Monday 24 December 2007

'Tis the Season?! (Part 2)

The other thing that always happens around this time of year is an influx of gadgets into our lives. This house particularly, and this year is no exception.

Gadget no. 1 - the new iPod.
I've always been one for music on the move. Ever since my first Walkman, through several incarnations to the portable CD player (so not portable) to my first MP3 player. The first MP3 player was a disaster. Chunky to the size of a Walkman, irritating volume limiters that wouldn't switch off... I hardly used it for the year that I had it. Then I got my first iPod. I think it was a nano... small and pink. We had an excellent relationship until the battery fritzed about 8 months ago. Thereafter it was virtually impossible to use. Charge to full power, switch on to play music and up came the message "no battery power remains, please connect to power". ARGH! It got to the point I couldn't use it. So gathering together Christmas money I decided to upgrade to the latest iPod. 80 glorious gigabytes (of which I've used a very small percentage so far). Plus a colour screen. If I was so inclined I could watch TV and videos on it. And it came in a nice bundle with a beautiful flat panel speaker. The only annoying thing was that it appears to be one of this Chrismas's must have gifts... and all the shops I wanted to reserve and buy from were sold out. Eventually I found one available in the City at PC World. I was dubious having reserved from PC World before and seen them go to the shelf to fetch my 'reserved' product. However, whether because it was Christmas or it is a new policy... all the reservations had been put aside!

Gadget No. 2 - the V-plus box.
Ever since I first heard about TiVo I've been hankering for a box that watches TV for you. A flurry of advertising from Virgin Media about the reduced installation for their V+ decided me that it might be a nice Christmas present for ourselves. I rang up... paid £75 (half price installation) and arranged a date for them to come and install the box. The date duly arrived... and the engineer phoned. Could he come in the morning instead of the afternoon as arranged? Sure we said. An hour passed. The engineer phoned again. There had been some sort of confusion and the installation hadn't been booked properly. He wasn't sure if he could come at all, but he was going to check and call us back. We waited an couple of hours. Nothing. So we called Virgin Media ourselves. Oh dear. The guy who took my payment hadn't booked the installation, so it couldn't be done today. In fact, not until 5th January (!?!). Fine. Time passed. The phone rang again. The engineer. He'd be there in 5 minutes. So the box came and was installed and the old box was left behind... oops, without a power cable. We found a power cable and the old box took up residence in the bedroom, and the V+ box delighted us with its amazing abilities. Then a couple of days later a courier arrived... with a shiny Virgin branded box. A new 'V box' (just your regular cable box). Smaller than the old one, shiny and silver (to match the TV, video and DVD player upstairs - cool). Two gadgets for the price of one.

A word on V+ (or similar approved systems). It rocks! The ease of use (even for somebody like me who can barely operate a video player) is superb. The picture quality (even without an HD TV) is amazing. The ability to watch heaps of rubbish TV you might otherwise miss... priceless!