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Interview with TiVo legal head, and HBO clips your wings

The new WIRED magazine has a short interview with TiVo's head of legal, Matthew Zinn about their recent change to remove features from TiVo. Zinn claims it was a one-time deal to allow TiVos to auto-delete Pay Per View and Video On Demand movies, but the interviewer points out that it might just be a trojan horse of more things to come.

It sounds like TiVoToGo is the reason for the change, as content providers didn't want people to be able to transfer their shows to a PC that could burn them to DVD. I would have rather seen those high priced bits of content blocked from TTG functionality, than to see things get an auto-delete setting. If I buy Shrek 2 for four bucks via PPV tonight, and I keep it around on my TiVo, how likely am I to buy it all over again in a month or two if TiVo erases it automatically? If there's no way to remove Shrek 2 from my TiVo, why does it have to delete itself?

I'm siding with WIRED over Zinn on the issue of this being the first of many such "features" added to satisfy the content industries, as HBO has announced they'll be locking down all their content to make sure no one can make copies of their shows to watch on other devices.

Hopefully this HBO news isn't the first of many such annoucements, but I'm almost certain it will be.

October 27, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (38) | TrackBack

TiVo & NFL Agree on Content

Looks like the NFL has dropped it's beef with TiVo over TiVoToGo. The NFL's main concern was TiVo users being able to copy/rebroadcast or MarketShift NFL games recorded by TiVo while a game was being broadcast. Looks like TiVo proved to the NFL that the current technology in TiVoToGo will not allow that. It is designed for the consumer copy the protected content after the game airs.
-- William Higgins

October 27, 2004 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

G4 Tech TV Reviews Three New HDTV DVRs

G4techTV does a review of three of the new HDTV recorders. Noticeably absent is Microsoft's Media Center 2005. The Hughes HD 10-250 gets the highest marks and is the 'G4tech TV Lab Pick.'
-- Kevin Reynen

October 24, 2004 in Product Reviews | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

HDTiVo owners having upgrade problems

Andy Pennell is having trouble with a recent upgrade to his HDTV recording DirecTiVo box. Ever since the 3.1.5.d OS upgrade came out, HDTiVo owners are reporting locked up remotes, bad playback, and satellite connection problems.

There are at least a couple threads at the TiVo community about it, and everyone seems to be having the same problems.

I'm a little bit surprised DirecTV doesn't do more testing before deployment. They only support maybe a dozen different models of TiVo configuration, and it seems that having a bank of test boxes with maybe four of each model recording and playing back TV would be enough to catch most of these problems before the code gets deployed to customers. [thanks Andy!]

October 21, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Engadget Interviews Mike Ramsay, CEO of TiVo

Engadget has a terrific interview with the CEO of TiVo and he's refreshingly open about a lot of projects they're working on, and frank about the problems they've faced with the FCC and Hollywood. Sounds like they're going full steam ahead on TiVoToGo, Netflix downloads, and Internet video downloads.

Ramsay refers to a internet-connected TiVo with all these future features as a "set-top box" which is accurate, though I never really thought about it before. While everyone's been chasing after a pie-in-the-sky VOD and set-top box future, TiVo's been chugging all along and could easily slide into a leadership position by offering all the features others have been dreaming of for years.

October 18, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Issues with the new TiVo DVD-Rs (with update)

Just got this as a suggested post from Kevin Reynen:

TiVo need to put in GIANT RED LETTERS a disclaimer regarding using DVD-R TiVos and Home Media feature:

DISCLAIMER: While you can view content recorded on a standard Series2 TiVo on a TiVo with DVD burning functionality using the TiVo Home Media function, you CANNOT burn this content to a DVD.

I imagine that there are other people are going to purchase a DVDR enabled TiVo assuming that this would work. It doesn't and neither TiVo, Humax, or Pioneer have been very upfront about this. You can read more about my issues with this on my blog. -- Kevin

Pretty surprising that TiVo would bake DRM into their new DVD recorders like this. Even though you can freely record shows from your DVD-R that has TiVo, you can't record any shows transfered from another new TiVo in your house. Doesn't that seem odd? What if you wanted to backup your favorites from your old TiVo to your brand new DVD recording TiVo? Isn't that a perfectly legal and expected use for customers?

I have to concur wholeheartedly with Kevin here, I see no reason why TiVo tries to protect recordings from other TiVos in your very own house. That's like having two VCRs in your house that can't play tapes on each other. It's another stupid example of "attack of Digital Rights Management for your own good."

UPDATE: Megazone rightfully explains that this isn't due to DRM or studio issues, but is hardware related.

October 16, 2004 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

A bit of bad TiVoToGo news

My friend Lia attended the digital lifestyle show in NYC this week and I asked her to hit the TiVo booth to get some info.

She got to play with the Humax DVD burner with TiVo that they're selling for $399. Here's what the interface looks like when you select shows to burn. Apparently the play menu looks just like a TiVo screen as well.

But the big question on my mind (and the one I egged Lia into asking) was about TiVoToGo. While they didn't share an exact launch date, a TiVo rep did say definitively that when it gets released soon, it will not have support for sending shows to a mac. I figured as much when I posted the other day, due to them using Windows Media Player's DRM, which to my knowledge only works in windows. The TiVo rep added that support for the mac should come soon, but they'll need Apple's cooperation to build it, but it'd take a while.

Thanks again Lia for getting the info!

October 15, 2004 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Can TiVo keep the sports dollars flowing?

CNN Money has an article about sports being "TiVo-proof", since folks are much more likely to watch it live, so networks can charge more money for advertisers.

That's all well and good, but the premise of the article is brain-dead to me. Networks still see DVR owners as "stealing" their broadcasts if they watch them as recordings, so watching live TV is more profitable to them. But that ignores the possibility that live sports are one of the best reasons to own a TiVo, and I wonder how sports fans live without them. While it's true I'll watch sports nearly live (sometimes I wait 30min for TiVo to record so I can skip the commercials and breaks), it also means I get to pick when I want to do an instant replay. I get to pause video to have arguments with friends whether a foot was in bounds or not, and I can watch a great touchdown pass as many times as I want. While I may skip a few commercials, I'll often watch good ones more than once, since the best commercials often come out during sporting events.

The other major obvious point that networks aren't getting is that a sports-loving DVR owner will watch more sports, not less. That means they're likely to even pay for it, as I'm sure DirecTV has found with their NFL Ticket. Perhaps networks need to dig deep and come up with better ideas than simple advertising, and stop thinking of ways to "TiVo-proof" their broadcasts.

October 15, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Copyfight: Senator McCain shows spine on IP; defends controlling your own TV/DVR

Good news over on Corante's Copyfight blog: Senator McCain shows spine on IP; defends controlling your own TV/DVR.

There have been a steady stream of bills coming out of Hollywood lately, aimed at stopping copyright violations by any means necessary. Few have met with any opposition (aside from the INDUCE act), but it's great to see a senator realize the obvious problems these overreaching bills often have.

October 14, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gizmodo: A few more TiVoToGo Details

Everyone's dying to know when TiVoToGo is coming out, and the folks at Gizmodo also got to corner a TiVo rep and got a few answers.

The gist is that it'll be released sometime after November 1st, and you'll be able to transfer shows and burn DVDs, but with some DRM attached. Hopefully you'll get unencumbered DVDs that work on all players and hopefully it'll work on macs as well, but heavy windows media player DRM makes me think it'll be windows-only.

October 14, 2004 in News | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack