Feeds
The Register Columnists

Nigel Whitfield

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
Gold Blend TV ad

Best shot: Coffee - how do you brew?

Youtube Video Whether it's to wake us up or keep us coding, for many techies coffee is an essential part of our daily ritual. With my bean-to-cup machine away being repaired, I've had to find other ways to get my fix. (required by the license) Coyau / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 When all else fails, there's "moka" java on …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Aug 2014
Freeview becomes Feeview

4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles

For fans of terrestrial television, this is the best of times and this is the worst of times. The DVB consortium has recently produced a draft specification for Ultra High Definition aka 4K, fitting the UHD video within the standard transport streams that are already used for SD and HD. As evidenced by the BBC's current closed …
Nigel Whitfield, 30 Jul 2014
Apple Homekit prototype pics?

Home automation while it's hot: Winter warmth for lazy technophiles

Home is not just a place for the family; it's also becoming a place that tech companies are fighting over as they scramble to develop home automation equipment for lazy savvy suburbanites. Video clip of TV sitcom character Frank Spencer catastrophically failing to engage with an automated home. 1980s vintage clip. Of course, …
Nigel Whitfield, 24 Jun 2014
Sony KD-84X9005 84in 4K LED TV

4K-ing hell! Will your shiny new Ultra HD TV actually display HD telly?

With just about every TV maker showing off 4K sets at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, and companies like Netflix promising to have content available in the format, it’s tempting to think that if you’re buying a new TV, 4K may be worth a look. Or, at least, worth hanging on for until it’s more sensibly …
Nigel Whitfield, 20 Jan 2014
Casio calculator

Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Until sometime in the early 1980s, when you reached secondary school you were handed a slim book full of numbers during a maths lesson and taught how to use log tables. Sines, cosines, tangents, square roots - they were all in there too. While it made a change from long division, it caused its own share of headaches. But, to a …
Nigel Whitfield, 03 Jan 2014

Gift-giving gotchas: How to avoid Xmas morning EMBARRASSMENT

You might think, what with gift buying out of the way, the hard work of the holiday season is largely done. Not so. Before you reach for the wrapping paper and sticky tape, there’s a fair bit more you can do to ensure a trouble- and tantrum-free Christmas Day. Batteries not included If you’ve been buying gadgets, don’t forget …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Dec 2013
Milton Bradley Big Trak

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear

Christmas isn’t just a time for celebration – it’s also a time for bitter, tearful reflection on the things that might have been and the gifts you’d have received if only you worked harder at that paper round, or your parents loved you enough. So we at The Reg decided to sift the salty tears of seasonal recrimination and seek …
Nigel Whitfield, 12 Dec 2013
Ciseco Pi-Lite

Ten top tech toys to interface with a techie’s Christmas stocking

‘Tis the season for dropping unsubtle hints about gifts that YOU’D like to receive, or – if you prefer – for making a list of things that you would buy for nephews and nieces but, because you’re an evil misanthropic Uncle or Auntie, you’ll buy for yourself instead. At least that way there’ll be no tantrums round the tree and …
Nigel Whitfield, 11 Dec 2013

Have Brits fallen for Netflix, or do they still LoveFilm?

BBC iPlayer turned five at Christmas, and the Corporation reported some pretty impressive usage statistics as it did so. While iPlayer is something of a juggernaut in the IPTV world, it’s only relatively recently made the leap from PC to living room and connected devices such as smart TVs and set-top boxes. Arguably 2012 was …
Nigel Whitfield, 25 Jan 2013
Toshiba's Viewster

Why do Smart TV UIs suck?

Years ago, TVs were simple. My grandparents’ set, for example, had a single channel-change button which clunked through to the next VHF preset each time you pushed it. My own family's TV had two standards, enabling us to “Switch to U for BBC 2” in time for Play Away. Inevitably, matters have became much more complicated than …
Nigel Whitfield, 21 Nov 2012
TVonics HV250

Administrator eyes DVR firesale after TVonics collapse

UK DVR maker TVonics has gone into administration. The maker of Freeview HD recorders, including the DTR-Z500HD and DTR-HD500, was placed in the hands of Bell Advisory on 12 June. And, though it’s been in administration before and survived, back in 2008, things don’t look good this time round. A spokesman confirmed today that …
Nigel Whitfield, 27 Jun 2012
Draytek Vigor 2820

Soup up your home network

Reg Hardware Gizmo Week logo small There can’t be many Reg Hardware readers who don’t have a home network. In fact, these days you’d have to look hard indeed to find an ISP that sells its connection as strictly single PC only and just tosses in a USB modem rather than some sort of router. A decade or so ago, just about any …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 Apr 2012
Nest Labs' Nest

The Hardware Hacker's Guide to Home Automation

Reg Hardware Gizmo Week logo small The home of the future is a staple of both speculative fiction and comedy. Back in the 1970s, Frank Spencer caused havoc in an automated home during an episode of Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em. For some of us, the enduring image of home automation is either Michael Crawford chaos, worthy but dull …
Nigel Whitfield, 11 Apr 2012
BBC logo

WTF... should I pay to download BBC shows?

The outgoing Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, recently announced plans for Project Barcelona, a download store for material from the BBC archives. At the moment, you can watch most BBC programmes for seven days after broadcast, free of charge using iPlayer. In a few cases, a whole series may be available for a little …
Nigel Whitfield, 20 Mar 2012
Roku 2 XS IPTV player

Roku 2 XS IPTV player

In the US, Roku has ridden to prominence on the back of services like Netflix and Hulu, and the phenomenon of ‘cord cutting’, where people discontinue pay TV services in favour of, well, paid IPTV services. That’s perhaps not surprising when their entry level box costs less than £40 including tax for US customers. Roku 2 XS …
Nigel Whitfield, 24 Feb 2012
Heatmiser PRS-TS WiFi RF Thermostat

Heatmiser PRT-TS Wi-Fi RF thermostat

With fuel bills ever rising, keeping an eye on your heating makes good sense, and Heatmiser’s Wi-Fi thermostat is intended to help you do just that. It’s based around a large, 3 x 2.5in touchscreen, which controls a timer/thermostat with its wireless features enabling configuration from an iOS device. Heatmiser PRS-TS WiFi RF …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Feb 2012
Sleeper

21st Century Sex: the shape of things to come

Reg Hardware Sex Week In the 1980s, when the first HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns were launched, alongside the crashing tombstones, leaflets gave frank advice about the risks involved in digital intercourse. In those days, of course, that just meant pleasuring someone with your fingers. Concerns about computers and sex …
Nigel Whitfield, 14 Feb 2012
Netflix vs Lovefilm

Netflix vs Lovefilm

IPTV Week logo This month, at long last, US video streaming giant Netflix finally arrived on UK shores, with a £5.99 all-you-can-eat offering. It was swiftly matched by the local incumbent, Lovefilm. The Amazon-owned company pitched a streaming-only option at an introductory £4.99. But which is the best option for Reg …
Nigel Whitfield, 26 Jan 2012
Reg Hardware IPTV Week

IPTV UK: what's on tonight?

IPTV Week logo 2012 looks like it stands a good chance of being the year that IPTV really starts to go mainstream, with more services and a good range of content appearing built in to TVs and other devices, not to mention the web. And, of course, the launch of YouView will help raise the profile of IPTV still further in the …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Jan 2012
3D_Glasses_SM

Strictly Come Dancing in 3D: the facts

Apparently some Brits are keen on the BBC's playground for sparkly attired hoofers, Strictly Come Dancing, which comes to its latest grand final this Saturday. Tech watchers have an interest too: it's one of the first BBC shows to be transmitted in 3D via Freeview HD. Don't want to miss the 'action'? Gone Digital's Nigel …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 Dec 2011
Smart TVs

Smart TV shootout

It’s about 18 months since I last rounded up internet-connected TVs - or "Smart TVs" as they’re now being named by all the manufacturers these days. Since then, all the brands have upped their game considerably, and just about all of their offerings are much more powerful than the 2009 models I looked at last time. As before, I' …
Nigel Whitfield, 29 Nov 2011
BBC logo

Inside the BBC's R&D Labs

Whatever your views on its programming, it is hard to deny that the BBC’s research labs have produced some pretty clever things over the years. Teletext, RDS and Nicam stereo are just some of the more well known ones, but the R&D Lab is also responsible for much of the work on the DVB-T2 standard that makes Freeview HD possible …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Nov 2011
Bluetooth 4.0

WTF is... Bluetooth 4.0?

Apple's iPhone 4S, which went on sale last week, is the first phone to support version four of the Bluetooth standard. That makes it something of a flag-waver for the technology. But with most users happy to make do with Bluetooth 2 - Bluetooth 3 is out but seemingly little used - does this matter? And what the heck does …
Nigel Whitfield, 20 Oct 2011
HbbTV logo small

WTF is... HbbTV?

Connected TV is all the rage. Every major brand has its own IPTV platform, such as Panasonic's VieraConnect or Samsung's Smart TV, offering a mix of catch-up services and additional content like movie trailers and YouTube access. As it stands, content providers need to work with TV and set-top box makers to integrate their …
Nigel Whitfield, 28 Sep 2011
iRobot Roomba 780

iRobot Roomba 780 automated vacuum cleaner

The Roomba is the most widely known of the robot cleaners, and with competition mounting, the company, iRobot, has not been sitting on its laurels. The Roomba 780 is the latest model, and boasts a larger collecting bin, built in scheduling and HEPA filters. iRobot Roomba 780 iRobot's Roomba 780 boasts improved battery …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 Sep 2011
Neato Robotics XV-15 vacuum cleaner

Neato Robotics XV-15 vacuum cleaner

Robot vacuum cleaners are becoming increasingly popular, with a few companies joining Roomba in the market over the last couple of years. Neato is the latest to offer a product in the UK, with the XV-15 which boasts laser mapping, and a powerful vacuum – some of the other models are careful to describe themselves as cleaners …
Nigel Whitfield, 22 Aug 2011
Jura Impressa F-90

WTF are... connected appliances?

The ‘internet fridge’ is a much-loved staple of futurologists. In some rosy and not-too-far-off future, many kitchens will have one, magically replenishing itself so that you never need run out of black pudding or milk. When you’re low on such essentials, the fridge will automatically order new ones from the supermarket, and …
Nigel Whitfield, 21 Jun 2011
IPv6

Get your network ready for World IPv6 Day

Today is World IPv6 Day, so you might be wondering just how easy it is to run IPv6 on your own home network. The answer is that it’s surprisingly simple, and even if you can’t yet get IPv6 connectivity from your internet provider, it’s still possible to connect your PC – or indeed your whole network – to the IPv6 internet. …
Nigel Whitfield, 08 Jun 2011
Echostar HDS-600RS

Echostar HDS-600RS Freesat HD recorder

Freesat, launched three years ago, hasn’t quite caught the imagination in the same way as Freeview HD, but if you don’t have terrestrial coverage, or you want more channels than Freeview provides, without having to go for pay TV, it’s a good option. Echostar HDS-600RS Echostar's HDS-600RS includes Slingbox functionality for …
Nigel Whitfield, 03 Jun 2011
Monty P

How to choose the right screen size

How big is big enough? It’s a question many of us have asked, as we cruise the aisles of Currys or John Lewis, looking for a new TV. It’s all too easy to be seduced by a special offer, or by extra features like net connectivity, and end up with a TV that’s larger than you anticipated. And while you might make space for a jumbo …
Nigel Whitfield, 19 May 2011
The Register breaking news

YouView confirms Technicolor exit

Set-top box maker Technicolor has pulled out of the YouView internet TV project. Originally announced as one of the "technology partners" that would be among the first to bring YouView-compatible products to market – a date that’s slipped from this coming summer to early 2012 – Technicolor has apparently decided not to go ahead …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 May 2011
The Register breaking news

Peugeot compo cam aids amateur espionage

Car company Peugeot has a competition on its website, in which you have to find hidden 3008s. It features some astonishing panoramic shots of London, taken sometime last summer, from the top of CentrePoint. You can zoom in, and if you go full screen, it’s pretty impressive. Here’s an overview: Peugeot cam One thing that …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 May 2011
IPv6

WTF is... IPv6?

On the 8 June, it’ll be World IPv6 Day – a coordinated effort by major services on the internet, including Google and Facebook, to provide their services using the new version of the Internet Protocol. It’s part of the plans to cope with internet addresses ‘running out'. But just what is IPv6 - and what does it mean for most …
Nigel Whitfield, 10 May 2011
TVOnics DTR-Z500HD

TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD DVR

Back in October 2010, Reg Hardware looked at TVonics’ first Freeview HD recorder, the curiously styled DTR-HD500. The DTR-Z500HD is a more conventional 'shoe box' shape, though much smaller than many of the others I’ve looked at, but it once again packs in a good spec. TVonics DTR-HD500 DTR-Z500HD: a more sober design than the …
Nigel Whitfield, 30 Apr 2011
4k x 2k

WTF is... 4K x 2K?

If you’re a keen Reg Hardware reader, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already got a high definition TV, and possibly a Blu-ray player too. Technology, of course, doesn’t stop there. While the switch over from analogue 405-lines to 625-line broadcasts - and TVs - took decades, changes occur more swiftly in the digital …
Nigel Whitfield, 14 Apr 2011
3D printing

WTF is... 3D printing

Head along to London's Design Museum and you'll find a remarkable shoe on display until August. Called the Melonia Shoe, it’s perhaps not what most Reg Hardware readers would wear, but it is remarkable, not so much for the design, but because it was printed by Belgian product prototyping company Materialise and Sweden-based …
Nigel Whitfield, 31 Mar 2011
The Register breaking news

Library e-books to become too tatty to lend

Does an e-book wear out? If it’s from publisher HarperCollins and belongs to a library, then the answer is now 'yes' – and potentially in as short a time as one year. New terms introduced by the publishing giant mean that instead of being sold with a perpetual licence, as they are now, e-books sold to libraries will be limited …
Nigel Whitfield, 02 Mar 2011
Doctor Who Experience

The Doctor Who Experience

Since the revival of Doctor Who almost six years ago, the BBC’s marketing machinery has been in full flow, with the programme spawning action figures, DVD box sets, plenty of other merchandise, alongside Proms concerts and exhibitions. Doctor Who Experience I remember my first Doctor Who exhibition, at Longleat in the 1970s, …
Nigel Whitfield, 17 Feb 2011
D-Link Boxee Box DSM-380

D-Link Boxee Box DSM-380 media streamer

D-Link’s Boxee box, also known by the catchy moniker of DSM-380, is aimed at a sector of the market that’s quite important in the US – streaming online media – but somewhat less so in the UK right now. D-Link Boxee Box DSM-380 Media container? D-Link's Boxee box It’s essentially a small form factor PC running the Boxee …
Nigel Whitfield, 12 Feb 2011
Icecrypt T2400

Icecrypt T2400 Freeview HD DVR

Icecrypt is a little known name in the UK. Their T2200 Freeview HD box was made by Topfield and the T2400 is in fact a UK version of a product from Korean PVR maker HomeCast. It’s a twin tuner unit for FreeviewHD, available with hard drives of 500GB, 1TB or 2TB. Icecrypt T2400 Icecrypt's T2400: the click wheel can be used to …
Nigel Whitfield, 29 Jan 2011
Wireless HDMI

WTF is... wireless HDMI?

We’re now all used to HDMI, the digital equivalent of the once-ubiquitous Scart connector, the latest versions of which are capable of supporting multi-channel audio, 3D TV and a return channel, so you can feed the sound back from your TV’s tuner to a surround sound system. It has, to be honest, some rough edges here and there. …
Nigel Whitfield, 26 Jan 2011
The Register breaking news

PS3 telly add-on update hit by splash screen crash

Rather a lot of users of PlayTV, Sony's DVR accessory for the PlayStation 3, have lost their recordings in an attempt to surmount bugs introduced in a recent update. Following the release late last year of version 2.02 of the PlayTV software – which includes support for Freeview’s series link functions – many users have grumbled …
Nigel Whitfield, 11 Jan 2011
The Register breaking news

The year's best... TV media players

2010: it's a wrap Networkable media players aren’t new, but in 2010 the addition of BBC iPlayer and similar services to set-top boxes and TVs made more consumers aware of the possibilities of online entertainment pumped straight into the living room, while Windows 7 made it simpler to stream content from your PC’s hard drive …
Nigel Whitfield, 17 Dec 2010
Apple iBooks icon

WTF is... up with e-book pricing?

Electronic books are a topic that never fails to generate comment on Reg Hardware – most often along the lines of, 'why are they so expensive?' With the launch of Amazon's Kindle in the UK, many book buyers hoped that e-books would become cheaper. Together with the falling price of readers, and Amazon trumpeting large e-book …
Nigel Whitfield, 26 Nov 2010
Digital Stream DHR8203U

Digital Stream DHR8203U Freeview HD DVR

Digital Stream is not a name that many people will be familiar with when it comes to PVRs – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; few had heard of Topfield or Humax before their very successful Freeview models appeared in the UK. Digital Stream DHR8203U Fluid design? Digital Stream's DHR8203U The Digital Stream DHR8203U is …
Nigel Whitfield, 14 Oct 2010
Humax HDR-Fox T2 Freeview HD recorder

Humax HDR-Fox T2 Freeview HD DVR

From a fairly slow start, the number of Freeview HD recorders is growing quite quickly; but the Humax has been one that many people have been waiting for. The company has a pretty good pedigree with DVRs for other services, and expectations have been quite high for the HDR Fox T2. Humax HDR-Fox T2 Freeview HD recorder Humax's …
Nigel Whitfield, 08 Oct 2010
Panasonic TY-CC10

Panasonic TY-CC10W Skype camera

While purists might prefer a standards-based approach to Internet telephony, there’s no doubt that, for many people, Skype is much simpler to set up. Even so, with a few exceptions, most equipment is still tethered to a computer, especially if you want to use Skype’s video calling. Panasonic TY-CC10 What's on TV? Panasonic's TY …
Nigel Whitfield, 07 Oct 2010
Sony 46EX403

Sony Bravia KDL-46EX403 46in LCD TV

Freeview HD TVs are fairly common these days, and Sony has put the necessary DVB-T2 tuners in most of the models in its range. The Bravia KDL-46EX403 is, as far as these things go, one of its budget models – it lacks the LED backlighting of the higher end units, which in turn makes it bulkier and less sexy, though from the front …
Nigel Whitfield, 01 Oct 2010
The Register breaking news

UK set for eBook pricing showdown

With Amazon taking pre-orders for the latest Kindle and opening a dedicated UK store, an investigation by Reg Hardware has revealed big differences in the pricing strategies of some of the major suppliers of ebooks in the UK. Waterstone's, probably the highest profile UK seller of ebooks, has announced that the price of the Sony …
Nigel Whitfield, 10 Aug 2010
Panasonic DMR-XW380

Panasonic DMR-XW380 Freeview HD DVR

Unlike the current wave of Freeview HD recorders coming on stream right now, the Panasonic DMR-XW380 is not just a twin tuner hard drive recorder, but a DVD recorder too. Pay a fair bit extra and you can have opt for DMR-BW880, the Blu-ray version Reg Hardware reviewed recently. Panasonic DMR-XW380 Good all-rounder? Panasonic's …
Nigel Whitfield, 06 Aug 2010