Cnet has a great straightforward tutorial complete with short videos: How to watch free HDTV with an outdoor antenna - CNET Weekend Project. They walk you through finding the right antenna, installing it, and optimizing it for your HDTV.
Of course, it's filmed in Manhattan, where it's pretty easy to find multiple over-the-air HDTV channels. I suspect people in most parts of the country would have a tougher time throwing one up and getting more than a handful to come in clearly.
TivoTool is a pretty cool new app for managing your TiVo video on the network through a nice OS X GUI application. There aren't a lot of TiVo tools for macs so this is a nice new development.
It's not for the faint of heart -- it does require some fairly sophisticated hacks to be running on your TiVo in order to download and stream video unencrypted, but if you've gone that far with your TiVo, this app gives you a nice TiVoToGo-like interface on a mac (there is also a command-line version that works with both mac and linux).
Check out the screenshots of it in action. The integration with iTunes is very impressive stuff and being able to transcode video or send it to iMovie is an added plus. Hopefully when TiVo releases an official TTG mac client, their app approaches the usefulness of this package, allowing users to save and view video directly in iTunes (and transfer video to future video ipods).
Forbes is running a story on the DirecTV move away from TiVo, which has coincided with TiVo's stock taking a recent hit.
"The research firm said DirecTV could begin to transition its TiVo base to new technology, starting with shipments of the first non-TiVo digital video recorders in August or September."
This news is a long time coming, starting in fall of 2003 when speculation began, and last summer it became official. Reports are that new HDTV capabilities would arrive for DirecTV in late summer of this year, but in a flavor of MPEG4 that current HD DirecTiVos can't record.
Financially speaking, DirecTV's million+ customers make up a decent chunk of TiVo's total userbase and when TiVo starts losing all those customers to new non-TiVo DirecTV units, it may effect their bottom line. TiVo's stock may take a dip, but if the partnership between Comcast and TiVo results in either better integrated TiVos or the TiVo software running on Comcast set-top boxes, it could certainly replace any lost revenue from DirecTV. [thanks, Dave!]
Designer Mike Davidson is having major Tivo withdrawals after moving from a DirecTiVo combo unit to a Comcast HD DVR. Mike offers up a comparison, but the most telling quote is this one:
I’ve begun watching less TV simply because I hate interacting with it so much.
I know others that call the Comcast HD DVR "the worst interface on earth." Like I said a couple days ago, I hope CableCARD support becomes widespread so that customers that want HDTV without an ugly dish can still use Comcast, but not be tied to a set-top box they don't like to use.
SnapStream have announced their next major rev will include support for HDTV recording and playback. This is pretty significant, as HDTV support in software PVR applications is still fairly new, with MythTV's HD playback in early stages. It sounds like Beyond TV will support at least four different HD tuner cards as well.
By all reports, Microsoft's Windows Media Center is holding off on support for (update: CableCARD, not OTA, which it already has) HDTV recording/playback until Longhorn is released next year,
so for those running windows-based home theater PCs, BeyondTV may be the only choice for quite a while. so hopefully software PVR applications are soon to follow.
Netflix near launch of movie downloads, according to SiliconValley.com. Sounds like the website glitch was real, and sources are confirming that the movie downloads will require a Netflix-provided set-top box:
One industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the new Netflix service would be similar to fledgling, studio-supported ventures like MovieLink and CinemaNow. Those services allow people to rent copy-protected movies and television shows over the Internet and watch them on their computers.
I've recently started up a Netflix account after leaving it dormant for 3 years. I can't wait to see what this service is like and will try my hardest to get a test unit for review.
Sony has released two HD Digital Video Recorders which were announced last fall but this is the first time I've seen them for sale in the US. They look like a couple respectable units, sporting a 500Gb hard drive (at least 60hrs of HD content) for $999 or a 250Gb drive (at least 30hrs) for $799. They feature CableCARD slots so hopefully you could use them with a HDTV feed from someone like Comcast. There's a nice guide to HD recorders on Sony's site as well, hopefully they add a cable system support chart soon.
Personally, I'm counting the days until TiVo releases their standalone HD TiVo with CableCARD support, so that I can get some decent HD broadcasts with a nice easy to use UI.
Cnet has an interesting bit on their blog: Skipping TV ads illegal in Japan.
We've heard a lot of crazy stuff from the mouth of broadcasters terrified that empowered customers might actually disrupt their business model, but the news from Japan goes even further, saying that reportedly ad skipping "may be a violation of Japan's copyright law." That's a pretty incredible claim, and the Yahoo Asia news piece referenced is gone, so hopefully it's an error, or a hoax, because I'd hate to see broadcasters use copyright law as a weapon against people just wanting to enjoy their television programming.
Washington Post is running an article about a TiVo upgrade that allows instant response to ads. Sounds like it will be the feature to send your contact information to companies running ads you're interested in. This is useful for people that view the long commercials in the showcase area about say, a car, and want to know more (and get a brochure sent to their house).
One concerning aspect of this update is thrown in at the very end though:
In addition, ads embedded with special "tags" will pop up as small pictures, sporting branded logos, even when users are fast-forwarding though commercials. The upgraded system will be launched with campaigns from General Motors Corp. and Time Warner Inc.'s WB Television Network.
Sounds like the pop up adverts while fast forwarding is also in this update, though TiVo's PR is spinning it as a small side feature of this larger contact information opt-in. It will be interesting to see how well the final implementation looks and acts, and if it will be anything like the early betas.
This Mediaweek article covering a survery of DVR users by Lifetime caught my eye.
In a national survey of 1,000 DVR users divided equally by sex, 48 percent of married women say the decision to purchase a DVR was their own, while 55 percent of the wives claim they understood how to interface with their unit's myriad features better than their husbands.
The study, which was commissioned by Lifetime, offered "dramatic and counterintuitive results," said Tim Brooks, the network's senior vp of research. Of key interest to advertisers is the discovery that women are more likely to stop fast forwarding through commercials if a brand or product captures their attention.
While 99 percent of women say they use their DVRs to zap through commercial spots, 76 percent reported that they stopped for ads that are entertaining or relevant to their own interests. Women are also more likely to pause for TV and movie promos.
It is interesting to think how men & women use technologies differently, and how we may have mistaken assumptions regarding our usage of technology.