I’m Dreaming of a Geek Christmas

December 24, 2007

My girlfriend sent me a link a couple of days ago that showed that Sony were supporting DivX with the PS3. Thinking that this might kick Microsoft into doing the same thing with the Xbox 360 I had a look to see if there was any response. What I found was surprising…the Xbox 360 already supports DivX playback. It was part of the last update but rather than announce it Microsoft just released it, no fanfare, no nothing! I’ve just tried it and it works a treat. Streaming across a wireless network from my PC to the Samsung HD TV with no problems. Picture is good, playback controls all work, aspect ratio is controllable…it’s very cool.

I’ve had a Panasonic DVD recorder for a little over a year and really like the idea of burning to DVD-RAM and being able to play back something whilst it’s still recording. The 2 hour SP limit is a bit of a pain but the recordings are really good. Friends with HDD based recorders are eyed enviously but they’re expensive beasts. Well, they were until Argos decided to offer the Sony RDR-HXD770 for £149.99 instead of closer to £300. This is a 120Gb HDD recorder with built in Freeview and HDMI upscaling. Given that I’d just been sent £45 in Argos vouchers from Shell Points this became the bargain of the year. Tracking one down wasn’t easy but it’s been well worth the effort. It is a very nice piece of kit. I’ve also found a couple of really useful features (reading the manual does pay off sometimes); firstly it can play DVD-RAM even though it can’t record onto them so I can still watch the stuff recorded on the Panasonic (it can even copy from DVD-RAM to the HDD) and secondly it can pause TV. This is very cool…the phone rings, you press the “Pause TV” button and it starts to record the channel you’re watching, phone call over you press Play and the programme continues. Now I’m sure all the Sky+ people are yawning at this with “yeah, we can do that and rewind to the start of the programme too” but this is Freeview based. No monthly fee, no contract etc. My only criticism of the machine is that the Electronic Programme Guide is not as good as the one on my TV and that’s really being picky.

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