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Series 3 TiVo’s out “soon”

From TivoBlog, news that Series 3 TiVo’s are currently in beta testing and will be released ssoon.  These will be the first units to include a CableCARD decoders (so that you can record digital content bypassing your cable provider’s set top box) and HD. I recall reading that CAbleCARD won’t work with satellite dishes, so this might just be the thing to tempt me back to cable. Until I see the monthly rates they want to charge, that is, and then I’ll decide its not worth the cost.

 

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the TiVolution will be …

Jim Barton has an extensive article detailing the challenges faced in designing and rolling out the TiVo service.

The two burdens that are probably most annoying to the user are a
complex and difficult control interface and lack of reliability.
Reliability is not just about whether a computer system functions or
not. It encompasses expected behavior, lack of ambiguity, and recovery
from unusual events, such as loss of power or network connectivity.

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TiVo vs Echostar lawsuit

If you’re a tivo user as I am, or are considering getting one, you might want to know that TiVo’s lawsuit against EchoStar (DishNetwork) over a patent dispute began today.  PVR Wire has a summary of what happened today, and so does the unofficial Tivo Blog.  The best summary is at Thomas Hawk, and there is also an article on Washington Post

TiVo is arguing that at issue here is that when they showed Echostar
(owner of the DISH satellite network) a prototype TiVo way back when,
rather than work out a deal with TiVo Echostar just kept the prototype
and copied it

Why should you care? I’m not sure.  If TiVo means, its a huge cash windfall for the company.  If TiVo’s patent is overly broad, it covers a method for "recoiding one show while watching another", that would give them an unfortunate tool to use to stifle their own competitors.  At the moment though, the main threat to TiVo’s survival is cheaper, less functional DVR’s being promoted by cable and satellite companies.

Some industry observers have put TiVo’s chance of victory at 70% or
more and see EchoStar paying TiVo damages of $95 million-$300 million.
Possibly more important for TiVo, a ruling instantly would strengthen
its hand in negotiating what have been very elusive licensing deals
with cable TV companies that have been selling their own less-expensive
DVRs and cutting TiVo out of the loop.

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New TiVo pricing plan

A common resason I hear for not getting a Tivo is a reluctance to pay a monthly fee for little more than the electronic TV guide.  Never mind that your cable company also charges you a monthly fee for your DVR, or that the generic DVRs have a horrible user interface and don’t have wonderful features like the SeasonPass.  Most people can’t get past the monthly fee after paying for the hardware.  So yesterday, TiVo announced a new pricing plan wherein you pay the monthly fee (forever) but don’t have to pay for the box itself.  Oh, and you can’t buy the lifetime service after this week either.  According to the official Tivo blog:

 We found that the overwhelming majority of consumers favored the
bundling together of the TiVo box and TiVo service.  You spoke, we
answered.

I call bullshit.  The overwhelming majority of consumers favored not having to pay a monthly service at all.  This coupled with the elimination of the Lifetime service, makes me seriously doubt that I’ll ever get a TiVo again.  I’m not alone, read through the comments on Digg.  The new pricing plan is also causing some confusion (although a Tivo employee clears it up in the comments there).

According to TiVo, this new plan "they have increased the lifetime value of a TiVo customer by over $100."  Well see in the upcoming months if the decision makes an impact on the bottom line.  While they may have increase the cost to, I mean value of, each subscriber this may not translate into more subscribers. 

A complete wrap up of the TiVo quarterly call is on Thomas Hawk’s Digital connection.

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Motley Fool on TiVo

The Motley Fool has a good feature looking at the outlook for TiVo from both a bullish and bearish perspective.  I still have hope for TiVo, I know Sandy and Greg were impressed a bit when I pulled up my music collection to stream to my living room.  In the next few years, I think we’ll see the major networks focus more on content/show production and let new mediums like iTunes, TiVo, and the Internet take over content distribution.  Generic DVR’s may end up in more homes than TiVo’s set top boxes, but TiVo can position itself as a premium product ala the HBO and Apple brand.  The Bullish perspective is very forward looking at the possibilities for TiVo.  The Bearish perspective focuses on TiVo’s past unprofitability and subscriber numbers.

The Bullish Persepective

Sure, there’s competition, but in the long term, it isn’t from the
other box makers. The real fight is to combine the Web and TV in a
single, well-built player capable of delivering highly targeted,
relevant ads. That’s TiVo. Right now.

 The Bearish Perspective

Why? Let’s begin by counting TiVo’s profits. Now let’s stop, because it
doesn’t have any. TiVo’s business hasn’t earned a dime in the seven
years it’s been public. On the contrary, the company has racked up
nearly $850 million in losses.

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Galleon 2.1.0 for Tivo released

Via PVR Wire, comes news that Galleon 2.1.0 is released. A couple new features including better shoutcast support and improved tivotogo funcitonality, see the full release notes. This is the java software I use to stream music, photos, and more to my tivo.

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HD TiVo demo’d at CES

I was telling Sandy on our way back from lunch today that what I was hoping TiVo would announce an HDTV TiVo soon, and tonight I see that at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas they announced HD TiVo Series 3

The tuner thing should be qualified though, because it will actually have 6(!) tuners. It will have 2 cable tuners, 2 ATSC tuners (for high def over the air) and 2 regular old NTSC tuners. But it will only be able to record two programs at once.

Full post at TiVo Lovers

Other interesting features:

  • Built in ethernet port
  • Externel SATA port – to add on capacity via external drives.

I didn’t see an indication of pricing or availability.

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World Cup draw is today

The World Cup draw is tomorrow! The US barely missed being one of the eight seeded teams (but rival Mexico was seeded), chiefly because of the poor showing at the 1998 Cup. The FIFA rankings have a long memory, unfortunately. On the flip side, another strong run in Germany would go a long ways towards beeing seeded in 2010.

Don’t forget to set your Tivo to record it oon ESPN2 at 3pm EST if you can’t skip work to watch. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s a webcast to follow? Remember to get the official World Cup Draw Worksheet and Beer Coaster.

Update: you can follow the draw online.

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Mac support for TiVo coming

From PVRWire, who digs deep in the TiVo community boards comes news that better Mac support is coming for Tivo in 2006.

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Have Tivo to Go on your PSP or iPod

Is TiVo trying to hitcho onto the iPod halo effect? According to gizmodo you’ll be able to move recorded shows from your tivo to your PSP or iPod. The current Windows-only method for getting shows off the Tivo onto a non-Windows device, involves stripping the DRM.

Testing of the software should happen in the next few weeks and all
TiVo users should have access to it by first quarter next year with a
one-time fee of between $15 and $30. TiVo also mentioned that it may
take up to to 2 hours to transfer the program.

This method probably adds in PSP or Apple friendly DRM, I suspect, so that you can’t play it on an unsanctioned device. But, if it is to be compatible with iPod, it’ll need to have a native Mac application – and don’t you know it but a few months ago Tivo was looking to hire an Apple developer. Will it be convenient enough to comepete with ABC/Apple (and other networks) schemes to distribute TV shows? I’m not sure it will be, you’ll still have to remember to have your TiVo record a program you want to watch, then wait for it to download to your PC and have it transcoded (resized) to play on your TiVo or PSP. But, you’re not restricted to only shows available on iTunes, for example, so for niche programming, like US Men’s World Cup qualifiers, it may be your only option.

According to PVRBlog, either TiVo and apple worked something out or the files will not have DRM.