Archives For DVR

SagetvLogo170SageTV is dead; long live SageTV.

As the story goes, Google acquired the DVR software company SageTV back in 2011 … with the engineers and software getting to work on Google Fiber. Fast forward a few years, and the beloved-though-abandoned consumer software may be getting a new lease on life. From the amazingly-still-operational SageTV forums:

Google has agreed to open source the SageTV platform! This isn’t happening today…but will be happening in the near future (i.e. months, not years).

Beyond timing the other logical question is why? And I’m surely not the only one wondering if this foreshadows Google’s consolidation onto the thricely reimagined Google TV Android TV for operational efficiency and given the growing number of cord cutters who could benefit from over-the-top apps. Beyond Fiber, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s enough talent in the Sage community to move the open-sourced software forward… or if there might be some commerical products out there, like an Amazon Fire TV or Roku, looking to integrate DVR capabilities that might leverage this upcoming treasure trove.


About the same time TiVo rolled out Vudu last fall, Verizon similarly deployed Ultraiviolet to their FiOS TV set-tops. Whereas TiVo went with a 3rd party app, Verizon has natively integrated the UV content locker within On Demand. And my pal Tim took it for a quick spin yesterday.

Within the FiOS On Demand UI, you’ll see a variety of titles featuring the UV logo. Yet account linkage is handled via webpage. Once synced up, your licensed UV titles show up under On Demand > My Library > Purchases. But, in a few minutes of streaming a couple of movies, Tim was not impressed by the artifacts seen in darker scenes… and pretty quickly concluded Vudu, via Xbox One, provides a superior experience. Beyond picture quality, I’ve also found the FiOS TV UI requires too many clicks – especially in the On Demand area. It’s generally far more efficient to rent or buy content from other sources. But this two-way FiOS TV UV integration still seems pretty cool and is worth keeping an eye on. Assuming Verizon sticks with FiOS.

DVR Love Is In The Air

Dave Zatz —  February 13, 2015 — 4 Comments

In honor of Valentine’s Day, both TiVo and DISH have taken to social media to promote their respective remote control finder alerts. Sadly DISH “can’t help you find love with the push of a button” … whereas TiVo proclaims “even our remote finder is a turn on” that “heightens the mood” (while retrieving it from your partner’s blouse). Food for thought when choosing your next provider and set-top box. Continue Reading…

Samsung’s New DVRs

Dave Zatz —  February 10, 2015 — 38 Comments


Via regulatory filings, Steve Donohue has turned up a new Samsung DVR. Given its specs, including Zigbee and MoCA 2.0, this set-top is presumably destined for a MSO partner like Time Warner Cable. However, possibly more interesting is the box turned up by tipster Alex D on Flickr.

Pictured above, the Samsung “Smart Cable DVR” looks to be a retail product and the successor or up-sell to the Smart Media Player introduced in 2013. Whereas the Player tuned a single cable channel, this newer product is a 4-tuner DVR. Further, as an app platform, Samsung touts universal search capabilities, à la TiVo, and by leveraging their broader consumer electronics product line, the Smart DVR also optionally integrates Samsung’s wireless audio system.

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Channel Master’s fee-free, over-the-air DVR+ is set to receive a massive infusion of online content. Company reps emphasize that what we’re looking at are not “apps” that require configuration and interaction, but rather the direct integration of linear streaming content into the guide for channel surfing alongside those HD antenna broadcasts. Available channels can be added and removed from the guide, as your viewing tastes dictate, and are transparently powered via a custom-built local player that relies on a sort of dynamic DNS service hosted by Channel Master — which points to the online feed, in addition to providing the relevant logos and metadata. Beyond streaming, Channel Master also hopes to introduce pause and record features to this online content, but they’re not certain that will be ready at launch in a month or so. Not to mention, I wonder how many content providers would be willing to play ball.

All in all, this will be nice bonus for Internet-connected DVR+ units and compares favorably to the $15/mo TiVo Roamio OTA … but I’m more looking forward to Channel Master’s whole home functionality, expected in Q3 or sooner.

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We’ve been quite enamored with Tablo, since our first product demo at CES 2014. In fact, our very own Adam Miarka is a highly satisfied customer of this effective bit of clever gadgetry that provides both over-the-air DVR and Slingbox capabilities. Beyond the existing 2- and 4-tuner models, CES 2015 heralds the Tablo Metro… which houses 25-mile range high def OTA antennas within the existing enclosure.

Two very small but incredibly powerful fractal antennas inside Tablo METRO capture OTA TV while intelligent switching technology enables the antennas to operate independently to capture signals originating from broadcast tower locations, even if they are located in opposing directions.

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DISH & Comcast DVRs Outpace TiVo?

Dave Zatz —  December 12, 2014


While TiVo focuses their resources on serving smaller and international television providers, as retail customers defect, the larger US cable and satellite companies continue to crank away on their own compelling in-house DVR services.

Although DISH may have given up some ground in the Hopper’s ability to, you know, actually hop (over commercials) they just completed a nationwide software update that brings one-button access to Closed Captioning and the ability to watch an in-progress “live” show from the beginning should you have gotten a late start and the programming is resident within the On Demand catalog. But way more interesting, given our collective shift in scripted television viewing patterns, is the new Binge Bar (as shown above). Once you’ve finished watching an episode, any remaining episodes on your DVR or in the VOD catalog are presented – as pioneered by Netflix and similar to Comcast’s X1 “Next Episode Suggestion.”


Speaking of Comcast, TiVo has felt free to publicly bash their so-called partner… despite upcoming improvements to that Xfinity X1 HTML5 platform — including deeper Pandora and other “web site integration,” along with a few other features TiVo doesn’t possess. From the Donohue Report:

Its Share2TV app will allow X1 subscribers to stream personal videos recorded on mobile devices with any X1 subscriber in the country. Comcast is also developing an app called Family Point which will allow subscribers to view the locations of family members on TV by tracking smartphones that are connected to X1, and family members will also be able to leave messages through “sticky notes” that will be displayed when a television is turned on.