Category Archives: Tivo

TivoToGo & Multi-Room Viewing Coming in November for Tivo Series3 & TiVoHD

Link: TivoToGo & Multi-Room Viewing Coming in November for Tivo Series3 & TiVoHD

"I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting TiVoToGo and Multi-Room Viewing on your Series3 and TiVoHD boxes.

I wanted to let you know that development has been progressing smoothly, and all is well. You can expect TTG & MRV to be available for Series3 and TiVoHD this November."

It looks like we finally have a reason to buy an HDTV. I guess the final step will be to figure out whether DirecTV HD will play nice with the upgraded Tivo device.

Update: Marc points out in comments that the upgrade that Tivo is talking about here won’t actually work with TivoHD because TivoHD will only let you record HD from cable, and only in the USA. Sucks!

A Variation on the DVR, Without Ad Skipping

Link: A Variation on the DVR, Without Ad Skipping

"’We have a particular sensitivity to the needs of business in every stage in the value chain, because we’re part of a diversified media company,’ Mr. Stern of Time Warner Cable said."

This fascinating new-economy corollary to "the customer is always right" must make Time Warner Cable subscribers feel pretty warm and fuzzy.

Has any customer in the history of DVR technology ever stepped up and said "you know, this DVR thing is terrific, but what I’d really prefer is to lose the ability to skip commercials so that I can satisfy the needs of businesses in every stage of the value chain?" Customers who aren’t on crack, I mean.

Early in my history as a participant in the corporate value chain I decided that the cable companies would never get a nickel of my money. Every so often, something like this comes along to validate that rule.

Tivo Posts its First Profit

Ha ha! Eat it, haters.

This morning I was preparing a big long post about how analysts seem to be approaching this company with all of the critical thinking power of a herd of lemmings in springtime, focusing on this supposedly risky competitive landscape while completely missing the fact that four years into the age of the DVR, Tivo still has the best freaking product on the market, they’re doing a ton of interesting partnerships and feature releases and nobody who uses a competing product is truly passionate about it.

But there’s no need for a lot of deep counter-analysis, all you need to do is look at the scoreboard. As a wise man once said, "I look funny, but yo, I’m making money." Let the cable companies burn up money broadening the DVR market — Tivo
will be there when their millions of subscribers decide they want the
real deal.

I had this crazy psychic premonition that Tivo was going to beat the street today so I listened to the Tivo quarterly earnings call live (it’s still going on at this moment).

Amazon Unbox: Day 2

We’ve watched our second free Unbox movie on Tivo and I have to say I’m warming up to it. I still don’t think it’s a better value than Netflix (we’re particularly missing DVD special features, which we enjoy mightily and Unbox doesn’t provide). But when I am sitting at my desk at 2pm and I think I want to watch a movie that night, waiting for the postman to deliver the next Netflix movie isn’t gonna cut it.

As I browsed their list of movies that you can download to the Tivo, I was surprised to see some recent releases priced at $14.99. Holy crap — who would pay $14.99 for a movie with a 24-hour expiration date when you could buy the DVD (or actually go to the movies) for about the same price? I was surprised to see that that price point is even there, but I suspect that this pricing is a studio thing and not Amazon’s choice. (Update: As my pal Marc points out in comments, the $14.99 price point is for movies that you can download indefinitely — so that’s better, but nowhere near as good as just buying the DVD outright so you can get the special features and play it on different devices.)

The second movie we rented was Accepted, about a guy who doesn’t
get accepted to any college so he and his friends invent their own. It was pretty funny,
but not quite as good as my two favorite tales of college life, Animal
House
and the very underrated Porn ‘n Chicken.

Accepted did evoke some of my favorite warm and fuzzy feelings about college (we are now college-age adults so let’s get a six-pack and go sit by the ocean) and I kept thinking "this movie is about how the UCSB College of Creative Studies must have been invented."
But it also seemed to reflect the emerging DYI culture in general. Maybe this was intentional: I’m not sure
how much of Accepted was informed by stuff like Bar Camp, but when the students
put up a board listing the classes they wanted to take (like "Walking Around
and Thinking About Stuff" and "Rocking Your Face Off 202", they self-organized
in the exact way that Bar Camp does.

Amazon Unbox for Tivo

I tried the new video-on-demand service Amazon Unbox for Tivo yesterday, mainly because of the $15 free credit. Linking the Tivo to my Amazon account was easy as was the download. Amazon’s web site has a long way to go to beat Netflix in terms of discoverability of titles, though. They should really create a separate portal specifically for movies that you can download to Tivo.

My initial reaction is that the service is a teensy bit too expensive and the terms are too restrictive. (You have to watch the movie you download within 30 days and it evaporates off your Tivo 24 hour hours after you watch it.) Because of this, Netflix (or Blockbuster, for that matter) seems like a better value to me.

Still, as an Amazon fan and Tivo stockholder, I have high hopes for this. I think it will take off when the price comes down a bit, and it probably wouldn’t kill them to let you keep the movie on your Tivo for a week or a month, although that would matter much less to me than the price point. It seems like they should be able to bring the price down to less than $4 per movie for one day of viewing since I’m paying for so much of the infrastructure required to get the movie to my house. Maybe that will happen when there are more than one movie providers for Tivo.

Back in Love with Tivo

We’ve finally stabilized our home entertainment situation after a month or so of unfortunate mishaps and incidents. Without going into too much boring detail, our DirectTV/Tivo combo box died and we were left with a perplexing choice: another combo box? Or go with the new and reportedly second-rate DirectTV DVRs? Or do we go with separate DirectTV and Tivo boxes?

Switching to Comcast digital cable was out of the question for reasons that I don’t go into (let us just say that our feelings toward Comcast are brought to you by the letter G and the numeral 4). Plus, we’ve already got that bigass satellite dish connected to the back of our house since we took advantage of DirectTV’s free deal they give you when you move houses.

We wound up getting a standalone Tivo with an upgraded hard drive from weaknees.com and a basic DirectTV box from a local Circuit City retailer. The instructions on how to make these bad boys play nice with each other are nonexistent (presumably since DirectTV and Tivo are no longer dating), and I’m finding that I have less and less patience performing household system administration tasks as I approach middle age. So we wound up retaining a ninja A/V guy who came over and made it all work right for us.

Having a standalone Tivo box pretty much owns. Being able to stream photos and MP3s from your PC to your Tivo is fun, and I suspect we’ll do that every so often, but being able to take programs from the Tivo, blast them down to your PC, and burn them to DVD, is the absolute shit. It takes a while to move 800MB of video from your TV to your PC, but the Tivo Desktop software lets you mark a a whole bunch of programs at once, so you can just figure out what you want to download and let it run all night if you want.

Tivo recommends that you use Sonic MyDVD to make DVDs, but I’d read some terrible reviews of that. I’d just upgraded to the latest version of the Nero suite, which includes Nero Vision 4, their consumer audio editing and DVD authoring package. It wasn’t perfect (in particular, it slowed to a crawl when I tried to view videos in full-screen mode in the authoring environment), but it got me where I wanted to go — after about two hours of learning and fiddling I was able to make a DVD of Dora the Explorer’s greatest hits for my daughter, who was very appreciative. I suspect we’ll be appreciative as well next time we take a long plane trip and we have a whole slew of children’s TV on DVD to choose from.

Dear Tivo:

You know, I love you and everything, but a six hour web site downtime is total amateur hour. You should be totally embarassed about this. I’m embarassed for you, anyway.

Are you not a public company with a million plus customers? If you require people to use your Web site to start using your products (as you do today), the site needs to be available 24×7, no excuses.

Smooches,

Jeffrey