By Harry McCracken | Monday, September 29, 2008 at 9:37 am
Ten months ago, TiVo and Nero announced that they were working together to bring the TiVo interface to DVR software you could run on a PC. Then time passed, and I sort of forgot about it. Until today–when Nero announced Liquid TV | TiVo PC (yep, that’s the name, complete with | in the middle). The moniker may be a tad ungainly, but it looks like the product aims to be exactly what you’d want it to be: A version of TiVo that happens to run on a PC rather than TiVo’s own box.
Here are a couple of screen images, looking…well, looking like TiVo, which is one of the highest compliments you can pay a software interface:
Nero says that its version of TiVo will support almost all of the features of the standalone box, including stuff like Season Passes and KidZones. Not only will it let you move recordings to portable devices such as iPods or burn them on DVD, but it should be faster and easier than with a TiVo box, since the latter requires you to move the recordings over your home network from box to PC first. (With Liquid TV, they’re already on the PC in the first place.) The features that are missing-such as support for Amazon movie downloads and for podcasts–sound superfluous; you’re running Liquid TV on a PC, so you’ve got access to that stuff anyhow.
Nero says that Liquid TV | TiVo PC will be available in mid-October, in two versions: a $200 one that inclkudes a TV tuner card and TiVo remote control, and a $100 software-only one. (I have a hard time imagining the TiVo experience without the TiVo remote, but Liquid TV can also be controlled with mouse and keyboard.) Both versions include a year’s worth of free TiVo service–it usually costs $13 a month, so that’s a deal. It sounds pretty cool, and it’s one more reason for me to at least flirt with doing something I’ve postponed until now: put a PC in my living room.
But there are a few points to ponder:
System requirements. Nero says you’ll need a PC with a 3-GHz CPU to get the most out of Liquid TV. It also requires at least 20GB of free disk space, but that only provides enough elbow room for 10 hours of standard-def recording, so you’ll likely want a lot more than that.
High-definition issues. Nero’s site says you can record over-the-air HD programming; this post over at CNET seems to say that a properly-equipped PC could also record HD from cable or satellite. But most PCs aren’t properly equipped. TiVo’s own TiVo HD box lets you record high-def cable, and the company has announced it’s working on an HD box for DirecTV.
This is a PC we’re talking about. One of the nicest things about TiVo is that when you set up a recording, you can be reasonably sure it’ll actually record. I’m a little worried that even if Nero’s software is rock-solid, general reliability issues with PCs or other applications running in the background could cause problems.
Despite any gotchas, I’m glad to see TiVo come to the PC. (It stands every chance of faring better than one-time archrival ReplayTV, which ditched its hardware business to go PC-only with a software package that looked good but is apparently now defunct.) Nero’s Liquid TV announcement was part of a busy day of news for the company: It also unveiled Nero Move it, an interesting-sounding Windows application for moving media between devices and converting it on the fly, and Nero 9, an upgrade to its flagship digital media suite,