Author Archive

Opera Mini 5.1 comes to Android

The Norwegian Browser company, Opera, has announced the release of Opera Mini 5.1 for Android phones today.

Opera Mini provides a “lightning fast” browser experience by virtue of its proxy service. Servers over at Opera receive page requests from the Opera Mini browser, and download the page. By reflowing text and compressing images, this allows pages to be downloaded faster than a browser loading the original page. The disadvantage here is a lack of privacy, and indeed the proxy service will break some sites that require a login, and internet banking is a definite no-no for any proxy-based browser.

Opera Mini also provides functionality to synchronise bookmarks with other Opera Mini installations on other phones and with the desktop Opera browser. There are other handy features like “speed dial” which provide quick links to favourite sites. Opera Mini also supports full copy and paste for grabbing and using text from web pages.

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Internet TV: 10 UK on-demand and live video offerings compared

Last time we surveyed the UK’s live and on-demand Internet TV landscape (back in July 07), it was a bare-bones affair. The BBC’s iPlayer was Windows-only and hadn’t yet launched out of private beta, while rival broadcaster offerings were lacking content and, like the iPlayer itself, crippled by DRM and the need to install additional and sometimes conflicting software.

How things have changed.

Today, TV watching Brits are spoilt with choice when it comes to live and on-demand online from the 6 main UK broadcasters, along with a number of aggregators, including the newly launched SeeSaw, the closest yet to the US Hulu.

Read on for our full guide:

1. BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayerBBC iPlayer has the most helpfully laid out video on demand site in the UK. However, the newer version of the site (currently on show at adds to this with an impressive new design. As ever, there is access to a TV schedule so you can find what was on when, for each channel.

The front page of the site has a small section that displayes featured programmes in each genre. However, clicking the “Show All” button takes you to a full listing for that genre. Down the side category pages are a list of all categories, which when clicked expand to show a list of sub-categories, and how many programmes are in each. Each of these pages have options to list programmes by how recently they were broadcast, or as a full A-Z list.

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TVCatchup streams to mobile as broadcasters aim to spoil the party

TVCatchup running on NokiaAs promised, we’re keeping you up to date with the latest happenings at TVCatchup.

Last week TVCatchup opened a private beta for streaming live TV to Blackberry, Android and Symbian phones. (Update: Palm webOS too.) However, they announced on their official forums today that the beta was going public for anyone to test the service.

To access the mobile streaming version, point your phone’s browser to:

According to the TVCatchup forums, Vodafone is not supporting their streams, and judging from Twitter, there seems to be mixed results on other mobile networks. Clearly, streaming video data will clog up mobile networks, so we recommend users to stick to WiFi, on which the service works well.

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TVCatchup ups its game for the World Cup

TVCatchup, the UK TV streaming service, announced on Twitter today that they are introducing low and high quality streams along side their standard quality stream. Their tweets suggest that this is the first in a series of updates to coincide with this year’s World Cup tournament.

TVCatchup viewers can access the new streams by heading to the channels page, and then choose from the three links on the top-right corner of the channel grid. Other streaming services we’ve looked at have stream quality controls within the video player itself, allowing for in-situ bitrate adjustment. Hopefully this is something TVCatchup can add later.

TVCatchup engineers are still fine tuning the new streams as this post is being written. Although we’ve tested the streams and everything seems to be running well.

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Spotify introduces new tiers, but reserves mobile as a premium perk

Spotify has announced two new packages, named “Spotify Unlimited” and “Spotify Open”, the latter of which makes a free version of the music steaming service available again without the need for an invite.

Until recently, there were only two options: “Spotify Free”, available as a desktop application only and ad-supported. And “Spotify Premium”, which offers higher bit-rate streams, no adverts, and the ability to access the service – including caching tracks for offline playback – on both the desktop and mobile client, all for £9.99 per month.

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Review: TVCatchup – Streaming live TV to your browser

tvcatchup frontpage

TVCatchup is a UK-only VoD site with a difference. When the site launched in late 2007, TVCatchup offered live streams of UK Freeview TV channels, along with the ability to record programmes. Unfortunately, copyright concerns saw TVCatchup withdraw their site, until relaunching, sans PVR functionality, in late 2008 (Source).

In its current form, TVCatchup is very simple, offering only live streams of almost all UK Freeview (free to-air) channels. The website gives a list of all available channels which can be clicked on to view. Better still, there is a TV/PVR like programme guide, showing a horizontal timeline of what’s on currently, and allows you to go forward (and back) in time to see what’s coming up. It also allows users to drag and drop TV channels into any order they like. However, there’s no EPG data available. Along with the channel list, there is a tab giving access to UK Freeview radio stations, this is in a testing phase, and during this review the audio player loaded but didn’t stream any audio. We’re sure this will be fixed soon though.

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Review: MSN Video Player mixes it up with classic TV, news & gossip

MSN Video Player Front PageMSN Video Player is Microsoft’s offering into the video on demand (VoD) market, which launched last month in the UK. It’s reported to have launched with around 1000 hours of content, licensed from various sources. However, Microsoft hasn’t cut the type of deals with UK broadcasters required to enable MSN Video Player to be a way to catch up on recent TV.

The bulk of content on MSN Video player is made of back catalogue TV shows, although there is other material. The ‘Clips’ section, has sub-categories of: News, Viral, Celebrity, Sport, Gaming and “MSN Originals”. The sports content is further broken up into individual sports, but don’t get excited, as it’s just a long string of interviews with players and coaches. Viral and Celebrity videos are self-explanatory, but don’t expect to find any deep or insightful content. The news videos are quite useful, and are taken directly from ITN and MSN’s own news service. The “TV clips” and “MSN Originals” categories seem to overlap somewhat with the Celebrity videos, and are all quite random in topic and duration

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Nokia wants to connect everyone with 3 new QWERTY-touting handsets

Nokia-c3-c6-e5Nokia unveiled three new phones today as part of their Everyone Connect launch, (press release here). “Everyone Connect” is Nokia’s attempted at bringing E-Mail, Instant Messaging and Social Networking together into a unified whole. As part of this messaging emphasis, all three phones have a QWERTY keyboard. This is a loud and clear message from Nokia as to what they think about touch screen keyboards. Another theme that ties these three phones together is their low cost with Nokia clearly wanting to bring smart phones to the low and mid tier markets. While none of these phones are ground breaking, and may invite yet more of the same-old tired Nokia bashing, these three may prove to be ideally placed to sell in large numbers, thus maintaining Nokia’s market share.

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Review: SeeSaw bouncing between back-catalogue and catch-up TV

SeeSaw front pageSeesaw is a UK-only video on demand service, which has its origins in the ill-fated Project Kangaroo, whose technology was bought up by transmission company Arqiva. The service was launched with new branding as “SeeSaw”.

SeeSaw’s revenue currently comes from unskippable advertising that appears before and in the middle of programmes. However, premium content is said to be coming to SeeSaw later in the year. SeeSaw is limited to residents of the UK only, but on their FAQ pages, they state that viewers do not need a TV license.

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MeeGo arrives on the N900, non-developers advised to move along

N900 booting into Meego terminal

The MeeGo community blog has announced that N900 users can download a working image of the new MeeGo operating system. In addition to supporting the N900 ARM architecture, they have also released an image for Intel’s Atom processors, thus covering the shared heritage of the the Moblin and Maemo parent platforms.

In their own words:

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