Sky News HD from next year


Sky will be launching a HD version of their popular news channel, to be broadcast alongside the current, standard definition, version from Spring 2010.

To coincide with the launch Sky will be updating their studios and production facilities, so expect an even more Starship Enterprise looking set with an ever increasing, and seemingly unneeded, array of computer graphics.

Sky HD currently has over a million subscribers and has been aggressively promoting the service in recent months. They are currently offering the box to new customers for a mere £49, free set-up, plus £50 worth of Tesco’s vouchers. It costs an additional £9.75 a month to subscribe to the HD channels, but it’s still pretty good value. Sky may even drop this additional subscription price in the future, as they did with the Sky+ fee.

The announcement will also put a bit of pressure on Freesat, who currently only offer two HD channels – BBC and ITV. Sky in comparison, have over 30.

In America, the big networks, like Sky’s cousin Fox, already broadcast their news in HD, sort of. Everything in the studio is HD but films taken outside, which could be argued is the news, is not always filmed in HD. Sky are planning to make all of their coverage, wherever possible, HD.

Sounds like exciting stuff, although the thought of Eamonn Holmes in HD at 7.30 in the morning is enough to put me off my Weetabix.

(via Broadcast Now)

Norwegian Broadcasting Corp starts own bittorrent tracker


Norway’s state broadcaster, NRK, has launched its own bittorrent tracker, following a number of successful tests in 2008. A tracker, if you’re unaware, is the ‘matchmaking’ part of the bittorrent protocol, acting as a signpost to help people who want content find people who’ve got that content.

The tracker, which will operate exactly like the Pirate Bay does, except with legitimate content. NRK is funded by a license fee, much like the BBC, and so they have a mandate to reach as wide an audience as possible with the best possible quality. The DRM-free downloads provided by this service will achieve that wonderfully.

Best of all, the bittorrent protocol gains strength as more people download something. The busier the service is, the faster it is for everyone. So when there’s a million people trying to download the latest episode of the Norwegian equivalent of Eastenders, everyone gets it fast. As long as the government themselves seeds at least one copy of every file on the network, then everyone will be able to get whatever they want.

A win for consumers, a win for the broadcaster, and a win for Norway. I hope you’re taking notice, BBC. The iPlayer is good and all, but a bittorrent tracker would be even better.

(via NRKbeta)

Bad eyes or missing equipment? One in five Americans can't tell HD from SD


One in five Americans can’t tell the difference between high definition and standard definition TV according to a recent piece of research.

In fact, that’s probably a little misleading. More people probably would be able to tell the difference if they were shown a standard definition broadcast and a high definition broadcast (or, better yet, a Blu-ray film) side-by-side. What’s actually happening is that viewers aren’t sure when they’re watching normal TV and when they’re viewing higher resolution TV.

There are likely many reasons for this problem…

USB Endoscope – seeing things that should never be seen


Ever wanted to insert a camera into various orifices in your body? NOW YOU CAN with the USB Endoscope. Blowing every single other USB gadget I’ve ever seen out of the water, the USB Endoscope indulges your inner gut fetishist, while simultaneously allowing you to broadcast the images over the web with the greatest of ease. Hey, check out my urethra!

If you haven’t lost your lunch yet, then you’ll want to be buying one, right? It’s US$99 (about £67 in real money) and features 640×480 resolution, built in illumination, and – critically – a thickness of just 12mm. It’s just over 14cm long, so you won’t be able to push it in too far – promise me you won’t lose the damn thing in there, okay?

USB Endoscope

Related posts: Now mobile phones are being used for… appendix surgery? | PLAMABLADE!

AmberFin: Snell & Wilcox launches end-to-end content creation solution: good news for consumers


At first glance, the news that a well-established company which supplies services to the broadcast industry has launched a new service for handling video content may not seem particularly relevant to consumers. Yet Snell and Wilcox’s work is something that most TV viewers in Britain will have experienced even if they’ve never heard of the company.

Yesterday I spoke to Joe Zaller (VP Corporate Development) and Simon Derry (CEO) from S&W. It’s clear that broadcasters, ISPs and telecoms companies need a system like AmberFin if they’re to deliver digital video in a variety of formats to an ever more demanding consumer, in high quality, while still making money.

AmberFin should create a win-win situation for everyone…