Tag: PVR

First World Problems

I’ve been in my flat for just over a week now, I’ve unpacked as much as I can until I purchase more bookcases and it’s starting to feel like home. The living room is a wonderful big space with lots of light, the kitchen is way bigger than my simple needs but allows me to eat at a table every night and the location is wonderful. But, there is one thing missing.

No, not the cat.

An internet connection!

It’s getting installed at the end of the month and whilst I have missed it I’ve gotten by quite well using my iPhone, although it’s fair to say any ‘smartphone’ would’ve done and it’s definitely saved my arse several times this past week as I’ve been organising new direct debits, checking addresses and names, not to mention the myriad of phone numbers I’ve had to contact.

I have gotten so used to having a permanent connection to the web that I’m still finding myself thinking “I’ll just check…” or “I’m bored I’ll see what’s online…” or any other of the many and plentiful (and usually pointless but entertaining) reasons for using the internet that it still catches me out. Suffice to say that, when you include the fact that for the best part of the first week I didn’t have any more than the five terrestial channels, the whole thing has been a bit of a culture shock.

It’s not like I didn’t have anything to do mind you, those boxes didn’t unpack themselves (and I won’t even START on the fiasco that actually selling the house has turned into… I’ll save that for another time), but did mean that my entertainment was largely confined to listening to some music, reading a book, watching a DVD or firing up the PlayStation.

Or tidying and cleaning and unpacking and building furniture and shuffling the last possessions between the house and the flat and far too many trips to charity shops and the local dump and lawyers offices and so on.

All in all it’s been an odd and jarring experience to have my access to the internet, and all the TV channels that I used to get on Sky, removed so abruptly.

Jarring but also quite liberating.

I’ve found myself much more productive without all of those distractions. I’ve hardly read any books yet as they are still packed in boxes, and I find gaming wears on me after a while, most terrestial TV is complete dross and so I either commit to watching a movie or spend 30 mins sorting through a box, or shuffling items between rooms. That 30 mins soon stretches to an hour or two and before I know it I’ve finished unpacking the kitchen.

I built my new desk and got my PC up and running and, despite having a fair amount of video content on there I found myself more inclined to pop some music on and do some writing (most of it complete tosh but I still enjoy the process).

All in all I’ve quite enjoyed that lo-tech week.

I’ve got freeview now, and a nice wee PVR system which uses the PlayStation (Play TV if you are interested), so at least I can record shows I want to see which should open up the TV a bit more, but I’m hoping that I’ll hold true to my plans and stick with a more considered approach. I’ll always be busy, it’s in my nature, but I’m hoping to keep the focus I’ve developed over the past week.

Mind you, I am looking forward to spending a weekend on the sofa soon. Yes. All weekend. Nothing but me, some movies and several boxes of Jaffa cakes.

(Don't) Call me

I need some advice. I want either cheaper TV, Broadband and Telephone calls, how do I get them? Actually that’s a lie, I only really want cheaper telephone calls.

Currently we have contracts with both Sky and Virgin Media.

We have Sky for our TV viewing and we take all the movies and sports channels, although I am considering cropping the ‘standard’ channel package down a little. My parents have Virgin Media for their TV service and, ignoring the fact I’d have to invest in a PVR system of some sort to get back the functionality I’d be losing, I happen to think the Sky service is better. It certainly seems easier to use and Virgin don’t give you the choice of what to record (hence the separate PVR).

We have Virgin Media for our telephone line and broadband and, from what I’ve read, the Sky broadband service isn’t the greatest and I’m loathed to move from Virgin Media (was Telewest) as the broadband service has been solid and reliable for the past 6 years, and we DO spend a lot of time online (Louise increasingly so). The telephone line is… well it’s a telephone line. We have caller ID and cheap(ish) calls to Europe.

We both have contract mobile phones, and once my contract (with Orange) is up I’m considering moving to PAYG… but in saying that I do miss not having a good phone with internet access and reliable Sync with my contacts… so I might hold out and aim for one of the HTC devices (running Windows Mobile). I am currently reducing my contract at every opportunity.

Basically, given my reluctance to switch broadband and TV suppliers, then the phone service is the one I’m focussing on. Largely our phone calls are within the UK, bar two or three calls a week to Spain.

I’ve done some digging in various forums and websites and think I know the answer but thought I’d see if my wonderfully intelligent readers could offer me another insight.

Given the restraints, what is the best phone service for us to switch to? Should we just ditch the landline altogether? What is the impact on people calling us (actually that’s a moot point, both mobile phones have very poor reception in the house so that wouldn’t be practical)? Do I need to do some more research into VOIP?

And yes, I am one of those bloggers who has just received a months trial with a Skype mobile. So that may be an option I can explore.

Any further comments, thoughts and suggestions are welcomed. Or should I just shut up, because, frankly, this isn’t that big a deal really.