Plex: A Great Alternative to Front Row

Blog, Digital Music, Technology, Videos/Film

The latest part of my saga in converting to a digital-only lifestyle is being able to have a decent browser with which to browse my film collection. If you have a mac with the Leopard or Snow Leopard operating system you’ll have ‘Front Row’ – an interface that allows you to browse your film, TV and music collection with your keyboard or Apple remote. It’s well presented and it’s almost like browsing an interface on a TV with screenshots from each of your videos given as a preview.

Apple’s Social Network ‘Ping’ Under the Hood

Blog, Digital Music, Internet, Social Networks, Technology

Another day and another new social network. I’m beginning to lose count to be honest. Still, a day after Steve Jobs’ annoucement of ‘Ping’ the new social network incorporated into iTunes 10 it went live and I’ve gone straight in and had a look.

When I first heard about it, I was a bit skeptical. Spotify had introduced their own social networking features recently and to be honest it works because it’s well incorporated into Facebook – there’s no need to set up additional profiles or add friends, you just have to link accounts. It was clear that this wouldn’t be the case with ‘Ping’ and quite how the public will react to having a new place to ‘like’ artists and albums will be interesting indeed. To join ‘Ping’ you have to upgrade to iTunes 10. Once you have done this, you’ll see the link for ‘Ping’ just below ‘iTunes Store’ in the left hand column.

Time to bite the bullet and go digital?

Blog, Digital Music, Internet

Last month I moved flat and had an endless amount of stuff to take with me. It could have been worse however, I got rid of a lot of stuff including the Television. Yes, I no longer own a TV.

Whilst stressing about moving and all the other big changes happening in my life a good friend put it to me that I should ‘just buy an iMac’ and get rid of a lot of the other stuff. So that’s basically what I did. I already own a monitor with an HDMI input to I can still play the Xbox, everything else is done through an iMac I’ve just bought. I reckon it was a move that’s paid off, I wouldn’t have had room for the bulky TV I used to own and I don’t actually miss it that much.


Is this the end of the TV and Hi-fi?

The whole point of me saying all of this is that I’m wondering how far I should go, and when I say that, I’m looking at all the CDs and DVDs in the corner of the room. Now, I’m not for one minute saying I’m going to get rid of them, but I look at the CD shelf and wonder, how many of these CDs have I used more than once; having burnt them into iTunes and listen to it there instead. Is it time to convert to purchasing solely on a digital basis? iTunes sells all manner of music and films and the prices are fairly reasonable. There’s just something quite appealing about having my entire music and film collection on a single external hard drive.

Inevitably there will be people dismissing the quality of a downloaded product and of course the physical CD or Blu-ray disc will probably always be better quality but it’s more a question of how much will you actually notice this? When I’m casually listening to music I can’t really hear a significant difference between a high bit-rate MP3 and an audio CD. As with watching films on a computer, whenever I’ve done this in the past I’ve always felt that the quality was never that great. Then I realised what the difference was… people generally don’t watch a DVD with their face 2 feet from the TV. Sit further back and you’ll notice nothing.

There’s also some great bargains to be had in the digital world. Aside from iTunes weekly 99p rental flick, many bands and artists are selling their product very cheaply in order to gain new fans. I was listening to Spotify and a band called Metric were selling their new album for 99p. It’s not entirely my thing, but I do quite like it and it’s exposed me to some new music.

I haven’t fully made my mind up as to whether I’ll switch to a completely digital entertainment lifestyle. I’ll probably buy a couple of films off of iTunes and I’ll let you know if the quality is up to scratch.