One enduring complaint about PVRs is that networks sometimes schedule a show just over the half hour mark, for instance ending at 8:31 or starting at 9:29. It's either an effort to transfer viewers to another show or a conspiracy to punish PVR users for skipping commercials.
Either way, it looks like TiVo's doing something about it. A knowledge base article describes a new feature called "Overlap Protection" that, when enabled, will keep a show ending at 8:31 from preventing an 8:30 recording. When an overlap occurs, the TiVo will give preference to the show with a higher priority in the Season Pass manager.
This feature is reportedly part of the 7.2.1 software currently being distributed to Series 2 TiVos.
Over on the TiVo fan page, it looks like they've announced the offical TiVo Blog. As part of their Ambassador contest, one of the prizes was to write on a new blog and it looks like they've launched it ahead of the contest closing.
I'm glad to see it and welcome their voice online. TiVo's had a few rocky moments in the past year or two, and often I could point to a lack of communication as the main problem. A TiVo customer notices something strange, posts about it online, and eventually other users gather and share complaints -- but those complaints are usually met with silence from TiVo HQ or you might hear a soundbite from a news story. With a new official company blog, I think TiVo could do a lot of good for the company by having an open and honest communication channel with customers -- many potential problems could have been nipped in the bud with a few carefully worded statements at the right time. Of course, aside from any PR problems, I'm looking forward to hearing about new products, tips and tricks directly from the horse's mouth.
So welcome TiVo to the fold!
This morning on Engadget, they carried news that Netflix “indefinitely postponed” their online movie download service due to licensing rights that just about everyone pointed out was going to be an issue (when the rumors started a year ago, that was my first thought). After hearing the news today I wondered "what about the TiVo/Netflix deal?" and Dave got the scoop from Netflix's conference call about it: the TiVo/Netflix deal sounds quite dead.
It's a shame we won't be seeing this, because we have the technology right now to let people watch movies over the internet, streamed down to their TVs instead of having to waste time, energy, and effort mailing out a bunch of plastic discs. But once again, the best interests of copyright holders doesn't mesh with the best interests of their customers. I knew getting studios to agree to movie streaming was a longshot, but I'm surprised they helped kill the project before it ever got a chance to debut. Who knows how popular it could have been and how much revenue Netflix, TiVo, and the movie studios could have made from it.
Via DaveZatz, it looks like TiVo has released apps.tv for the TiVo Home Media Engine. The cool thing about apps.tv is that you connect over the internet to their server to get apps and you don't need to run the HME software on your local network. Instead, the service offers a subscription manager, making it a lot easier to try out new applications for your TiVo.
ADM over at thousandrobots.com got to have a lengthy conversation with some TiVo employees at the Digital Life convention last week. Lots of news and questions get answered. It looks like mac support is on the way for Tivo ToGo and HD TiVos are around the corner. Here's an excerpt of what they sent in:
Basically he told me support for TivoToGo on the Mac is coming probably in Q1 of 2006. He told me why it doesn't work now. I told him that Tivo Desktop works on Mac OS X 10.4.2 without modification, contrary to what their website says. He said he'd update the website. We also talked about cable card support (forthcoming) and the DRM/Macrovision flag thing that caused the big outcry.
Big news from Apple today was introducing to things that should interest you. One is the remote control software called Front Row that is shipping with new iMacs. The other is that you can finally buy TV shows on iTunes for $1.99 an episode.
The new iMac + Front Row package looks pretty similar to the first versions of Microsoft's Media Center XP. You have simple access to your music, photos, videos, and DVD player, all from a small iPod-like remote. It doesn't look like they're concentrating on sending the video to another room or to a larger screen, but if you live in a small apartment or dorm room and don't need to send video out to a larger screen, backing away from your iMac and using the remote could be a pretty good solution for an entertainment PC.
The other big milestone is that iTunes now offers TV Show downloads. This is really big, almost as big as the launch of the iTunes Music Store in the first place. Before the iTunes Music Store came out, record company execs could often be heard decrying the state of music piracy through downloading and my take on it for the past few years has always been if you could sell songs cheap enough in an easy to get to place, you could fairly easily move music fans away from pirate channels. Apple has sold millions of songs now and shown that it is possible to convert downloaders to customers if you give them a chance to pay.
TV and Movies are in the same spot music was four years ago. If you missed a show last week your only legitimate means to see it are waiting months for a repeat or a year to buy the show DVD if they release one. But you can often find shows available for download online. Given that iTunes is selling them for $2, the low price quickly outweighs the work of finding a show and waiting for a bittorrent download (not to mention any legal risks in doing so).
Here's to hoping that ABC is the first of many networks to sign on and that movies are next. Also, it would be great if Apple could eventually send HD quality video that could be streamed to a home theater system. One things for sure -- the first steps have been taken and they're the hardest -- Apple is the first to offer paid TV show downloads and they've got a new media center package for sale. I can't wait to see what Apple has in store a couple years from now.
update: Thomas Hawk has a post about this subject as well.
I4U has a quick Verizon FiOS TV Review from someone in the first town to get it. What's really interesting is that while Verizon is laying down fiber to many major cities and competing with Cable and DSL companies for internet service (Verizon offers 5, 15, and even 30Mbps connections), fiber has plenty of bandwidth left over for sending data like HDTV. While this review is brief and light on details, it looks like Verizon is using a similar Motorola DVR box as Comcast does for HD.
It will be interesting to see what Cable, DSL, and Satellite companies do once Verizon has fiber going to everyone's homes. Verizon just may be poised to take over a huge chunk of the market. I for one can't wait until I get a screaming fast 15Mbps connection at home at a lower price than my 4Mbps cable modem.
Today's New York Times carries and article about DirecTV Promoting Its Own Box and how they're spending $30 million to lure anyone using a combo DirecTV TiVo unit to the new NDS box. The article reveals that as part of the TiVo/DirecTV licensing deal, DirecTV pays just over $1 per month per subscriber. Given that the number of DirecTiVo units is well over a million (or two at last count), that's a decent amount of revenue.
Still, spending $30mil on advertising to lure folks away from the units seems a bit much, especially when DirecTV could easily up the monthly DVR charge from 4.95 to 5.95 and not have to worry about lost revenue.
This is good news: TiVo is beginning to test hosted Home Media Engine (HME) applications on the server side. So this would mean that soon all TiVos running the latest software would have some new applications available, and you might not need to run the HME software on a local networked PC.
The mac mini is pretty light on horsepower, so the use of the external video decoder and encoder keeps those processor intensive tasks off the mini. EyeTV fills in as the UI and the result is something you can easily fit in a media cabinet near a TV, and costs a bit over $700, which is pretty comparable to low end Windows Media Center PCs. [via gizmodo]