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Netflix, TiVo to Develop Internet Movie Product

It's official: Netflix, TiVo to Develop Internet Movie Product. I talked about this at length back when the Newsweek article came out, but in the past month or so of silence from both sides, I had a sinking feeling that maybe the rumors in Newsweek weren't true. It's great to hear word that this deal is really going to happen and make a lot of Netflix and TiVo customers happy.

Some have speculated that this deal would never happen, due in part to Netflix not having the rights to sell streaming movies, but a few weeks ago they scored a deal with Warner Brothers Studios for the rights. Hopefully the other studios will join them and let Netflix offer their full catalog to TiVo owners.

September 30, 2004 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

New sponsor: Beyond TV 3

I'm happy to announce that SnapStream's Beyond TV 3 is the newest sponsor for this site. I reviewed their software PVR product last summer, which I found to be a feature complete home theater PC package.

Their version 3.5 software is coming out in the next few weeks and offers a bunch of new features. They've added multiple tuner support (for as many as you add to your PC), a thin client network system to share files throughout your house, and a full API that exposes all the features letting you write custom apps to tie into Beyond TV.

September 30, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Guide to hacking your series 2 DirecTiVo

There are plenty of guides out there to upgrade any TiVo's hard drive space (I wrote here last year), but the more robust hacks like getting a web browser to control your TiVo and transferring recordings from your TiVo to your PC have historically been limited to older Series 1 devices.

On top of that, DirecTiVo owners have been largely left out in the cold when it comes to hacking, since newer devices are locked down by DirecTV. Series 2 DirecTiVos can do everything standalone series 2 TiVos can do -- DirecTV just doesn't let it happen. But last Fall someone figured out that the TiVo 4.0 OS could be loaded on a DirecTiVo with the home media options and ethernet networking enabled.

While cruising the depths of the other TiVo forum, I found a great guide to hacking the Series 2 DirecTiVo.

For the most part, these hacks are innocuous things that customers want, and don't take any revenue from DirecTV. Many folks (myself included) don't have a phone line anywhere near my DirecTiVo box, and would rather use a wireless network connection. Many folks (again, me too), would love to see the HMO music and photo streaming enabled on their devices. The other major feature enabled by these hacks is getting video off your TiVo, which is something many people want and should be coming soon to standalone TiVos, but again, DirecTV folks are left in the cold.

I haven't tried this hack out on my own DirecTiVo yet, but if I do, I'll certainly take photos and notes and post a full report afterwards.

September 29, 2004 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack

VOOM Demo Video

VOOM has been capturing headlines for so long at one point they were considered vaporware, but their nascent HDTV network offers 30-something channels of HD content and a host of other standard satellite channels.

But they've got some killer hardware coming out. Check out this VOOM Demo Video.

It'll center around a HD DVR with networking that will allow to view content from any monitor in the house. They do this with a thin client network box on each of your other TVs.

It's a great way to organize DVR content at home. Personally I've never had more than one TV in the house, but if I did, I would find the use of multiple TiVos within one house to be kind of silly. Instead, viewing your main DVR as more of a home server that all can access is the way to go.

The demo shows off how well their prototypes can do this. You can independently stream the same video to multiple locations in the house, all over IP. My only worry is how much network bandwidth this would require to stream HD content to multiple places using the same wired or wireless network. The other really cool feature they show off is the "move to another room" option. So if you're watching a movie in the living room, choose to move to the bedroom, you can turn that TV on and see the movie paused on the very last frame you looked at downstairs.

It's great to see this much innovation in a single new product, though I can't wait to see what the Hollywood industries have to say about this wicked cool technology. [thanks Greg]

September 24, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

PVRblog on MSNBC/CNBC

A few people emailed me earlier today to mention they saw this site mentioned on a financial show, talking about Google's adsense and blogs, and showing screenshots of the site on TV. If anyone happened to TiVo it (ha!), and can get a rip to me, I'll be forever in your debt.

September 23, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Washington Post on HDTV DVRs

I don't know why I missed this a few weeks ago when it first went up but the Washington Post tested out the current crop of HDTV recorders, including the Hughes HDTiVo, the Dish network's offering, and comcast's HD DVR box. The TiVo powered unit comes out on top as the easiest to operate but they mention the Dish Network's PiP features which sound pretty interesting.

They also point out that permanent archival isn't easy and just barely possible with a $800 D-VHS unit hooked via firewire to a Comcast HD DVR. It's great to hear a typical user ask for this very basic feature that I suspect will never make it into HDTV recorders. Hollywood and the TV networks are freaked at the prospects of perfect beyond-DVD quality recordings being saved by customers when they'd much rather resell you a show's series on DVD for $50 a couple years from now.

I suspect the war will continue between basic customer expectations of what they can do in their home, and what Hollywood studios will let the industry do. [thanks Thomas]

September 23, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

TiVo Desktop 1.1 out

I ran across a news item on DesignTechnica annoucing the TiVo 1.1 Desktop software for the PC, but the TiVo.com download site says the update came out last month.

Nevertheless, if you've got a standalone Series 2 TiVo with a network adapter attached, you can download these packages and stream music and photos to your TiVo for free, since TiVo stopped charging for the Home Media Option months ago.

September 17, 2004 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

ATI Theater 550: PVR-on-a-chip

Om Malik points us to news that ATI has launched a new chip that is specifically designed for synchronized audio and video decoding, in other words a PVR-on-a-chip.

The 550 Pro provides audio and video decoding on the same silicon - a first for the Theater family - which ensures audio and video remain in full synchronisation. The 12-bit video decoder features 3D Comb Filtering for NTSC and PAL, and five-line 2D Comb Filtering.
...
The chip was designed to operated on both PCI and PCI Express add-in cards, but ATI is also pushing the product's scope for integration directly onto a PC's motherboard. In the notebook market, in particular, Acer, Compal, Quanta and Wistron have committed themselves to building the 550 Pro into upcoming laptops.
If NVidia doesn't have a similar product in the pipeline, I'd be surprised. I look forward to more competition in this space. Getting one of these chips into a big laptop will be interesting.

Between Tivo/PVR functionality (now integrated into one chip), P2P file sharing platforms, Hi-Def. TV, BitTorrent, broadband Internet, falling HDD costs, rising CPU power, we're seeing a confluence where entertainment should continue to be interesting and challenging for both the content providers as well as us the customers. Any thoughts on this confluence would be appreciated.

Om Malik on Broadband: PVR on a chip
also
ATI Theater 550 PRO [ati.com]

September 14, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Windows Media Center 2005 to support high def TV

Great news: Windows Media Center 2005 to support high def TV. Seems obvious at this point, but good to hear official word on it.

I'm curious how the HD TiVo vs a new media center box would stack up, as Thomas' review highlighted the lack of high def support for media center. In terms of upgradability, I bet a windows media center box would be much easier to dump an extra 250Gb drive into. We'll have to wait until these are released and in the wild before knowing if Microsoft finally has a hit on their hands.

September 14, 2004 in Windows Media Center XP | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Dedicated Devices

Reuters has a piece that focuses on the "hotbed of entrepreneurship" that is Boise, Idaho by profiling Dedicated Devices, a startup that is moving into the home server market. ComputerWire notes that Dedicated Devices has raised $2.5m of A1 funding, "led by Highway 12 Ventures and UV Partners, along with angel investors, and private investor Oaas-Laney."

Dedicated Devices' Moeser, who moved to the Boise area from Austin, Texas, made his name as chief technology officer of Micron Electronics, a spin-off of Micron Technologies. The maker of computer memory chips set up operations in Boise in 1978 and has become one of Idaho's great success stories.

Moeser's latest concept, which will be unveiled publicly later this month, involves installing a massive hard-drive brain at the point where cable, Internet and other wiring join in new homes. From there, the 120-gigabyte device would serve up music, film, television shows and family photos to any room in the house and also oversee the home alarm system.

Dedicated Devices says the device will be easier to use and far more robust than computers. The company would not name an exact price, but said it would range in the thousands of dollars, making it more expensive than most computers.

"A massive 120-gigabye brain"? 120GB seems small to me these days if I want to have movies, TV shows, as well as music and personal photos. Am I being unreasonable? Also, would you want to control your home alarm system via your PVR? Not me, thanks.


Land of Potatoes Aims to Be High-Tech Hotbed
[reuters]

September 13, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack