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Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

View TV with Zattoo

Online television has only become a viable possibility in recent years; with increasing broadband speeds and advances in multimedia downloading and streaming, consumers have been able to benefit from a wealth of online entertainment. A lot of online possibilities have popped up on the ‘Net which allow you to view TV shows and other entertainment sources.. However, Zattoo is slightly different in that it allows you to watch a variety of channels live in fairly high quality.

Zattoo streams TV from a wide range of channels over the Internet at near real-time.

Zattoo streams TV from a wide range of channels over the Internet in near real-time.

I must admit that the first time I tried this software I was excited but quite unimpressed: the video was choppy and kept breaking up. It was so poor that I usually gave up with it and turned on my television, putting up with abysmal picture quality. I only started using Zattoo again when I wanted to ardently work away on my masses of work on my laptop whilst enjoying a rather smashing film on my desktop’s monitor, which happens to be merrily placed behind and to the left of my laptop’s home. Upon loading up Zattoo, I was startled to find an update. After recovering from this profound startlement, I applied it, noting that one of the issues which it claimed to fix was the choppiness of the video. It seems that it did. I can’t say that it’s perfect – there’s still a bit of occasional choppiness, but it occurs much less often than previously and to a less extreme extent. I had also been ailed by occasions where the software would stop receiving video for a little while; I’d be stuck watching the same frozen picture whilst the sound continued on, this is much rarer now, too.

Anyway, the program itself is really quite dandy: it allows you to watch a variety of TV channels live (well, only a very slight delay, which can be expected from streaming like this. I’ve currently got over 40 channels to choose from, 5 of which are offered in high quality – picture streams with better images than the other channels. That’s not to say that the other channels have poor picture – they’re actually quite good. Unfortunately there’s currently no way to pause or rewind TV, and I don’t see this feature coming any time soon due to the licensing issues I would expect they’d have to tackle to add these features.

Overall, a great bit of software. I’m hoping they’ll iron out the final few picture quality issues in this useful and entertaining application. I should also be remembered that it’s still in beta, so here’s hoping that the final release will be even better. The software is, of course, completely legal – it’s supported by revenue from adverts. You’ll see these whilst waiting for a channel to load and above the list of stations, but they’re not distracting and shouldn’t sour you on this good bit of kit. You can download it from www.zattoo.com to give it a try.

Spotify your music

March 1, 2009 1 comment

The Internet now seems to have become the de-facto in entertainment: there’s various sources which use the masses of media available – some to better effect than others. You’ve probably got a fair bit of music stored on your computer, snatched from various CDs or swiped off the Internet. Spotify is a new way of listening to masses of music legally without having to store the files on your hard disk.

Spotify - an easy way to listen to free music

Spotify - an easy way to listen to free music

Installing the program was quick and painless, and when loading up the application it is clear that the devlopers’ inspiration for the GUI stemmed almost solely from Apple’s iTunes. However, its functionality is very different. A simple search in the box at the top left is enough to get you started on your discovery of both music you know and love, as well as introducing you to new artists. Type an artist name or track into the box and Spotify will dash off to find them for you. The tracks it then found for you will be organised into a sortable list, with a simple double click is enough to start it streaming. The audio is of a high quality – I’m not an audiophile, but I didn’t notice any loss in quality when compared to a CD or MP3 file.

If you’d rather not pick and choose tracks particular tracks all the time, right clicking on tracks will allow you to create a playlist of them for future use. Alternatively, in typical Last.fm style, radio stations for particular genres and artists are also available.

The application is funded by occasional advertisements that will assail your eyes and ears, but they are very rare and shouldn’t cause too much of a bother to you. The playback times are almost instant: you won’t be sitting around waiting for the track to download unless you are currently residing in the late 90s and still use dial-up. See what you think: www.spotify.com.