Following its launch at CES earlier in the month, Intel officially launched its new Viiv platform last night in the UK.
As with the Hollywood star studded CES launch, Intel demonstrated its penchant for celebrities, bringing in Jonathan Ross to host of the event. The lengthily haired, â€˜Râ€™- challenged one then introduced Andy Gray from Sky Sports and a certain Michael Owen to talk about his recent advert he did for Sky. The advert is featured when viewing content on Skyâ€™s new â€˜Sky By Broadbandâ€™ service, which is now available to anyone who buys a Viiv PC.
When questioned by Ross about the last tech gadget heâ€™d actually bought with his own money, Owen appeared to be stumped before coming up with his helicopter - the same one in fact that he had just flown down in from Newcastle for the event. Now that's flash.
When asked about Newcastle's chances of winning a place in Europe this year, Andy and Michaelâ€™s response was nothing if not honest.
Ross then introduced Peter Hook, bassist of legendary British group New Order to opine on how technology had changed since the band took its first innovative steps into electronic music back in the early 80s. The answer? A lot. Only now they donâ€™t get drunk quite as often. Great, thanks Hooky. Now go away and make a decent New Order album - that last one was a bit rubbish.
Hooky pointed at the guy in the audience who actually knew who he was.
There were actually some concrete details about UK specific services that will be available from Viiv PCs. Thereâ€™s the aforementioned Sky by Broadband service, which Iâ€™ve been using the past month. Also available from Viiv PCs will be Naspter and Lovefilm. The latter currently offers CDs via a postal service but over Viiv users will be able to download videos straight to their lounge PCs.
This was demoed to me at the launch. A film encoded at 2Mb/s will cost Â£3.49, while a 700Kbs stream will cost for Â£2.99. Whether this is good value or not is debatable but thereâ€™s no doubting the attraction of video on demand. However, even at 2Mb/s, the clip of Harry Potter showed clear banding even on a non-HD plasma. However, itâ€™s early days and once broadband connections gets faster no doubt higher quality streams will be available.
Other titbits I found out was that you should be able to put your own Viiv PC together by buying a â€˜Preslerâ€™ Pentium D, Viiv certified 945 chipset motherboard. This is necessary to obtain the instant on/off functionality that really differentiates Viiv PCs from the PC masses.
However, whatâ€™s was clear from the launch is that itâ€™s the content rather than the hardware that will really makes Viiv sing. Letâ€™s hope that Intel does a deal with the BBC as its iMP player that itâ€™s currently trialling would make a fine addition to the Viiv roster.