Tag Archives | DVRs

Digging Deeper Within the New TiVo Premiere

While many have fixated on TiVo’s new sluggish, incomplete HD UI and possibly limited feature set, TiVo Community über contributor bkdtv (aka K. Fowler) has more quantitatively analyzed the TiVo Premiere’s beefy new hardware. In addition to running through the chips and specs, he’s also conducted a number of speed benchmarks under the “classic” UI.

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The TiVo Premiere Reviews Are In

The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, Gizmodo’s Mark Wilson, and Engadget’s Nilay Patel have reviewed Tivo’s next-generation DVR, the Premiere. They’re all pretty darn lukewarm, which is disappointing–but at least I can continue to use my current TiVo without it feeling like too much of a hardship.


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TiVo Series 5: What Should Be

When TiVo announced its next-generation Series 4 Premiere boxes yesterday, I read about the news with a combination of intrigue and relief. The changes–including a spiffed-up HD interface, better integration of disparate video sources, easy access to more information about shows and movies, a slimmer case, and an optional QWERTY remote–sound nice. But the Premieres are evolutionary advances on the TiVo HD that sits in my entertainment center–and whose hard drive I just replaced after the original one conked out. There’s nothing in the new models that makes the old ones feel like instant dinosaurs.

Here’s Dave Zatz’s extensive look at the new TiVos, which ship next month. As Dave says, TiVo is clearly trying to reposition its box from a DVR into a TV box that does a bunch of things. That makes sense. But my mind is already racing forward to think about all the things a next-next-generation TiVo might do. Here’s my wish list for the TiVo Series 5–and since it’s just a wish list and the Premieres’ replacements are years off, I’m going to ask for some things that may be technically or logistically impossible at the moment.

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Comcast DVR Remote Scheduling is Here! (For Some)

Dave broke the news back in August that Comcast would be coming out with a new remote DVR scheduling feature in the near future. Since then, I’ve kept an eye on the myDVR page in hopes I’d get a heads-up on regional availability. Today, after reading about guide updates over on the Comcast blog, I revisited the bookmarked URL and hit the jackpot. I can now manage all of my DVR recordings online. It appears that I’m in one of the early market rollouts, but the rest of Comcast’s digital subscribers with a Motorola set-top should get the upgrade over the next several months.

In addition to letting me manage recordings, the new myDVR Manager site includes decent search functionality with content filters (HD, sports, movies, etc.) and keyword results that incorporate both live broadcasts and on-demand offerings. The UI is easy to use and even anticipates what I might need next. A search on Duke, for example, let me quickly isolate just the Duke college basketball games.

The series recording options are also much easier to manage than they are on the traditional guide. See further pics after the jump for a look at menus and options.

(This post is republished from Zatz Not Funny.)

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Comcast to Take TiVo National By Year End?

My eagle-eyed blogging partner Davis Freeberg caught this juicy nugget yesterday from a member of the ComcastCares Twitter support team:

@ComcastMelissa

@knolaust we are working on a more Tivo-esk experience. This is already being tested in the Boston area. hope to roll out na’l by end of yr

As TiVo (TIVO) investors are aware, TiVo linked up with Comcast(CMCSA) to deliver their DVR experience onto third party cable company hardware (Motorola). And while the initial fruits of their labor began deployment as a Comcast offering in New England in late 2007, we’ve yet to see a broader release to other markets. Making ComcastMelissa’s tweet, a response to a customer request for an improved DVR interface, notable.

However, I suspect she will be proven wrong. I seriously doubt Comcast intends a nationwide TiVo roll-out in the few remaining months of 2009 and doubt their ability to execute on such a plan, should it exist. Most likely, “ComcastMelissa” is good intentioned but misinformed of the Comcast TiVo deployment strategy. Anyone who’s followed Comcast and TiVo statements on the matter would probably agree that the parties have a more conservative market-by-market deployment plan in place. Some supporting evidence from TiVo CEO Tom Rogers at their recent earnings call, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha:

They continue to work through in Boston the infrastructure issues that particularly relate to the installation in individual homes. And I can’t say they are where they want to be yet; there are clearly things that Comcast needs to solve for both TiVo and for themselves so the product can be more smoothly installed. They are totally committed to solving those issues and we believe they will be solved in the near future. Obviously, there’s frustration on both their part and ours that it’s not quite solved yet. But I think, as Mark Hess’s quote indicated, the commitment to continue to roll TiVo beyond the two named markets that we’ve mentioned, they indicated in last quarter earnings that they were focused on a market rollout where TiVo would be the primary DVR and then again today have announced yet another yet to be soon-named market.

[This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.]


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TiVo Loses More Customers, Sues AT&T and Verizon

TiVo SignTiVo’s quarterly call was a bit more dramatic than usual. While they continue to lose customers and innovate “at a very unhurried pace,” TiVo seeks a repeat DISH Network performance in going after AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) for infringement. Basically, TiVo’s current business model appears to be ad sales and patent trolling.

Unlike TiVo’s successful David v Goliath battle with DISH/EchoStar (SATS), things may play out a bit differently this time. First, there’s likely no smoking gun. Based on the evidence presented, it sounds like DISH may have helped themselves to an early TiVo prototype which was subsequently reverse engineered. Second, digital video recording technology may not be as patentable as TiVo would like. (Not to mention, it’s possible Judge Folsom and the Eastern District Court could run out of patience with TiVo’s community stunts and their own nationwide reputation. Then again, maybe not – these cases keep them in the spotlight and are good for the local economy.) Lastly, given the language in yesterday’s call, TiVo may just be looking to force AT&T and Verizon into some sort of licensing deal.

Another difference this time around, is that the defendants are relying heavily on third party tech. Verizon has constructed their own FiOS TV DVR software, but currently runs on Motorola hardware. AT&T’s set-top box platform is also Motorola, but the U-Verse software is largely Microsoft (MSFT). So it’ll be interesting to see how Moto and Mister Softee, plus others such as Broadcom, could be pulled into the fray. As an observer, and given TiVo’s pressure to license, I hope their contracts with DirecTV (DTV) and Comcast (CMCSA) are called into evidence.

My blogging partner Davis Freeberg has tracked down and purchased the PACER court filings so you don’t have to. Verizon here. AT&T here and below:

(Photo by Zandir; this post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)



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Let’s Hope Best Buy Helps TiVo Sell More Boxes

TiVo Best Buy PartnershipBeloved-but-beleaguered DVR pioneer TiVo has found itself a ally: Best Buy. The two companies have struck a deal that will see TiVo boxes heavily marketed in Best Buy stores, reports Brad Stone in the New York Times. The relationship will put Napster (owned by Best Buy) on TiVo’s set-top boxes, and let Best Buy deliver information and shopping opportunities through the TiVos it sells. Best Buy also plans to build TiVo software into its house-brand TVs under the Dynex and Insignia labels.

The Times story includes one statistic which, if you like TiVo as much as I do, is alarming: Two years ago, there were 1.727 million households with TiVos, and that number has fallen to 1.6 million today. Most of the defectors have presumably left TiVo in favor of renting DVRs from their cable companies for a few bucks a month, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them did so when they upgraded their TV setups to HD and needed to replace aging standard-definition TiVo units.

As good as TiVo is, it’s a far costlier entertainment option than a cable DVR: You’ve got to both buy a box and pay Tivo a monthly fee that’s higher than cable DVRs cost. (Some of us choose to pay TiVo a sizable one-time fee rather than the monthly subscription.) I’d like to see the world look at TiVo as a premium product that’s worth the extra bucks, and perhaps the arrangement with Best Buy will result in more folks buying and loving TiVo. I know I don’t want to be part of a relentlessly dwindling cult…


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Digeo Revives its (Less Sucky) Moxi HD DVR

hddvr2When I first ran into Digeo in the middle of 2007, the company had just begun to roll out its HD DVR to the public. They talked a good game and appeared ready to take on TiVo, who all but owns the set-top DVR market. However, within a matter of months, it became painfully clear that its Moxi DVR wasn’t going anywhere.

Their set top HD DVR could only record standard definition programming over cable, something they left out in their demo to me. Want to record HD? Hope you are in range of a high-definition over the air station. The box was big and clumsy and well, the whole product seemed to suck.

I was on their beta program for a matter of about two weeks before the product went under (in fact, the DVR still sits in my basement in the box, I forgot to send it back — feel free to e-mail me Digeo if you’re reading this with your mailing address). I didn’t even get a chance to set the thing up — and once I found out about the DVRs bizarre limitations I decided to pass.

Color me surprised after Digeo’s spectacular flameout post-CES 2008 to see them attempting to make a comeback. But sure enough, Dave Zatz has discovered a brand new unit has appeared on Digeo’s pages. So lets look over the enhancements.

Sexier, smaller set top box? Check.
CableCARD HD support instead of OTA? Check.
No monthly fees like TiVo? Check.
Reasonable retail price? Sorry, no dice.

Zatz has found out this box will retail for $800. I don’t know what they’re thinking. TiVo, the market leader, had a hard enough time selling its HD DVR for $600. What makes Digeo think its going to be able to break into the market with a device that a) has a smaller hard drive than TiVo HD XL at $200 less, and b) is all but an unknown with consumers, but is coming at a premium?

I’m sorry — not to be blunt — but it seems like this company is just destined to repeat its errors over and over again. I’m glad they’re trying again, but come on, this is a bad economy. You really need to have an awesome value proposition in order to charge a high price for your products.

What I’m seeing so far tells me this new Moxi DVR is not. It’s actually disappointing: I think TiVo could use a little kick in the pants.


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TiVo HD XL: The Technologizer Review

dscf0001TiVo was kind enough to send us over a TiVo HD XL — its “super sized” DVR — for us to take a look at. Essentially the device is the successor to the Series 3 units, however it is enclosed in the TiVo HD casing. From here on out, it looks as if the TiVo HD and its bigger cousin will round out the DVR maker’s lineup.

Like the TiVo HD and Series 3, the XL uses a CableCARD, which eliminates the need for the user to rent a set-top box from the cable companies. At least here where I live, Comcast doesn’t charge for CableCARD usage, so I’m saving myself the $8 monthly or so fee it costs to rent the box.

It has dual-tuner functionality, so if you have the right card (an ‘M’ instead of an ‘S’ card), you’ll be able to take advantage of that. You can record two channels at once, and both in HD, so that is nice.

Really, there is not much different here: it’s essentially the same old TiVo with a big hard drive. That 1 terabyte hard drive should be plenty: it would allow for the recording of about 232 hours of standard def programming, and around 150 hours of HD programming.

This is a serious jump from the previous unit, which only allowed for about 20 hours of recording time in HD.

Altogether, our experience with the device was positive. Being that this was the first TiVo I’ve used that didn’t need the cable set-top box to operate, it was nice not to have to deal with the annoying banner of the set-top box, or the connection process there.

Picture quality was excellent, and the digital recording does not lose as much of the sharpness of HD programming as you’d expect.

You will lose On Demand, so if that’s a big hit in your household, the TiVo HD XL may not work. However here, we rarely use it, so at least in my own personal case, I’m not missing it.

I found one negative, and its very annoying. When selecting programming, and there is both a standard def and high def option, the Season Pass automatically defaults to SD. You have to manually go in and change it to HD, or use the online website to ensure it records only the HD channel.

If this is an HD DVR, it should be recording the high def versions by default, but thats only my opinion.

Overall, we’d recommend this unit over its smaller sibling. If you’re going to spend $1,000+ on a good HDTV, why skimp out on the DVR? Add to this the fact that the difference between recording times is like night and day, and this is a no brainer.


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It’s TiVo! On a PC! Thanks to Nero!

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.

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