Web browser maker Opera has announced they're working on the capability to record TV from your mobile phone, via their phone browser and simple internet standards. They don't mention any compatible units and any PVRs that would work would require an always-on internet connection. This basically sounds like they're announcing support for WAP or simple HTML front-ends to PVRs that can be controlled via the web.
Snapstream's BeyondTV already does this with any WAP enabled cell phone and I know TiVo has announced upcoming support for phones to remotely program your TiVo through TiVo Central. [thanks JG at mobiletracker for passing this along]
A new study by the cable industry group Horowitz Associates has found that surveys of cable and satellite subscribers show over 95% have heard of TiVo and PVR technology. They don't go into the details of how they conducted the research but mention last year they only got around 32% recognition among the same folks.
Maybe all that TiVo evangelizing is finally getting them somewhere.
An Australian company has started selling pre-built MythTV boxes that look to be based on a shuttle PC chassis. The full set of features are here and a linux hacker has already figured out a couple missing features and a handful of security holes.
The major downside to this is the price. At current exchange rates, they're asking about $1350 for the PC loaded with MythTV. Another potential downside is using a pre-packaged version of MythTV. As MythTV continues to be updated, will owners of this device need to wait for official updates from the company? [via BoingBoing]
I have a friend that got a ReplayTV back in 2000 when I got my first TiVo and he's always insisted he got the better machine. Older Replay units (specifically the 4xxx and 5xxx series) are almost infinitely hackable, and a software package like DVArchive has a mindblowing list of features:
# See what shows your ReplayTV(s) have recorded right from your computer
# Automatically finds your ReplayTVs
# Download shows from your ReplayTV to your computer to watch, archive, burn to DVD/VCD, etc
# Automatic support for Replay 4xxx and 5xxx Series units
# Turn your computer into a virtually unlimited capacity ReplayTV show archive
# Schedule automatic downloads of shows from your ReplayTV to your computer
# Schedule automatic purging/deleting of shows you don't like but which your ReplayTV keeps recording
# Watch previously downloaded shows OR watch shows directly from your ReplayTV without having to download them first
# Control your ReplayTV remotely (turn it on, off, delete shows, etc)
# Manage your ReplayTVs photos
# Control your ReplayTV from your computer
# View and Search TV Listings
# Schedule new recordings on your ReplayTV (ReplayTV 5xxx series only)
# View lists up the upcoming recordings (and conflicts) for your ReplayTVs
# Access these listings, schedule recordings, schedule downloads, etc via a web browser from anywhere in the world
# Has a clean interface that allows you to see and use all your ReplayTVs from one place
The only TiVos I know that are capable of this entire featureset are what I would dub "ultrahacked" and are owned by electrical engineers and veteran software developers. But with ReplayTV and DVArchive, this kind of uber-functionality is as easy as installing a simple to use Windows program.
They've just released the 3.0 version, if you've got a ReplayTV and a home network run, don't walk, to get this package.
Just a run-of-the-mill press release from Apex. Note PVR functionality. Why was Apex the first to do this? Maybe they are not hampered by The Innovator's Dilemma.
The ApeXtreme is the first device of its kind. It functions as a full-featured, high-end home DVD player, a hard-disk-based Personal Video Recorder and a home game console designed to play any PC game -- all in one attractive device. The device moves PC versions of electronic games out of the computer room and into the TV room, giving gamers the ability to play their favorite "PC-only" games on a console machine, with a bigger game image -- on their standard TV.I wonder if customers of this device have to pay for the Windows OS as well? MSRP is $499?!?!
Introduced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the ApeXtreme was honored as the "Best of CES" in the "Home Audio & Video" category, as well as being a CES Innovations Design and Engineering Showcase Honoree.
While not directly PVR-related, this was a quick intro into the challenges of satellite tv in Italy. I'm not sure if there are any PVRs sold in Italy just yet, but if Sky Italia could launch a PVR, that might be a powerful differentiator (at least until Rai and MediaSet do the same.)
The Murdoch Empire Looks to Italian TV [nytimes.com]
CNet has a decent overview of the moves (Showcase and Video-to-Video) that Tivo is making to begin to serve more targeted ads to it's 1.3 million users.
Known as Video-to-Video, the idea is to let viewers click a button on their remote control to immediately watch a 3-minute video describing products and services that might appeal to them. The marketing clips are promoted through small icons that appear on the TV screen as viewers fast-forward past regular ads.The article goes on to talk about "telescoping" which is a new term to me. Does "telescoping" have anything to do with interactive television? I'm inherently skeptical because so much has been hoped for (remember TELE-TV?) and so little has materialized.
TiVo is helping to pioneer a futuristic vision of TV-watching that will let people access whatever information or video they want, whenever they want and for however long--without missing a beat. The long-term vision for TV advertising invokes a concept known as "telescoping," in which the lines between advertising and programming may blur beyond recognition.As long as Tivo is working on creating targeted ads, perhaps based on what you have recorded, I might stop to watch one. As it is right now, the vast majority of TV advertising means nothing to me and I would skip whatever I could when using a PVR.
For example, if a viewer is watching "The Apprentice" and likes the new BMW a young executive is driving, he could click on the car with the remote to get an informational video on the car and schedule a test drive with a dealer. He could then go back to watching the show at the exact point where he left off.
If we end up with a future such as is described, maybe we will wistfully long for the 20th century, and relatively well-defined lines between advertising and content.
Jason Kottke, is soliciting stories from readers that don't like TiVo. This could be the most valuable market research for TiVo and other PVR manufacturers ever, if they're paying attention. There are a lot of great user complaints so far.
Jim Louderback of PC Magazine believes that Tivo will die as a company due to: Moore's law, HDTV, and DirecTV. I agree that a $1000 HDTV Tivo box is a non-starter if the cable companies will do something for 1/100th the price. But Tivo's intellectual property and experience is more valuable than Louderback thinks it is. As 2004 plays out with more PVRs everywhere and HDTV slowly taking off, we'll see if Tivo will have a seat at the table or not.
Over the years I've observed that the more arrogant and less responsive a company gets, the more likely it's about to fail. Oddly, when the going gets tough, most companies don't do a gut check and rededicate themselves to service. Instead, they circle the wagons and go into a preventive defense—and search for someone to sue.
In the early years of TiVo, I'd get instant service. TiVo even gave me the name of a special ambassador—a strategy meant to ensure that the company got a fair hearing in the press, on the Web, and in other public forums. Today my inquiries go unanswered—or even worse, I never receive a promised response. Hold times on the help lines are interminable: It took me over half an hour last week to determine why the company had charged me $14.
This NY Times article on Tivo is fawning to the point of saccharine. There were a few interesting nuggets though, like the mother who commented that she was buying less junk food and less toys for her kids because they are skipping the commercials. That trend, writ large, is what the networks and advertisers are worried about.
Faced with a backlog of 100 hours of stored programming, Mr. Fisher, the TV development executive, and his wife skipped the movie theater last Christmas Day and waded through the recorded shows instead. "We didn't leave the room all day," Mr. Fisher said. "And we felt kind of sleazy afterwards."Yikes!
How Do I Love Thee, TiVo? [nytimes.com]