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The Almighty Buck

Sony Investing in TiVo 84

ZDNet reports that Sony will be investing in TiVo, who makes what is becoming commonly referred to as a digital VCR. What makes this doubly cool and exciting is the fact that the TiVo runs Linux (embedded PPC chip). Maybe this is the mutation of the "convergence" devices we were supposed to all be using by now, especially if the TiVo becomes extended in to something capable of surfing the web (it has a modem in it...)
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Sony Investing in TiVo

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  • They are available. I got a copy of the source from TiVo on CD for a handling fee of $25

    Hey, if they're GPLed, do your part and post the source! :^)

  • I think everyone is missing the point here, which really has nothing to do with the fact that the thing runs linux. The point is that my viewing habits are no longer dictated by someone else. I can watch whatever I want, when I want, and I don't have to watch the commercials to boot. I know you can do this with a VCR, but it is a bit of a pain. This box makes it effortless.

    The neat thing is that this is just the first generation.
  • >>2) The ability to go to the bathroom without waiting for a commercial wow. I am amazed. You know that happens a lot. Just like when I am in the movie theater. Or I tape a program and can't be bothered to stop it. >) Large amounts of temporary storage makes it easy to tape something for only 1 viewing without eaither wasting tape or wearing out a tape from overcopying. So what if I want to record more than 15 hours? Do I but extra "virtual tape"? Can I save and playback sessions in a conveinent format like tapes or DVD? How about exchange things with RePlay?

    I have no answer to your wanting to tape more than 15 hours worth of programming (wow. they sell VHS tape that long?). AFAIK, you can probably just hook your VCR to tivo and perform the real taping session if you want to save the program. If you want more hard drive space, if it uses an industry standard drive (IDE, I think), I don't see the problem in quietly changing it... unless the hard drive comes with the bootloader.
  • I hope that I don't stand alone is saying that I am sick and tired of hearing of companies that try to integrate features into products that really don't need them.

    I agree to a point. However, I think that you're confusing the roles of the technologies being discussed.

    Let's take the idea of a "digital VCR" being able to web browse. This doesn't mean I would want to use it to hit slashdot. It may, however, mean I can use it to hit a TV programming guide. With a few clicks, I'm set to record my favorite shows. Its a matter of what one is expected to DO with the technology, not the technology itself.

    Digital VCR is a poor attempt to stop the VCR from dying at the long-sword of the DVD player.

    Once again, I'd argue that you're taking an "all in one" view when its not needed. DVD provides excellent quality for pre-recorded media. This is not TiVo's niche. The "digital VCR" provides a temporary method to record a show and manipulate that data. Perhapse a TiVo device with a recordable DVD would the the best future solution? Watch a DVD movie, record TV shows, and save TV Shows to DVD if they're good.

  • I know that at some point, I've seen at least one VCR that had a feature that while recording, it would parse the codes in the extreme-overscan area and pause the tape during commercials.

    Thus, a recorded tape with no commercials...

    Admittedly, it didn't work too well if the station didn't leave a couple of seconds between the end of the ad and the return to the show - it took it a second to restart recording. That, certainly, is one place that the TiVo would win.
  • I think it can record two shows at the same time

    Nope it can't. It has a single tuner, so it can record only one show at a time. However, you can record a show while your watching a previously-recorded show, which is pretty cool. And you can come in 10 or 20 minutes after a recording has started, and watch it from the beginning while the TiVo records the remaining 10 minutes.

    Also, the TiVo doesn't record 24/7. It builds up a profile of what shows you like, and goes off and records them even if you don't ask it to, on a space-available basis. These auto-recorded shows have low priority, though, when deciding which shows to erase to make room for new shows.

  • One reason not to use the tv set is because you might miss something on tv. But if you're using TiVo you don't have to worry about that.
  • I'd bet you could unscrew the case, pull out the hard drive, install it in a linux box, and mount it. Then you could look through everthing on the box. Maybe even install your own software on there. Ie. Mozilla.
  • Why would a company want to pay royalties for the OS when they can just as well use Linux without any sort of royalties *AND* get the source code too?? Be is going to have a very hard time in the embedded space IMO. I mean, this sort of Multimedia stuff is what Be should be doing right? An-ex-Be-fanatic :)
  • If they would pop a DVD player in these boxes, this could be the major breakthrough for DVD. It overcomes the most obvious disadvantage of DVD: you can record stuff with this thing and enjoy high quality DVD in one machine.

    It will also improve the quality of your recordings as VHS tapes tend to get bad real quickly if you use them a lot for recording. (Especially if you're too lazy to go out and buy new ones, like yours truly)

    I would buy one of these things if it had DVD. The main reason i didn't buy a DVD player yet is that it can't replace my VCR.

    If they would put DVD RAM in it, you would be able to extend your movie collection a bit. Even editing out the commercials would be relatively easy to accomplish, if they put in the right software.

    Message on our company Intranet:
    "You have a sticker in your private area"
  • Once HDTV (or whatever it's called these days) appears ... I'd consider it

    There won't be much to consider unless XCA manages to topple 5C.

  • I am very glad you are happy with your TiVo.

    My main beef with this and similar products is the incredible price you pay for what, IMHO, is merely conveinence. I compare it to paying $2.00 for a can of soup at the conveinence store vs $1.00 at the grocery store.

    Since I really only watch about 8 hours of TV a week and don't tape anything anymore I just don't see the advantage. I find myself more interested in things that will never be on TV, like certain foreign films. But I guess in your case it makes sense. As long as you regularly tape things on TV and don't want to hassle with programming your VCR (mine has a 6 or 7 digit code to enter that will automatically set the program for a specific program) or mind the programs being taped over.

    As for removable storage or storage issues I thought it odd that I'd have to spend $1K for 30 hours of programming. If I was a trekkie for example and wanted to tape the entire season of Trek, it'd be cheaper to just by the stuff on tape. I cannot believe it is as simple as using a standard IDE drive given the prices TiVo mentions on their web site, but whatever.

    It just sounds too expensive to use as something that is little more than a conveinent way to catch TV shows you won't keep around.

  • This Tivo looks *really* cool, to start off with. But doesn't it look a whole lot like webtv? Does anyone else think it strange that Sony and Phillips teamed up orignally to produce WebTV ( old news []) and then sold off the product to Microsoft when it was failing? Now Sony has partnered with Tivo to produce a Television application that actually seems pretty useful, and that will maybe compete with WebTV in the future? Did anyone notice that Phillips is again involved in this venture (Phillips personal Receiver []).

    My guess is that Sony (in selling webtv to Microsoft) has a deal with Microsoft that disallows them from manufacturing tv-web appliances for X number of years or altogether. Maybe Sony has a few tricks up it's sleeves.

    Joseph Elwell.
  • their site doesn't say anything about linux, but it does say it runs RTOS (a popular embedded realtime OS). so unless it has OF, you're gonna have a hard time building beowolf cluster with these things.
  • Tried to post a link to a cartoon and get marked down as a troll. What was so wrong with it? Was it that bad?
  • You also forgot that cool "quick skip" thing (at least Replay has it) that lets you skip over the commercials for recorded programs. That's my favorite thing.
  • Well this exemplifies how important marketing is. Even to get on slashdot you need a ton of marketing nowadays. For about $700 you can get a motherboard, dual CPU, 18 gig hard drive, video capture, and sound, plus it does a lot more than full duplex video. The only thing that's being marketed is the $1000 TiVo which just does one thing.
  • yep. OTOH, they'll watch at 8pm (when they have time) that cool but unpopular thing that happened to air the day before at 3am. as far as I understand the cool thing about the TiVo is that y ou do'nt have to program it in advance: it just records all the time, over 24 hours or whatever the disk capacity is. so you don't have to plan in advance; when you feel like watching something, the entire last day's content is there, easily accessible. I can see people getting used to this enough to watch nearly *all* tv through it, even if it's airing at taht moment, so they can just press pause and go take a leak or whatever, and fast-forwading through ads. this has the potential for putting a lot of control back in the hands of users, which is (by dogma :P) always a good thing.

    on the privacy side, there's the same problem as always: they'll try to collect profiles and once you're giving them to them you have no control. and it's hard to control what goes in and out of the modem connection; you tell the machine to do nothing but download the tv schedules, but how can you be sure it's not sending data back? if you're really paranoid you can always not plug it to a phone line, and I suppose it'd still work, but then you don't have nice access to programs by name.

    not that I care personally... i'm not into tv anyway :) but I think tivo is a step forward in the right direction.

  • It runs Linux and you can purchase a CD image of the modified GPL'd source from TiVo for $24.95.

    Price seem high?

    It isn't really; TiVo is NOT in the business of selling CDs full o' software and, as such, it does take a non-zero amount of effort and resources to burn an image.

    Question is: Has someone ordered the source disc and made it available somewhere? If I decide to pick up a TiVo, I will likely do so...

  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Wednesday September 08, 1999 @09:20AM (#1695145)
    The "convergence" comment has kicked up quite a bit of dust. Detractors have called forth examples of WebTV, web browsing appliances, and running Gimp on your VCR - sheer sillyness. And I agree. The "all-in-one" ideas pushed out into consumer space the last few years seem to miss the point. But I would suggest that this is not a problem with the idea of convergence, but the implementation. Convergence shouldn't be the device; it should be a sum of devices - a network.

    I feel that the idea of convergence is a good one. Convert everything to data and make that data available to everything else.

    That doesn't mean opening spreadsheets and cruising the web on my refrigerator. But it might mean downloading an inventory from my fridge to my desktop, making a shoping list, then taking that shoping list to the store on my PDA (or sending it to an online grocer if you so desire).

    I might be wondering what's on TV and can connect to my TV device to see what's on. Maybe there's a show I want to catch (seeing a link on a web site or having a friend send me it via IRC, email, or an instant messanger); I can program my VCR to record it... remotely, with little effort.

    I'm sitting down relaxing in front of the TV. A chime rings that I've got email. I log into my desktop from my thinclient message pad. A friend has sent me email with a link to a show I would be interested in. Tapping on the link sends it to my TV device which tunes in. I like the show. I log into the TV device and tell it to save the data instead of dumping it at the end of the show. I'll send the show to my desktop and burn it to DVD after its is done.

    The possiblities are endless. But the implementation relys on specialized devices networked via standardized protocols. Those protocols could be ones we already have used in creative ways, or new protocols developed to handle specialized tasks. I would favor creative use of existing protocols.

    Like SUN likes to say, "The computer is the network". The architecture to make this all possible is already showing up. The marketplace is beginning to see the advantage to a home network as more workers are exposed to the technology at work. This used to mean stringing CAT5 cable through the house. Now, it means technologies such as Apple's AirPort [].

    The pieces are coming togeather. Now all we need are the smart VCRs instead of the WebTVs.

  • (1) I have a high-speed internet connection at home by way of ADSL.. It would definately be nice if TiVo could make use of that to download the programming information instead of tying up my phone line.

    (2) More importantly to me: Removable media! I would be a very happy camper if I could archive recorded TiVo shows. I don't know what the insides of the box are like, but I wonder if it would be possible to add a DAT drive to the system.

    I just cannot justify spending that kind of money for delayed viewing without the archiving capability, too. I'd be willing to buy a TiVo and an external DAT drive, though, if this was possible.

    Mr. Bullwinkle, would the layout of the box allow for something like this?
  • by Jamie Zawinski ( 775 ) <> on Thursday September 09, 1999 @04:19AM (#1695148) Homepage
    if I understand Macrovision correctly, it is basically a non-chaotic bit o' noise added to the NTSC signal).

    Macrovision works by periodically flipping the signal in the vertical blanking region from black to white. It flips it every few seconds (somewhere in the range of 5-30 seconds, it seems) and does it randomly. The reason this works is that almost all VCRs manufactured after 1986 or so do some manner of auto-gain-control, by assuming that the blanking region is the reference black level. So when it goes white, the intensity of the recorded picture goes all wonky.

    Most televisions don't do this gain-control trick, which is why this works: it will mess up VCRs but not CRTs. Of course, it also messes up any TV that behaves more like a VCR than a CRT, such as LCD projectors.

    You can get a device that defeats Macrovision for about $40 from the back of any video magazine. The way they work is by taking the input video signal and painting a black stripe over the blanking interval. As far as I've seen, this causes no loss of picture quality.

    There is a Macrovision FAQ [], including schematics [] on how to build your own filter.

  • > Hey, if they're GPLed, do your part and post the source! :^)

    I would but it wasn't my $ that purchased it.
  • Jwz: A public thank you for that extremely illuminating response! Seriously.

    So: if the TiVo is restoring the Macrovision copy protection... then, likely, they have a simple circuit or bit o' software that is randomly flipping the blanking region... Interesting.

  • VHS records at 352x240... the Tivo and ReplayTV things are recording in MPEG2, same compression used for DVD discs, at roughly 640x480. You're getting double the picture quality out of Tivo than a VHS VCR.

    From what I know, MPEG2 is variable bit rate, so these boxes encode at around 2Mbps, while a DVD will be encoded between 2Mbps and 8Mbps.


  • actually they've been moving pretty strongly into embedded systems. from what i heard, the whole bru-hah-ha over secrets being leaked out to Microsoft was around Be's strategy in the embedded/handheld arena. now, they're even going as far as customizing the OS for particular environments.

    as far as royalties go, i'm pretty sure at this point they're letting hardware manufacturers use it for free or at least almost free -- better to get the publicity and all. i'm not 100% sure about it, though. i guess we'd have to ask Be.

  • Howdy, At this point, TiVo only offers the ability to archive to VHS tape. In fact, we have two outputs on the receiver, and a tidy interface to make it easy. The problems with digital archiving are expense, and copyright issues. We tried to make TiVo a consumer device that Mom and Dad could use, and while the folks on /. are certainly capable of dealing with DAT tapes, and the expense therein, it would not have a broad-scale market appeal. As it is, we need to make our box less expensive -- not more so. Will we ever offer these options? Well, I hesitate to make "forward looking statements" about TiVo at this stage in our financial careers, but I would bet that someone will make the sort of device you describe. Broadband will happen, and it will be a part of Personal Television some day. Also, when copyright issues are settled, and prices are viable for recordable DVD, or whatever comes next, I would bet they become part of the Personal Television devices as well. I can tell you that TiVo has no immediate plans to incorporate such elements. Right now we provide for archiving to VCR, a device which most folks own already, and we use a standard analog modem, which is still the industry standard. I too look forward to the device you describe, but I cannot promise a date when such a thing will exist. Regards, Richard Bullwinkle TiVo Webmaster
  • Does the Tivo _run_ Linux, or could it just theoretically run Linux since it's using an embedded PPC?

  • Other than hard cash of course :)

    I dont see Sony championing Open Source at all, but I'd like a minidisk sized storage medium for my films etc.

    Hopefully they wouldnt screw this hypothetical new format up like they did with the MD.
  • The Great Convergence will happen, I hope, by the way of having 29-inch computer monitors and a TV tuner card in my PC. I very much hope that it will NOT happen by the way of WebTV... But in any case, Tivo has nothing to do with it. It's basically a large hard drive with some supporting functions and is very far away from a general-purpose computer. But if I were a VCR-maker, or a TV network executive (think ads filter), I would be afraid. Very afraid.

  • Unless TiVo could actually run linux as in bring up X or a command prompt, I really don't see the need for this "Digital VCR" I don't use my vcr that much for recording and the quality is ok. I would like to see a recordable device with dvd-like quality rather than using 240-line vhs(is s-vhs good enough) I could see it for older people who can't program their vcr, but they're not linux type people anyway.
  • I love Sony and Linux as much as anyone else, but I must say that these 'digital VCRs' are a joke. They will never have enough functionality over good ol' versitile VHS to justify the extra cost. And as far as surfing the Internet being the magic feature, remember how pathetic WebTV was? (even before Microsoft took it over) On a happy note, Sony is known for quality products across the board so maybe they will find some potential in it after all.
  • It seems like almost everything is running Linux [] these days. If I could just recompile the engine in my car, I'd be set.
  • Last night I watched some anime on a big-screen tv set at a friend's house. During a boring part I wanted to check my mail.. but I wouldn't do it on the same tv set. A much more useful device for quick checks of email or stock quotes or whatever would be a flat-panel touch-screen terminal that could sit on the coffee table or rest next to the couch.. untouched and forgotten-about until it's needed. There were a couple of these flat-panel websurfing tablets mentioned on slashdot several months ago.. seeing those take off would be far more useful than something like this. Televisions are good for one thing.. monitors are good for another.

    I've never understood why someone would watch a DVD on their computer.. or try to surf the web on a tv set.

  • by drig ( 5119 ) on Wednesday September 08, 1999 @07:25AM (#1695163) Homepage Journal

    The whole "set-top box" idea always seemed a little silly to me, until I saw the Tivo. What exactly is the purpose of a low-power computer? The hype is that they'll be easier to use, but I don't see that as a real incentive. As we can see from WebTV, it is hard to keep these boxes up to date, lacking Java and all the latest gadgets and plugins. Underpowered eventually means under-useful.

    But, the Tivo adds something useful. It's not an underpowered computer. It's a really nice VCR with a few computer-like capabilities (web browsing, for instance). The fact that it may not have all the neato-gadgets doesn't hurt it because it's not a computer.

    Now, I'm not a fan of television, so I won't buy something to make watching TV better. But, every TV viewer I know drools over the Tivo. If they add email and web browsing, all the better, but it's not necessary.

    Sony got a good product. Tivo had a great idea. Hopefully, they'll contribute the new hard drive drivers back to the community.

  • 1) Picture quality
    2) The ability to go to the bathroom without waiting for a commercial
    3) Large amounts of temporary storage makes it easy to tape something for only 1 viewing without eaither wasting tape or wearing out a tape from overcopying.
    4) It's really not that much more expensive than a VCR
  • by Anonymous Coward
    it does.
  • by konstant ( 63560 ) on Wednesday September 08, 1999 @07:29AM (#1695166)
    Here's their statement on privacy: []

    As I understand the pitch, TiVo is entirely client-side unless you "give your consent". (Troubling question: how is this determined? Opt-out? Fine print bundled with some 'incentive'?) But assuming they keep that part above board, they really appear to understand the privacy concerns of savvy consumers. The best way to reassure me that my private habits won't be monitored is to store that information in my home where it is inaccessible to corporate tentacles.

    I am concerned, though, that they'll seduce you into giving consent unwittingly one way or another. Lots of online companies already do this. With all the people who have access to your profile these days, it's tough to finger any one corporate entity as the one that's reneging on privacy aggreements. Something to be wary of while you're using your cool new TiVo :)

    They ought to do well if they maintain this sort of respect for the citizen. I can just imagine how this could turn TV on its head. The networks and even cable have based their entire model on the premise that they can sell advertising all day long. But with the introduction of this sort of device, a consumer can watch TV at any time of the day and still only watch the handful of shows that really are worth watching. Result: advertising can really only be sold for quality shows, since nobody will be watching the crap that's on at 2:30am or 1 in the afternoon any longer.

  • I saw a special on Knowledge Tv about this product I think. The scary thing for advertisers via television is that you can skip commercials all together. One neat thing is that one can have their own instant replay of a sports game. Albeit not from all the angles that they others guys have them. I'll buy one when they get cheap. I don't watch all that much TV anyhow. Just Letterman and Conan.
  • TiVo appparently DOES maintain the Macrovision copy protection across inputs and outputs.

    Of particular interest, it doesn't actually store/compress the Macrovision signal (not surprising-- MPEG II doesn't compress NTSC... it compresses video... if I understand Macrovision correctly, it is basically a non-chaotic bit o' noise added to the NTSC signal).

    TiVo has been very careful not to piss off the studios/content providers.... even to the point of NOT having a "skip next 30 seconds" feature (like ReplayTV). Unfortunate loss, but the upside [for TiVo and -- hopefully -- the consumer] has been tremendous. The investments from Sony and numerous others is a huge win and goes a long way to instill consumer confidence.
  • by drig ( 5119 )
    Apparently, I can't tell the difference between "does have" and "may have". My information on the web browsing/email capabilities was gleaned from a segment on NPR [] I heard. Apparently, the Tivo doesn't have web capabilities, but may in the future.

    I think it's a good idea to add the web browsing capabilities, and it doesn't seem very tough to do.
  • Yes, they are bound by the GPL.

    Yes, they are [apparently] honoring it. You can order a CD full o' the source from TiVo for $29.95. A reasonable price all things considered (labor, creating an image from a moving target of a release, etc...)

    See one of the gnu newsgroups for a recent discussion of licensing issues.
  • All of these 'set top boxes' should have ethernet, at the price of ethernet today(I picked up 2 SMC Etherplus PCI cards at a yard sale for $5) every box should have this, especially the dreamcast and other console games as well as the webtvish boxen. How much does an el cheapo realtek 8029 cost, like $2 its proabaly cheaper than the DSP modems that they put in there anyways

  • It isn't that simple.

    (1) The software is relatively complex and offers a bunch of features-- including databases full of schedules and all sorts of cool fuzzy searching features.

    (2) Hardware to do MPEG II encoding at the rates and quality that either TiVo or ReplayTV do is neither cheap nor readily available in a form that could be easily integrated with the random bits of custom software you would need to write.

    (3) Putting together a bunch of off the shelf components that achieve the same level of quality (the LOWEST quality record/playback is about the same as normal video tape) would cost WAY more. Factoring in software engineering time adds a very large amount of cost on top of that (though it would be fun).

    Not to say it won't happen, it will.... but it will take a while before anyone comes up with a homebrew system that can compare in features and price.
  • So, you'd run right out and buy one if you could get to a Linux command prompt of X session? And what, pray tell, would you do, one you got there? Run SETI@home on it? Really now, it's a TV recording device, and I'd much rather control it through it's own polished, considered interface rather than through some wodgy command line app running in fuzz-o-vision on my TV screen.

  • as far as I understand the cool thing about the TiVo is that you do'nt have to program it in advance: it just records all the time, over 24 hours or whatever the disk capacity is.

    That would be a lot of disk space and a lot of processing power. I think it can record two shows at the same time, so if you like two things that are both on at the same time, you can record both, even if you're not around

  • Why should that matter? You didn't purchase the _source_code_, you purchased nice CD and paid the company for the labor that went into producing it; or maybe it was someone else's money. The source code is _FREE_ for a reason, so you can share it. There should be no guilt involved here.

  • 1) Picture quality
    So this somehow improves picture quality? Granted, image quality shouldn't degrade over time, but that's a big difference, especially if you get the NTSC feed which most of us will still be getting years after the required digital TV broadcasts in the US.

    2) The ability to go to the bathroom without waiting for a commercial
    wow. I am amazed. You know that happens a lot. Just like when I am in the movie theater. Or I tape a program and can't be bothered to stop it.

    3) Large amounts of temporary storage makes it easy to tape something for only 1 viewing without eaither wasting tape or wearing out a tape from overcopying.
    So what if I want to record more than 15 hours? Do I but extra "virtual tape"? Can I save and playback sessions in a conveinent format like tapes or DVD? How about exchange things with RePlay?

    4) It's really not that much more expensive than a VCR
    Really? Personal price for 14 hours is $500. 30 hours is $1K. Plus a monthly fee of $10. Not cheap to me!

    I think it's real advantages are instant access like CDs vs cassette tape and no programming. These aren't real advantages based on cost if you take the time to learn how to program a VCR or tape in SP mode. Plus, I cannot access other material. I can only access stuff I tape from TV,and really, there's not much on TV I *want* to have copies of. Those that I do are feature length films that aren't cut to begin with.

    Sorry. I'm just skeptical and don't see any benefits to justify the cost. I'll wait for recordable DVD or a big pay raise.

  • >> I love Sony and Linux as much as anyone else

    I'm not saying that Sony is bad, but Sony is shaping up to be able to control much more of our lives than Mickysoft.

    MS has a virtual monopoly on some aspects of PC Software on some platforms. However, that is going to mean less and less as time goes on and history has shown that MS is not very good at branching out. Information is the real power, and all of MS's attempts at grabbing the control of information have not turned out nearly as well as they hoped. MS is already regarded as a company that makes flashy but bloated and buggy software that many people begrudgingly use.

    Sony, on the other hand, is a company that has power in MANY areas of our lives, such as almost all consumer electronics, the music we listen to, etc. At least they are still trying to succeed by making kickass products at a slight premium price.

    As much as the Playstation 2 might kick ass, I don't want PCs to become obsolete. I like being able to build my own system, which you can't do with a console.
  • You're missing the point. Don't think of it so much as a digital VCR as much as your own personal TV network that only broadcasts the shows you like, whenever you want, without commercials. I never watch anything 'live' anymore, and I haven't seen a commercial in two months.. and I watch 4-5 hours of TV a week.

    NBC, et al, if you're reading, disregard the previous, I watch each commercial several times over.

  • Forgive me if I'm wrong (the TiVo webiste sorta sucks) but isn't this one of those devices that records/caches tv shows onto a large harddisk?

    Where does that come off being a digital Video Cassette Recorder? I believe that there is such a thing as a Digital VCR, they are used by video proffesionals and use small digital cassettes.

    It doesn't really matter if that is what people are calling it, that doesn't meen we should...

    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • I hope that I don't stand alone is saying that I am sick and tired of hearing of companies that try to integrate features into products that really don't need them. As a good reference, i recall reading and article on /. not to long ago about an all-in-one refridgerator. To be quite honest it looked really cool, but then again in all the time that I have had both a computer and a refridgerator, I have never once had the urge to check my email from there. Digital VCR is a poor attempt to stop the VCR from dying at the long-sword of the DVD player. I got my DVD player about a month ago, and the sound and picture crush that of a VCR. VCR is going to die like the Yugo. I don't know how long it will take, but it will happen. It is inevitable that technology will die. As for the matter of the built in linux aspect of the device, I'd like to see this VCR top out my computer at home. I surely hope that people aren't thinking that TIVO is going to run The Gimp faster then my 500mhz AMD with 256mb RAM. If it does, then I am all for it, but I highky doubt it.
    If you are looking to integrate home video and computing. Get your regular computer and throw out your monitor. In exchange for that monitor, purchase the Sony KL-W7000. This is a 37" computer monitor/Television. Then simply buy Sound Blaster live and link out to your home stereo setup. There you go. Linux, big screen TV, and Home Video. There is your answer to it all. Sure it will cost a good deal more then TIVO will, but you are getting a much better all around setup.

  • > Hopefully, they'll contribute the new hard drive
    > drivers back to the community.

    They are available. I got a copy of the source from TiVo on CD for a handling fee of $25
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    MPEG II encoding for dummies. I wouldn't mind having something like that for Linux... And encryption to protect viewer privacy? These are good ideas, I just hope they're implemented correctly.

    All I found on the page about the OS was 'PPC running RTOS', so that's pretty vague...

    Oh, and I think the posting code still needs some work:

    'SQL Error

    There was an unknown error in the submission.'
  • The TiVo actually is a PowerPC Linux box, so
    it IS a general purpose computer.

    If they wanted to, wouldn't be out of the question
    for them to sell an IR keyboard and use the box
    as a web browser, or more.

    The TiVo is very well designed, and I wouldn't
    want to watch TV without it anymore.
  • TV's are cheap. Computers & monitors are not. No one wants to spend the $$$ required for a computer just to watch TV.

    Past that, I think the two are separate activities, that require different environments - nice couch and maybe a coffee table to watch TV, vs. Desk and chair to use the computer.

    Plus, I personally like to watch TV while computing, when given the chance, and going back to the money issue, it's much cheaper to buy a 29" TV than a 21" monitor.

    Once HDTV (or whatever it's called these days) appears, and requires television sets to support higher resolutions, which I'm thinking will make the prices between TV's & monitors closer, I'd consider it, but until then TV's are cheap enough that I don't want to have this multifunction device that really doesn't serve a purpose I can see.

    They both have screens. The similarity ends there.
  • Convergence is OK, but put IP on everything, instead of everything on IP. What's the point of converting Video to IP, then sending over _cable_ to be re-converted, if I could just use my TV.
  • Yes, you are absolutely correct.. the term is "Digital Video Recorder" and it performs automatic time displacement functions. People call 'em Digital VCR to try to catch onto the already established familiarity with video cassette recorders.
  • What I think he meant was "recorded picture quality." Video recorded by your home VCR on the highest setting doesn't approach broadcast quality. On the other hand, I believe the TiVo records video at a much higher quality than a VCR.

    On your other counts, it appears you are being overly and perhaps needlessly harsh. The conviences you dismiss out of hand are nice. The price, while currently high will fall just like the price of all maturing technology. You may not have a need for TiVo or a work-alike, but maybe you don't fall into the group they are targeting. On the other hand, I believe the digital VCR like devices are a good thing. I, however, would like to see removable storage eventually be an option.
  • So the company that makes the Super Slim VAIO [] is investing in the TiVo. It would be very cool to have the TiVo as slim as the VAIO. Will this technology and entertailment exchange with TiVo Sony's Computing Division to give us the VaTiVio?
  • Uhh...

    RTOS stands for Real Time Operating System.

    RTOS isn't a brand but rather a type of OS.
  • Tivo runs Linux! But you don't have to be a TiVo customer to get the source code. If you want the TiVo modifications to the GNU code, send a check for $24.95 to: TiVo Attn: Richard Bullwinkle 894 Ross Drive Sunnyvale, CA 94089 Regards, Richard Bullwinkle TiVo Webmaster
  • by Anonymous Coward
    DTCP [] is a copy-protection/encryption pseudo-standard that makes it possible to have a fully digital TiVo. And it's backed by (you guessed it)... Sony.
  • "PC/TV `convergence' is sort of analogous to combining a kitchen sink and a toilet bowl because they're both porcelain water receptors."
    -- correspondent Stewart Wolpin
  • I think it's real advantages are instant access like CDs vs cassette tape and no programming. These aren't real advantages based on cost if you take the time to learn how to program a VCR or tape in SP mode. Plus, I cannot access other material. I can only access stuff I tape from TV,and really, there's not much on TV I *want* to have copies of. Those that I do are feature length films that aren't cut to begin with.
    Sorry. I'm just skeptical and don't see any benefits to justify the cost. I'll wait for recordable DVD or a big pay raise.

    I understand your skeptisism. But I must say I absolutely love my TiVo. I love to watch TV, I have a couple of show that I like to watch each week. But quite often I get busy and don't have time to watch them when they are on and don't remember or have time to set the VCR. With TiVo I just tell it once, "Record Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and ever time it's on it records it. Sure there is limited space and about every week and a half it starts delete old stuff. But hey I can watch TV when ever I want to. And there is almost always something that has been recorded that I want to see. I don't have to follow the stupid schedule of the TV stations or go through the trouble to set up a weekly recording on my VCR and make sure I have a tape in, or my roommates doen't take the tape out, it's just there, like clock work.

    To make a long story short, I fricking love my TiVo, yea sure it still need's improvements but eh, they are sending software updates when they make them, and they even offered to put my on the software beta test list. That's cool. Oh and as fo the $10 a month you mentioned don't waste your money with that, just pay the $200 and get a lifetime connection, it's much cheaper that ways.
  • I bought a TiVo several months ago. It was one of the first units to ship with the 1.1 software release. It was a great device, albeit a little buggy. Later I asked them to put me on their beta program, which recently ended with the 1.2.1 release. The unit is now rock solid and a complete joy to use.

    TiVo has completely changed the way we watch TV. If I had to, I'd give up my DVD player & VCR to own one of these things. Think about it: whenever you turn on the tube, there is always something you want to watch. And you can skip the commercials.

    By the way, I'm told that TiVo will hit Best Buy shelves this week, and Circuit City and independent retailers will get them in a few more weeks.

    And it runs Linux!

  • I've heard mention of the fact that these guys use linux, but when looking at the box, there is no way of knowing what version of linux (if any) they are using. So I have two question: 1) Can anyone describe exactly what portion of Linux these guys are using? 2) How can we tell if these guys are adhering to the GPL which they are bound to if they are using Linux. Does the GPL apply to embeded devices? If so, how?
  • This is certanly intresting, but one of the things that bugs me about devices like this, and web TV and such is that they "lock out" the stuff that makes it a computer.

    I mean, would it be so bad to include say, one button that lets you access the bash shell or somthing?

    It's not so much systems like the TiVo, but the cheap "web boxes" that don't run windows. Instaid of somthing that someone could learn somthing about comptuers on, they are given somthing that can only be used for one thing. I guess what bothers me is the idea of a device being sold as 'single purpose' when it's actualy a general purpose computer.
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • i'm interested to see what Be inc. will do now... the iToaster was on it's way to becoming a set-top. now that Sony's in the game, maybe the japanese connection Be has will lead to some sort of software development.

    wishful thinking, yes (i'm a Be-o-phile i guess). but it seems that nobody could get the story straight as to wether or not the iToaster ran Linux or BeOS... so why not?

  • by dublin ( 31215 ) on Wednesday September 08, 1999 @08:41AM (#1695207) Homepage
    OK, let's draw the important distinction here about what's digital and what's not:

    Everyone is running around calling these things "digital" [VCRs|video recorders|somesuch], but although they *do* store digitally, their inputs and outputs are analog only. They still cannot take a direct digital MPEG stream (from your digital settop, digital satellite dish reciever, or anything else) and store that. What they do is take an *analog* signal (which may have been digital only inches ago), and run it through the MPEG veg-o-matic again to stuff that on a hard disk.

    The reason they aren't truly digital is simple: The studios/networks will try very hard to never let this happen. This is the same reason that although IEEE 1394 should by all logic be the connection for video streams between tuners/settops and displays or storage devices such as these, it never will be, and may die on the vine as a result. They're not going to let *anyone* grab an unencrypted MPEG stream. Ever.

    Even in the analog realm, the studio types are already worried: Boxes like this are currently under fire because they do not regenerate the Macrovision sync-hosing pulses when playing back content that was originally Macrovision encoded, meaning it's too easy to record the analog output of a Tivo on a regular VCR. (If you're looking for a good way to completely remove Macrovision pulses, this is it, for the time being...)

    If Sony's involved here, it's more likely to be to protect its content "rights" than to promote the technology.

    On the other hand, this idea makes too much sense to die - even if the studios succeed in killing off these devices (likely, I'd say), there isn't much short of legislation outlawing high-quality MPEG encoders and/or PC frame grabbers (and this *is* a possibility, given their clout) to stop people from rolling their own. (What we really need is a good PCI "digital settop card", but the FCC won't get off the dime and standardize on subscriber authentication, so dream on. Even so, it wouldn't be able to deal with encrypted streams, which will be just about everything very soon.)

    I predict 1TB disks will be common in the next couple of years to give people someplace to put all their multimedia content. (How many of us already have big drives stuffed with MP3s? You'll have your camcorder content and video library on there next. And don't ask me how you recover from a hard disk crash of that magnitude! RAID/SAN solutions may be the cheapest backups in the long run.)

    And if you thought the RIAA was fighting MP3, you ain't seen nothing yet!
  • I don't really see the point to this. It would be fairly easy to do this type of thing yourself. All you really need is a computer with a decent sized hard drive, a tv-out card and a video capture card. All of which would come out to be much cheaper than this product and you could also do things like surf the web from your tv. Although surfing the web on your tv is kind of annoying (it's hard to read all the text).

After the last of 16 mounting screws has been removed from an access cover, it will be discovered that the wrong access cover has been removed.