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GameCenter Live: A Nice Alternative to Center Ice

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While most of the civilized world was preparing for and then watching Lost last night, I was getting my first look at the online version of Center Ice, GameCenter Live. It is an opportunity to watch almost every NHL game live on your computer but unfortunately blackout restrictions do apply. Now to fill you in on my experience.

It is very easy to watch the game/games you choose to watch after you sign up but it took me a couple of minutes to figure out the player. Once you select a game it will automatically start up but it defaults to a high bitrate (1600 I believe). I was trying to watch the Leafs vs. Devils and the game was buffering every  couple of seconds. Once I figured out the "Adaptive" button in the right corner the issue was fixed and I enjoyed the rest of the game.

The video quality is fantastic and I really didn't lose a much quality when I switched to full screen. Once again this might depend on your internet connection but I had no issues on my laptop.

Although I still prefer to watch the game on TV there are some really cool features on GameCenter Live. You can click a button to get the stats for both teams and also the shot chart and play-by-play. With one button you can close the stats and open them back up when you want to see them. It is ideal if you are a stats geek like I am.

You also have the ability to watch two games at a time by using the Picture-in-Picture feature or better yet you can watch four games at one time. Although the four games gets a bit confusing, it comes in handy when two or three games are all in the final five minutes.

A couple more features that you may or may not find helpful are the start over feature and watching replays. I find this helpful because I can go back and watch old Sabres games and give the play more analysis. The one drawback to this feature is Sabres games aren't available until 48 hours after the game because of blackout restrictions {note: all other games are available immediately}.

GameCenter Live is a fantastic product but it will never replace Center Ice in my mind. It has features beyond what you get with Center Ice but watching on TV is still better than watching on the computer. If you are rich you could always buy both them.

Because of a law that was passed some time ago I have to disclose that the NHL gave me GameCenter Live for free for the rest of the season. This was a way for people to differentiate between the traditional media and the new media (bloggers). The traditional media is not required to disclose this information but bloggers are. I was very honest in my review and was not swayed in any way by the opportunity to use GameCenter Live for free.