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Reuters on free TiVo boxes with higher monthly costs

This is weird, a Reuters article from today saying that TiVo may try out that free TiVo for $4/month extra deal they launched in November may be coming back.

But if you follow the link in the old November post, the offer still stands and I see a free TiVo in my cart ready for checkout. So if you wanted to give this a go, it looks like it never went away.

February 27, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Most TiVo'd Olympic Moments

TiVo released some data on the Top Ten Most TiVo'd Olympic Moments.

All but 3 are all figure skating related, but I have to admit as much as I avoid figure skating in general, I happened to catch the fall to the ice that made #1 and did end up replaying it a couple times. If I had a personal top olympic moments I rewound and replayed, the rest of my top 5 would be the four times Bode Miller messed up in his runs, as I went back to re-watch in disbelief as he made mistake after mistake. Oh well.

February 27, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

iSquint: killer OSX app for video iPods

I wanted to see what all the hype was about, so I broke down and upgraded my iPod to a new black 60Gb video model last week. I moved over the iTunes videos I'd bought but soon after looked around for programs to help move existing movie files onto the iPod.

Handbrake (and Handbrake lite) are well-known free OSX programs that will convert your DVDs into iPod video formats. There are many useful guides out there for using it.

Isquint From the Handbrake lite site, I quickly found iSquint, for converting video on your hard drive into iPod format. The application can convert virtually any video format and in all the things I've thrown at it, everything has worked great. It's pretty amazing actually -- no matter the bitrate of audio, the compression format of video, no matter the source of the video... everything ends up in a compatible format. So that means if you've got a few random bittorrent episodes of a TV show in all sorts of crazy formats, chances are it'll work just fine in iSquint.

After using it for a week or two, about the only thing I'd suggest is that the default quality settings sometimes degrade the audio and video slightly too much, but the fix is easy: I just up the quality one notch higher on the sliders. Conversion is fairly fast on my 2Ghz G5 iMac, with video recompression going about 2x real-time (it takes maybe a half hour to convert 1 hour of video). Whenever I want to use iSquint, I let it do its thing when I go to bed, so it's not really in my way or dragging down my typical activities.

If you have a mac and a video iPod and were wondering how best to convert existing movie files you have on your hard drive, iSquint is the easiest and most straightforward option I've found.

For PC Users: word on the street is Videora works pretty much the same as a great video converter.

February 27, 2006 in Product Reviews | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

TiVo Desktop for Mac v1.9.2

Though the old one worked on macs with a slight tweak, TiVo has released an official updated desktop client that is compatible with OS 10.4: TiVo Desktop for Mac v1.9.2 [Thanks, Warren]

February 15, 2006 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Lunching With TiVo's E. Stephen Mack

Thomas Hawk has a great post about lunching with Stephen Mack, Director of Service Operations at TiVo. In it, Thomas covers a bunch of lingering TiVo news. A few details are mentioned about the Series 3 TiVo (but no launch date), HME apps are discussed, and DirecTV's continued support of the HD DirecTiVo box are also mentioned.

It'll be interesting to see how TiVo will release a standalone CableCARD HD product (that may cost hundreds of dollars) while at the same time releasing TiVo software for the Motorola hardware Comcast offers customers for almost free. I'm guessing that the Motorola 6412 running TiVo will lack a great deal of features that require the full Series 3 box to take advantage of. I hope that TiVo can find a market for the Series 3 and also help existing Comcast customers, but I suspect it'll be a tightrope walk to please both sides.

That said, after living with a 6412 for the past few months I would pay any price to get rid of this unit and get back onto a real TiVo box.

February 14, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

NBC, the Olympics, and Intel's new Viiv platform

olympicsThe 2006 Winter Olympics start tomorrow, and while NBC is pushing out coverage to six channels at all hours of the day, it will be hard to keep up on all the action (update: here is a link to the full US TV coverage).

NBC is doing a couple things to help fans keep up. One is Video On Demand. My Comcast HD DVR finally got the "On Demand" service enabled this week, and I have to admit that after years of not finding VOD very interesting, having a bunch of free movies and sports programs ready to go is a nice addition. NBC has already loaded up the sports VOD section with Olympics previews -- but more importantly NBC is promising at least a 10 minute daily highlight reel and hours of extra coverage will also be available on demand, available on DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner, Comcast, and Charter systems.

NBC has also partnered with Intel, to show off Intel's new Home Media platform called Viiv, and they are offering downloadable video segments to customers with a Viiv setup. The technology is slated mostly for high-end home theater PCs (at around $2,000 and up), and the site is short on details (it looks like yet another whole home PC concept), but this BusinessWeek article describes it a sort of metadata-rich internet video suite, offering easy playback of specific video segments, web links, and additional info about shows. It sounds like simply a high-end HTPC specification, so perhaps anyone with Windows Media Center can also get the highlight clips.

It seems like NBC is starting to dip their toe into internet and on demand Olympics video, but it'd be nice if they'd take more ambitious steps and sell full coverage of specific events on say, the iTunes Music Store. I'd happily pay $1.99/each to see just the 3 or 4 events I'm interested in.

February 9, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

TiVo measures success of Super Bowl ads

Every year, TiVo releases a bit about their Super Bowl data and the result is this from the Associated Press: TiVo measures success of Super Bowl ads. It covers the most popular ads seen by TiVo owners yesterday.

Overall, the commercials were fairly boring this year. Usually they can keep my interest enough where I rarely fast forward but I found myself skipping most of them. Seeing Kermit appear in a Ford spot was about the only thing I remember from yesterday. Google has a good roundup of most commercials and if they're missing any, chances are iFilm has it.

February 6, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

MediaCentral HTPC frontend for the Mac

The most recent iMac comes with a nice simple home theater PC front-end called FrontRow, and acts as a nice gateway to your music, movies, and photos using the provided remote. I have one of the new iMacs and I enjoy it, though I must admit I rarely use FrontRow, since I prefer to just stream movies and photos to my TV in the other room (through a xbox running xbmc). Aside from the usability of trying to watch a movie on your mac while it sits on a desk, the major downside is the lack of flexibility in the number of formats FrontRow supports.

Firefoxscreensnapz001_1 This is where MediaCentral comes in. It's a very FrontRow-like app but supports many additional video formats (like xvid, divx, DVD folders on the hard drive) using and plays music from any directory on your hard drive. It integrates online TV streams, online movie trailers, and even EyeTV if you have that running on the same Mac. While it supports a few remote control devices, it unfortunately doesn't support the new iMac remote control.

Overall, I must say I like MediaCentral and if you've got a small apartment or dorm and use your mac for your primary entertainment, MediaCentral is an easy to use front-end that builds on the capabilities of FrontRow.

February 2, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack