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Consuming RSS on your Tivo

Andrew Grumet's got a screenshot of his TiVo displaying RSS feeds on his TV, using a hack for TiVo Control Station. Without the capability to grab the item description and read it, I don't know how useful it is, but it's an interesting hack and probably a direction that a someday super TiVo digital home media hub might go.

In TiVo Hacks, a similar hack lets you check an email account and display subject lines and from addresses. That would seem more useful than RSS (especially if you got new mail saying "From:Boss Subject:Get back to work!"), but both pieces of software wouldn't do much besides remind you when to turn off the TiVo and get back to work on your PC.

January 31, 2004 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

USA Today publishing TiVo data

usatoday.gif This is interesting and something worth watching: USA Today announced they will publish TiVo data in their Life section showing monthly data for Most Watched and Most Recorded. I bet they'll also add most paused moments (like last year's super bowl and oscars) as well.

They'll treat the whole thing like the Nielsen ratings when they show the top ten shows from 20,000 selected households using a TiVo, so privacy problems should be minimal. USA Today will carry the data right alongside the Nielsen ratings and top box office totals, but it's nice to see this data being considered as legitimate as the more established methods of viewership measurement. [thanks Rino!]

The first chunk of data on the USA Today site is last week's top 10 recorded shows, shown right alongside Nielsen's new enhanced demographics data:
24.0% American Idol (Mon)
23.7 American Idol (Tue)
21.1 American Idol (Wed)
19.5 The Apprentice
16.4 Obnoxious Wedding
15.4 Will & Grace
12.1 Scrubs
12.0 Friends
11.9 Alias
11.1 The OC

January 29, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Netflix profile

netflix.gif There's a great story about Netflix over at The Register that describes their successful entry into the video rental market (only 2% nationwide), but notes they're doing better in San Francisco:

while its original market in the San Francisco Bay area is now running at 5.9 per cent. It reasons that it can reach this penetration, perhaps more, across the US and it is this calculation that initially led it to say at this week’s unveiling of its fourth quarter figures, that it will make the $1 billion mark early.

Pretty impressive that 1 in 17 rentals in SF is coming through the mail. This article goes into great detail about how they're moving towards delivering movies over broadband with the mention that they're currently mailing out "5 million Gb of data" each day via DVD mailers.

Since their current model relies on the scarcity of actual product, it'll be interesting to see how they move the business online to copies of movies that don't have to be returned. It'll also be interesting to see how they work out deals with studios to deliver movies. Right now they simply buy millions of DVDs. I assume Hollywood will be wanting a percentage of any and all online video sales when they move away from physical DVDs

January 28, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Weaknees kit review

The San Jose Merc does a review of the Tivo upgrade kit from Weaknees.

If you can follow step-by-step directions, written in simple English -- with pictures, no less -- you can upgrade from about 40 hours to as many as 320 hours of storage in less than a couple of hours. The instructions even include information on how to fix a rebooting glitch on a handful of DirecTV units -- just in case.
[later in the same article]
Shapiro said the company has already upgraded more than 100,000 TiVo units -- about 10 percent of the total TiVo boxes out there. Last year, sales were more than 400 percent over the year before, they said.

If any PVRblog readers have tried the Weaknees kit, feel free to leave a quick comment to let us know how easy it was to install. From the numbers that are quoted, it's clear that many Tivo owners want a LOT more storage than is installed from the factory.

Mercury News: Add-on kit boosts TiVo storage [mercurynews.com]

January 26, 2004 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

TiVo Buys Super Secret Strangeberry

strangeberry.gif Slashdot has a story about how TiVo has purchased a company called Strangeberry. There isn't anything on their website aside from news of the acquisition but they're reportedly in the broadband services business.

This may be a shot of one of their products, and if it is I would trust the description to be true as well. I've heard of a few Silicon Valley startups that were producing home broadband boxes that did everything from act as a firewall and wirless router, to home filesharing and IM, to callerID/tv/movie/weather updates on your TV, all in one simple box running a linux port. It would seem like a great move for TiVo to pick something up like that and bake it into their boxes, making TiVo customers less likely to jump ship for a free PVR from a cable company.

January 26, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Doubts about HD TiVo

GearBits has a good breakdown of why there are doubts about the standalone HD TiVo seeing the light of day.

It echos a lot of things said here by many commenters -- that the nature of cable HD is too difficult to create decoders and recorders for, and the number of people using over-the-air HD is very small, marketingwise. This is all based on guessing how the market is going but given that TiVo has pushed back plans for the non-DirecTV unit to some future date, if you've got HD content coming in from cable or the air, it might be worth checking out the competition for DVRs. [via gizmodo]

January 26, 2004 in Op-Ed | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

DishPlayer DVR 921

Mike Langberg of The Seattle Times tests out the HDTV compatible DVR from Dish Network. It's expensive but has all of the features that DVR-lovers have come to expect, and aside from a few small configuration quibbles, Langberg was enamored of it.

This 18-pound silver box, introduced in late December, is a satellite receiver for HD and standard channels from Dish Network; a tuner for receiving and recording local over-the-air HD broadcasts received through a roof antenna; and a DVR with a gigantic 250-gigabyte hard drive. That hard drive holds 25 hours of HD programming or a staggering 180 hours of regular TV.

There's just one big obstacle between me and digital nirvana: The 921 costs an eye-popping $999. While that would stretch my budget, it's a drop in the bucket for home-theater enthusiasts who've spent perhaps $6,000 for a big plasma TV and $3,000 for a neighborhood-shaking surround-sound system. Indeed, Dish Network says demand is so high that customers might have to wait several weeks to get a 921 delivered.

If anyone has experience with HDTV PVRs, we'd love to hear what is good/bad about them. I personally think that 250GB is way too little storage capacity. I'd like to see 1TB and a DVD-burner attached so you can record your favorite shows to DVD.
The Seattle Times: High-definition DVR is a high-quality product

January 25, 2004 in Product Reviews | Permalink | Comments (45) | TrackBack

TiVo Canada How-To

canda.gif For one reason or another, TiVo has never been available in Canada, which all my friends north of the border remind me of whenever the subject comes up (they're still fighting for it though).

There are ways of getting TiVo in Canada, some involve smuggling boxes over the border, some say the DirecTiVos work up yonder, but the most comprehensive guide to getting a standalone TiVo working in the great white north is the how-to at TiVo Canada.

This is probably the most intense and illegal hacking how-to I've seen for TiVo. It essentially is a way to bypass the TiVo service entirely (a long-standing community no-no subject), by pulling in XML listings of canadian networks from the internet and using a heavily hacked version of TiVo to use it as the programming guide. It's so complete they even have their own logo graphics you can download and add to the TiVo system and built a web-based TiVo service emulator that your TiVo will connect to instead of the real TiVo servers. The group operates from this site, offers files only from a password-protected CVS repository, and this 1700+ member Yahoo group.

Hopefully TiVo will see this group's efforts as enough demand to warrant releasing the service up there.

January 23, 2004 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

BW on television woes

Business Week has a long piece on trends in the TV industry. In the face of falling numbers of younger viewers who are migrating to DVD movies, video games, cable TV and the Internet, creative TV executives are copying their competitors (Extreme Home Makeover is a copy of Trading Spaces, which is a copy of a British show.) They also touch upon DVRs:

In the next few years, an even bigger distraction is coming in the guise of the digital video recorder (DVR) -- the time-shifting, ad-zapping machine that will allow folks to retrieve programs from last night, last month, or just about anywhere in the TV universe. Satellite and cable companies, in a fierce battle to win subscribers, will soon be all but giving DVRs away.

We seem to be continually hearing about the challenges the incumbent media have in the face of new trends, new technologies, etc. but changing the actions of millions of people does take time, and in that time, the incumbents can regroup, create new strategies, and attempt to win back their customer base. Somehow I doubt the halcyon days (pre-cable) will ever return.
BW Online | January 21, 2004 | Trouble in TV Land

January 21, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Windows Media Center Beta

Microsoft has sent out emails to prospective testers of the next version of Windows Media Center XP. Neowin has a copy of the email text with a link to the beta site.

You sign into the site and are given a survey. It's about 40 questions about how you rate yourself as a computer user, how much tv, video, photos, and music you consume on PCs, and what kind of gear you have at home. Like any beta test, you never know who they are looking to help test, though it's usually to match some future market segment.

They say the test includes a PC, but doesn't mention if the new Media Center Extended hardware will be included, but it'd be silly to test just the OS and standard hardware without the new Extended features.

January 21, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack