Archives For Satellite TV

Originally announced in 2008 and expected to launch in 2009, the new DirecTV TiVo unit remains a no show. Back in February, we read the tea leaves to determine that the forthcoming DVR does indeed exist and has been undergoing testing. Unfortunately, given the delays, it features the old TiVo interface running on vintage DirecTV hardware (HR22-100). And, given the whispers, the product may not be greater than the sum of its parts. Regardless, at that time, we also heard launch had been delayed to and scheduled for July. Well, here we are.

There are signs we’re finally nearing the big reveal. Due to a webmaster slipup, the DirecTV TiVo was briefly available for order in May — with hardware running $99 and accompanied by a $5/month surcharge. As you’d expect, nothing actually shipped and the prices could merely be placeholders. But a promising sign nonetheless. Additionally, one source tells me testing has been winding down. Which seemingly suggests launch approaches. Then again, at one point, DirecTV’s Twitter rep suggested the new offering would be available “maybe” in “late” 2011. While we know the DirecTV is indubitably late, is July late within the year?

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DISH Network recently held their annual Team Summit for partners and retailers. Scott Greczkowski of Satellite Guys was in attendance… and came back with a treasure trove of info and photos. The most compelling story for us gadget loving consumers was the unveiling of Echostar’s new whole-home DVR solution, which will be composed of at least one XiP813 triple tuning DVR hub and multiple XiP110 extenders that communicate via MoCA. Also notable, and somewhat different from the last couple years, is the de-emphasis of integrated Slingbox/SlingLoaded functionality as seen from the ViP922.

DISH Network XiP 813

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The DISH XiP 813 appears much more svelte than prior oversized EchoStar DVR hardware… despite sporting 3 satellite tuners, 1 terabyte of recording storage, and acting as a central hub – much like Arris’ new Moxi Gateway.

DISH Network XiP 110

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The DISH XiP110 extender units are even more compact than the 813, tuning live satellite television and providing access to all recorded content from that aforementioned hub. They communicate using the high bandwidth and reliable MoCA connectivity.

For those who need more than 3 tuners, additional XiP 813 units can be added to the mix along with however many XiP 110 extenders are desired. Scott says this DISH/EchoStar initiative appears “a lot more advanced than DIRECTV’s MultiRoom Viewing in all ways.” EchoStar is expected to deliver a completed product to DISH Network this fall, but it’s probably a safe bet that customers won’t actually be able to purchase new XiP hardware until 2012.

(Many thanks to Scott and Satellite Guys for the extensive briefing and pics!)

Thanks to a possible slip by DirecTV’s webmaster, we may have just received a glimmer of hope that the highly anticipated TiVo-powered satellite DVR might actually be released in 2011. long time DBSTalk members JBlow and Smuuth have produced screenshots that display they were able to add a $99 TiVo HD-DVR to their respective DirecTV.com carts… which is accompanied by a $5/month TiVo surcharge. Forum chatter suggests the FPO graphic refers to a ‘for position only’ placeholder; something that’d be used when testing layouts. So, we may indeed be headed towards a summer DirecTiVo launch as revealed on Twitter.

(Thanks, Brennokbob!)

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After decades of DVR patent litigation, the court’s most recent decision has forced EchoStar (SATS) and DISH Network into a $500 million settlement with TiVo. Above and beyond the court-sanctioned penalty of $100+ million paid in 2008.

As the story goes, TiVo approached DISH way back when to partner and dropped off an early DVR for evaluation. Well, a deal didn’t get done and that DVR was never seen (by TiVo) again. Yet the underlying tech was reverse engineered, finding its way into EchoStar’s own DVR offerings. And, thus, TiVo filed suit. It’s been a long and winding road. Including a sleep-inducing visit to the US Courts of Appeals by yours truly. While most other corporate entities would probably have settled sooner at a smaller cost, DISH/Echo CEO Charlie’s Ergen’s strategy appears to have been dragging litigation out as long as possible until they either caught a lucky break or TiVo ceases to exist. Heck, TiVo challenged the courts to do the right thing and wrap this up in a timely fashion. It didn’t happen, DISH/Echo were found in contempt (again), and here we are. $500 million isn’t the $1 billion (!) TiVo was posturing for. However, for a company that has very rarely found profitability by actually selling its own product, this is a huge windfall and the respective parties can finally put it to bed. Assuming the courts let them.

Some details of the settlement from a joint announcement: Continue Reading…

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DirecTV (DTV) hit up some of their customers today with a web survey. A very interesting web survey. As it’s nearly all about Netflix (NFLX) – usage patterns, both physical discs and online streaming. Most intriguing is revelation of a DirecTV “concept” that would provide a “Netflix-like service” to existing satellite television subscribers:

In this next section, we would like you to evaluate a new service that DIRECTV is thinking about offering to their customers. DIRECTV plans to offer a streaming-only Netflix-like service for a flat fee per month, which would appear as a line item on your monthly bill.

  • The service would allow you to stream thousands of movies and television shows over a broadband internet connection to your television, computer or tablet.
  • The content available would likely be past season of current shows as well as older TV series and older movie released (released more than 5 years ago).
  • You could watch as many programs as you want for one flat monthly efe, similar to what Netflix streaming offers.

Continue Reading…

DISH Network has won the bankruptcy court auction of Blockbuster in a transaction valued at $320 million. Although they’ll surely invest much more as they attempt a turn around of the sullied but “highly recognizable” brand.

At first blush, their play struck me as highly bizarre. However, acquiring a streaming video solution and 1,700 brick & mortar outposts is potentially cheaper and certainly quicker than starting from scratch. And you know DISH intends to leverage their new storefront as a means of marketing satellite service when the deal closes in the next month or so. Although Blockbuster didn’t previously seem to have much success reselling TiVo or the PS3.

Lastly, DISH has been picking up spectrum and could conceivably make a cell phone or broadband play… and perhaps Blockbuster is where one would acquire a DISH Network cellphone as part of a triple play?

DirecTV iPad App Now Available

Dave Zatz —  February 28, 2011

After a mere 5 day tease, DirecTV is out with their free Apple iPad app. DBSTalk has produced a multi-page overview, which you can peruse above, and also kindly provided the screengrabs below.

Given its size, I find the iPad cumbersome as a full-time remote replacement. Yet, like TiVo’s iPad app, DirecTV has rounded out the experience with additional info and features that potentially make it a compelling couch-side companion. While there doesn’t appear to be as much in-depth content info as found within the TiVo iPad app, the DirecTV app is customizable and provides a dedicated sports section… with live scores. For maximum functionality, including the virtual remote control and access to remote scheduling, you’ll need a broadband-connected DirecTV Plus HD DVR (models HR20, HR21, HR22, HR23, HR24 and H21, H23, H24).

More details and pics can be found on DirecTV’s site and Engadget has posted the press release. Or just hit the App Store to check it out for yourself.

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As we’re about out of runway for an “early 2011” launch and in light of DirecTV’s recent communique possibly suggesting the schedule has slipped again, I’ve been directed to DBStalk for details on the new DirecTV TiVo experience.

Now I can’t vouch for the info from the forums, but there appear to be multiple data points. Which seem to suggest DirecTV TiVo prototype hardware is based on the vintage Thomson HR22-100. And supposedly there it is in the photograph above. (Technicolor was previously disclosed as the manufacturer… and was once known as Thomson.)

As with most engineering initiatives, project timelines slip, slide around. Of course, adding a partner company to the mix adds complexity. In fact, you may want to check out Megazone’s thoughts on potential scope creep and the guilty party. Yet, discussion seems to suggest that the new DirecTV TiVo, as currently implemented, runs the classic TiVo UI and lacks multi-room viewing. Which brings us to timing…

As recently as last month, speculation suggested an April launch. However, the current thought is we’re on for a June or July release. But given the history of this project, originally slated for a 2009 release, there’s not much point in reading these particular tea leaves. It’ll arrive when it arrives. However, if the new DirecTV TiVo has indeed been further delayed, I hope the time is put to good use by applying the Virginized TiVo interface and implementing DirecTV’s multi-room viewing experience.