Archives For DVR

Panasonic announced a few weeks ago it was getting out of the US set-top biz, something it pursued briefly in retail, but far longer through cable operator channels. That headline wasn’t terribly surprising, but today’s company news is a little different. According to The Wall Street Journal, Panasonic has also stopped manufacturing VCRs in its home country of Japan. Yes, VCRs. You know those old machines that your mother still hopes you’ll use to copy her VHS tapes over to a new medium? Panasonic is selling out its inventory in Japan, and then VCR sales there will be no more.

As a corollary to the Japanese news, The Wall Street Journal does point out that Panasonic will continue to manufacture VCRs in China and Slovakia. That’s likely because there continues to be a market among consumers who still cling to their VHS collections. Reporter Daisuke Wakabayashi characterizes the generational VCR divide this way:

If you had trouble programming it, you are probably a baby boomer or older.

If you know the cure for the fuzzy picture — pop the tape out; depress the small button on the side; pull back the lid and blow air ever-so gently onto the black strip to dislodge dust and other particles – you are probably a Generation X baby.

One final note: It’s staggering to watch how quickly DVD players are following VCRs down the path of obscurity. The Digital Entertainment Group reported last month that DVD sales dropped 20% in 2011 to $6.8 billion. Blu-ray disc sales fared better, up 19% last year, cresting $2 billion in sales.

moxi-eol

We’ve followed the retail Moxi DVR story arc for years… and, thanks to ARRIS, we finally know when it inevitably concludes:

The Moxi HD DVR and Moxi Mate® are no longer available for purchase. Program guide data and technical support for the Moxi HD DVR will be available until December 31, 2013. Continue Reading…

Is DirecTV Sabotaging TiVo?

Dave Zatz —  January 23, 2012

sabotage

On a few separate occasions over the last couple weeks, I’ve received both inquiries and accusations suggesting that DirecTV is  out to get TiVo… given their underwhelming new DirecTV TiVo DVR. From our writeup last month:

It’s everything we expected, but nothing we hoped for. The unit features TiVo’s original standard definition user interface, now branded as their “Classic” UI, running on outdated DirecTV hardware. So it’s neither the best TiVo experience, nor is it the best DirecTV DVR.

Christopher Price of PhoneNews cornered TiVo at CES and pitched us with the provocative theory that “DTV is sabotaging TiVo by making their boxes inferior to DTV.” From his write-up lamenting DirecTV’s lack of TiVoToGo:

Representatives for TiVo blamed DirecTV squarely for not offering the technology on their units. TiVo even went as far as to say that they had offered DirecTV a solution that would ensure copy protection requirements for DirecTV, but that the service provider still mandated that TiVo remove TiVoToGo from the new generation of DirecTV-enabled TiVo HD units.

While many agree that this new DirecTV TiVo DVR isn’t very compelling, I find Chris’ theory of sabotage highly unlikely – verging on the preposterous. First, DirecTV and TiVo are not competitors. Second, DirecTV will take a bath if the deal doesn’t work out as they bankrolled development of this product and “has obligations to nationally market [TiVo], and those obligations are substantial.”   Continue Reading…

tivo-hd-guide

TiVo has begun rolling out an update to Premiere and Premiere Elite DVRs. In fact, version 20.2 represents the most significant software update to grace the Series 4 platform since its 2010 introduction – featuring a core code rewrite with an updated architectural design and high definition user interface (HDUI) running on a newer iteration of Flash. Not only does TiVo promise me “significant” performance and stability improvements (building upon the second processing core that came online last month), but this moves TiVo closer to a unified software platform amongst their various partners and products. Unfortunately, the HDUI is still incomplete and the Netflix experience remains unpleasant. Having said that, there’s a lot to like here…

One of the most obvious non-HDUI shortcomings has been the standard definition guide, which is now replaced with modernized, HD versions of both the traditional “grid” guide and TiVo’s unique “live” guide (that I’ve never grown accustomed to). The channel banner(s) also sees a visual refresh… and relocation from up top to down below, with the addition of a browsable mini guide – as seen with many other providers. And, if you’ve been tracking the successful Virgin Media’s successful UK TiVo deployment, the handsome updated look should be familiar.

tivo-discovery-bar

TiVo’s “Discovery Bar” has also been rethought Continue Reading…

dish-hopper

As anyone who follows the tech industry knows, the annual Consumer Electronics Show is nearly upon us. And, with it, bazillions of new product announcements. Some of which aren’t always revealed exactly as or when a vendor had intended… and such may be the case with DISH Network’s upcoming “Hopper” whole-home DVR solution that was supposedly covered by TWICE prematurely (and then yanked).

What I gather from the article and some Internet sleuthing is that EchoStar’s next generation XiP satellite whole home DVR hardware will be branded as the DISH Network “Hopper” (XiP 813) – along with the cute little kangaroo logos you see below. Further, the “extender” units will be Joeys (XiP 110). Given DISH’s inglorious historical product/box naming conventions, this is already a massive win as far as I’m concerned (and it beats TiVo’s Q and Preview, conceptually). The XiP, er Hopper, also features smaller, less angular set-top box hardware which had been my other major complaint with DISH units.

Of course, the goal of a whole-home DVR is to create a mostly centralized repository of recordings that can be streamed around the home… which the 2TB, 3 tuner Hopper and Joeys deliver. Along with live television. From the article, the system Continue Reading…

As we collectively move towards the more efficient whole-home DVR model, Verizon has announced plans to launch a FiOS TV “media server” in late 2012. With such a long gestation time, they’re not quite ready to reveal their hand. Yet, I’d expect at least three tuners and 1TB of storage (compared to the DirecTV HR34‘s 5 tuners, 1TB or the TiVo Elite’s 4 tuners, 2TB). Of course, along with such a beefy centralized unit Verizon will introduce small form factor extenders to sprinkle throughout one’s home. And, as you can see in the video above, one of their marketing points is improved energy efficiency. Lastly, Verizon continues breaking new ground with their television-as-an-app initiative, potentially fed via the aforementioned media server – with references to tablets and the Sony PS3 possibly joining the Xbox as IPTV set-top box replacements.

fios-media-server

Update: Verizon tells me to expect 6 tuners (!) and that recording capacity is still being determined but they’re leaning towards 1TB at this point.

Comcast Xfinity Barcelona Guide with AnyRoom DVR

Comcast has a new TV guide in the works, and it’s reportedly headed to Cisco set-tops this year and into 2012. Online personality cypherstream (who always seems to have the inside scoop at Comcast) pointed out a new web page yesterday on the Xfinity site. The page details features of the new guide, including the ability to control DVR place-shifting in the home, a feature Comcast calls AnyRoom DVR. After scouting out the page, I was able to confirm with my own source that the “Barcelona” guide is scheduled to roll out to Comcast subscribers with Cisco set-tops in the near future, followed by subscribers with Motorola set-tops at a later date.

Since Motorola set-tops are usually the first ones to get updates in Comcast land, I wondered briefly why the operator decided to switch things up this time around. But the answer seems obvious after a moment. Motorola set-tops got the update to the A28 guide in 2010, and Comcast started introducing AnyRoom DVR via the A28 guide last summer. In contrast, Cisco boxes have been stuck with the A25 guide for some time now, and no multi-room DVR service. The Barcelona guide brings Cisco boxes up to par, not only with AnyRoom DVR, but also with an HD interface, a filter for watching HD-only shows, and integrated search combining linear TV and VOD listings.

Of course, the Barcelona guide still doesn’t compare to the promise of the IP-based Xcalibur guide. But most of the country still has to wait a while for that one.