Archives For TiVo

Catching up with Simple.TV

Adam Miarka —  August 29, 2014 — 5 Comments

simpletv-home

Although our initial impressions of the dual tuner Simple.TV was less than stellar, the company has been hard at work not only updating the little cord cutting, place shifting black box, but also launching new features. Recently, I had the chance to talk to Simple.TV CEO Mark Ely to discuss some of these changes.

First, from a software perspective, Simple.TV will be moving away from Silverlight as the default player outside of Safari on Mac. Currently, if you’re using IE, Chrome, or Firefox on a Windows computer, you are required to install Silverlight for video playback of your shows or live TV. Chromebooks are not supported at the moment. A move away from Silverlight and to a more compliant HTML5 video player will allow Simple.TV to expand their device playback on Windows, but also for Chromebooks. Continue Reading…

By way of a new TiVo support note, we learn that TiVo has indeed been preparing for the inevitable MPEG4 transition as cable operators look to reclaim bandwidth (beyond dastardly SDV).

In October 2014, Comcast will transition its system in Augusta, Georgia, from MPEG2 format to MPEG4. This transition means that cable channels in this region will not be viewable on older equipment that is incompatible with the new format.

Roamio and Premiere units are ready to tune – having already cut their teeth on smaller scale channel conversions on Cox and FiOS. Unfortunately, TiVo Stream and Roamio Pro/Plus transcoding won’t be ready until 2015.

Streaming functionality will return in early 2015, when a software update that provides compatibility with MPEG4 will be released.

Sadly, due to innate hardware limitations, TiVo Series 1, 2, and 3/HD owners are mostly out of luck. And those in markets with MPEG4 cable programming are advised to upgrade to a newer TiVo or cable company-provided set-top.

roku-tv

took a super brief look at Roku TV back at CES, but CNET is now out with a more thorough once over as pricing and timing have been revealed. And that pricing is extremely competitive, with the 32″ TCL running a mere $229. While that’s pretty darn good for a 720P smart TV with WiFi, CNET wonders if budget sets from Vizio might provide better picture quality, given local dimming… along with providing their own raft of apps. Of course, no one comes close to Roku’s breadth (even if the vast majority of their 2,000 over-the-top “channels” hold no appeal). Yet, at launch, the Roku TV doesn’t much compel me. In fact, they seemed to have overlooked some very interesting cord cutter interplay.

As with LG, “TV” is an app. In fact, highlighting the TV tile will even live-preview whatever’s being broadcast (as will any other input tile, such as a STB wired up via HDMI). But Roku’s very fine universal search doesn’t incorporate current or upcoming OTA programming. In fact, there’s no guide at all (as far as I know) – just a sidebar of tuned channels. Which, I suppose, is at least a step up from the yet-to-be-released Roku Antenna that requires you flip inputs between apps and TV.

roku-tv-guide

The Roku 3 remains my go-to streamer, besting Apple TV, Fire TV, TiVo, and Xbox One. And, if I were in the market for a budget smart set, for kitchen or office usage, I’d probably go with the Vizio – that also comes in a smaller 28″ size. Alternately, I’d simply get a “dumb” TV … and add over-the-top capabilities via the relatively inexpensive and clutter-free Chromecast or Roku Streaming Stick.

Aug 18

Amidst Roku and Fire TV TiVo app chatter, comes word that changes are headed to TiVo’s original (and only) DVR extender – the TiVo Mini.

I’d been hoping for a hardware refresh of perhaps an even smaller form factor, with a more secure power jack, and WiFi to hit RCN’s wishlist (and my kitchen TV). Alas, the only imminent adjustment is in the pricing department. Details remain light, so I’m left to speculate that the $6 monthly service fee will be reduced… or removed. While I’m fairly confident the fee is set to change, it’s not yet clear what will happen to hardware pricing. In a past era, as Replay TV flipped service fees requirements on and off, hardware pricing scaled (as did consumer confusion). So it TiVo were to totally drop the Mini service fees, I could see the little STB itself moving up from $100 to say $180. Continue Reading…

tivo-big

By way of the TiVo Community and whispers on the wind, we learn that TiVo intends to launch a new, higher-end DVR at CEDIA early next month… despite laying off their in-house industrial design hardware team. As to what comes after Roamio Plus and Pro, one can only guess. Assuming TiVo even sticks with the cutesy moniker for the custom install crowd, they’ve previously appended both Elite and XL to higher capacity models. First and foremost, that’s exactly what we expecting here. Whereas the Roamio Pro tops out at 3TB, I have reason to believe this incoming model will provide significantly more recording capacity, although it’s not entirely clear if this is accomplished via a single 4-6TB drive OR multiple drives working in concert for outrageous amounts of storage.

Beyond the hard drive bump, might we see 6 more tuners, powered by a second CableCARD, to take on the ridiculous? Signs point to no, but perhaps there are other surprises in store. I know I still miss that old Series 3 OLED display – it just oozed orange coolness (assuming your DVR wasn’t in a cabinet). Not to mention, maybe TiVo’s top unit should ship with learning Slide remote. And we wonder if it’s still too early for 4k. Guess we’ll find out in a few short weeks… What’s on your hardware wishlist?

DirecTV Extends TiVo Agreement Into 2018

Sadly, the initial fruits of their renewed labor haven’t been very compelling, leading some to wonder if DirecTV is doing the bare minimum to avoid costly licensing. And is it coincidental that TiVo’s Time Warp patent protection expires in 2018? Regardless, hope these guys have a higher def whole-home TiVo solution in the works for DirecTV subscribers. Given THR22 scarcity, there may indeed be something new in the pipeline…