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Sonicblue files for Chap 11 304

An anonymous reader writes "ReplayTV and Rio maker Sonicblue is a goner, filing for bankruptcy and selling their assets to D&M, the Japanese parent company of Denon and Marantz. No word what will happen to all those Replay users out there -- that $140 deal on Amazon isn't looking so hot now, is it?"
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Sonicblue files for Chap 11

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:31PM (#5565525)
    "from the dept."

    Pretty sad. Can't even afford their dept. here on Slashdot.
  • by fetta ( 141344 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:33PM (#5565539)
    Hopefully Tivo won't go the same route. Fortunately, if it did, the active Tivo hackers community would probably provide some solutions for replacing the discontinued service portion of the Tivo product.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Much like Google. Even if it's not in everyone's homes yet, most people know what it is. ReplayTV was just their unsuccesful competitor.
    • TiVo's savior: Sony. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:41PM (#5565642)
      In my personal opinion, the only way TiVo will continue to survive is to merge with a larger company.

      That company is Sony Corporation. There are two good reasons for this: 1) Sony already has experience using Linux for consumer products, so developing for TiVo will not require a new learning curve for their engineers, and 2) Sony already is a licensee of TiVo technology.

      With the recognition of one of the best-known brands in the world and Sony's powerful marketing muscle, Sony could incorporate TiVo technology into HDTV tuner boxes (cable, over-air, and DBS) and even onto projection TV units. It's even possible that Sony could even merge TiVo technology into products derived from the successor to the PlayStation 2.
    • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:23PM (#5566047)
      They beat analysts' expectations, revenue is up more than they thought ($60.2 million this year vs. $19.4 million last year), licensing means they'll sign up more people than they thought this year. They didn't meet their growth projections for the holidays only because stores didn't have enough product to sell. That isn't necessarily a "bad" kind of problem. More info on [].

      Doesn't look to me like TiVo needs a savior.


    • I'm just hoping that someone releases a DVR, and before eveyone startes screaming TiVo i said DVR not PVR. As in a dumb box that doesn't have a service, taht doesn't require a phone line that is just a VCR with a HDD. I don't care about comercial skipping, or it knowing what's on. I just want it to be able to record (preferably 2 programs at a time but 1 will do) to an internal HDD. I HATED Tivo. First it kept trying to dial the phone while i was ON IT! It started taping things I didn't want.....I wat
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:34PM (#5565552) Homepage Journal
    So, what kind of opportunities does this present to the home user? Presumably we're going to see lots of these units showing up on eBay - can't you just use it as a standalone PVR without the service???
    • Some Replay models can be used without a subscription, some can't... The current models require a subscription. I am a TiVo user, not Replay, but I'd assume that people who already have Replay units shouldn't fear that their boxes will turn into doorstops overnight. The data service should continue for some time to come.

      It does not bode particularly well for future development of the line, but who knows what D&M will do with it?
    • There have been a few posts along the line of "is my ReplayTV worthless without the service" ... but the article doesn't actually say that the service is going away, just that the assets have been sold to D&M. It's early days yet, but has anyone seen anything about their intensions? It's possible (maybe not likely, though) that the service and development will continue under the new owners.
    • by jbarr ( 2233 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @02:30PM (#5567032) Homepage
      To answer your question specifically, NO. The current version of the ReplayTV software requires service connection. If there is no guide information, you CANNOT record anything. For newer boxes, if you paid for the lifetime service, you can use it to manually record, but if you are paying month-to-month, then you are outa luck. As for older models, you need the guide information to record.

      Also, and this is critical, service connection is required to set the clock.

      I have three ReplayTV boxes ("upgraded" 2001, stock 2020, and new 5040), and if the service gets cut, I am screwed.
  • Too bad. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:35PM (#5565564)
    I wished Matsushita Electric (the parent company of Panasonic) had bought out SonicBlue at least a couple of years ago.

    Panasonic could have kept the ReplayTV PVR and Rio players as a viable line of products or at least incorporated its technology into Panasonic products.

    This is why I think TiVo will be purchased by Sony fairly soon, given that Sony already is committed to using Linux for consumer product development and also Sony is a TiVo licensee. Given Sony's name recognition, TiVo products could really become popular under Sony's stewardship.
    • Re:Too bad. (Score:3, Interesting)

      That's an interesting one... Sony products do resemble the quality that the Rio line had.

      I dropped my original Rio on hard tile floor once. The front little controll pad popped off and the battery fell out. It still works to this day.
  • by Clockwurk ( 577966 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:35PM (#5565566) Homepage
    I'm kind of curious why Diamond and its offshoots have such a tough time staying afloat in today's market. Diamond made really good video cards, then got bought S3 (and hasn't been seen since). Now Sonicblue (Diamond Rio) has gone under. I really want to know if they just weren't as popular a brand as I thought or if they were very poorly managed.
    • From what I've heard from a person or two who used to work there, they were very poorly managed--rampant internal problems from massive employee theft to bungled (if not outright fraudulent) accounting.

      After the reorganization that led to the creation of Sonicblue (the video card operations were sold off, I think to ATI), they never really got back on their feet. Cool MP3 players are a nice "in addition to" business but not a core business, and once they bought ReplayTV it all but vanished from the market

    • Well, let's see here...

      Diamond video cards worked fine, but they were virtually identical to the S3 and 3DFX reference boards.

      Their drivers were known to be buggy and loaded with weird stuff (e.g. the click on the desktop, get the start menu stuff they put in their 95/98 video drivers). So you were better off with the S3 drivers shipped with your OS or the S3 reference drivers.

      Their support and commitment to their customers sucked. I had a Diamond ISDN adapter, a couple of months after I bought min
  • Damn! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ( 637314 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:35PM (#5565570) Homepage Journal
    I bought the original Rio, I bought the RIO mp3-cd player, and I even had bought stock. I was hoping that they would turn it around after seeing their advisory a few months ago. It's too bad that SonicBlue didn't capture the digital media market, they entered too early.

    I guess when the big coporations started selling their mp3 players it was all over. Damn.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:35PM (#5565571)
    Well, now that SonicBlue seems to be out of the picture, now the only major retailer of PVR technology is TiVO. Unless you count UltimateTV, which I guess is still being sold, but I haven't seen ads or any indication of Microsoft pushing it for a long time.

    Tivo COULD do well by this, since if support for ReplayTV drops dead, users of ReplayTV will still want SOME kind of PVR (and I'm not talking about those who are willing to waste days and weeks hacking the box, here)...or, could make it harder on them, since the MPAA and their relatives now only have one big company to focus on.

    The next business quarter will probably be a turning point for PVR technology. TiVO has a better chance of surviving if those that are orphaned by ReplayTV move over to it. If they don't, TiVO instead will be 'hanging on' for some time, and its fate (and ability to manage lawsuits like the one ReplayTV got, DMCA-wise) will be a lot more uncertain.
    • TiVO shouldn't have any more problems with lawsuits than it has right now. By not having a few key features that ReplayTV had, TiVO has successfully skirted a lot of those issues. Commerical skipping and program sharing were two biggies that would likely bring down the thunder, but TiVO has smartly avoided that. Yes, I know TiVO has a secret code for 30-second skip, but I tried it and it sucked. I like the fast-forward much better.

      The TiVO hacking community has been careful about allowing program shari
    • by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:50PM (#5565733) Homepage Journal
      Go check the statistic for yourself, but DishPVR has a larger customer base than TiVo at this time.

      Microsoft discontinued their side of the UltimateTV product line and sold the ongoing support to DirecTV.

      TiVo is more widely known because they have been friendly to their customers, and have not fought customers that are interested in seeing what more they can do with the TiVo products, so long as theft of service is not an issue.

      TiVo has also been reasonably sensible wrt usability and features when it comes to protecting the broadcasters. The 30 second skip is not advertized as a feature, and is not documented in the product literature. It is not a blank seaker, which is more accurately what Replay did, so you do have to fiddle around looking for the end of the commercials, though it is not as bad as watching 20 30 second comercials every 5 min of programming.

      Then again, that's my opinion. You have fun with your own.


      • by zsmooth ( 12005 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:45PM (#5566297)

        TiVo is more widely known because they have been friendly to their customers, and have not fought customers that are interested in seeing what more they can do with the TiVo products, so long as theft of service is not an issue.

        Preface: I have Tivo. I love Tivo.

        The Series 2 (with 3.2 software) is hardly hackable at all. A boot PROM checks the signatures of the kernel and all startup files and replaces anything which has been changed before booting. No adding anything to rc init files like on the Series 1. A couple hackers at tivocommunity have socketed their PROM chips and flashed new ones which bypass the ROM checks, but they still haven't succeeded in getting MyWorld (the main tivo app) up and running.

        Even if they do manage it, which I'm sure they will, socketing your PROM is still way out of the level of expertise of almost all Tivo users. The general consensus is that the chip is not flashable on board either (long debates about this, as some Tivos appear to ship with PROMs that ARE flashable on board, but even on those there's no way to actually run a flashing utility on the machine since there's no way to get a shell prompt once the box boots because you need to disable the PROM... you see where this is going.)

        I don't fault Tivo for this - they are certainly showing they work hard to keep people from being able to extract video, which will probably be good for them in the long run. They're still cool about hard drive upgrades, but that's about all the hacking you can do on the newest units.

    • If TiVO is smart, they'll offer a subscription service to the Replay customers. Extry revenue!
  • ReplayTV gone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:36PM (#5565579)
    I don't ReplayTV is going to disappear anytime soon. The company may be liquidating it's assets but anything(ReplayTV subscriptions) that has a steady revenue stream is bound to be of interest to someone.
  • Arghh.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kr3m3Puff ( 413047 ) <me@kitsonkelly . c om> on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:36PM (#5565580) Homepage Journal
    After much research I bought my ReplayTV a month ago. I love the thing. With the commercial skip and the quick advance, I actually enjoy my favorite shows now.

    I wonder if D&M will try to maintain the unique value that ReplayTV presents. It is a hackers paradise. I also paid my $299 for lifetime activation. I also got an e-mail asking about a future product that was just a ReplayTV player that would stream video from your recorder to the player in another room. I was really excited about that as well...

    SonicBlue did such a great job buying up all these cool gadgets, I wonder what really went to their demise?

  • Can't say I'm sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:37PM (#5565595)
    My brother and I have both owned RioVolt players. Between the way they both just quit working after about a year (as did their replacements) and the way they had this habit of just crashing if you push the volume button too quickly or when they encountered a cooked mp3, I'm not too happy with the quality of their products. To make matters worse, I have tried to use their e-mail tech support several times, and have never been able to get a response.
  • by Lieutenant_Dan ( 583843 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:38PM (#5565603) Homepage Journal
    I think it would benefit the customers if they were to make Replay Open Source. The vast experience and technical know-how of the Open Source developer community would allow the natural evolution of Replay which would introduce a lot of new functionality.

    It would be a shame not allow the Open Source developer community complete access to Replay.

    Only when we provide a simple way of cracking encrypted PayTV channels can we wrest control away from HBO.

    Which is nice.

    • It would be a shame not allow the Open Source developer community complete access to Replay.

      Even if they don't, as long as their schedule subscription service stays around, it's still a good box for hackers to play with - the 4xxxx and 5xxxx series talk to each other with a kind of XML to send programs back and forth, and they have NICs on board, so as you can imagine, it's not impossible to write software for your computer that emulates the request functions of another ReplayTV and sends the program dire

  • by Unknown Poltroon ( 31628 ) <> on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:39PM (#5565610)
    It means theyre fucked up, and need some time to gather their maoney and pay off debts. Its not good, but its not the end.
  • No Surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jack Comics ( 631233 ) <jack_comics&postxs,org> on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:40PM (#5565628) Homepage
    This is no surprise. I saw this coming months ago. In early December of 2002, I purchased a Sonicblue ReplayTV 5040 as an early Christmas present for myself. I set it up three weeks later, the week of Christmas. It worked fine for about a month, no problems. However, suddenly, while watching a recorded episode of "Enterprise" on Sunday, January 19th, about halfway through the episode, the ReplayTV got stuck, with no movement whatsoever. The unit failed to respond to any remote control-issued commands. I then turned the power off and back on, and it was stuck at the boot-up screen. I tried unplugging it altogether, replugging it, but got the same thing. I called Sonicblue technical support a few days later, and they agreed that the machine was broke, and asked me to send it in and I'd get a new ReplayTV 5040 unit in return ASAP.

    I shipped out my broken ReplayTV 5040 unit, waited about two weeks, and did not hear or receive anything from Sonicblue, and noticed that my credit card was still being charged the monthly service fee. I called Sonicblue back up, and asked what was going on, and they said they were out of ReplayTV 5040s, and asked me to be patient while I wait to get mine. I noticed the last week of February, that I was charged another monthly service fee. I called Sonicblue back up for a third time, and they said they would suspend my account temporarily until I got my new ReplayTV, but they would not refund me the two months of service charges that I got no service for. When I asked what the status was of my new ReplayTV 5040 unit, I was told they still have not received any new units, and asked me to continue being patient and wait.

    Well, it's a month later, two months after I sent my broken ReplayTV 5040 unit into Sonicblue, and I still haven't received a new or repaired unit. At this point, I doubt I ever will. Oh well, that was $320 wasted. :(

    From what I hear, TiVo has been having similar trouble. It's a shame, DVR was a fantastic idea, but it doesn't appear to have really caught on with the consumers, and being fought by Hollywood and television executives didn't help any. I guess I should just go back to using a VCR and buy a Super VHS VCR in the meantime, heh.
    • Re:No Surprise (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sircus ( 16869 )
      If you bought it with your credit card, talk to your credit card company. You should be able to get a full refund, with the possible exception of the service fee for the month for which you did have service.
    • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:18PM (#5565999)
      However, suddenly, while watching a recorded episode of "Enterprise" on Sunday, January 19th, about halfway through the episode, the ReplayTV got stuck, with no movement whatsoever.

      That's a new feature in the latest PVRs. They can detect when you've been laying around in Cheetos-stained underwear watching Star Trek for more then 7 hours. They're doing this to avoid lawsuits [] from fat people for ruining their lives.
  • Not another one! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:41PM (#5565641)
    (sigh) Another fine US electronics company bites the dust... When are American companies going to learn that overhyping, overmarketing, underdeveloping products just doesn't work? I'm so tired of buying products that look they were beta tested by chimps. Look at the Motorola T720 cell phone released by Verizon... This one passed through Verizon's supposedly rigorous testing process. The software on the first release was so buggy that Verizon actually recalled the hardware, even though a simple software upgrade would've sufficed. The lastest firmware versions aren't much better. It took me five minutes to realize that the software was sh*t, due to the screen being garbled by going through menus.

    Even the company that makes Chia pets recently filed for bankruptcy. Apparently there was too much money being spent on "Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia" ads and not enough on quality control. Rumor has it that over 50% of the Chia pets that made it to store shelves were cracked or broken. Of the remaining good ones, 4% had missing seed packets (!) and 8% had dud seeds. Depressing.
    • I can agree with you that a lot of products today are pretty junky, but I have to disagree on the T720. I got mine from ATT so maybe there's a different version of software on it, but it works dandy. i've had it two months and put probably 30 voice hours on it plus 5 wireless web hours and it's been great.

      I'm sorry you've had bad experiences though, I hope mine doesn't suffer a similar fate.
    • I don't understand what that has to do with Sonic Blue. They don't make Motorola phones or Chia Pets. They do make the ReplayTV, and I don't think they overhyped or overmarketed it. And I definitely don't think it was underdeveloped, though it does have room for improvement.

      On the hype side, they couldn't hype this thing enough. I bought one of the first generation units, and was hooked. I can't watch TV without it anymore. I no longer have to schedule anything around TV shows. Everyone I know who h
  • FYI, chap 11 vs 7 (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:42PM (#5565652) Homepage

    In the good ole US of A, chapter 11 is reorganization. This gives a the company protection from creditors to get its house in order. Companies often come out of chapter 11.

    Chapter 7 is liquidation. This company, as they say, is no more. This is for companies that are looking for an organized sell-off of assets.

    More info at [].

    So SonicBlue is not necessarily gone for good. However, if they are selling off their major product lines, I wonder how they plan to achieve profitability.

    • Re:FYI, chap 11 vs 7 (Score:3, Informative)

      by Galvatron ( 115029 )
      It should also be pointed out that the vast majority of Chapter 11 filing fail, and the company has to end up liquidating. See Loki Games as fairly recent example of a company that filed Chapter 11 and ended up in Chapter 7. For that matter, United Airlines looks like another that's headed for the trashbin.
    • However, if they are selling off their major product lines, I wonder how they plan to achieve profitability.

      My bet is that they don't plan to--they plan to take the money from the asset sales and "wind down operations," as the euphemism goes. While the usual IANAL disclaimer applies, I think the reason for Chapter 11 in this case may simply be that the Chapter 7 liquidation proceedings give less control over what's left of your company's assets, and the sale thereof, than Chapter 11 proceedings do.

  • I was hoping that thie would get better....

    I really like the replay, but after seeing MythTV I may just use that, it really looks like a nice solution, but I really wanted that channel skipping.

  • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <.gro.oiduatahp. .ta. .xela.> on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:46PM (#5565692) Homepage Journal
    I think a lot of people stayed away from purchasing ReplayTV units due to the company's financial situation. Consumers don't want to fork over $400 for a PVR when there questions as to whether the company will exist in a few months time. I think they also overestimated the market for people looking for broadband enabled PVR's. A year ago, ReplayTV's were ridiculously expensive, not many people are willing pay $1000 for a PVR. Trying to dump them on the market as a last ditch effort to get new customers just increases the speculation as to the viability of the company.
  • by mjh ( 57755 ) <> on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:48PM (#5565716) Homepage Journal
    As a TiVo owner, I'm really disappointed by this news. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT disappointed by my TiVo. I love it. You can have it after you've pried it from my cold dead fingers. But competition is a good thing. I liked the fact that TiVo had competition. It kept TiVo afraid of losing customers and forced them to make customer desires a priority.

    Now, there's no competition and anyone who is addicted to PVR functionality is basically stuck with TiVo. (MythTV [] not withstanding.) And TiVo now has little reason to fear the loss of customers, so they have less reason to actually improve the product.

    I love my TiVo, but this I think this is a bad thing.

    • "Now, there's no competition and anyone who is addicted to PVR functionality is basically stuck with TiVo."
      • You're way off on your thoughts that there's no competition. Not only are many cable companies starting to integrate PVR capabilities into their cable-boxes, companies like Microsoft and Sony are likely to integrate PVR functionality into their next-generation video game consoles. I'm a TiVo owner ... and while I agree that it'd be better to have a pure PVR manufacturer in the market ... I think TiV
  • by cybrthng ( 22291 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:49PM (#5565724) Journal
    These companies have TOP NOTCH "consumer" digital equipment from receivers, dvd players to high end display devices.

    I personally think this is a *GOOD* thing as i can't wait to see what comes up and out of this!!

  • by Krelnik ( 69751 ) <timfarley.mindspring@com> on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:50PM (#5565736) Homepage Journal
    The LA Times [] had an interesting article just Monday about the failure (so far) for DVRs to really take off in the consumer marketplace. Quote: "it must be said that the revolution is way behind schedule. Far from being an indispensable household appliance, the DVR remains a device of cliquish partiality."

    Read it here (free registration required, yadda, yadda):
    Mass Rollout of DVR Technology Stuck on 'Pause' []

  • by fruey ( 563914 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:55PM (#5565797) Homepage Journal
    If only you could get a PVR that just worked, and was programmable like a VCR, with Showview or some other listings, and could pause live TV?

    Ideally the box would compress MPEG-2 or 4, and allow you to interface it to a PC for archiving of old shows onto a SVCD or VCD format / MPEG-2 / DivX.

    Wait... what am I saying? Why not just buy a PC with an ATI All-in-wonder card?

    PVR will only work if there's enough take up. Sky, in the UK, as well as Canal+ in France, are setting up their next generation to go PVR, as *part* of the regular satellite subscription service. This will work. Sadly, the cable companies were not in on the deal with SonicBlue. If they had been, and could have charged $10 extra per month for it or something, and made a deal on hardware, then it would be workable. You cannot beat the giants, they will be right behind with their products.

    • MythTv at does everything you require, and it's open source to boot. It has a very nice semi-transparent program guide that automatically downloads schedule information for your cable/sat system into a mysql database and lets you record shows, pause live tv, etc.

    • If only you could get a PVR that just worked, and was programmable like a VCR, with Showview or some other listings, and could pause live TV?

      Sure. Are you willing to pay $500 for it? That's how much the hardware costs. Ooops... forgot. You're not spreading the software development costs out over a monthly subscription... up that to $750 then.

      and allow you to interface it to a PC for archiving of old shows

      Oh... up it to $1000. We're gonna get our pants sued off.

      Wait... what am I saying? Why not just
  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:59PM (#5565832)
    I recently bought at Rio Sport 35S. I loved the idea of 128 megs (upgradable to 256) with no moving parts, but the sad fact is it's rather poorly engineered. I'm not sure if it's the cold, or static electricity, or what, but I can't walk around outside wearing it without it suffering a hard reset every 5 minutes or so. I've also gotten some bizarre bursts of static electricity (the first time it happened, I was walking out of an airport, past the metal detectors, so I thought that might have something to do with it, but it's happened twice since with no obvious reason).

    Oh well, others are making good competitive products, so I guess there's no reason really to be sad to see them go.

    • I've got an S35S too. Haven't had those static bursts you describe, and it's only done a hard reset once (which wiped out its memory). And while it has one of the nicest displays (IMHO) there are some serious shortcomings:

      Can't upload from the unit. Must be an anti-sharing 'feature'. Deters illegal file sharing, but impinges on fair/legal use as well.

      The non-standard USB cable and proprietary software are an inconvenience. If I'm on the road and want to download some mp3's from a friends collection,
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @12:59PM (#5565833)
    Former resident: Exodus!
  • ... I haven't sent my rebate form in.
  • by Daimaou ( 97573 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:11PM (#5565929)
    I have one friend that has a ReplayTV machine and another who has a Tivo, so I have looked at both of them. Personally, I like the Tivo better.

    The problem with both of them for me is that they are bundled with a service that you are charged monthly for. I'll admit the service is a good one, but I think people for the most part don't like the idea of paying each month for something they can do manually with a VCR. Tivo and Replay have some nice features, but after all, recording a show is still the primary function and most people don't want to pay for that.

    If Tivo and Replay would operate just like a VCR and allow you to use their service if you want to, or just use the system as a regular VCR if you didn't want to pay the monthly fees, then I think both systems would probably catch on a lot more than they have.
    • I'll admit the service is a good one, but I think people for the most part don't like the idea of paying each month for something they can do manually with a VCR.

      I thought that the idea of a PVR was that you didn't need to do something manually.

      If Tivo and Replay would operate just like a VCR and allow you to use their service if you want to, or just use the system as a regular VCR if you didn't want to pay the monthly fees

      If someone wants a VCR, why wouldn't they by a VCR? It astounds me that someon

      • If someone wants a VCR, why wouldn't they by a VCR? It astounds me that someone would buy a PVR if all they were interested in was a VCR.

        I can answer that, as I've wanted one, but have no interest in the "we'll find what you like" service.

        1) Pause live TV.

        By the time we get our daugher to bed, it is almost always 8:15 - 8:20. If I tape the show, I then do something else for 40 minutes, as I don't want to watch the end of the show without seeing the beginning. With a PVR, I could start it at 8:20 and be
    • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:23PM (#5566055) Homepage
      If Tivo and Replay would operate just like a VCR and allow you to use their service if you want to, or just use the system as a regular VCR if you didn't want to pay the monthly fees, then I think both systems would probably catch on a lot more than they have.

      Certainly Tivo already does this - don't know about Replay as I've never seen or used one. Tivo will allow you to manually set time and channel and record however.

      The thing is, there's no value in that to me. The whole value of Tivo is in the data it provides, not the hardware and not even the software (although I like the interface). Without the data, nicely categorised with descriptions etc., the Tivo isn't much better than a VCR to me. With the data however, it has proved a god-send.

      That's the real service - the provision of accurate and categorised data. That's why you pay your subscription.


      • That's the real service - the provision of accurate and categorised data. That's why you pay your subscription.

        Is it really worth it though? I pay £5/year for my digiguide subscription, which gives me program listings for all the channels I have 2 weeks in advance and detailed descriptions of them. I'm happy paying £5/year for this data, I would not be happy to pay £120/year for exactly the same data on a TiVo. Now if I could get a £200 machine that would record MPEG-2 or MPEG-

  • So, what will this mean for those of us who get ReplayTV guide service from SonicBlue? Will we find our service vanish suddenly soon and our money sucked into the blackhole of SonicBlue's chapter 11, or will the buying company continue the service transparently for current subscribers?
  • Uh Oh (Score:3, Funny)

    by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:24PM (#5566060) Homepage Journal
    So it's the Blue Screen of Death for all the ReplayTV's out there?
  • Good riddance! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:30PM (#5566132)
    Having owned 3 SonicBlue products (RioCAR, RIO digital audio reciever, and a portable RIO player) i'm glad they're gone. I bought these products because they were cutting edge devices that, at the time, no one else had. Sadly, all of these items ,at release, had limited software support....and six months later had none.

    A company must support its products for longer than six months if it's going to survive. Sure, most of these products have 3rd party support now, but to expect that at the corporate level seems like passing the buck.

  • Manual recording (Score:2, Informative)

    by Beebos ( 564067 )
    Replay users will stil be able to set up their recordings manually.

    You can use the Replay, at least the 4000 series, as an advanced VCR. You can manually tell your Replay to record channel 5 at 12pm everyday or just on Thursdays. It's slightly kludgy to name the recordings, but not difficult.

  • Bummer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saddino ( 183491 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:39PM (#5566235)
    Another product/service of mine bites the dust; I really hope someone keeps the service up.

    Oh well, being an early adopter sucks sometimes.

    Now, will someone finally go and buy up Kozmo's IP and get that idea going again? I need a DVD, some bagels and a bottle of milk. Thanks.
  • I just decided to buy this [] a few hours ago, and now I hear they're selling that branch.

    Say it ain't so!!!
  • remembering S3... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yanyan ( 302849 )
    I remember when i bought my first ever 3D accelerator, an S3 Savage3D. It was faster than any other card i'd ever used up until then (but then again, it WAS my first 3d card), and i remember Quake 2 running sooo smoothly in all its hardware-rendered glory.

    Over the next few months i started looking around for tweaks that i could perform on the card. I ended up using one program (whose name escapes my memory) that allows you set normally hidden values in the registry to change the Savage3D's core and memory
  • Rio500 (Score:4, Informative)

    by yamla ( 136560 ) <> on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:51PM (#5566352)
    I cannot speak for the ReplayTV but the Rio500 didn't hold up anywhere near as well as I had hoped. If I shake my Rio500 a little, it loses an internal connection and reboots. Furthermore, the customer service for the Rio500 is god-awful. I went looking for drivers one day after I reformatted my machine. That day, they had 'temporarily disabled' access to the drivers, not even posting the old ones on their site. They didn't correct this for almost a week, during which my Rio was useless.

    Also, there was always a hassle getting the Rio Audio Manager (the _worst_ designed user-interface for managing large collections of MP3s I have ever seen) to reenable the MP3-ripping functionality I should have had. In the end, I went out and bought a copy of another piece of software to rip MP3s and to transfer to the Rio (I forget its name at the moment, it's the popular Windows one).

    Still, I suppose I still use my Rio500. I use it to listen to [] audio content and it does a great job of that. For my MP3s, though, I have since upgraded to the Creative Nomad Jukebox 3. I cannot get it to hook up to Linux yet but apart from that, it is great.
  • by zackbar ( 649913 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:52PM (#5566383)
    They didn't really target the audience right.

    The product cost too much, wasn't easily upgradable, and required a service contract (built into the price) to get the guide even if you didn't want the guide.

    Offer me a freakin' digital recorder without a guide, don't push me to buy a service, and don't charge me an arm and a leg, and I'd jump at it.

    That's the problem with tivo too. You don't *have* to get the service, but it keeps prompting you to. Even more annoying, you have to buy the service for EACH UNIT. If you have two or more units in your house, they can't share one guide. Yes, you get a discount on service for additional units, but you're already paying for it on the first unit. In fact, I think the discount only applies if you get the dish units anyway.

    True, each unit requires a phone call. But the units could be networked to share the one guide. Since tivo stopped offering toll free calls for the guide, it's even worse.

    I don't want to have to keep buying blades after I've bought the razor, to steal a phrase. That's why I bought an electric razor.
  • Greg Ballard as far as I know, is/was CEO of both 3dfx and SonicBlue. See the connection? Sonicblue is going to go the way of 3dfx.
  • Here in Austin TimeWarner is trying out a PVR with 80GB of disk space and just about all the features of Tivo (a little dumber and doesn't have commerical skip). It's the same deal as the cable box--you only pay $9.95 a month to lease the hardware.

    There is no way that Tivo can compete with that. Even though it has a better product the cable company just has it beat here from a price and marketing perspective. It's almost sad...
  • Just like 3dfx (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @03:22PM (#5567815) Homepage Journal
    For those too young to remember, sonic blue used to be Diamond Multimedia. Some of the best graphics cards around with the Diamond Stealth line, my first performance card after I got off the triton. Long before the Monster line of products.

    This was a failure from the very start. its very reminiscent of the 3dfx take over. For me, this was CEOs of a dying company buying another company so they could live another day. The company that bought diamond was already failing and they bought themselves probably 4-5 years with the purchase. Im sure it was devastating to share holders. Diamond was a SOLID company before the purchase.

    Diamond was the #1 seller of video cards and they did not make their own chips. Sad.

    Just like 3dfx was bought out by CEOs who also sought to extend their CEO life at the expence of the end users and shareholders.

    Just plain ugly.
  • No problem... (Score:3, Informative)

    by OneFix ( 18661 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:21PM (#5569256)
    I'm glad I did my homework before I bought ...

    I own a RioVolt ... not made by Sonicblue, but made by iRiver ...

    It's actually not that bad in my case, because iRiver also makes the firmware (Sonicblue is real slow even though all they have to do is change the device ID) ... which is the same source code for all of the MP3/CD Players they make ...

    So, I still get new features on my RioVolt ... and faster than Sonicblue released firmwares in the past ...
  • Long Time Coming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:47PM (#5569567) Journal
    As a former employee that went through the transition from Diamond Multimedia to S3 and eventually to SonicBlue, and being layed off when they decided to close the communications division, I saw this happening two years ago.

    Working in the Rio / Comm Division QA labs, I saw that the place to be taking these products was to converge the digital media devices you make with home networking solutions that you also make. There were a few products that made it out the doors that did this (the Dell Digital Audio Receiver and Rio Receiver), and they worked quite well; but soon after, the communications division was to be shut.

    In that reorganization, I saw some incredibly talented engineers (who had been around since before Diamond had bought Supra, and were responsible for the incredible SupraFAXModem and SupraSonic lines) laid off and get instantly hired by other companies in the SW Washington / NW Oregon area, such as Sharp Labs, Logitech, and Intel. These people still work there, creating great products.

    Now that the age of wireless-in-the-home and broadband networking are upon us, SonicBlue has to buy home networking equipment that they once engineered to incorporate into devices that they once had on the engineering roadmap. Due to incredible mismanagement, along with exorborant costs of moving offices, and newfound competition from the digital audio core market (thanks, Apple!) the strain was too much to bear.

    Now I will finally get some form of profit from the Employee Stock Purchase Program, in the form of a failed-investment tax writeoff...

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.