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Television Media Technology

Major New TiVo Service Offerings 309

Jeff The Riffer writes "At the Consumer Electronics Show today, Mike Ramsay of TiVo announced three major new product offerings to come in the next year. First off there's the DVD Recorders, HD DVR, and Home Networked Enabled Products. TiVo/DVD Recorder boxes have been out for a bit now but looks like the offerings will continue and there's going to be new units by Pioneer. Second we have TivoToGo, where TiVo users with Home Media Option will be able to transfer files off their TiVo onto their PC and either play them locally or burn them to DVD. And finally there's XM Radio for TiVo."
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Major New TiVo Service Offerings

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  • I may be ignorant (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Saven Marek ( 739395 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:19AM (#7926661)
    > And finally there's XM Radio for TiVo."

    Is there a Tivo like device for normal FM or AM radio? I enjoy a few programmes on radio but not too many, and it would be a benefit to record these simply.

    I guess I could use my PC for it but it would be more convenient to have a Tivo like option

    mac desktops, dare to be nude []
    • Is there a Tivo like device for normal FM or AM radio? I enjoy a few programmes on radio but not too many, and it would be a benefit to record these simply.

      Yes. It`s called a "cassette tape recorder", and records the analog signals on small plastic "cassettes" that can be stored, transferred, or "dubbed" onto other cassettes.

      Many units are integrated-- both radio and cassette "deck" into a single unit-- often refered to as a "boombox", for unkown reasons.
      • Re:I may be ignorant (Score:3, Informative)

        by visgoth ( 613861 )
        the terms "boomboxes" and ghetto blasters" were started during this period to describe the "noise" that emanated from portable stereo cassette recorders, though the sound quality on some rivalled that of home stereo systems.

        -The Boombox Museum []

    • Re:I may be ignorant (Score:3, Informative)

      by angusr ( 718699 )
      Well, there is... TiVo. I don't know about your particular area, but in the UK most cable, satellite or digital terrestrial services transmit several radio channels in spare bandwidth. Not all of them have full program details provided by Tribune Media (TiVo's data provider), but certainly the major national ones do and so TiVo can record from them as normal.

      I use this all the time to record from BBC 7 [].

      Now, if only some nice hardware manufacturer would please get round to releasing a UK series 2 TiVo, o

      • Re:I may be ignorant (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fyonn ( 115426 )
        talking about UK tivo's, are we due to see any more tivo's in the UK. I've got a thompson tivo as do half a dizen people I know but they aren't available any mroe and I've heard nothing about newer models with new features. sure there is sky+ but I've heard that it's not very good and of course, you've got to pay for sky which I don't want.

        I'd love to see a new uk spec tivo with dual freeview tuners (maybe even three), bigger HD's, ethernet port, rendevous support (tivo claim to support it) and lots of new
    • Re:I may be ignorant (Score:3, Informative)

      by cra ( 172225 )
      As davejenkins pointed out (although I think he mean to be sarcastic) there are the good (?) and (definately) old tapes. Ten years abou I had a stereo rach with twin tapes and "all the goodies" including a timer to turn on my radio to wake me up. if I pushed the standard buttons REC+Play while the thing was off, it would stat recording the radio program when the timer turned on the radio. Very convenient in the cases where I wanted to tape something while I was at school, or at night while I was sleeping. (
    • For FM, you might want to take a look at the Archos FM Recorder. I don't own one, so I can't confirm that you can schedule several recordings over a week, or anything like that. I also am not sure that the output of the RM receiver is capturable.

      I seem to recall another story over the past six months or so reviewing a Personal Radio Recorder, or something like that. HalfBaked has four ideas in that zone, but no indication of existing hardware.
    • I believe the Archos Jukebox FM Recorder does that, but it seems that product is not on their website anymore.

      It's not so much a Tivo as it is a VCR for radio, but it is pocket sized and I love my (non FM) recorder. At least I did until my wife stole it.
  • by dcw3 ( 649211 )
    Now I can spend more hours sitting on my ass drinking coffee (gotta watch out for that Type-2 diabetes ya know), watching the Simpsons over wireless.
  • HD signal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:26AM (#7926685)
    I'm not up on the current situation, but isn't the whole point of HD being undercut by broadcasters taking advantage of digital broadcasting to cramm 6 channels into the space of one, thus delivering a very inferior image. I notice this on my non-HD DISHnetwork system, especially in fast motion scenes. The quality is more consistant than what I got over antenae (and a lot more channels), but heavy compression makes the images far more blurry than DVD on the same TV. It makes me worry HD sets won't solve anything except make DVD viewing better.

    So, when they say HD-PVR, what kind of compression are we talking about?
    • Re:HD signal (Score:2, Informative)

      yes and no...Broadcasters have realized that it is better to offer day time shows and the news in normal def and offer 6 sub channels over the signal and on special events, offer one channel of HD things like foot ball, prime time television dramas, etc.

      who the hell wants or needs Oprah in high def?
    • You're seeing two issues. First, satellite has awful compression. Many people don't realize it until they get a real big TV. It's painful for me to watch most things on DSS on a TV larger than 32". I have Sunday Ticket for the NFL season on my 64" Pioneer and the quality is worse than analog.

      Some of the HD signals are being split, but usually not. Around here they only do that for some special events, say the NCAA tournament in college basketball. That way they can show all 4 games at the same time w
    • Re:HD signal (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @10:27AM (#7927611) Homepage
      I'm not up on the current situation, but isn't the whole point of HD being undercut by broadcasters taking advantage of digital broadcasting to cramm 6 channels into the space of one, thus delivering a very inferior image


      No, you're quite thoroughly confused. But that's because the ATSC standard is confusing.

      ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) replaces the current NTSC (National ...) standard. It has 18 different modes, ranging from 480i (480 lines of vertical resolution, interlaced) to 720p and 1080i (p = progressive/non-interlaced; which is better depends on what you need. The 1080i has a higher resolution, but 720p is better for fast moving action). The maximum broadcast rate is 21 Mbps, which you can use for one program or multiple programs. The bitstream is MPEG2 encoded with Dolby Digital (aka AC3 or DD) audio. Note that DD is a requirement -- no other sound encodings are allowed by the spec. For reference, DVDs are MPEG2 encoded video with a variety of audio options (dolby digital is required, but DTS is on many disks as well; DTS is usually recorded at a higher bitrate, so some people prefer it).

      All of that said, how much they can fit into a single "channel" depends on how much compression is used. Thus far nobody has really tried the multiple channels on one station gambit, although it is allowed. Even if it is done, odds are that you'll have a much better picture than what you get off cable (digital or analog) or either of the sat systems (although DirecTV is allegedly going to change this -- with their new sats going up later this year they'll have tons of bandwidth, and there are rumors that they'll bump picture quality back up to mid-90s levels). Realistically, both cable and sat systems broadcast their SD (standard def) programs at sub VCR quality nowadays -- roughly 240i. Yes, it really is that piss poor. On small sets you generally don't notice. On big ones you do. The digital broadcasts are cleaner (less static, no ghosting, etc) than the analog ones, but are prone to macro blocking if the bitrate is too low.

      Broadcasting in 480i or 480p is generally considered "DTV" (digital TV). Broadcasting in 720p or 1080i is considered HDTV (High Def TV). True HDTV is considerably more detailed and clear than anything you'll get out of current generation DVD players (the next generation HD DVD will be another story of course).

      So, when they say HD-PVR, what kind of compression are we talking about?

      Whatever the broadcaster has done. The HD DirecTiVo will do no compression of its own -- it simply writes the bitstreams directly to disk.
      • Thus far nobody has really tried the multiple channels on one station gambit, although it is allowed

        Actually, not true. My local station (WBAL-TV in Baltimore, MD, USA) broadcasts 3 channels on channel "2". The first (2-01) is the widescreen high-def channel. 2-02 is the 4:3 ration high def channel and 2-03 is an extremely low-def doppler radar of the Baltimore area broadcasting 24/7.

        • Just to be clear, 2-01 and 2-02 are actually 480p or DTV

        • Ah... nifty. Particularly the doppler radar :)

          I'd much rather see uses like this (although I'm not too excited about the double broadcast of the HD signal, but maybe they have plenty of bandwidth) than the theorized many-disperate-channels that people talked about initially.
  • Interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by A1an Cox ( 739465 )
    TiVo's software and subscription service is at the heart of its digital video recorders, which can store television shows on a hard drive and pause live broadcasts. The company has been facing competition from Sonicblue's ReplayTV set-top box, Microsoft's UltimateTV service for satellite networks and other developing DVR technologies.

    However, the announcements at CES should help to distinguish TiVo from rivals while also planting the company in the middle of another new trend: creating a hub for home enter
  • by krymsin01 ( 700838 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:27AM (#7926689) Homepage Journal
    The combined service will allow XM Radio subscribers to connect their PC Radio device to the home network and then access and publish their music on their TiVo Series2 DVR.
    Well, I don't know, but that sounds like making copies of songs that you don't have the right to copy... Then again, is it illegal to make tapes from the radio? Wonder what the RIAA thinks...

    If it rips the songs from the stream with correct tags and the appropriate filenames, I can see how some people would find feature desirable. But, you'd have to pay the Tivo initial hardware costs, plus the montly charges for both tivo and XM radio... and considering I can do the same thing for free with a shoutcast server and streamripper, I don't think this is going to sway me over to buying a tivo...
    • by TellarHK ( 159748 ) <tellarhk&hotmail,com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:00AM (#7926796) Homepage Journal
      The thing with the XM PCR device is that there's never a digital stream of audio going through the USB port it uses for a connection to the computer. What the XM PCR does, is simply connect to the PC for control purposes then does output using a standard headphone jack. You wouldn't need to do anything special in the slightest to get the PCR to record songs on the PC, just copy the stream info tags (which are unfortunately limited to 16 characters, at least on my SkyFi unit) and start capturing a line-in.

      However, the stream is a compressed one from orbit, so you might wind up with a not-so-pure recording when you encode it again for playback on a device.
    • It's perfectly legal (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ath ( 643782 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:25AM (#7926889)
      There is a legal concept called "fair use". Just as your can use a VCR to record your favorite tv show, you have the same right to do this with radio. The US Supreme Court has continually reinforced this right of individuals over copyright restrictions.

      The problem is that the media companies want to 1) put barriers up to prevent this fair use and 2) create an atmosphere where people actually believe it is illegal and that there is no fair use right.

      It looks like they are succeeding for the average user. For the rest of us, the media companies can go screw themselves. I will copy my DVDs for backup, strip the encryption off so I can watch them under non-authorized media players and refuse to purchase any medium where these things aren't possible.
  • by davejenkins ( 99111 ) <> on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:32AM (#7926708) Homepage
    Is this evidence of the ascention of the "service" model over the "product" model for business? In other words, it seems that TiVo and others are realizing there is far more revenue to be had in providing a wide range of services rather than trying to get rich at $199 a peice for the hardware and a 1-year subscription.

    Certainly-- if the loss of advertising revenue because of TiVo didn`t scare the cable companies, this new angle should: it is aimed directly at their throats (providing end-services to the customer). If TiVo succeeds, then cable will be relegated to a simple provider of digital feed-- a commodity that may come via cable, dish, or TVoIP. If I worked at TimeWarnerAOLComcast, I would be worried.
    • by MrSubtle ( 603608 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:47AM (#7926970) Homepage
      I wouldn't be worried at all if I were a cable TV company. All that TiVos, home networks, and portable players do is let you watch your cable TV in more and better ways.That means more hours of TV delivered per household per day, more ad impressions per day, and more value for the feed. How could that be bad?

      Because people could copy/pirate the feed? No. If somoene wants to seriously pirate a movie they can go down to the store, buy a DVD and they are home free. If they want to pirate a TV signal they can just pump it into an A/D converter and out it goes. All these stupid restrictions and DRM garbage do is keep regular folks from doing useful and legitimate things with their feeds, and it makes me pretty mad!

      Because TV programmers like to control when people watch what? I know that the programmers love the idea of controlling what times people see programs, but it's not their call. I want to see thigns when I want to see them. It's not their call and it shouldn't be. They are making content, not running my life...are they?

      If I were working for Comcast I would be giving away a TiVo with home networking to every customer right out of the box, and banish all DRM. A high value product like that means higher revenues. It just means looking at the market a little differently.

      Change is good! Embrace it, don't fear it!


  • by bwalling ( 195998 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:37AM (#7926721) Homepage
    NBC has found a nifty way to defeat Tivo - they change their shows to run from 8:00 to 8:31 (preventing you from recording an 8:30 show on another channel) or from 9:59 to 11:00 (preventing you from recording a 9:00 to 10:00 show on another channel). They debuted this on Thursday nights, but it has moved across their lineup now. Basically, I just watch less of NBC now, but if other channels start doing this, the Tivo won't work well unless I just record from one channel per night.

    I'd love an update from Tivo that would allow me to side step this by setting a recording to start one minute late. Currently, you can have it start early and end late, but you can't make it start late, therefore it just won't record the program unless you do it manually.
    • How about Tivo stick more than one TV demodulator in the box? Then you could record more than one program at once...

      In the UK, Sky+ is a Sky satellite decoder with a built-in digital video recorder - it takes two feeds from the satellite dish, so you can watch one channel and record another simultaneously. In December, they downloaded a software update to Sky+ that lets you simultaneously record two programs, and even watch an existing recording while those two shows are being streamed onto the disk. But m
    • NBC has found a nifty way to defeat Tivo - they change their shows to run from 8:00 to 8:31 (preventing you from recording an 8:30 show on another channel) or from 9:59 to 11:00 (preventing you from recording a 9:00 to 10:00 show on another channel).

      That's why a useful PVR will need to have at least 2 tuners in it. I have tons of shows I watch that overlap schedules. For example if I want to tape Ed at 9pm EST on NBC and JAG on CBS at 9pm EST, I just let it. With your TiVo you're screwed and have to

      • Funny topic considering third gen direct tivos (the HD ones) have 4 tuners 2 sat and 2 OTA perfect for that HDTV NBC feed.
    • by GeorgeH ( 5469 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:50AM (#7927312) Homepage Journal
      NBC has been doing this for quite a while, well before TiVo came out. The recent change wasn't with the shows, but with their guide data to reflect the reality of the situation. They do this to keep people watching NBC once they start.

      Before the guide data was fixed, shows would get cut off because of NBC's screwy primetime timing. TiVo simply codifies the desired result: watching NBC because you (or your TiVo) started watching it.

      NBC is an investor in TiVo (which is why you see so many "Thumbs Up To Record" widgets on ads for their shows) so it would seem dumb for them to try and fight it. Not that I would base my argument on the logic of the entertainment industry...
    • The DirecTV receivers with TiVo includes TWO tuners so this is not a problem at all for those models. It's a really nice feature of these receivers. Not sure why only DirecTV customers can use them. d
      • Maybe because DirecTivo doesn't have to encode to MPEG? That's not a cheap thing to do so being able to just grab the already encoded stream and save to disk makes having two tuners possible. OTOH, a two-tuner standalone Tivo would need two MPEG encoders which means cost for the hardware and licensing (MP4 isn't free IIRC...)

    • This could be NBC shooting themselves in the foot. For example, if I have a program on Fox that runs during a normal time frame with a higher priority than a later show on NBC--the whole hour of NBC gets bumped, as the Fox show will supercede the NBC show, even though the overlap is only a minute. So NBC loses my viewing hour--not that they care much anyways, maybe, since I skip through the ads. But if they want to discourage TiVo taping, then why are they the only ones offering a TivoMatic option?
    • What's funny is that NBC seems to also be working *with* TiVo, as during commercials for new NBC programs they're sending a signal that makes "Press Thumbs Up to Record" flash on the screen so you can automatically add it to your TiVo To-Do list. Interesting stuff.
    • Ted Turner originated this idea back when TBS started broadcasting the starts of every show at 5 minutes past the hour. The thinking was that during most network content's first commercial break, people flipped around. TBS was the only network which showed the beginning of a new show during that window of opportunity.

      And, it also made it difficult to get back away from TBS since at the end of a show, you have just missed the beginnings of all other network's programs because you wanted to watch the end o
  • Leaving TiVo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:38AM (#7926726) Homepage Journal
    I have a TiVo but suspect that I will be discontinuing with their service sometime this year. Its not because I dislike my TiVo either; its given good service, but the times they are a changin'

    The reason I'm migrating is because I suspect that MythTv and similar Open source projects may offer me the same functionality just for the cost of my net connection
    • Re:Leaving TiVo (Score:2, Insightful)

      Does MythTV have anything like the Home Media Option? I'm pretty excited about the DVD burning potential there.

      As to the cost of TiVo, yes that does bother me. In particular, the fact that a lifetime subscription is only good for the life of the particular TiVo for which you bought it. In my experience, TiVo's just aren't durable enough to ever merit the purchase of the lifetime subscription. That makes MythTV most appealing to me.
      • Uh, yeah....

        How about being able to access all of your media on a NFS share, for one. Or a samba share if you prefer Windows...
      • Re:Leaving TiVo (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:30AM (#7926904)
        Does MythTV have anything like the Home Media Option? I'm pretty excited about the DVD burning potential there.

        MythTV is TiVo on steroids. It's not for newbies though so I won't even pretend to suggest your dear Aunt Ida can go install her own without spending 8 hours of your time setting it up. For those of us who like working on fun projects with Linux though it's a blast. This weekend I'll be building my new MythTV backend server with dual Hauppauge PVR 250 cards, a 3ware 8506-4lp SATA raid controller, and four 200GB Maxtor (quiet fluid dynamic bearings) SATA drives. I haven't decided whether to go with RAID-5 or RAID-0 yet so I'll have somewhere between 600GB and 800GB of space for recordings. At 2200bps and 480x480 resolution my testing with the PVR-250 has given me files about 1.2GB/hour. I may crank it up to 3300bps to get around 1.6GB/hour and deal with that for improved mpeg-2 quality.

        Anyway, if you're not interesting in Linux projects stick with a TiVo. MythTV has a DVD player (and ripper) modules, MythMusic for playing mp3, ogg, flac, etc. as well as ripping CDs to ogg, mp3, or flac format, MythWeather gets weather channel maps for your area and displays the weather forecast, MythGame interfaces to MAME under Linux to play games, MythVideo provides a nice interface for playing DivX or other movie files and ties into IMDB to download cover art for movies it can recognize by title (i.e. if you have a waterboy divx file it'll search for it on IMDB and prompt you if what it found is correct, then from then on it'll associate cover art with that file and a summary and synopsis. It's quite nice. Oh yea, and remote real-time scheduling and control over your recordings (delete, browse, etc.) via mythweb. Don't take my word for it, just go to and check it out. It is by far the best open source PVR at the moment and is very mature.

        • ...but can it interface directly to DirecTV, the way a DirecTiVo does?

        • I just got a ReplayTV unit last week (and found out I was getting laid off for a month the day after - all the better to spend time watching TV with, I guess) and am quite happy with it. It may not be linux based like a TiVo, but they don't try and rope you in with the $99 "option" to make it integrate with the rest of the house. In the long run, I think the recent change in ReplayTV's pricing model will do some serious damage to TiVo simply due to the fact that I don't see any flaws in Replay's system oth
        • Say you are a DirecTV owner (like myself), a home theatre PC has significant issues when compared do a hacked DirecTivo.

          Issue #1: Control

          Can MythTV control the receiver (i.e. via a serial port or an IR blaster)?

          Issue #2: Video Quality (this is the big one)

          You still need to connect up your PC w/ a video capture device to the output of your DirecTV receiver. This means that there is an additional digital->analog and analog->digital transaction occuring.

          Of you have hacked your DirecTivo, you can dig
  • TivoToGo? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ptomblin ( 1378 ) <> on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:39AM (#7926729) Homepage Journal
    There are already third party applications that let you take TiVo "streams" and watch them on your PC or burn them to DVD - I'm on the verge of buying a TiVoNet card for this very purpose. Does anybody know if this new service is going to make TiVo lock out those free applications?
    • I really love my TiVo. I got the damn thing as a gift about a year ago and almost sent it back because of the subscription fees. But I hooked it up anyway. Sure as hell glad I did. I can't imagine watching the tube without it. I hope that the software for "TiVoToGo" works with a Mac. The press release doesn't seem to indicate it will. Ripping video with a Mac now from your TiVo is so convoluted that it makes it almost pointless. I, as with many other consumers I would imagine, just want to transfer shows to
    • There are already third party applications that let you take TiVo "streams" and watch them on your PC or burn them to DVD - I'm on the verge of buying a TiVoNet card for this very purpose. Does anybody know if this new service is going to make TiVo lock out those free applications?

      It's always been a possibility. No one has figured out how to get content off a series 2 DirecTivo yet, as far as I know. They know how to make it difficult, they just haven't yet. It's clear from their statements in many

  • by ZombieEngineer ( 738752 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:58AM (#7926791)
    I am probably going to be branded a troll for this but...

    A lot of TV programs are supported by advertisments (no brainer), the other option is a hideously high (relatively) subscription cost for an advert free video stream. With the latest developments with video recording it forces a change in the business model for the media industry.

    If we assume that adverts are required to support our favourite programs (a necessary evil), is there a way to have our recording devices to select our prefered category of advertising?, eg: we prefer to see adds for tech gadgets over medical products over personal injury lawyers.

    The selection of the order for the adverts could be done using a statistical method (show four random categories, ask the user to chose the most prefered and least prefered advert categories, repeat 20 times).

    This will result in better product placement to people who are willing to consider your product. Hence a 25 year old will never see a Fixodent (denture glue) advert because his recorder will steer away from those adverts, the current alternative is the advert is simply totally ignored by the viewer and does nothing but increase the resentment of adverts.

    • TV should be directly viewer-supported. There are some key problems with the ad-supported model from the point of view of a TV viewer.

      Basically, any given viewer wants some particular shows to continue and get funded, and doesn't care one way or the other about the rest. Under the ad-supported model, all the viewer can do is watch the show. This (presumably, and indirectly) contributes to high ratings, which attract ad dollars, which means the show gets to stay on the air.

      If viewers contributed dollars di
  • Wake up Tivo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sandman1971 ( 516283 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:12AM (#7926842) Homepage Journal
    It's time for Tivo to wake up. Hey Tivo.. what about releasing your sweet products in Canada so we Canadian geeks can enjoy your fine stuff! There's a high enough demand up here! It's time to stopp sitting on your brains and release Tivo in Canada!
  • What I am waiting for is a PVR with an integrated digital cable tuner. The chips are available, someone just has to build it.
    • I guess they aren't in your area but they are in many - I've had one for a few months now. Time Warner are rolling them out over all their networks. They're not bad, but nowhere near as polished as Tivo.
  • by ubrgeek ( 679399 )
    ... is that, if I read the PR release correctly, the HD version is only for DirectTV. Tivo promised us one last year (in fact the promise may have been made at last year's CES, as I seem to recall it happening in January 2003) but never delivered. I can't take advantage of the (meager) HDTV offering Comcast sells because the Tivo can't capture HDTV broadcasts.
    • Current DirecTivos directly record the satellite stream to hard disk. They don't have to do any of the "heavy lifting" required to encode the streams, and decoding is handled by the decoder already part of the DirecTivo box used for watching live TV.

      A standalone HD Tivo would require component inputs (for broadest compatibility, perhaps an optional DVI connector as well), and require a lot more heavy lifting to encode those streams onto HD. This would in effect require a better computer than they're usin
  • When there are lots of free [] alternatives out there which use Linux and bring you all the features of your PC such as DVD burners and internet access and RAID arrays of 120GB HDs for plenty of recording. (Damn Discovery Science Channel and History International and...)

    I personally feel TiVO is a dead company as it's idea was great but can be offered with nearly as many options and more if you are Code/Script inclined. [] So look for cheap 400Mhz system to start on [] and enjoy personalized TV in most countr

    • So because the code/script inclined can produce a home built system with slightly less polish then tivo, their entire business model is flawed and they are a dead company? Interesting reasoning to say the least... You even go on to give financial advice based on this assumption. God help those that take it to heart.
      • Exactly. It was a bit like saying 'OMG, did you know there are kits out there that people can build cars with??? Liquidate GM!
    • by Violet Null ( 452694 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:48AM (#7927301)
      I suspect your theory is correct. Why, just today, I was thinking to myself, "I bet all of those oil-change places are out of business."

      I mean, really. An oil change. Anyone can do one, for 1/4 to 1/2 the price that a Jiffy Lube or a gas station will charge you. How can those places stay in business with a model like that? It's unheard of.

      Confident in my intellectual superiority, I drove to work, only to pass plenty of oil change places still doing a fine business. I was saddened and dismayed to find out that such thinking is, in fact, totally wrong. Shocking as it is, it seems people are willing to pay for convenience.
  • DirecTiVo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:55AM (#7927002)
    Buyer beware.

    The TiVo intergrated with DirecTV receivers cannot be used in a HMO confguration. I didn't find this out until after I signed a contract. :(

    Fucking USB port isn't even powered. :(
    • Re:DirecTiVo (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cornfed ( 45014 )
      Does anyone have any insight into whether or not DirecTV will finally change their policy on this?

      I use DirecTV and have a series 1 TiVo, but it's a pain that all these great features are coming down the pike but none of them are available for the likes of me. All TiVo would need to do is partner with another sattelite provider or my local cable company and I would likely jump ship (just in case anyone from DirecTV is reading this).
    • Tivo 4.0 (including support for wireless USB cards) actually works on Series 2 DirectTivo's.
      See the dealdatabase forums for more details.
      My HDVR2 now runs Tivo 4.0 with no problems, and I have a wireless USB adapter connected to Tivo that it uses for downloads.
  • Fun technology but (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 3lb4rt0 ( 736495 )
    with the low quality content of broadcast media why buy one?

    I'll just stick to my home cinema and dvd collection for now.
  • TiVo viability? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skidoo2 ( 650483 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:37AM (#7927235)
    NOTE: This is not intended to be a troll or a TiVo slam! I'm sincerely interested in /. opinion.

    There are two clear (and in my opinion superior) alternatives to TiVo currently creeping into TiVo's market share:

    1. In the less-features-but-easier-to-use department, cable companies (such as mine) are offering a service they're calling "TV On Demand." With my digital cable remote (and no phone connection, and no extra service charge) I can play many shows from the recent lineup at will. And pause them, rewind them, fast forward, etc. And of course my digital cable comes with a much faster, cleaner program guide user interface. Now the downside is that the guide is somewhat lacking in features, as compared to TiVo's offering. I can't search it and it doesn't have any intelligence for making suggestions or auto-scheduling.

    2. Which brings me to the second alternative. I also have an ATI AIW 9600 Pro TV tuner card in a PC. This PC is hooked to my TV. I run myHTPC [] for the guide/scheduling/recording features, an ATI's new Easylook UI for actual TV viewing. The two work together seemlessly. This gives me *all* the features of TiVo (except season passes, big whoop), plus a whole lot more. And I don't pay a monthly service charge.

    Which brings me to my question: isn't TiVo just a niche product that really should only be used by folks with an antenna feed or analog cable feed who don't have the savvy to set up a PC next to their TV? Isn't its current success due largely to clever marketing and a small window of market opportunity that they've now artificially prolonged? That is, I think there was an argument for TiVo back when it was introduced, but isn't that argument substantially weaker today?
    • Re:TiVo viability? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Violet Null ( 452694 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @10:02AM (#7927407)
      NOTE: This is not intended to be a troll or a TiVo slam! I'm sincerely interested in /. opinion.

      Then why didn't you read the dozens of other posts in any given TiVo article where someone asks the same questions/makes the same point?

      But, whatever:

      #1: Cable PVR. Sure. If you have cable, and your cable company offers this (Comcast in Chicago doesn't, for instance). And, if it's actually streaming on demand, then it's likely you can't see any given show that may have just been broadcast -- it's probably limited to the popular ones. No saving stuff for later, no odd shows.

      Finally, on the note of cable, it's gotten a wee bit expensive. I pay less now for DirecTV than I did for Comcast, and that's including the TiVo subscription rate and more pay channels.

      #2: Computer. Sure. Let's say the computer cost $500. (You could, of course, use a less powerful computer, but then you need a video card that does hardware encoding, and those are more expensive. So.) TiVo costs $250. You could say, "But the computer can have a bigger HD", but the TiVo could too -- if you're the kind of person who wouldn't blink at setting up a computer as a PVR, then installing a hard drive shouldn't be a problem either.

      And, of course, there's the computer setup time. Now, personally, I think playing around with MythTV and the like is fun. But I don't confuse fun with popular or cost effective. I don't mind spending a day configuring MythTV to do what I want, but I think I'm in a small subset of the population on that one.
      • There are cable services with true PVRs built into the set top box - I have one from TW. Having used a Tivo in the past, it's an obvious copy (and a second rate one at best). The interface is not as easy to use, the recording is somewhat unreliable, and the playback stutters and pauses much more often than my tivo ever did. The upside is it only costs $9 a month with no up-front purchase cost, the recording is of the original digital cable stream so there's no loss of quality due to recompression, and it ca
    • Re:TiVo viability? (Score:2, Informative)

      by WebGangsta ( 717475 )
      The "TV On Demand" feature of my cable company has it's good points and it's bad points.

      Good: it's usually free, and has a fairly decent selection of programs that I am interested in watching. Last season's Curb Your Enthusiasm and Sopranos are examples. Not a huge selection, but enough for me.

      Bad: extremely awkward controls, massive pixelation; often ends up that if you even nudge the remote you'll end up back at some random menu that you'll have to go and restart the program from the beginning an

    • Which brings me to my question: isn't TiVo just a niche product that really should only be used by folks with an antenna feed or analog cable feed who don't have the savvy to set up a PC next to their TV?

      I would agree that the "less tech savy" part is probably what DVR's appeal to, as well as digital customers who want more features than on-demand. But that is a huge market. Most people don't want to take the time to build a PC, configure it, ect - they would rather just plug in the device and go. The

    • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @11:21AM (#7928073) Journal
      I'm about as tech savvy as you can get. I've built designed and built motherboards from scratch. My job involves hardware designs with a dozen multimillion gate FPGA designs where I design the board AND write the VHDL for the FPGAs. I've done digital designs over 10 GHz. On the software side, I've been programming since the Apple II. I'm there, OK?

      Yet I still bought a DirecTivo. I also have one of the first ReplayTV units. Why make more work for myself? Why go through the bother? The box was $149. Monthly fee? Who cares? I make a lot of money, and can deal with $5 a month. If it buys me a noccasional software upgrade and semi-well managed guide information, then fine. And season passes ARE a big whoop. They are very convenient.

      Also, the DirecTivo records the original digital stream from the satellite and has dual tuners and a very nice interface. I just can't see the point to reinventing the wheel. I could probably build my own mountain bike. I have the tools. I know how to weld. But why? I'd rather do something no one has done before.

      At work, if I need an amplifier in a design, I buy a prepackaged component. My job performance would be seriously questioned if I spent $4000 in man hours designing an RF amplifer when one with identical specs can be bought off the shelf for $20.

      My time is worth something to me. If I have to spend more than 1 hour a month dicking around with a PC based DVR, then I've "spent" more than $5 for that month. If it took me more than 24 hours of plugging things together and debugging, well, my time spent already covers the typical lifetime of one of these gadgets before the next one with new features and more integration comes along.

      And you seem to be forgetting that 98% of the population is NOT as savvy as a typical /. user. There is an enormous market for these things, as large as the VCR market. I think the integrated products like DirecTivo and now Tivo DVD recorders are going to be what really starts to light a fire.

      • My god. This may be the first pragmatic post I've read on Slashdot in months.

        Right on, brother.

        I agree 100%. Everyone's always got the better idea -- "Hey, man, listen to this: I get the GribbleGrabble OS, add a DibbleDabbe board, and lookity-look with only some fibble fabble doobily doop API calls to the fibble fabble, I can kabble wobble the hoppity hobble."

        Why bother -- when all you have to do it walk into Best Buy, walk out with a TIVO, and plug it in?

        Some guy in this thread talks about spending 8 h
        • My god. This may be the first pragmatic post I've read on Slashdot in months.

          I've been called pragmatic to a fault. My pragmatism once broke up a relationship. No big loss in the end. She was too, well, impractical.

          I have no problem with a hobbyist messing about with PC based PVRs. It's their hobby. They like it. Fine.

          But I get tired of the attitude that if you're not interested in rolling your own solution, oh, well, you're some un-tech-savvy Aunt Matilda. Please...

          It's true of any special interest

        • I dont have kids, I'm 20, so fibble fabbling with the HabbleFabbleTV and wabble wibbling with the uber-kibble kobble is whats going to get me to where you, Mr. I've got so much damn money, what does it matter if I just walk into bestbuy and walk out with the latest consumer electronic blah blah blah.

          So you design multi-gate-transistorfied mother-bored fibble fabble, nifty old dude. you keep taking the comfortable in my 40's route and I'll keep fabbling with my fobbles and maybe when all this fibbling pays
    • Does this program let you set scheduled recordings and watch it as "TV-On-Demand" in realtime? ATI's MMC doesn't let me do this for scheduled recordings.
  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Friday January 09, 2004 @11:20AM (#7928064)
    Check out TiVo-mplayer [], and turn your TiVo into a media server for your entire lan...

    With 802.11G, you can watch the stuff anywhere now. Pretty sweet.
  • Yahoo story: / 20040109/tc_nm/tech_tivo_dc_1

    "TiVo also unveiled TiVo-to-Go, which lets users who also subscribe to an additional TiVo home networking service to transfer shows they have recorded on the set-top box to a home computer. The system is kept secure by a unique key-sized memory device that must be plugged into the computer when the recorded content is watched or copied."

    ReplayTV's have been able to do that for years, for free, without buying
  • I've got an 80GB TiVo Series 2. I bought it last April. It does everything my wife wants. It records her shows. It does nothing I want. That is the ability to save my recorded shows to my computer. I can save them to my digital camcorder but thats a pain. TiVo-Togo is not the answer. I don't want to have to use some special software. Plus I want the ability to edit.

    As soon as my cable company offers PVR which should cost about $10 a month, my TiVo is going on Ebay. Then I'll build a MythTV from one of my c
    • It all depends on whether or not TiVo can make a product clearly superior to the cable offerings. Not all purchase decisions are driven by price. By your logic Porsche and BMW are also dying businesses since Hyundais are much cheaper. TiVo will lose customers to the cable giants, and may even become a niche player like some computer makers [] I can think of, but it stands a pretty good chance of still being around and profitable.
  • Once selected, the secure and encrypted TiVo recorded programs are moved to the PC, where the TiVo Content Security Key is used to unlock the files for playback or burning, preventing files from being shared online, outside of the user's home network.

    The TiVo Content Security Key and the TiVo-enabled versions of Sonic Solution's MyDVD and CinePlayer applications will be sold as a bundle at

    The encryption "feature" is not something that any Tivo user has asked for. Features that users don't

  • My biggest issue with with my Tivo unit is that its licensed to DirectTV. DirectTV will not enable many of the cool new features that are actually supported by the hardware. Sure wish I could pick up a dual decoder Tivo that wasn't tied to DirectTV.

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