Slashdot links to a discussion on FatWallet, AVS Forum, and InfoWorld about a new discount on ReplayTV units that was rescinded by the company on December 17th. It seems as if many retailers and many customers were led to believe that the units were to be dropped to $150 and that 3 years of service was to be free. In fact, documentation concerning the 3 years of free service was even in the boxes with the hardware.
Whether this was an honest mistake or not, the corporate reaction by DNNA is a lesson in how NOT to treat your customers when one is a struggling manufacturer in a very competitive marketplace.
Over at dbstalk.com, there is an extensive review of the Dish Network's DVR-921, a PVR that can record regular satellite signals as well as both satellite HDTV and OTA HDTV signals on one box. It's a long review, about 8 pages and around 70 screenshots are posted of the interface, setup, and on-screen samples from the unit. Looks like an impressive unit that packs a lot of features.
It looks a bit pricey, at around a thousand dollars, but I'm impressed that it can record over the air HDTV broadcasts and those delivered on satellite HDTV pay channels like HBO-HD. It'll be interesting to see if the HDTV-Tivo does that whenever that finally comes out.
Matt Hinrich's story of The Day the Plip Plops Stopped, about his dead standalone TiVo mentions a point that has been making the rounds recently. DirecTV has sold so many new DirecTiVo units for the $99 promotion that they can't meet demand.
I've had regular cable + a TiVo for about two years and a DirecTiVo with satellite for almost two years and there's no comparison. DirecTiVo offers features like two tuners that make program conflicts rare (and you can watch something live while something else is being recorded), the direct storage of satellite feeds means few compression artifacts and a near-DVD quality picture, and put simply, the only way to effectively manage hundreds of channels of content displaying at all hours of the day and night.
I'm hopeful DirecTV sees this demand as a great way to get new customers and keep current ones happy, and keeps the $99 promotion after the new year (when it was supposed to run out).
Jake over at blahstuff alerted me to the JavaHMO I had heard about a few weeks ago. Check out the screenshots to see what new functions this open source, free piece of software adds to your Series 2 TiVo. I imagine it's a rewrite of the HMO server that exploits features in the developer API and lets set up schedules to download images of weather and movie data from the web.
Jake also said it was a cinch to install and configure. Hopefully TiVo takes notice and rolls similar features in (and doesn't send the JHMO guy a cease and desist :). Looks like it's linux and windows only for now.
Slashdot has a bunch of comments from folks who have build their own digital video recorders. Some of the software that has been used and recommended include:
If you have built your own DVR with open source software, we'd love to hear more about it. It's clear that this is still the domain of pretty determined folks, but it is impressive to see the growth in this area.
In this snippet of an interview with Believer Magazine, Andy Richter shares his undying love of TiVo:
It's fantastic. If anything, your TV viewing is shortened into its hardest, crystalline, purest form.
There have always been a couple of public FTP servers you could get backups of someone's original TiVo hard drive files. Typically, you'd go to it if your TiVo hard drive died. You could buy a new drive, restore the original files from the backups, plop it in your TiVo, and use it.
It's always been kind of shady -- while you couldn't steal service or anything, it was hosting a copy of the complete TiVo software for anyone to grab. People have been pretty hush-hush about it for the most part, but according to Slashdot, people hosting backups are now being sent cease and desist letters (here's a copy of the letter's text).
I've watched the TiVo hacking community for a while, and I think the real tipping point on TiVo suddenly caring about backups might be the recent hacking work done to get the 4.0 OS on series 2 DirecTiVos. Thanks to these freely available backups, people could grab the 4.0 OS from a standalone TiVo, and restore it on a DirecTiVo system. People have also been trading hacked backups of series 2 DirecTiVo OSes with the USB ports and networking added. This is my best guess, but I'm betting DirecTV raised a stink about it and forced TiVo to do something about these previously innocuous backups. [thanks Mary and Andy]
I've been having a hard time find good articles that Matt hasn't already found and posted but I think this one is worth your time. CNet has an article on hacking gaming consoles so that they can act like a DVR. It also touches upon Sony's PSX game console/DVR/DVD-RW platform.
Phil seldom bothers with his entertainment center anymore when he wants to watch a movie or enjoy part of his digital music collection. Instead, the Utah-based software engineer switches on his Microsoft game machine and fires up the Xbox Media Center, an unauthorized piece of software that he helped write and that allows a modified console to play most popular digital movie and audio formats.
"It's a convenience thing," said Phil, whose hacking hobbies discourage him from divulging his full name. "All of my movies are organized into categories, and it's very easy to navigate through the menus to find exactly what I want to watch. I have a PC in the basement of my house which stores all of my music and movies, and the Xbox makes it extremely convenient to use them."
Next year will offer us so many more choices for products and services, it will be be increasingly hard for consumers to decide what to purchase. A gaming console with DVR functionality? A DVR with DVD writing? A computer with a TV card and media controlling software? We will be inundated with options and hopefully we can share our experiences here to separate the wheat from the chaff.
UPDATE: Be sure to check out the video on the CNET article of the "law student" Steven (funny, eh ;) who shows us how he modded his Xbox.
Couple interesting articles found today: TV's rise of the machines is a story in response to a recent report that DVR adoption will soon skyrocket and harm existing advertising-based business models at most TV networks. It's not all doom and gloom, the networks can read the writing on the wall, but no one knows for sure what their next steps will be after the DVR revolution takes over. A good quote:
"Once half of all TV homes have a DVR, a TV station is really just a big stick in the ground, since the only revenue stream is advertising," says WB network co-chair Garth Ancier.
The other interesting article is from marketingprofs.com: How to Ignore Your Best Customers, the TiVo Way and talks about TiVo's inability to leverage their rabid fanbase in the way that other successful brands like Krispy Kreme have.
They come up with the following six steps to steer TiVo back on track, customer-wise (Create a Cause, Create Community, Customer Plus-Delta, Napsterize Your Knowledge, Create Bite-Size Chunks, and Build the Buzz).
Competing DVR products from a company like Comcast, easily accessible with service fees bundled onto a bill that already comes every month, could stunt TiVo's growth. However, right now it seems there's no need to panic; TiVo's got a whole lot of people evangelizing it, and the DirecTV deal provides a great deal of comfort. It still brings millions of potential subscribers to the table, who may very well all talk up the power of TiVo.
Perhaps its not time to sell those TiVo, Inc. stocks yet.