Remember those dual tuner units I broke the news on a few weeks ago? They’re here and Engadget had some hand’s on time with one…

Engadget says: So what’d we think? Well, it worked exactly as advertised, and that second tuner was totally seamless. So the question isn’t how good was the Series2 DT — it’s really no better than any other TiVo on the market right now, this isn’t like a tossup between a Series2 and a Series3 or Media Center PC. The question you is: how much is that second tuner worth to you?

TiVo says: The TiVo Series2 DT DVR is optimized for cable households, allowing you to record two shows at once, so now you never have to miss any of your favorite shows — even if they’re on at the same time. The TiVo Series2 DT DVR also incorporates built-in Ethernet and USB ports, making it easier than ever to add the TiVo box to the home network. “We’ve been hearing from our subscribers that they wanted a TiVo DVR that could record two shows at once,” said Jim Denney , Vice President of Product Marketing at TiVo. “With the TiVo Series2 DT DVR, we’ve delivered that capability to our customers at a very affordable price.” The TiVo Series2 DT DVR will join the existing TiVo product line, and is available in an 80-hour model priced at just $99.99, after rebate and service activation.

All in all good news for those with standard def and analog cable, but these units are about a year or so too late for me. Let me know when the Series 3 arrives. For those of you who are in the market, the 80 hour model can be ordered now and the 180 hour will be available next month — presumably once they’ve cleared the S2 single tuner stock. He who buys first, pays the most…
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Never enough time…

  • TiVo cofounder Jim Barton broadcasts the revolution. (ACM Queue)
  • Netflix quarterly conference call doesn’t mention TiVo. (Internet Stock Blog)
  • Save fifty bucks on a Slingbox and get 2000 United Airlines miles. (Sling)
  • Details on Clear Channel’s digital radio plans (aka HD) to compete with satellite. (MarketWatch, Business Week)
  • Sony releases PSP firmware 2.7 (in Japan) providing Flash and AAC support. (Engadget)
  • NHL scores and standings plugin released for BeyondTV. (SnapStream)
  • Pay for a year of service and get a free refurb TiVo offer still available. (TiVo)

At long last, HBO has announced release dates for the second seasons of Deadwood and Entourage! Still no word on Rome or Ricky Gervais’ Extras. We watch most television through Netflix these days (no commercials, no scheduling, compressed seasons), and have been anxiously awaiting these discs. Speaking of Netflix television, we’re in the midst of a Sleeper Cell marathon this weekend.

Deadwood Season 2 – 5/23/06
Entourage Season 2 – 6/6/06

I may doubt the necessity of 1080p and HD DVD at these prices and with limited content, but the fact is I’m down to a lone standard definition setup (the 9″ kitchen TV doesn’t count) holed up in the bedroom.

TV
I picked up this 32″ JVC about 6 years ago when Consumer Reports recommended a similar model. The picture quality can’t compare to current technology, but I’m having a hard time letting go of a fully functional TV. Maybe I’ll take it off the surge protector and hope for an electrical storm. ;)

TiVo
The 80 hour DVD-burning Humax model replaced my Toshiba SD-H400 DVD-playing unit a few months ago. As the guy who wrote the book on TiVoToGo, I can tell you burning DVDs directly from the TiVo is a more efficient and joyful experience. (Assuming you can live with commercials. If you can’t, see this.) The TiVo is fed directly by analog cable which I output to the TV via S-Video and analog audio cables.

Slingbox
I’m not traveling much these days, so I don’t use the Slingbox regularly. However, my mom doesn’t have a cable drop in her computer room (formerly known as the ‘dining room’) and has been enjoying TLC and Discovery fed to her PC over the Internet. I use TiVo’s video pass-thru to provide the entire range of channels to the internal Slingbox tuner — essentially splitting the cable feed so Mom can’t change my channels or control the TiVo. Occasionally I fire up the laptop SlingPlayer in bed when my fiancé must watch Skating with the Next Top Celebrity American Idol Stars.

Buffalo Wireless Bridge
The Slingbox only provides an Ethernet jack and TiVo still doesn’t support WPA which led to this wireless bridge and Linksys USB -> Ethernet adapter. Incidentally, TiVoToGo and Multi-Room Viewing transfers are quicker than using a typical wireless adapter such as the Netgear WG111 I replaced.

TiVo’s having a bad week… first they prematurely announce their Blockbuster partnership and now they’ve inadvertently disclosed Guru Guides. But don’t take my word for it; go check your TiVo messages for the updated privacy policy notification.

What are Guru Guides, you ask? I have no idea. The obvious guess is some sort of VOD or HME-based informational content. If that’s the case, the bigger question is… who provides it? Does this have any relation to CNET TV?

UPDATE 1: gonzotek over at the TiVo Community Forum speculates Guru Guides may be an adult version of KidZone in which TiVo partner organizations or individuals provide content selections based on area of expertise or personal preference. I think he’s on to something…!

UPDATE 2: Greg noticed noticed a new TiVo support page which describes Expert Picks as a feature that allows you to receive and record recommended viewing programs from another brand, celebrity, entity, or individual that you trust. So which is it TiVo… Guru Guides or Expert Picks?

UPDATE 3: TiVo updated their support page to reflect Guru Guides, rather than Expert Picks. Guess that’s settled!

(Thanks, John!)

Business 2.0 has a cool little write-up and gallery of Netflix envelopes evolving over the years… Story here, pictures here.

Years of experimentation went into creating the perfect DVD envelope. In 1999, Netflix started out with a heavy cardboard mailer. With only 100,000 subscribers, costs weren’t a concern yet. Then the company experimented with plastic envelopes, which proved not to be recyclable, and padding, which added too much to postage costs. Both top-loading and side-loading envelopes made an appearance.

TiVo’s Law Firm Chimes In

Dave Zatz —  April 21, 2006

As you know, TiVo came away with a huge patent victory versus Echostar last week. The judge hasn’t yet ruled on increasing damages for willful infringement, and not only hasn’t an injunction been awarded but apparently TiVo hadn’t even requested it as of Wednesday. Could settlement/licensing talks be going on outside of court? Regardless, TiVo’s legal team is tooting their horn this morning…

Apr 21, 2006 08:45 ET

Irell & Manella Trial Team Secures $74 Million Patent Infringement Verdict for DVR Market Leader TiVo

Jury’s finding of willful infringement by EchoStar means damages could be trebled

LOS ANGELES, Calif., April 21 — In a closely-watched trial involving one of the most popular forms of technology in the home entertainment market, law firm Irell & Manella LLP represented TiVo Inc. in its $74 million patent infringement verdict against EchoStar Communications Corp.

On April 13, a Marshall, Texas jury concluded that EchoStar had willfully infringed TiVo’s patent on its “time-warp” technology for digital video recorders (known as DVRs). Despite two weeks of testimony about complex technology and patent issues, the jurors needed only two hours and fifteen minutes of deliberations to reach the unanimous verdict.

The finding of willful infringement exposes EchoStar to potential treble damages. In addition, EchoStar faces a potential injunction that would preclude it from further distribution of infringing DVRs. TiVo’s general counsel Matthew Zinn noted after the trial that an injunction would be even more meaningful than the sheer dollar award.
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