A Sharp Upturn in Viewing Figures.

My HD TV prediction has come true. I didn’t even make it into the New Year before succumbing to the lure of the 1080 pixel vertical pitch with progressive scan (that’s 1080p to you). I have ordered a Sharp Aquos LC37D65E. This choice was due in no small part to the fact that I got it reduced from £699 to £450 thanks to the Sharp Affinity program. The lovely people at eXpansys are also running a seasonal offer of £10 off any order over £20 at the moment with a voucher code. I have just ordered 3 very nice 5 metre HDMI cables that worked out at about £6 each with the above discount.

My next HD prediction is that I will be upgrading to Sky+HD in the very near future. Where will it end ?


The Player of Games

I have just bought myself half a PlayStation 3 as a Christmas present (I’m coming to the “half” bit in just a sec). I never seem to get tired of acquiring games consoles. My current collection includes :

  • PlayStation 1
  • PlayStation 2
  • PSP
  • XBox
  • XBox 360
  • 2 Dreamcasts (one Japanese import)
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo Game Cube
  • Nintendo GameBoy Pocket
  • I have been playing Metal Gear Mobile on my Nokia N95 recently but I’m not sure that counts

I think that’s all of them. I still don’t have a Wii. The crazy thing is I hardly ever get time to play them. My son is too young to be really interested in video games yet and my daughter is only really interested in the Nintendo DS.

The PlayStation 3 sneaked into my life as a result of the following conversation. I have no idea how this came about, but as you can see my wife is actually talking me into buying a PlayStation here. I wasn’t dreaming. This really took place :

Wife : I still have nothing for you for Christmas. What do you want?
Me : I don’t know. I have everything I need.
Wife : How about a Wii ?
Me : Are you seriously offering to buy me another game console ? Wow, you really are out of ideas then.
Wife : So you don’t want a Wii?
Me : I just don’t think we’d use it. Lots of people I know have them and they used them a lot to begin with and then it just tapered off and now it just sits there and they hardly ever use it.
Wife : Well what about that other one then ?
Me : What, PlayStation 3 ? They’re nearly twice the price of the Wii.
Wife : We could go halves. You could buy me the other half for Christmas.
Me : You want half a PlayStation for Christmas ?!
Wife : Well, can you think of anything better ?
Me : No. I can’t. But I think you will, probably sometime between when I order the PlayStation 3 from Amazon and Christmas morning and then there will be sulking because you’ll have forgotten this was your idea.

NB : I’m trying not to sound too keen at this stage. In fact, this is a god send. My wife is hard to shop for and I’ve just used up all my good gift ideas on her birthday.

Wife : Oh well. If you don’t want to…
Me (sensing the moment slipping away) : Although…now I think about it, you can play Blu-ray movies on a PS3 and we did talk about getting a Blu-ray player…
Wife : OK. That’s settled then.

You see. Job done, zero pain. I’m thinking this could in part be because I have recently sold off one of my guitars and perhaps I’m now below some secret guitar/console quota she has imposed in retaliation for my “one-in-one-out” shoe/handbag policy.

But now, on reflection, I see that this may only be the beginning. The thing is I don’t watch much TV and as a result I still have a lumbering, 5 year old CRT television set which was fine…until the whole PlayStation thing happened. Now I will have Blu-ray which is pointless unless you have HD. I can feel a big, flat screen, HD Ready 1080p looming on the horizon as I type. I don’t need one…I don’t think I even want one…but it’s there…waiting…

Showing your face at Amazon

Web 2.0 and “Social Influence” marketing gurus Razorfish produced an interesting slide deck recently about the implications of über-stores like Amazon implementing or integrating with ID providers like Facebook Connect or Google’s Friend Connect.

Basically this means that by logging into Amazon with your Facebook ID you are gaining single sign-on authentication in exchange for sharing your Facebook profile with Amazon.

Your Facebook profile has become what Razorfish call a Portable Social Graph. It means that any web site can now enable itself with the power of social context by borrowing that context from Facebook. This goes way beyond the simple publishing of news feed items about your activities back to Facebook or presenting lists of items that your peers also bought.

A web site enabled with Facebook Connect can instantly tell a number key things about you. Most obviously about your preferences, likes, dislikes etc either explicit or based on your peer group. Remember that your Facebook profile is very rich. But more subtly its about how connected you are and who you are connected to.

Imagine this as the final fruition of (or at least the next big evolution in) social marketing schemes that began many years ago aimed at identifying the “Alpha Kids” in a given group and using them to spread viral marketing because they were the most “contagious”. Companies that had a cool new product would go into a “neighbourhood” and just start asking, “who’s the coolest kid you know?” Then they would ask that kid the same question and so on. Eventually they would home in on the kid who answered “me”. They would give that kid the product for free and so the viral marketing would begin. Now imagine the same kind of scheme but where a company could judge your “coolness” as a function of how connected you are and who you are connected to in an instant as you log on and then target offers and discounts at you accordingly…the mind boggles.

The truth is any community or peer group of buyers has its “Alpha” members, not just the kids and their video games. Whether its consoles, cars, cardigans or carpet slippers someone is the “go to guy” for a whole load of people when they need the skinny on which lawnmower to buy and social context can help vendors identify those people.

Now, just for a second, imagine that your competitors are doing this and you aren’t…

The win continues…

I seem to have hit a rich seam of win with my recent technology purchases. OK, so it’s only 2 in a row and I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s always nice to have one’s decisions reaffirmed. It’s like the opposite of buyers remorse.
So, first I bought my MSI Wind netbook and it got voted product of the year. Then, last weekend I finally got round to replacing my colour printer and scanner. I had decided I wanted to get an MFP (Multi-Function Printer) rather than separate devices as this would free up some desk space, plug sockets and USB ports in my office and make photocopying easier. So, I shopped around a little and quickly settled on the Epson PX800FW (also known as the Artisan 800).
Not only does it look gorgeous and do all the things I want and then some, but the price has just dropped from £299 to £195. Add a duplex module for an extra £25 and free delivery from Amazon and what gets delivered is a box full of win.
For your £195 you get a 40 page per minute, 6-colour, 5760 x 1440 edge-to-edge photo printer, a 1200 dpi photocopier and 4800 x 4800 dpi flatbed scanner with auto document feeder and a Group 3 fax with colour LCD screen. The unit also communicates via USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and PicBridge with an expansion slot for Bluetooth, has dual paper trays and a CD printing tray and supports about 20 different kinds of removable memory card including USB drives. It probably does more but I don’t want to labour the point.
When I finally get it out of all the packaging and remove the 30+ strips of that heavy blue tape they use to secure everything for shipping it looks even more gorgeous than in the pictures. How rare is that ? Not only that but the LCD control panel folds down at the touch of a button with a slow, silent hydraulic action that is perversely gratifying.
Could things get any better ? We apparently yes because today Kevin Rose blogged his list of Top 10 Gifts For Geeks and there’s my printer at #7. Now I know this is not the be all and end all of affirmations but, like the hydraulic whirr of my new LCD, it’s the little things that make us happy.

Less painful than beating yourself unconscious with your mouse…

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