TiVo Adds Video Blog

Dave Zatz —  December 7, 2005

Why stop at audio podcasting when you can serve up video? TiVo will begin providing daily Rocketboom broadcast downloads on Monday. Networked Series 2 units are eligible to sign up via this web page or through a new Showcase which will appear on TiVo units tonight.

Even cooler, TiVo is soliciting volunteers to provide content (Engadget, are you listening?) for their “VideoBlog Project” here.

TiVo says: Rocketboom is currently one of the most popular videoblogs on the internet with more daily subscribers for original syndicated multimedia content than nearly any other site, including podcasts. Now, Rocketboom is available on TiVo as part of the TiVo Video Download Trial.

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Normally I mock all new i- and e- named products… However, I’m willing to make an exception for Anthro’s clever eNook. It looks to be a handy wall accessory for charging and storing all manner of gadgets – and let me tell you, I have more than my fair share. My only experience with Anthro has been positive — from purchase to shipping to typing up this blog entry on a 5 year old indestructible and still pristine computer cart. The eNook’s not cheap at $399, but given the solid construction and durability of my cart it’s probably a safe investment.

Anthro says: It charges, it stores and it fits where you don’t have a lot of room. eNook has channels for you to plug in and charge all of your electronic gadgetry, like your laptop, cell phones, PDAs and digital cameras. Flip it up to store your laptop and lock it out of sight. Or flip it down and you have a handy desk. eNook’s fabric covered back panel even serves as a bulletin board. Choose from different color and fabric combinations to match any decor.

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The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has reported to the FCC that it is feasible and preferable to move security away from CableCARD and to the Downloadable Conditional Access System (DCAS). Instead of using a CableCARD hardware key for authentication and decryption, a common security chip is embedded within set-top boxes or televisions will receive and apply a software security key downloaded from your cable providers. Basically, they’ve developed a framework to allow the download of digital certificates. Several manufacturers including Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta have collaborated in the design and testing of the hardware and common language of DCAS. The NCTA expects this technology to begin appearing in consumer devices the summer of 2008.

The good news is that these security features are separate and distinct from the ongoing development of multistream and bidirectional functions currently associated with CableCARDs. We can expect to see that same technology in DCAS devices. Ultimately, implementing DCAS would be simpler for consumers and providers to manage (any set-top box should work with any cable provider without needing to acquire a unique CableCARD). However the limited lifespan of CableCARD technology is an expense manufacturing will ultimately pass along to consumers. Not to mention that CableCARD TiVo box or HDTV you buy in 2006 could be superseded in 2008.

Think those beta pics look slick? If so, register your Series 2 TiVo on the priority list to get Yahoo!, Fandango, Live365, and Podcaster features first!

FYI TiVo issued a press release and spoke to USA Today about the new functionality. Additionally, they describe the services here. I’m betting they’re going to sell a lot of boxes this holiday season.

Exclusive TiVo Beta Photos

Dave Zatz —  November 28, 2005

As previously reported, TiVo is beefing up their HME offerings by centrally hosting applications and partnering with Yahoo! Yahoo! weather, traffic, and photos are available by entering your account info on the TiVo box. Also being previewed are Internet radio (Live365), the podcaster application I saw at Digital Life, Fandango movie tickets, and some various games. Beta testing is scheduled to continue into early 2006.

TiVo’s really starting to hit their stride in adding value over the typical cable-co DVR. Once they bundle these features with the upcoming dual HD tuner CableCARD model, they’ll really have something worth drooling over.
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TiVo’s got another patent in the pipeline this month. This new patent application describes the use of Closed Captioning meta-data as a means of communicating with the TiVo unit. For example, if the tag embedded in a regular Coke commercial appears during broadcast TV and I’ve opted-in to TiVo’s ad search, my box can replace the ad with additional/different Coke content that’s been previously downloaded. This patent appears to also cover the currently existing Thumbs Up ads.

US Patent application says: A closed caption tagging system provides a mechanism for inserting tags into an audio or video television broadcast stream prior to or at the time of transmission. The tags contain command and control information that the receiver translates and acts upon. The receiver receives the broadcast stream and detects and processes the tags within the broadcast stream which is stored on a storage device that resides on the receiver. Program material from the broadcast stream is played back to the viewer from the storage device. Tags indicate the start and end points of a program segment. Program segments such as commercials are automatically replaced by the receiver with new program segments that are selected based on various criteria.

TiVo LogoTiVo is collaborating with several advertising firms to create searchable, downloadable commercials. The technology will be similar to the existing TiVo Wishlists in that you specify keywords or categories of products and services you’re interested in. When TiVo matches your criteria, the ad is recorded or downloaded via broadband and added to a folder in the Now Playing list. This feature is expected to launch Spring 2006.

As long as the ads remain voluntary and unobtrusive, I’m all in favor of TiVo generating additional revenue. Though, as Om Malik suggests, TiVo’s continued push into advertising presents a business opportunity for another DVR maker to market itself as the anti-ad platform. Is there is a manufacturer brave enough to bring back ReplayTV’s commercial skip?

TiVo says: TiVo Inc., the creator and a leader in advertising solutions and television services for digital video recorders (DVRs), today announced that it plans to offer the first television-based advertising search solution in Spring 2006. Leveraging TiVo’s television search capabilities that enhance the TV viewing experience, the new product will deliver relevant, targeted advertising to subscribers that want to view particular advertising categories.

The heightened viewer experience that the new offering is intended to provide will deliver non-intrusive, relevant, interactive advertising, on a opt-in basis. TiVo subscribers, if they choose to use the search capability, will retain control over their viewing experience through the creation of a viewer contributed profile via the set-top box that will enable them to receive advertisements based on their interests.

“The new TiVo application will provide both a needed platform for consumers to seek out relevant, searchable commercial content and an environment for advertisers to engage highly desirable and motivated consumers,” said Tracey Scheppach, Vice President, Video Innovations Director at Starcom, a division of Starcom MediaVest Group. “It’s the first of its kind in the industry, and a platform that is clearly needed in this challenging advertising marketplace.”