Earlier this month, Yahoo purchased much of Meedio and everyone speculated that it would bear fruit in the form of a future DVR software package from Yahoo. Well that happened much sooner than I thought with the launch of the free Yahoo Go for TV software.
Dave Zatz and Eirik Solheim have detailed reviews featuring screenshots and experiences with the install and use of the package. Sounds like it integrates much of Yahoo's properties (like Yahoo Photos and Launchcast for Music) as well as act as a DVR.
According to my sources at TiVo, today the previously rumored daul-tuner standalone TiVos will be formally announced and released. The 80 hour unit will be the first available at TiVo.com and go for $99 after a $150 rebate. The 180 hour model will be released sometime in May for $199 after rebate.
TiVo was kind enough to send me a preview unit that I've been using for a couple weeks and a review will soon follow.
Update: My short review of the unit is in this week's Circuits section of the New York Times.
I've playing with a new TiVo this week and since I'm still interacting with my Comcast/Motorola box at home, it's easy to make comparisons and I'm again reminded of how well TiVo gets the user experience and how cable company DVRs can sometimes falter. One example this week really drove the point home for me.
I've been using DVRs for six years now, so I frequently watch prime time shows on the same night they air, but about 20-40 minutes after they start so I can fast forward commercials and still get to bed at a decent hour.
When you fire up your TV and your TiVo, hitting the TiVo button clears the screen and sound and gives you a menu. You can select the show being recorded in-progress and watch it from there. With the Comcast/Motorola box, when you turn it on live TV is playing and hitting the 'My DVR' button will shrink live TV down to 1/4 its size with audio still playing, and you can use the menu to select a show to watch.
You can probably guess what happened. I watch American Idol and frequently wait a while so I can fast forward the silly breaks and bad songs and when I was sitting down to watch this week's result show, it was about 25 minutes after the hour. As I was navigating the slow My DVR menu, I hear Ace being sent home, spoiling the show.
I like the live TV playing in a small window when using the guide (TiVo does this as well), but when using the DVR menus of finding shows to record or playback, it can get in the way, as I found out. When I had TiVo, I would purposely hit the TiVo button before turning the TV on, to make sure I never got any spoilers, but with the Comcast box, there's no way to guarantee it (aside from switching tuners immediately if you spot your show on).
Interesting: Meedio has been sold to Yahoo. Meedio has a cool PC-based PVR software package and does TV, digital media, and even home automation control. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this acquisition -- will Yahoo enter the TV recording space and make it a free download that works with tv.yahoo.com's extensive listings? [via Zatz]
Wow, from the news on Dave's site, it looks like TiVo won their patent suit against Echostar with TiVo's stock spiking, a $73million ruling, and a possible stop of all Dish Network DVR sales.
I've held off reporting about the case because I'm torn on the issue of software patents. Generally, I like the idea of novel patents in the material world (like actual objects), but in the software and web world, a lot of business processes and obvious ideas have been granted patents and companies have been known to strongarm their rivals with them. Patents in the Silicon Valley can be used as extortion against the competition. On the other hand, TiVo has pioneered a ton of novel concepts in home TV recording and certainly the major, original components of the TiVo OS are fair game for patent protection in my mind.
It looks like Echostar is going to appeal, but if this sticks, this could point to a lucrative future for TiVo in licensing its software to other companies producing DVRs.
There are times I laugh my ass off when I read the latest Bill Simmons has to say in his Sports Guy column over at ESPN.com, and then there are times when I laugh my ass off and recognize him as a total genius. From his mailbag column this week, in which readers email in questions for him:
Q: I love TiVo, but why can't I change the name of my saved shows? In the days of the video, I could tape what I want, change the name to "Broncos Highlights -- 1994" and rest assured my wife would never look at it. Now, if I TiVo something she might not like, "Naughty Nurses" is right on the saved list. Has there ever been a better product with such an obvious oversight?
--Brendan Lane, Darnestown, Md.
Sports Guy: You're a genius. They should add a special feature called "TiVo Camouflage" for an extra $9.95 a month. Every time you record a movie like "Naughty Nurses," TiVo Camouflage automatically changes the title of the show to something concurrently running on the NFL Network. That can't miss.
Seriously, this might be the best thing ever.
Good news from DirecTV and TiVo: It appears they will extend their partnership for another three years. Given the two million functioning units still out there and the reports I've heard that the R15 replacement sucks in terms of interface and functionality, it's good to see DirecTV back off from the abandonment of the dual tuner satellite TiVo box. [thanks, Greg!]
Remember the TiVo ambassador contest a few months ago? Today TiVo announced the winner today, Matt Ward of San Diego. He's already posting to the TiVo blog, and you can see his whole story and winning video entry here.
It's worth mentioning that the contest is going to be annual, so this fall we should see another chance to win $50k promoting TiVo.
The Snapstream blog has a pretty cool post about a new Netflix plugin for Beyond TV with screenshots. Thanks to both the Netflix API and built-in API with Beyond Media, a user was able to create a Netflix lookup and manager that works within the PVR software application. Cruising Netflix from the couch seems pretty cool as the Beyond Media software does interact with your DVD player, but kind of a bummer that you can't actually download movies or see them until they get mailed to you.
It'd be cool to see this plugin extended so that if I have say, Napoleon Dynamite, in my Netflix queue, the plugin would search my upcoming TV listings to alert me if anything I have upcoming in Netflix will be shown on a movie channel. A feature like that would help make both my Netflix and cable tv subscriptions more useful, and save me time and effort in the process.
It only does analog cable/antenna recording, but it does so in a package about the size of an iPod, which is pretty impressive and goes well with the sleek, uncluttered look of most Apple systems. It's $199 and I could see this being a great way to record and load up shows for a video iPod (EyeTV 2 software does this automatically). If I still took a subway to work every day, I'd buy this in a heartbeat to load up The Daily Show and the Colbert Report for my commute each day.