Sky bets on pay-as-you-play online TV

Sky Now TV
Sky has announced a pay-as-you-go on-demand service

This week, we discovered that the new iPad gets quite warm when you charge it - so warm, in fact, that if you were to touch it you'd probably say "hmmm, that's quite warm".

Rather more importantly, we discovered that for Lovefilm streaming video is now doing more business than physical DVDs and Blu-Rays.

With gaming chain GAME finally going into administration, it's tempting to say that discs are dead -- but they aren't. Lovefim's disc rentals are up too. It's just that its rentals of streaming media are, er, up-er.

Lovefilm isn't the only firm that loves to stream. BSkyB does too, and its newly announced Now TV promises a kind of pay-as-you-go service for online TV. Supporting every conceivable connected device from internet TVs and tablets to PCs and tin cans with bits of string, the service will go into direct competition with the likes of Lovefilm and Netflix.

For us, the big TV story this week was iPlayer. As our columnist Gary Marshall put it, with just the tiniest bit of sarcasm, "Hurrah for Microsoft! Just four years after the iPlayer turned up on the Wii and two years after it appeared on the PS3, the iPlayer is finally available to Xbox Live users."

Microsoft appears to have backed down on its "everybody must have an Xbox Live Gold account" policy, which Marshall calls "the Xbox tax", and iPlayer is now free to use.

Was it worth the wait? Kate Solomon says it is. As she points out, "if you've got a Kinect then you can lazily swipe and chat your way around the app – you can literally demand shows from the on-demand service... once you've tried the Kinect integration, you won't want to go back."

The verdict? "iPlayer is an excellent addition to the Live dashboard, not forsaking smooth looks and easy functionality just because it's not costing you extra."

Solomon rightly points out that "iPlayer is the only Xbox Live app that brings you content for free," and that makes Marshall angry.

"You still need to pay for an Xbox Live Gold account if you want to use other free services such as 4oD or YouTube," he says, "and you also need a Gold account if you want to access services you're already paying for, such as Netflix or Sky... We wouldn't accept this on a Windows tablet, or on a Windows PC, and we shouldn't accept it on the Xbox."

There was good news for video makers as well as viewers this week: YouTube's unveiled a bunch of tools to make your clips better. Over to you, Jools Whitehorn: "Like the advice labels that we remember plastered all over our 35mm film photos when they came back from the chemist's, YouTube detects shonky camera work and pops up with a message offering to straighten it out."

More frames, more apps

While YouTube could change home video forever, Jamie Carter reports on technology that could do the same for blockbusters: instead of recording films at the standard 24 frames per second, there's a move to increase that to a whopping 120fps. Why? To get shot of the juddering that sometimes mars flashy camera moves. It's not your kit: it's the film.

It wasn't all TV and video this week, though: sound and photography got a look-in too. Hipsters rejoiced as Hipstamatic and Instagram teamed up to share photos between one another's services, while streaming music service Spotify announced a bunch of new apps including one for the evergreen Now That's What I call Music series.

Spotify apps

Then there was the daddy of all imaging apps, Photoshop. For a limited period you can play with Adobe's heavyweight imaging application for free: the forthcoming Photoshop CS6 is in public beta and offers 62% more awesomeness.

There's lots of good stuff in the beta, as our in-depth guide explains: there's a new, darker interface, GPU acceleration and lots of new tools including video editing. Don't get too hooked on it if you're broke, though: when the beta period expires Photoshop CS6 will set you back around £440.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.