Plasma Window - Virtual Aquarium



I've always loved aquariums. I used to have several, including a huge tropical tank. Unfortunately, I just can't keep those up any more. That's why I lept at the chance to have a "virtual aquarium" - to turn my computer screen and my high def TV into a big aquarium. While the concept is a really cool one, this version isn't quite perfect. It's close, but they could do far better.

First, the basics. You choose from one of several "loops". These include 5 saltwater tanks, a koi tank, shark, freshwater, or tropicoral. You can choose from new age, jazzy or natural sound audio tracks. Then you sit back and watch the fish swim around. These aren't fake fish, they are films of real, live fish.

The issue is that this DVD claims it was made specifically for large, high definition TVs. However, when you play the DVD on that size TV, the fish are HUGE. They don't look natural at all. They look quite unnatural. Also, many of the scenes are VERY zoomed in - i.e. the camera's pointing at a tiny area of coral and a few fish swim by. Instead, they could have done a full, life sized image of a large tank, so you could see everything, and had them "actual size". That would have been far, far more interesting to me. The point is to have a virtual fishtank - not to see a few fish gigantic sized.

Here's a quick description of each loop included:

Saltwater 1: one coral lump, one plastic plant. Black background. Four main types of fish including clownfish.

Saltwater 2: one coral lump, one plastic plant. The sand slopes up to the left so you get even less "screen area". The background is bright blue. Yellow tangs and maybe 3 other types. This is so close up that sometimes there are only 1-2 fish on the screen.

Saltwater 3: This is a bit better, pulled back more. You get 3 coral lumps plus a plant. There are angelfish, yellow tanks, and a few others. The background is bright blue. This is one of my favorites because of the image size.

Koi: This very full koi tank has maybe 50 koi in it, all swarming. All different colors and shapes. On the downside, the tank is completely grey with NOTHING in it at all. It looks very depressing. I would have loved this if there was a nice river bottom, but it looks very sad, that they're in a giant grey holding tank.

Saltwater 4: Coral, shell, plastic plant and black background. This is done in a "far away" view similar to #3 so is also a relatively good one. There are 5/6 fish types represented here. This is also one of the better ones because of the variety of fish on the screen at a time and the more proper sizing.

Saltwater 5: Giant coral and 2 plants. The issue here is that we're in close again and there are a lot of fish all jammed in together. they don't really look happy to be squished in like this. This one seems very stressful vs relaxing. The background is bright blue.

Shark: On one hand this is one of the most interesting "sets" - there is a ton of coral and bubbles right in the center of the screen. Thre's a shark that swims about occasionally. A lot of the time though there is nothing at all on the screen. That being said, if you like sharks, this is a pretty cool one. We're not talking great white here, it's a small, brown shark.

Freshwater: This definitely suffers the super-zoomed-in problem. It's an interesting background - river rocks, coral, a plant. However, we are so zoomed in that we don't get the relaxing flow of the fish. We get maybe 3-4 fish zipping in and out of the screen. They are primarily the same shape and size, with yellow, pink and grey bodies.

Tropicoral: The final entry is also super zoomed in. The entire screen is a coral area. There are maybe 2-3 fish that can fit into that space at a time. These include clown fish and yellow tangs. It is just too close in to really be enjoyable.

I'm not saying I dislike the concept! I think the videos are very clear, the fish are great and the idea is a wonderful one. I would definitely buy more videos if these guys made them. My issue is that these are not a relaxing "watching an aquarium" atmosphere, which is what I wanted. They are either way too zoomed in, or they are not well laid out. These guys need to get together with some aquarium enthusiasts and film some actual, full length tanks. That would be perfect!

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