Mac TiVoToGo Is Here… By Roxio?!


Mac TiVoToGo is finally here, and it’s not at all what we expected. Mac TiVoToGo does not require the TiVo Desktop and has been entirely built into Roxio Toast 8 Titanium as a collaboration between TiVo and Sonic. Product Directors Amir Gharaat (TiVo) and Adam Fingerman (Roxio) got me up to speed last week during a conference call.

As we know, Mac TiVoToGo is looooong overdue so my first question was: “What happened?” If you recall, we saw an alpha version at CES last year which looks nothing like what they’ve just devliered. As I suspected, the main sticking point was TiVo’s inability to keep the media locked down (as they do using Microsoft DirectShow on Windows). After spinning their wheels with “content security issues” for awhile, they turned to partner Sonic for technical assistance last spring… and here we are!

Mac TiVoToGo (via Toast) is composed for four distinct functions: TiVo Transfer, Video Playback, DVD Burning, and Portable Conversions.

TiVo Transfer (pictured up top)
In addition to feeding Roxio technical details on TTG decryption, TiVo was largely responsible for creating TiVo Transfer, a seperate app bundled with Toast. TiVo Transfer allows you pull specific shows to your Mac on demand or set up scheduled downloads. Files are the same .tivo format used on the PC, though with a unique icon, and are placed in a folder under the user account that initiated the transfer. From TiVo Transfer you have the ability to launch playback, delete a downloaded show, or “Toast It.”



Roxio and ElGato share some employee DNA and are partners, hence the ElGato logo you’ll notice on the player. The player decrypts the .tivo content in real time and supposedly controls very smoothly when using trick plays or scrubbing forward and reverse.



Toast allows you to burn TiVo content to DVD in two ways. You can either archive the shows for use on a Mac (PC too) or you can burn for use in a set-top box. Roxio includes a TiVo menu style (!) for authoring DVDs, in addition to 10 others — and all can be customized.


Conversion for Portables

From Toast, clicking ‘Export’ will bring up common profiles for 320×240 iPod or PSP conversions: MPEG-4 (quicker, lower qulaity) or H.264 (slowed, higher quality). Roxio will drop iPod conversions into the appropriate iTunes sync folder.

Pricing: Toast retails for $100 and will be available for order and download today. There are a variety of rebates available for upgraders, such as an instant rebate that scans your system for an earlier version. Additionally, the first 5000 folks who buy direct from TiVo will get a free Glo Remote (normally $50). Additionally, I’m told boxes are on the way to stores — with an early shipment headed to the Apple store near MacWorld for sales this week.
Some Technical Details: Toast 8 Titanium TTG features are available for both PPC and Intel platforms running OS X 10.4. Custom export profiles can can be created for DivX, MPEG-4, or H.264 for playback on other portables such as Palm or Windows Mobile.

Interesting Factoid: Ammir confirmed for me that TiVo Desktop on Windows does indeed embed a non-visible watermark of a customers Media Access key into converted video. Likewise, the conversion portion of Toast performs the same function.

Last but not least, Roxio shipped out a review copy Friday which I’ll take a look at after CES. Actually, it may be a few weeks after CES since my only Mac runs OS X 10.3.9. I also plan to get some hands on time and pics in the next day or so.

37 thoughts on “Mac TiVoToGo Is Here… By Roxio?!”

  1. Be still my beating heart! But… has TiVo pulled the link, were they slashdotted, was it just a dream? Because the “roxio” URL at is dead. Gizmodo also linked there mere moments ago, but nothing. Waah!

  2. Yes, TTG itself is free. But there is no included support for DVD burning. Conversions for portables requires buying TiVo Desktop Plus for $25.

    And since that’s the full MSRP, I bet it will cost less than that REAL fast, on the street.

  3. Exactly… transfering from TiVo to PC is free on Windows… but to actually convert for iPod or burn to DVD you have to pay $25 for Desktop Plus and $75 for MyDVD… so this is the same.

  4. Dave – Something just occurred to me. Does this include support for TivoToComeBack – serving video FROM the Mac, TO the Tivo? The Windows TiVo Desktop does that, standard, and the Mac TiVo Desktop has it as a hidden feature that can be enabled.

  5. MacDog – I’m sure someone will argue that on Windows you have options to use other burning software. And there are free converters, like TVHarmony AutoPilot.

    But, of course, TiVo Decode works on Mac as a free solution too.

  6. Mega: As far as I know it does not include TiVoBack. So we’ll continue to use the Mac TiVo Desktop hack to enable it. TiVo did tell me the Mac TiVo Desktop will continue to be developed (and of course is still perfectly fine for streaming photos and music in its current form).

    Mikey: It does cost $80 – $100, but you’ll get a free remote out of it plus DVD burning and MP4 conversion (DiVx too!). It’s not cheap, but I think it’s a nice package and of course includes all the other features of Roxio’s Toast.

    FYI The TiVo link should be active sometime today. Also the Roxio page should have something as well.

  7. Nice.

    I don’t know how they do the watermark, I did not see it in the directshow dll, I have to assume if its anywhere its on the tivo box itself.

    About the smooth control in the playback app, that is something I have been trying to get to work right with an mplayer patch I have been working on. Seeking in the encrypted stream is a PITA. Wonder how they implemented that… ;)

    Anyway, nice that Mac users will finally be officially supported, but I guess those of us using other *NIX and those who don’t want to buy this for the Mac will still be using tivodecode.

  8. FrooBrar,

    The watermarking is only in the converted files. It is done on the PC by the encoder when it re-encodes the MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, H.264, etc.

  9. Do we still have to subscribe to Tivo and have the set-top box (I’m not a user)? Or do they have an online library of shows streaming? Sorry if dumb questions. I want to avoid any more subscriptions.

  10. Well now as a windows user I feel left behind ;) I so would like a decent player to be included with TiVo desktop. They did have that preview sneak out at one time, Dave may remember that *hehe* The irony of including a decent player on the Mac platform while windows users are stuck with Media Player or else looking around for a decent 3rd party player that actually works with the TiVo format

  11. Jeff94svx. This would be used with the TiVo DVR. I a msure dave would have mentioned if the Roxio app had other sources for content. You can alsways check out Amazon unbox for direct downloading

  12. The page is back up… but no Glo Remote. Darn it.

    TiVo is pointing to a page on Roxio’s site that is currently giving a 404 (and a $10 off code of 404SAVE10). Is the Glo Remote going to be there? Or are all 5,000 already gone?

  13. The TiVo-To-Go page now has a pointer for Mac users, but I can’t find any free-remote stuff. You just get directed to the Roxio site, which gives a “page not found, here’s a 10% off coupon” error.

  14. I’m not sure what’s going on or the mechanics of the promotion. TiVo told me the page to go to is and that the first 5k get remotes. Maybe they’ll update it this morning?

  15. Wow, everyone here is a lot more forgiving than I am. I’m being told that after waiting for YEARS to get the promised Mac support, now it’s going to run me a Benjamin? That’s ridiculous! I already shelled out $25 for the stupid Windows version, I’m sure as heck not paying another $100 for the same privilege on my Mac. And I know someone said the DVD burning is what you get for the extra $75, but I don’t care about that – I don’t want it. Honestly, what good is burning DVDs going to be in the near future anyway? Apparently, everything is going HD, and besides that, physical media is almost obsolete – why the heck do you think I want to transcode my TiVoed programs to my iPod?!?

    I’m sorry, but this just seems stupid to me. I mean, it can’t be that hard to imbed a watermark. Granted, some of the difficulty may be because of inane requirements by the content industry, but… come on.

  16. I’m speaking of basic functionality; free for Windows, $ for OS X. It’s not going to break anyone, sure, but it is a reflection of attitude.

    I’m too into the tinkering, free solutions, but we’ll see what we can do about this new option.

    Dave, have fun in Vegas! Glad you got to go.

  17. Thanks, Vobbler! Well, I ordered mine. For me, it was a no-brainer: A TiVo Glo remote and Toast 8 for $89. And I can still get a rebate because I’m a current Toast owner.

    Troy, I understand your view. I would say stick with TivoDecode Manager, which is a slick piece of freeware and works wonderfully. Between that, TiVo Desktop, and VisualHub (which will run you $25 and will transcode to oodles of formats), you can get close to the same functionality. For me, having the upgrade to Toast and the TiVo Glo remote… well, I’m in geeked-out bliss right about now. :)

  18. Even basic functionality is not really free on Windows – you have to have a supported MPEG-2 codec, and all of the legal ones cost money (to cover the patent pool licensing fees.)

    It’s just that many Windows users have one of these already because they also need it to support the DVD-playign drive in their system. (This is not true of all Windows users, though.)

  19. Hey, where is support for the Series 3?

    The clock is counting down for Series 1 and Series 2, since both only support the old over-the-air broadcasting standard (NTSC).

    Fact: The FCC reclaims NTSC bandwidth in 2009. All tivo Series 1 and 2 products have a less than 2 year lifetime left.

    This TivoToGo product is extremely disappointing since it is over a year late, and has no Series 3 support.

  20. M.,

    TiVoToGo on the Series3 can’t be released until CableLabs gives their approval, since it is a CableCARD host device. TiVo is working with them on it. It isn’t technical at all, strictly an approval issue.

    Also, you make the same mistake as many others. The S1 and S2 products have NO limit on their life. The FCC regulations apply *only* to over-the-air NTSC broadcast. They have no bearing on analog cable, for example. The single largest group of TiVo customers use analog cable. Next is digital cable – and the S1 and S2 support that with a cable box, which will continue to work indefinitely. And external satellite receivers will also work in the same way.

    So the FCC regulations will only apply to TiVo owners using an antenna to record OTA NTSC signals. Which is a very small group. And it is possible for TiVo to add support for one of the converter boxes to support ATSC, in the same was as digital cable or satellite. They haven’t announced anything, but the possibility is certainly there.

  21. Stupid question: how does Toast/Mac/TivoToGo actually obtain the info from your TiVo box? I have a DirecTV R-10, and I don’t believe the USB ports are active for a network connection.

  22. Ian & Hassan,

    Sorry, TiVoToGo does not work on the DirecTV – they won’t allow TiVo to enable it. There are hacks to enable it, but you need to yank the drive and add hack software.

  23. The “export” from Toast 8 says that the maximum video size “that TiVo will allow” is 320×240. So much for archiving old shows in AVC or any other format. TiVo’s really starting to piss me off, as a Mac user who’s waited two years for TiVoToGo in the first place.

  24. Big deal, I read the announcement with some interest, looked at some of the open source stuff. Than sat down and wrote a quick java program that allowed me to do just about the same thing. After figuring out the ssl , it was pretty easy.

    Its not like tivo is keeping anything secret, there’s a web interface built into the tivo thats pretty easy to access and the specs are widely published. Transcoding or decoding the file is up in the air as to whats legal or not. but as long as you don’t do something stupid like try to post on the internet you’re probably ok.

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