Mac TiVoToGo is finally here, and it’s not at all what we expected. Mac TiVoToGo does not require the TiVo Desktop and has been entirely built into Roxio Toast 8 Titanium as a collaboration between TiVo and Sonic. Product Directors Amir Gharaat (TiVo) and Adam Fingerman (Roxio) got me up to speed last week during a conference call.
As we know, Mac TiVoToGo is looooong overdue so my first question was: “What happened?” If you recall, we saw an alpha version at CES last year which looks nothing like what they’ve just devliered. As I suspected, the main sticking point was TiVo’s inability to keep the media locked down (as they do using Microsoft DirectShow on Windows). After spinning their wheels with “content security issues” for awhile, they turned to partner Sonic for technical assistance last spring… and here we are!
Mac TiVoToGo (via Toast) is composed for four distinct functions: TiVo Transfer, Video Playback, DVD Burning, and Portable Conversions.
TiVo Transfer (pictured up top)
In addition to feeding Roxio technical details on TTG decryption, TiVo was largely responsible for creating TiVo Transfer, a seperate app bundled with Toast. TiVo Transfer allows you pull specific shows to your Mac on demand or set up scheduled downloads. Files are the same .tivo format used on the PC, though with a unique icon, and are placed in a folder under the user account that initiated the transfer. From TiVo Transfer you have the ability to launch playback, delete a downloaded show, or “Toast It.”
Roxio and ElGato share some employee DNA and are partners, hence the ElGato logo you’ll notice on the player. The player decrypts the .tivo content in real time and supposedly controls very smoothly when using trick plays or scrubbing forward and reverse.
Toast allows you to burn TiVo content to DVD in two ways. You can either archive the shows for use on a Mac (PC too) or you can burn for use in a set-top box. Roxio includes a TiVo menu style (!) for authoring DVDs, in addition to 10 others — and all can be customized.
Conversion for Portables
From Toast, clicking ‘Export’ will bring up common profiles for 320×240 iPod or PSP conversions: MPEG-4 (quicker, lower qulaity) or H.264 (slowed, higher quality). Roxio will drop iPod conversions into the appropriate iTunes sync folder.
Pricing: Toast retails for $100 and will be available for order and download today. There are a variety of rebates available for upgraders, such as an instant rebate that scans your system for an earlier version. Additionally, the first 5000 folks who buy direct from TiVo will get a free Glo Remote (normally $50). Additionally, I’m told boxes are on the way to stores — with an early shipment headed to the Apple store near MacWorld for sales this week.
Some Technical Details: Toast 8 Titanium TTG features are available for both PPC and Intel platforms running OS X 10.4. Custom export profiles can can be created for DivX, MPEG-4, or H.264 for playback on other portables such as Palm or Windows Mobile.
Interesting Factoid: Ammir confirmed for me that TiVo Desktop on Windows does indeed embed a non-visible watermark of a customers Media Access key into converted video. Likewise, the conversion portion of Toast performs the same function.
Last but not least, Roxio shipped out a review copy Friday which I’ll take a look at after CES. Actually, it may be a few weeks after CES since my only Mac runs OS X 10.3.9. I also plan to get some hands on time and pics in the next day or so.