of which was featured in the article. The iPod doesn't support WMA, which is the best sounding mainstream format for storing lossy-audio, it supports AAC a minor fringe technology that has very little support from anywhere.

BBC Tech seem bent on trying to limit consumer choice by publishing rubbish articles like these, the Creative Zen Portable Media Center is available for only £30 more then an iPod, it's an absolute bargain considering all the features it supports, storage for 85 hours worth of video, double the battery life, so it won't run out after just a few hours like the iPod.

Why limit consumer choice? I think we just again see the BBC's anti-Microsoft tendencies coming through, if it was Apple who came up with the Portable Media Center I'd bet they'd be jumping on the idea like it was the work of gods.

Halo 2 is coming

Halo 2 boxes

Need I say more?

Media Center Extender for Xbox

With the new Windows XP "Reloaded" push comes a whole heap of new media related software and devices such as; Windows Media Connect, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, Media Center Extenders and Digital Media Receivers.

Sound confusing? You're right it does. As most of you know a Windows XP Media Center Edition PC is Windows XP Professional with really cool extras, it's designed around being the ultimate home entertainment solution, with added stuff like the ability to record TV similar to Sky+, but with buckets of other things; music, pictures, games and the rest of the features of a PC and without the limitations; having your recorded stuff stuck on a box that you can do nothing with and so on, like with Sky+.

A Media Center Extender like the one for the Xbox allows you to access your Media Center PC from another room, so you can stream your content to your Xbox and therefore onto another TV over your network. Sounds neat? It is.

On the other hand there is Windows Media Connect which is a piece of software that allows you to stream media from any Windows XP computer to a range of compatible devices, the Digital Media Receivers.

The receivers themselves come in a range of types all from different manufacturers, some only support audio, some support both audio and video. To put them simply they're little boxes that you hook into your Hi-Fi or TV and they connect to your PC and stream music so you can listen to it in another room. Sounds neat? It is.

Why am I writing all this? The fact that Microsoft aren't releasing an add-on for Xbox that allows it to act as a Digital Media Receiver. All the hardware is in the machine, it's more then capable, they're doing basically the same thing with the Media Center Extender for the Xbox, so why not make it compatible with Media Connect also?

The fact it is only going to work with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is pure insanity in my opinion, granted they have made some steps to bring the Media Center OS into the mainstream by making it available separately to the hardware (at about £80 OEM), so I could simply buy that and use it as my main OS, but then I wouldn't have all the extra features that make it worth while anyway.

If they released an Xbox in a bundle that includes Digital Media Receiver software for it and the remote, therefore allowing it to stream media from any Windows XP machine with the free Media Connect software they'd open up a whole new market for the Xbox itself, something they cannot do to the same scale if they only link it to Media Center Edition 2005.

May be they're afraid of doing this because if people start buying the Xbox to stream media from their PCs they won't be using it for games which is where they make their money.

May be they're afraid of doing it at risk of upsetting the manufactures they're trying to bring on board for Microsoft's Digital Media Receiver platform, as the Xbox is at such a price point it would be serious competition to them.

Either way Microsoft should get themselves together, either drop the whole idea, or do it in a way that ensures the widest compatibility and uptake rate, making the Xbox compatabile with both is the way to go.

Incubus on Halo 2 soundtrack

I've just managed to hear some of the Halo 2 soundtrack that's being released in November.

Halo 2 Soundtrack Vol. 1 cover

Anyway Incubus have a few tracks on there (4 if my memory serves me), I've put together this little snippet (360KB/WMA9.1) of the first one - Follow (1st Movement of the Odyssey). Just thought them doing the Halo monk voices was kinda cool.

It just really sucks that they're going to release a second album, no doubt with more of the actual stuff in the game, after all that's what soundtracks are for right? However the first album does have Earth City which is an absolutely kick ass track.

Oblivion

After absolutely loving Morrowind I was totally keen on seeing Bethesda's next instalment in the Elder Scrolls series, well it's been announced and finally some goods have been released to go with it.

Here's a screenshot:

Oblivion screenshot

Absolutely gorgeous, when this game arrives it's going to seriously shake up the RPG genre.

Check out my Oblivion site for more screenshots and news.

Catherine and the Smurfs

For some reason Catherine decided she didn't want the Smurf I gave her, I mean what the hell is up with that? It's a Smurf the most weirdest little blue annoying thing possible and she didn't want it.

I think she suffers from some kind of Smurfobia.

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