CES: TiVo Desktop 2.6 Details

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Both TiVo and Sling had tables at the Digital Experience press event last night, so with about ten minutes left in the show I was able to sneak away for more details on the forthcoming TiVo Desktop PC software. Perhaps I’m overtired, because when I had originally received the embargoed press release on Saturday I just didn’t have a handle on what’s new with this transcoding functionality. Having seen it in action, it’s much clearer…

TiVo Desktop 2.6 allows you to monitor a folder of video – which is automagically transcoded and transferred to a networked TiVo. What’s new is the whole element of automation… Here’s one of example of how you might put this to use: Subscribe to various video podcasts via iTunes, have TiVo Desktop monitor that folder, and specify the number of videos (of each podcast) the TiVo should store (as shown above). Once that setup is complete, whenever your PC is powered up new videos are automatically transcoded and transfered – meaning, video content resides on the TiVo and doesn’t require the PC stay powered on for television playback.

I can’t say most customers will utilize this feature or get the concept, but it’s a nice-to-have feature for those that do. And something no other DVR provides. (If you already have a TiVo, it’s also much cheaper than investing in an Apple TV.) TiVo Desktop 2.6 is due in March, and as before, transcoding carries a $24.95 fee. Current TiVo Desktop Plus licensees will receive a free upgrade.

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21 thoughts on “CES: TiVo Desktop 2.6 Details”

  1. FYI There won’t be any big announcements from TiVo (as far as I know) this show. They’ll be putting a lot of emphasis on Comcast and International rollouts in their booth, in addition to showing off the hardware and TiVo services we’re pretty familiar with.

    Megazone will surely hit TiVo before I do – perhaps he can probe into the status of Cox deployments, additional Comcast regions, and the Australian TiVo hardware. Also find out why it takes 50 seconds to filter HD channels on that build.

  2. Chris, here is what Megazone has to say about Mac support: “Mac users aren¬ít being left out either – Roxio Toast 9 will offer similar features for them, also in March. No word on if the next version of Roxio Popcorn will see similar updates.”
    Catch his article here.

  3. So if I understand this, I’ll be able to get any content that is availible by RRS feed? I think that’s great. Colbert, Stewart, etc.

  4. It would be smarter to cut out the PC entirely. I wish TiVo would connect to and play play popular video formats like MPEG-4 natively. Transcoding takes alot of PC processing power and can be a real drag on the computer.

  5. this would be nice for me, i torrent the BBC version of Top Gear, which after ninja tricks could be put onto my tivo, but i dont have a pc in my place anymore to do this! i hope mac support ramps up…

  6. There are already free programs (such as pyTivo) that will transcode videos on a networked computer and make them available on the Tivo Now Playing list for download on demand. The thing that makes Desktop 2.6 unique is that the videos are automatically pushed to the Tivo. I can see how some folks will find this useful, but if your Tivo is like mine there’s not usually a lot of free disc space available. I think that I will stick with pyTivo.

  7. Forget TiVo! Where’s the Moxi news? From what I’ve been able to scrounge up, they announced Flickr support and they’re still not committing to a release date…or even a window. Have you heard anything new or different?

  8. There is a Mac converter….I also run downloaded episodes of TopGear on it to convert to mpeg Tivo friendly formats. Does take a while but it is running on a headless G4 Cube!

  9. I think this is a welcome feature. I held off on paying the 24.95 for Plus for a while but if its true that it pumps stuff to the Tivo and doesn’t require the computer to be on all the time, I think it might be good.

  10. razordullwit, I haven’t seen my Digeo PR contact. I tried finding her at two off-site events but haven’t connected yet. I’m hoping to do a little floor-roaming on Thursday.

    xdreamwalker, Nothing has yet been confirmed for the Mac platform. As far as I know…

  11. Automatically transferring files to the Tivo looks really cool.

    I’ve got the TiVo HD, and it supposedly has hardware support for H.264 and MPEG4. I’ve experimented with transferring DVD VOB files to the TiVo directly as MPEG2 and that looks better than my $50 DVD player, and skips transcoding. What I’d like to know is there going to be a way of skipping the transcoding using the protocol any time soon?

    I paid for the TiVo desktop plus, only to find that the free Windows Home Server addin does a better job of transcoding shows for my widescreen tv. http://durfee.net/software/2007/07/tivo-publisher-for-whs.html

  12. It’s a step in the right direction, but I’m with William C Bonner. I want my S3 to do this natively with H.264/Mpeg video podcasts. It has the power.

    My chief concern with this approach is that the desktop app has to be running constantly on the PC sucking up cycles. I purposefully minimize all running apps on my PC to keep performance at its peak. I don’t want TiVo Desktop pulling my system performance down. And I sure don’t want to have to remember to manually start and stop TiVo Desktop every day just to get my video podcasts over to the TiVo.

    I understand why they are doing this for S2 users, but for TiVo HD and S3 users, the better approach is to do this all within the TiVo

    …Dale

  13. Personally I think the folder support is a far bigger deal for me, but we’ll see how this goes. Now if they can just tell it to do the transcoding in the middle of the night…

    Like others I wonder about the obvious… since Xvid and DivX are both basically mpeg-4 variants, if I have a video in either format, and want to push it to a Tivo HD or Series 3, what will the CPU load on the PC look like? Light and fast, like a wrapper change, or a full transcode burden…

  14. huh? this makes no sense…you can input url’s for regular audio podcasts, which are then streamed, but you cant do the same with video? why all this workaround? drm or something?

  15. Regarding CPU, I spoke with to the product marketing manager who didn’t seem to the think the transcoding would be a huge processor burden. As far as conversion times, the slowest it might be on a modern computer would be real-time. He said with a dual core processor, an hour show converts in just a few minutes.

    We also spoke a bit about why they don’t support video podcast (or other) streaming or downloads direct to the TiVo. And some of the assumptions here are probably right regarding video type versus playback capabilities. gt, TiVo’s audio podcasts streaming may not be the best example since we can’t even pause the content. I’d rather transcode and be able to have my TiVo controls available while viewing.

  16. Transcoding is a huge burden, in that I don’t want to leave a power hungry machine running to do my transcoding, especially when the TiVo has the hardware to play the stuff natively. My home server is built on a low power VIA EPIA EN12000EG motherboard running on a fanless picoPSU-90 power supply. I believe that it draws less than 25 watts at full utilization. It takes at least 4 hours to transcode a one hour show in TiVo desktop.

    I don’t want to let Tivo desktop run on my laptop because it’s not got enough ram for excess bloat, plus my laptop is optimized for low power as well.

    Here’s my hardware links: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/mainboards/motherboards.jsp?motherboard_id=399 and http://www.davisnet.com/drive/products/drive_product.asp?pnum=08226

  17. is there any kind of plug-in that i can download or get from somewhere, to get the movies from my tivo, to my pc???

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