Looks like the previously announced official TiVo unit for DirecTV that launched in December is now nationwide in the US. I live outside of their launch cities but noticed I can now sign up for new service and receive a free TiVo unit for it.
(I just may sign up and have DirecTV alongside my ailing fiber service from Frontier Communications, who has almost completely phased out TV service)
After hinting at rekindling the DirecTV-TiVo relationship for the last 5+ years, there is finally a new DirecTiVo out. It is only available in large cities at the moment (Chicago, Denver, LA, NYC, Philly, Phoenix, Sacramento, SF, Seattle, DC) but it's definitely good news to anyone that has ever used the older models in the early 2000s. I myself thoroughly enjoyed the DirecTiVo I had from 2002-2005, and I only gave it up when there wasn't a viable HD option for DirecTV.
There isn't a ton of specs available yet, but if this was available where I live, I would seriously consider moving to it, especially as my own fiber optic cable provider has strongly hinted that they are canceling TV service in the next year or so. Here's hoping they spread it to more markets soon.
Dave Zatz has a post reporting what many DirecTV users have been wanting for years now: a (New) HD TiVo is coming to DirecTV!
This is great, great news. I was a former DirecTV customer that left for Comcast back in 2005 when their HD offerings were slim and the HD DirecTiVo was already being phased out. I've heard nothing but horror stories about DirecTV's replacement HD DVR (the one made by NDS) and several friends and family members have jumped ship to cable (either Comcast or FiOS) to get a deeper HD channel lineup that works with a real TiVo.
For the friends and family that don't have a cable option (those in rural locations), they'll definitely be happy to hear a new HD DirecTiVo may be out by early next year. This looks like good news for both DirecTV and TiVo, and though it may poach a few sales of TiVoHD units (and people leaving satellite for cable), I bet the licensing fees TiVo will charge DirecTV will make up for it.
I still get asked via email several times a week if it's possible to get a new Series 3 or TiVoHD to work on their satellite system, and now I can finally tell them to just wait for the new units to roll out.
Over at the TiVo Community, user ebonovic has posted a very lengthy, comprehensive review of DirecTV's R-15 NDS based 'DTiVo killer' DVR. There are loads of screenshots and details of the signup process (no phone required, it uses the satellite!), along with testing of all the ports and even the hard drive. One amusing thing is the "TiVo Central" screen with your recordings is called "My VOD".
According to DirecTV's 3rd quarter report, the new NDS DVR that will replace the combo TiVo units will be shipping next week:
DirecTV said it will start shipping its own digital video recorder next week as it transitions from sole reliance on DVRs made by TiVo Inc. The new recorders use software from NDS Group Ltd., another company owned by News Corp.
Another interesting tidbit is plans to show off TiVo ToGo-type functionality at CES this January:
Carey also said the company would introduce new products at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that would allow programming to be viewed on portable devices. The company main's competitor, EchoStar Communications Corp., introduced a portable media player last month that works in conjunction with its Dish Network satellite TV service.
No word on whether the new NDS unit supports HD signals (I'm assuming it does not). [thanks davis]
DirecTV users with combo TiVo units (in either standard def or high def) have been kind of hung out to dry for the past year or so. There haven't been any major software features added to the standard def units and the HD units only get a handful of channels (see DirecTV's HD Problem for more).
A reader recently wrote in with this story about attempting to get local current HD programming from DirecTV on his HD TiVo:
...statement(s) showing the LA/NYC HD network feeds from Direct TV are outdated (3 years old). According to Direct TV, they dropped that programming option in December of 2004. Getting network programming in HD requires waivers from the networks and according to Direct TV's HD technical support group, only 20% of waivers for HD network programming are approved [...] you may expect a 30-45 day wait to find out that only 20% of us will ever get approved!
Ever since DirecTV made it known their next DVR would be from their own subsidiary NDS instead of TiVo, everyone's been wondering when the new units would see the light of day. DirecTV sent up a few new satellites for their expanded MPEG-4 HD lineup (they say they will support 100s of channels of HD content by 2007), but current HD and SD DirecTiVo owners would have to wait for new hardware to take advantage of the new channels.
Over on the TiVo Community, it looks like official word from DirecTV is that early 2006 we should start seeing HD DVRs from DirecTV, with coverage in 12 major cities. It also sounds like there will be some sort of trade-in program for HD DirecTiVo units. As always, I'm curious what the user experience will be like compared to the TiVo devices. I've heard good and bad things about the NDS units over in the UK.
TVPredictions has some info and screenshots from their post about New DIRECTV DVR. The information is taken from an early manual that was passed around to distributors (and offered up here by someone) and talks about all the features that will be part of the unit. The unit is rumored to ship in October, but it has been pushed back a couple times and I wouldn't be surprised to see it pushed back further (especially when DirecTV is ordering more combo TiVo units to meet demand for their current promotions).
I'm most interested in hearing about the expanded HD content offerings as well as the recording/playback quality of the new mpeg4 HD channels, or if they're even available yet, but I'm sure we'll have to wait until someone has an actual unit to test out.
Getting a Vonage phone to work with a modem isn't easy, since there are several conversions between digital and analog audio along the way. Khan.org has figured it out, with step-by-step instructions: how to make nightly calls on DirecTiVo with a Vonage line.
Of course, it'd be nice if DirecTV enabled the USB ports so customers could use their broadband connections, but this is a good alternative for those using VOIP on their network. [via MakeZine]
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!]
Edward Jay Epstein covers Rupert Murdoch's drive to kill off the movie rental business by adding DVRs to the DirecTV network to create video-on-demand. The main challenge is that Wal-Mart has forced the movie companies to give physical retailers (Wal-Mart) a 45-day window of time where movies cannot be distributed electronically.
Is this a Wal-Mart vs. DirecTV battle? I can't imagine it being that simple. However, a future where we don't travel to Blockbuster (or Tsutaya here in Japan) is obvious for those who enjoy NetFlix. With the 100 and 1000 Gb/sec. retail consumer fiber-optic networks in Asia, VoD for movies is not far away.
Even before Murdoch completed his acquisition of DirecTV, he told financiers at Morgan Stanley's Global Media Conference that he planned to marry the satellites above with TiVo-like home recorders below, explaining that "every subscriber will be getting either a free digital video recorder or one for nominal amounts of money." And, to this end, he placed an order for 20 million digital video recorders for his customers.Murdoch plans to digitally deliver movies and other programming from his satellites to home digital video recorders that would be the same quality, or higher (HDTV), than a DVD. Since there are not enough transponders on satellites to stream movies to individual subscribers on demand, Murdoch needs DVRs in every home to make his digital-delivery system work. With DVRs, the satellites can upload movies in the middle of the night in encrypted form onto subscribers' hard discs without us having to do anything or even be aware of it. (One idea now under consideration at DirecTV is to provide these DVRs with an enormous 160-gigabyte recording capacity. The subscriber would only be told about 80 gigabytes, with the remaining 80 gigabytes reserved for encrypted movies.) Once the movies are placed on the DVRs, a customer "rents" them by clicking on his remote control.
If you haven't invested in companies in the HDD storage industry, now's your chance :)
Full disclosure- I went to elementary and middle school with James and Lachlan, but that was decades ago and half a world away.