TiVo LogoTiVo still has a few (minor) tricks up their sleeve this year…

Within the next month or so we can expect a Series 2 software update, which I’ll conveniently call 7.3. It enhances HME functionality, adds show overlap prioritization, and contains the requisite under-the-hood tweaks and bug fixes. In hardware news, a TiVo branded wireless adaptor will be available for sale.

As previously reported Tivo-hosted server-based HME applications will go live. Many of the initial TiVo-produced HME apps will provide similar functionality as Galleon, but without the need for running Java programs on your PC. I got to see a few in action… While I can’t say I was impressed with the little games (TiVo is no XBox), the Podcasting feature is useful and well executed for a first generation widget. TiVo has identified, categorized, and linked to quite a few Podcasts, but you have the ability to manually enter the location of any others you might fancy. The audio content is streamed via your broadband connection through the television.

In order to programmatically compensate for the networks’ strategy of staggered start and end show times (9:01 for example), TiVo will be introducing a configurable “Overlap” function in 7.3.

First spotted this summer in Vegas, I can now provide a few more details on the mysterious dongle of 2005 (not to be confused with the presumably abandoned 2004 TivoToGo dongle shown at CES). TiVo will begin selling a branded wireless G adapter which should result in fewer networking hassles, such as hardware compatibility. Nice enough, but not so exciting… The much bigger news is this dongle “offloads” some of the “heavy lifting” currently performed by Series 2 hardware – meaning both Multi-room Viewing (MRV) and TiVoToGo (TTG) will be noticeably quicker.
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Live From DigitalLife

Dave Zatz —  October 14, 2005

Both TiVo and I are here at the Javits Center in NYC! Bob Poniatowsky, of Tivo Product Marketing, graciously answered some of my intrusive questions – stay tuned for the details. Additionally, Netgear has a new media device on the horizon which I’ll be reporting on. Akimbo, Orb Networks, and some of the Slingbox folks are also here – so we’ll see what else I can dig up.

And yes, I did see TiVo’s VCR coffin. The mortuary music is definitely over the top, though it hasn’t discouraged the decent sized crowd from picking up free boxes.

TiVo
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Sony Updates PSP, VOD & TV

Dave Zatz —  October 13, 2005

Location Free TVSony made good on their promise to provide LocationFree TV with today’s PSP 2.5 software upgrade. Streaming live television through the house to a PSP is mildly impressive… However, being able to use the Internet to provide a remote television feed (see Slingbox) is quite cool, indeed. What Sony neglected to mention is the cheapest LocationFree TV unit goes for $1100.

This update also provides support for those of us in America to eventually purchase and view video content – perhaps similar to the Japanese video portal. The timing of this announcement is quite coincidental (or not) to yesterday’s release of the video iPod with the ability to purchase downloadable television shows via iTunes.

Sony says: You can watch TV or videos on your PSP™ system by using the LocationFree™ Player. To watch TV or videos at home, you must have a LocationFree™ Base Station (a Sony product sold separately). To watch away from home, you must have a LocationFree™ Base Station (a Sony product sold separately) and access to the Internet using a wireless LAN.

Copyright-protected video can now be played under [Video]. Note that fees may be charged to obtain or use copyright-protected video. Downloadable copyright-protected video may not be available in all countries and regions.

PSP 2.5

(via Engadget)

Front Row, Mac as HTPC

Dave Zatz —  October 12, 2005

FrontRowApple introduced Front Row, a media management application, and minimalist iPod Shuffle-esque six button remote to be bundled with new iMac’s – allowing you to control music, photos, and videos from the couch. While it’s no DVR (see Eye TV) and you’re limited to the iMac monitor as a display device (for now), it’s definitely an exciting step in the home entertainment direction.

Apple says: You’ve got the best seat in the house. The full-screen Front Row media experience — with its intuitive menus, large text and brilliant graphics — lets you browse the music, photos and videos on your iMac as easily as you browse music on your iPod. And the new Apple Remote lets you do your browsing from anywhere in the room. So gather your friends and dazzle them with a slideshow of your vacation pics, a home movie or a DVD. iMac G5 was born to entertain.

BeyondTV4 Exclusive Preview

Dave Zatz —  October 12, 2005

BeyondTV4Soham Mehta, Director of Product Development at SnapStream, and I spoke about the forthcoming BeyondTV4. As with BeyondTV3, BTV4 is a PC-based DVR application.

SnapStream’s biggest news is the ability to record over-the-air (OTA) HD broadcasts with BTV4, including support for an unlimited amount of tuners. Also important is what’s not included: DRM. SnapStream is monitoring digital rights management within the industry, but is committed to empowering their customers. Having said that, BTV4 provides unencrypted DivX output resulting in high-quality video with smaller file sizes. Additionally, many set-top DVD players support the DivX format providing another means of archiving content. Based on customer requests, SnapStream has integrated FM time shifting into BTV4.

The new software has been under active beta testing since early summer, with hundreds of participants helping SnapStream polish this release. In regards to future development, Soham emphasized they are “reactive to hardware” and thus seek “synergy” with manufacturers to add features based on customer feedback. Soham indicates BTV4 will be released this year, “before the holidays.” The current pricing model will remain the same, with discounts offered to those upgrading.

Primary New Features:

  • HD tuner support
  • DivX output
  • FM time shifting

Additional Features:

  • Enchanced show search options
  • Revised interface
  • Support for unlimited tuners at no additional cost
  • Live TV buffer for back-recording

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PocketDISH(es) Released

Dave Zatz —  October 11, 2005

PocketDISHDish Network has just released their custom branded Archos portable media devices. They come in three flavors, corresponding to various LCD and hard drive sizes at different price points: $329, $499, $599. Dish, part owner of Archos, includes support for high-speed Dish DVR downloads.

Dish Network says: With the choice of a crystal-clear 2.2-inch, 4-inch or 7-inch LCD screen, PocketDISH is one of the most advanced portable media devices available and provides consumers the ultimate convenience in how they watch television. Compatible with most TVs and consumer electronic devices on the market today, the units can download or record content from a PC or Mac, digital cameras, mass storage devices, as well as other video or audio sources such as DVD players, camcorders and VCRs. DISH Network customers will enjoy a special feature of ultra-fast video transfer speeds when attaching PocketDISH to select DISH Network digital video recorders (DVRs) via a USB 2.0 connection. For instance, an hour of DISH Network programming can be transferred to the PocketDISH hard drive in about five minutes.

TiVo Goes To War

Dave Zatz —  October 10, 2005

TiVo LogoDirecTV starts peddling their new DVR this week, but in the long run will it be competition or commission for TiVo? If TiVo is able to prevail in defending their “time warp” patent versus Dish Network, with court proceedings beginning this week, they should be able to work out royalty arrangements with other DVR providers… in or out of court.

Rocky Mountain News says: The question of who owns the rights to technology that revolutionized the way people watch TV goes to trial this week in a Texas courtroom.

TiVo Inc. alleges that EchoStar Communications Corp., operator of the Dish Network satellite- television service, infringed on a patent central to digital-video recorders, devices that allow viewers to pause live TV and skip commercials.

At stake for Douglas County- based EchoStar are unspecified monetary damages and the risk that it might be forced to modify many of its receivers. That’s if the company is found liable for infringing on TiVo’s “time warp” patent, which allows viewers to record a program while replaying another. For TiVo, which pioneered the DVR technology – only to see satellite and cable companies create their own versions – the case could set a precedent as to whether it can sue other companies that have introduced competing products.