I’ve spent a weekend and a bit with IceGuide (I’m a dirty man) for Windows XP Media Centre Edition, and I think I’ll need at least another week to work out whether it’s something that’s robust enough to pay for, but so far – and this is preliminary – I’m liking it.
The installer offers the choice of “I’m a bastard with an expensive hi-res projection LCD Plasma Matrix UberMonitor”, or “I’m on a crappy telly”. Based on your response, I guess it adjusts the font size to suit (It might just be super-big all the time, but I wouldn’t know). As someone with a humble 68cm CRT telly, That’s a Nice Touch – reading regular 10-12pt fonts at 800×600 is a recipe for an interlace headache (and my TV is 100hz too – I hate to think how the Norms live).
After the installer is done, it opens a web page describing the next steps – also in a 10-foot-friendly font. Vendors take note – this is the type of usability tweak that gets you appreciative customers, even before they get your product working.
The post-install routine is the now-familiar Guide Setup, Channel Scan (aka unskippable channel scan), Channel Edit and Add Listings affair that I’ve come to expect. Everything worked, the channel names are attractive, and, um… everything worked. It was integrated with Media Center from the get-go.
OK, That Was A Dumb Heading – Actually Using It
So far, so good. The quality of the guide data is higher than the regular “free free” variety, which one would expect – nay, demand – from a commercial provider.
It picked up a bunch of my series recordings (I learnt from past experience with EPGRunner that if the channel names change, you’re screwed, so I keep configuring series recordings for All Channels), which was a good start.
I did find a problem that seems specific to my setup (or perhaps an artifact of having used other guides in the past) – sometimes, when I’m recording a show or two, I won’t be able to tag other shows to record, and it’ll fail with an Error 23, mumbling about the guide being inaccessible, and that I should restart. If I wait until later that evening, I can tag a show for recording (no restart required). A minor annoyance.
So, will you buy it?
So… I have about another week until I need to make The Big Purchase Decision. $3 a week seems just a little on the high side (like, $0.50 to $1 high), but then, that’s just me being Scottish.