iTunes 7 ate all my purchased music. (Wil Wheaton)
Archives For Video
TVHarmony AutoPilot (free!) has always offered leading edge TiVoToGo desktop software, being the first with scheduled downloads and commercial skip functionality. I traded several emails with Will of TVHarmony, and I’m impressed with what he’s accomplished (and what he has planned). AutoPilot Beta 2 converts to and from a much greater variety of devices and services. Taking a page from Galleon, AutoPilot utilizes HME to optionally schedule downloads and conversions directly from TiVo. While we’ve always been able to remotely download TiVoToGo content, AutoPilot has added some rudimentary place-shifting of previously converted content (think Orb). Will tells me the web streaming is still a work in progress, but he has a cocktail napkin of design notes to build on-the-fly PC conversion to stream content directly from the TiVo. How cool would that be?
Summary of new features:
- Converts videos for many new devices including Creative Zen, Cell Phones, GP2X, Archos, and Neuros video players.
- Downloads and converts video from Youtube.com, Video.Google.com, Archive.org, and other video sharing sites.
- Access AutoPilot from your Tivo via HME so you can schedule downloads and conversions from your living room.
- Logon to AutoPilot from the web including watching downloaded content from your web browser.
- Transfer your TiVo shows using your PSP web browser to watch video from the road.
- Multi-threaded for faster downloads and conversions.
Both TiVo and Netflix posted interesting job openings this week…
First up is Netflix, who’s looking to hire an interface engineer. Based on the description it seems they’re interested in exploring Vista’s GUI functionality to possibly produce a front-end for on-line movie distribution. Keep in mind Vista will bundle Media Center Edition features… which currently include Xbox 360 streaming.
This research team will be investigating new ten-foot user interface models for browsing a huge catalog of movies on a on a TV. Rich interactivity will be key to collecting user tastes and preferences and helping the user find the right content easily. We will be exploring various technologies such as Windows Presentation Foundation, which means we are looking for someone able to pick up a new tools and execute quickly and effectively. (via Hacking Netflix)
And speaking of Windows, TiVo’s job opening prominently mentions Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1/WMV9) which both Blu-ray and HD-DVD support… and what a variety of current movie download services (Movielink, CinemaNow) utilize in conjunction with Microsoft DRM. MPEG-4 is also mentioned, a format many consider compressed enough for the possibility of wide-scale TiVo video downloads.
TiVo is seeking a manager for the Media Architecture team. This team is responsible for the real-time streaming functionality that drives the TiVo digital video recorder features: real-time record and playback of synchronized audio/video data.
- This person will have knowledge in at least one of the following areas: MPEG-2 video and systems, MPEG-1 audio (including MP3), or MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264) video
- In addition, this person will have working experience in 3 of the following areas: VC-1, WMV9 and WMA, Dolby Digital (AC-3), network streaming audio and video, DVD playback and recording, digital right management (DRM) technologies
Never enough time… in Canada!
I no longer ride the subway to work, so now my commute is far less interesting and far less productive. However, I still have a fond place in my heart for portable multimedia. The two media apps I find myself using most frequently (which can’t be accessed on a subway) are the portable Slingbox player (it does go full screen) and MiniXM (as shown above on my Sprint 6700). I’m obviously on XM, but Sirius subscribers can stream stations via SiriuCE. TiVoToGo converted shows are played back via the included Windows Media Player and ripped DVDs through TCPMP. Orb could stream my home music collection, video, pictures, and television if I wanted — the TV component isn’t nearly as slick as Sling’s box and custom app, but it is free if you have a PC with tuner card. Down the road, I’d really like to see Windows Mobile support PMP services such as Vongo’s all-you-can-eat movie rentals.
The Akimbo story isn’t over yet… As Om Malik reported yesterday, Akimbo has picked up $15 million dollars from a variety of investors including Cisco and AT&T. Not so coincidentally, Akimbo will be providing content downloads for AT&T’s upcoming Homezone service. While Akimbo’s hardware revision has been pushed to the fall, PC Magazine just published details on the updated hardware and service. Given Akimbo’s intended partnership with Movielink, it’s no surprise they’re moving to a Microsoft platform that supports Windows Media Video (and DRM). As announced at CES, RCA will manufacture the box. They estimate it’ll cost $200 – $300 and include basic content downloads at the current $10/mo price point, while prime content and movies will incur additional fees. Movielink’s fairly large library (much larger than MovieBeam’s 100 flicks) is compelling, but paying monthly service fees plus rental fees on top of a hardware expense doesn’t sit well with me and I don’t think the market will support this model… We’ll see how things play out in the fall and learn if this is indeed their final pricing scheme.