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Television Media

ReplayTV 4000 Series Shares TV Over Net 142

Posted by Hemos
from the that's-a-lot-of-time dept.
REden writes " ReplayTV announces their ReplayTV 4000 Series networkable PVR. Features include video sharing between LAN attached Replays, sending a show to another Replay over the internet, and automatic commercial skip. Prices start at $700 for a 40 hour unit and max out at $2000 for a 320 hour unit. ReplayTV guide service included. Units are scheduled to ship November 14th." 320 hours. I can't imagine holding on to that much TV - but space is cheap, so, eh, why not?
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ReplayTV 4000 Series Shares TV Over Net

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  • by FatSean (18753) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:31AM (#2254986) Homepage Journal
    This device sounds great! Too great, in fact. You can skip the commercials, then send the shows to people on the internet?! Surely some body will sue this company into oblivion, as their device enables users to enjoy TV without being subjected commercials!

    Maybe I had better buy one before it's too late.
    • No mention was made of sending shows over the internet...rather, it was to other units on a LAN.

      And there is no way anyone could sue them for enabling commercial skipping...that's like saying someone could sue Sony because I can pause their VHS recorder during commercials, thus eliminating any possibility of having to watch advertisements.
      • by dair (210)
        No mention was made of sending shows over the internet...rather, it was to other units on a LAN.
        From their FAQ:

        Q. How do I share television programs with my friends?
        A. If your friend has a ReplayTV 4000, they can "talk" to each other over the broadband Internet connections.


        It sounds as if you need a ReplayTV unit at each end, but capturing what they send to each other would be trivial. The datastream is probably encrypted, but you have to wonder how long that would last.

        -dair
        • This is extremely carefully worded. It does NOT say that you will be able to send copies of copyrighted materials to friends over the internet. It says the machines will be able to "'talk' to each other". I haven't read the FAQ, but this leaves plenty of wiggle room.

          "Talking" in this context might mean sharing programs, but it might also mean sharing programming data only or some other lame restriction. The fact is that, the way the law looks now, a Court could well find that there would have to be a "substantial non-infringing use" for the sharing feature to make it legal. In the context of the ReplayTV units (which I love -- I own one myself) that use would be hard to find. ReplayTV units record essentially only copyrighted material, so the sharing function (outside of a home LAN) would seem to have little non-infringing purpose.

          Within a home LAN, an argument could be made that the purpose is "space shifting" -- making legally copied content available in other places in the home for the person who made the legal copy. This is an extension of the "time shifting" rationale used to justify the existence of VCRs in the Supreme Court's seminal Betamax case. "Space shifting" was also found to be a fair use (by a lower court) in the RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia (Rio) case, and is one reason that MP3 players are not actionable.

          But the space shifting argument has not been extended in recent cases (either in New York or California, where most of this gets tried, see the various DeCSS cases) so I think the "sharing" feature, if it really does allow people to share copyrighted content with friends in distant locations, would be fertile ground for a lawsuit.

          Note that, much as I love 'em, ReplayTV has backed off its promises in the past. It originally told buyers that their personal viewing information would NEVER be collected or sold. It is now clear that such information IS being collected for the my.replaytv.com service. That's fine -- good, even, my.replaytv.com is very cool -- it just happens to be a clear, unannouced change in policy.

          Now if they put 802.11b in the thing, I'd pre-order right now.

          • Read the features page [replaytv.com].

            "The ReplayTV 4000 is so connected it allows you to share recorded programs with other friends and family that have ReplayTV 4000s. And with its broadband connectivity, sending and receiving programs is a breeze. So, if you forgot to record the last Friends episode, just ask your Mom to send it to you!"

            THIS ROCKS!
      • my unanswered question (unanswered by their FAQ) is that will this thing be able to play video files off of my PC? that's something i'd love to see - then it would be just like an audiotron for video.

        i've got a lot of digitized mst3k episodes i'd love to watch this way.
      • No mention was made of sending shows over the internet.

        This is directly from the ReplayTV website [replaytv.com]:
        With ReplayTV 4000, the only networked Digital Video Recorder (DVR) with broadband connectivity, you can share your recorded shows between different ReplayTVs in your home, send recorded programs to your friends via the Internet


        This will be shut down faster than you can say iCraveTV [slashdot.org]! (and that was legal under the laws of the country in which it was offered).

      • No mention was made of sending shows over the internet...rather, it was to other units on a LAN.

        Quoting from the specs PDF [replaytv.com]:

        • Now you can share media within and outside the home, access videos over the Internet and manage your home entertainment.
        • Video sharing inside and outside the home.
        • Video sharing with friends and family owning ReplayTV 4000 units
        I'd say that makes it clear that you can send video over the Internet to another one of these gizmos.
    • This looks great. I have a ReplayTV 30 hr model, and it is one of the best purchases we have ever made. Think of the possibilities. "I forgot to record Friends, can you send it to me?"

      As for advertisers, I think that advertising on television is going to adapt to be more like advertising on movies. Remember Drew Barrymore holding that Nokia phone in Charlie's Angels? Expect to see a Classic Coca-Cola poster in Joey's room, Monica doing the laundry while using Tide, etc. You see some of this now, but it will be more prevelant in the future. As long as stations don't do stupid things like TNN's hijacking the bottom of the screen, I won't care.

      • >I think that advertising on television
        >is going to adapt to be more like advertising
        >on movies. Remember Drew Barrymore holding
        >that Nokia phone in Charlie's Angels?

        Interesting concept... I can't wait to see them digitally airbrush in a t-shirt for "Jose's wigmaking" on captain kirk and ads for dominos pizza on the nature channel.
  • by seanellis (302682) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:31AM (#2254989) Homepage Journal
    Hmm. "Automatic commercial skip facility." If spammers can sue their ISPs now, how long until some advertiser sues Replay for loss of revenue?

    Sean
    • Commercial skip is not new. They've been in VCR's for years, using an automatic fast-forward.

      Better still, can advertisers sue all those people going to the bathroom during commercials?
    • Since they have network connectivity, they'd be nuts not to upsell an on-demand system where you can pay 2 bucks to see a show you forgot to download, or a show that was never even on! If they can work it out with the broadcasters and/or copyright holders it might just offset the commercial revenue that is lost.

      Product sounds intriguing, I hope is doesn't have any crappy DRM stuff built in.
  • Better get these babies while they're still legal.
  • by HiroProtagonist (56728) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:34AM (#2254999) Homepage
    Space might be cheap but $2000.00 just for a larger hard drive isn't. I'm sorry, but I will never love TV that much.

    Especially when NVidia is coming out with a product that will run on my PC and support as large a HDD as I can afford!

    NVIDIA Personal Cinema Redefines PC Home Entertainment [yahoo.com]
    • I built a system like that myself, except a hell of a lot cheaper. I used an ATI all-in-wonder card and it works very nice for playing dvds, divx movies, mp3s, and TV. It's nice to be able to control which codecs I want to use. I just hope that their system doesn't use proprietary codecs that only their software can read.
      • by Yokaze (70883)
        From their technical specs page [replaytv.com]
        - Up to 320 hours using MPEG 2 video encoding
        • Well it says Mpeg2, but who knows how they are going to wrap that. I'm sure someone will hack it if they do, but it would just be a pain in the ass to have to worry about what they have put around the mpeg2 file.
      • I hope you're right about that, proprietary formats suck.

        One of the key features (to me) about this new NVidia board is that it includes a TV remote that works with your PC, so you can control the device just as if it was a set-top box.

        From the press release "Personal Cinema's Intelligent TV feature allows users to pause live TV, instantly replay an exciting scene, skip over a commercial, or automatically program the PC to record future shows or movies. "

        That's what has me excited.
        • The only thing mine can't do, which is only a software limitation, is that I can't skip over commercials. I love the looks of Nvidias new entertainment system, but it was a little pricey for me. The only real thing I am lacking is a way to change the channel on my digital cable box. I could by an IR shooter like my friend has to do the job, but it is like a 5 second delay on changing channels.
    • They quote the most agression compression rate
      in these hour ratings. People who actually have
      these systems prefer 1.5-2 GB per hour for higher
      quality.

      At about $200 for a 80 GB disk, thats about $800,
      presuming the system ships with enough controller
      capacity.
      • They quote the most agression compression rate in these hour ratings.

        And the most aggressive compression rates, too! But being able to select the compression rate you want really is a big win for the consumer and manufacturer. The manufacturer doesn't get flamed that they've made a hard choice which either makes a poor quality video, or doesn't have enough recording space.

        Get the cheap version. Hack on another disk.
      • If you assume a TIVO like business model it turns out to be $200 for the drive, $350 for the rest of the hardware and $250 or so for the built in lifetime service that comes inculded with any replay machine.

    • by stripes (3681)
      Space might be cheap but $2000.00 just for a larger hard drive isn't. I'm sorry, but I will never love TV that much.

      Esp. since I expect someone to figure out how to send shows to a Linux box rather then another ReplayTV, so you don't need to store everything on the Replay, just whatever you don't have time to transfer.

      Especially when NVidia is coming out with a product that will run on my PC and support as large a HDD as I can afford!

      There is some advantage to having a dedicated device with (I assume) a real OS. Maybe not such an issue if your PC runs Linux, but I'm expecting it will be a while until you can use the NVidia with ease to capture TV shows (including tuning the cable box) under Linux. I have the competing product (TiVo) and it has never ever crashed. It has lost power a few times, but never had some random DLL blow up and cause me to miss a TV show.

  • Cunning... (Score:2, Informative)

    by r1ch (166865)
    I suspect that this might even stay legal - it looks like they've limited it so that you can only send each show to a maximum of 15 units - enough to keep your average user happy, but it should also be low enough to stop it being a worthwhile means of piracy.

    Now why can't I have one in England? :-(
    • ...until someone with a little time reverse-engineers the transmission method and captures the video with a PC. Of course, it'll probably be encrypted, and that brave soul would be risking eternal damnation by breaking the Digital Millenium Copywrong act. Bleh.
    • I would laugh if they used ROT13 to encrypt the data. Ummm 15 units my a$$, especially after some inventive h4x0r figures out how to put Linux on it.... 320 hours is long enough to store my entire DVD collection...
    • Re:Cunning... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ethereal (13958)

      But that might be sufficient for peer-to-peer transmission; if I send it to 15 people, who each send it to 15 people, etc. Or does it have some sort of serial copy protection, so that you can only send it once and your friend can't send on your copy to anyone else?

  • How closely... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by G-funk (22712)
    ...Are these things tied to NTSC? Cause I'd absolutely love something like this, but as I live in australia, we're running on PAL. Does anybody know of anything in the PVR area that can run on PAL? Can these things be hacked to do it? What about a Tivo?
    • Re:How closely... (Score:2, Informative)

      by robbieduncan (87240)
      In the UK (also PAL) we can get Tivo's (from evil BSB, but they work with all providers). I imagine these would work in other PAL areas?
    • I've seen an article in the german magazine c't 4/2001 about turning a linux box into a PVR with just a cheap BT848 video tuner card and some h4x0ring around. Here in germany we have PAL, so the possibility is certainly given. Unfortunately I can't locate the article or the magazine right now, would love to point in the right direction.

      But I suppose there is someone out there who can provide a link to a similar project. The box actually had quite "low"-tech components.
    • You can hack TiVo to work with PAL, but not the new TiVos. The new TiVos come with several checksum routines that forbid the modification of TiVo's kernel (and some key files). This has effectively killed the PAL hack.

      Go to the TiVo Message Board [avsforum.com] and search the underground forum (maybe the archives, this is an old topic) for PAL. The hack only works on software version 1.3 if I remember correctly. The newer TiVos have the file checking PROM code and will go into a reboot loop if you try to do this. And no, you can't just flash the PROM to an older version, it's been tried. ;)
  • At that price... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by purduephotog (218304)
    ... its cheaper to build a dedicated box for compression :(

    Yes, there won't be a nifty display (unless you buy a LCD panel) but you won't be limited by their design.

    I know it's been in the discussion lists earlier, but... an AMD box runs around 250$, add a 200$ capture/ MPEG compression card and you are up to 500 with a 40 gig HD. Thats alot of space... there is still programming issues, but... could be conquerd if the desire was there :)
    • o 500 with a 40 gig HD. Thats alot of space.

      Not for a DVR. At the lowest quality, a 40 gig drive in a TiVo will give you about 40 hours. At the highest quality, you're looking at around 10-15 hours. Once you really start using, you'll find that space very quickly runs out.
    • Yes, but boxes like this and TiVo exist for a reason. Simplicity and integration. They integrate standard television with VCR like functions and an online guide. And now they've integrated file sharing (HURRAY!) into the deal. And it is simple to use.

      Sure, you could do the same thing with a PC. But you're always going to have to be futzing with it. The 'barrier to entry' for a normal consumer to make his own device is the convenience factor.
  • by 1010011010 (53039) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @08:53AM (#2255033) Homepage
    Broadcasting video over a home LAN? To other replays over the internet? Jackie "the fish" Valenti will have them in irons by the end of the week.
  • Now this is cool. I have two PVRs made by dish network and was thinking that it would be real nice to be able to watch the programs on either TV.

    But I wonder if not just the companies advertising on the networks but the networks them selves are not going to like this box. You could start serving up shows to anyone who wanted to watch them over the internet/Lan.

    I do think they are giving the consumer what they want but it is not what the Networks want!

    -S
  • Holy cow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by raygundan (16760) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @09:12AM (#2255077) Homepage
    There isn't a feature I can think to add to this thing! I've been complaining since I got my Tivo that it wouldn't automatically skip commercials-- if an $80 VCR can auto-FFW through the commercials, why can't my PVR? This solves that problem, and throws content sharing in just to sweeten the deal. Not to mention the huge storage capacities they have available!

    Tivo has always been chicken to try anything like this, and it looks like it's going to bite 'em now that somebody else has the guts to do it. Why would you ever buy a unit now that didn't allow commercial skipping and content sharing?

    It's probably too good to be true, though-- I imagine that this will be sued into oblivion before 20 units leave the stores. *sigh*
    • There isn't a feature I can think to add to this thing! I've been complaining since I got my Tivo

      Sure you can, buy one and you'll miss a lot of the TiVo's scheduling features. The new "conflict catcher" is an improvement, but no session pass manager (for non-TiVo owners that lets you set up in advance which shows are more important, so if there is a schedule change the show that is most important will be recorded.

      That isn't to say that TiVo's scheduling is the end all. Both units could do better padding. TiVo could do even better with show tracking (yes I said new episodes of Sopranos are more important the The Practice, but since The Practice only shows up on Sunday and Sopranos all week, it "should" be able to figure out that recording Practice at 9 then Sopranos at 11 would be better then doing the simple greedy algo). Of corse ReplayTV isn't even good enough to complain about that yet :-)

      ReplayTV is also more irritating in the way it manages the disk space. You set aside disk for each show you want, so you can miss episodes of things you want even though there is ample free space. On the other hand that manages to deal with marathons without resorting to "Save at most N" on the TiVo (and "save at most" has similar problems to Replay's pre-allocate per show method).

      Tivo has always been chicken to try anything like this, and it looks like it's going to bite 'em now that somebody else has the guts to do it. Why would you ever buy a unit now that didn't allow commercial skipping and content sharing?

      Yes. But it is a harder sell now. Before TiVo's better scheduling was enough to make it a clear winner. Now it depends. Being able to move shows to a PC would win me over, moving between Replay's is not as exciting (but since it is likely that someone will manage to figure out how to make a PC accept the shows....). Commercial autoskip is nice, but not a super huge deal to me. It may be to others.

      If sending shows around is seamless enough (and I doubt it is just yet) it can be a lot better then two tuners (like MS UTV, or the Direct TiVo with the 2.5 software). Want two tuners, buy two ReplayTVs, want 4 tuners? Buy four.

      I'm glad someone has done it. It will be harder for TiVo to not do it now. The big questions is which happens first: TiVo gets networking, or ReplayTV gets better scheduling. Until one of those things happens it is a hard choice either way!

      • I stand corrected.

        Without a way to prioritize your "record all" stuff, these things quickly become a giant pain to use. Just try getting a season pass to the simpsons and anything else, and watch how quickly you get conflicts. Being able to prioritize is nice. I had to get my Tivo replaced under warranty (fried modem, of course) and use the old 1.3 software (no way to set show priorities) for a few days-- it was absolutely impossible to get it to record all of my shows, since some episodes always overlap with others. (Simpsons/Junkyard Wars, for example)

        As much as I bitch, I do love my Tivo-- but I hope this is a swift kick in the rear for Tivo and that we see ethernet-enabled, commercial-skipping, internet-show-sharing, remotely-programmable, 480p-output Tivos with 320 hours of storage space in the near future.
        • Without a way to prioritize your "record all" stuff, these things quickly become a giant pain to use. Just try getting a season pass to the simpsons and anything else, and watch how quickly you get conflicts. Being able to prioritize is nice. I had to get my Tivo replaced under warranty (fried modem, of course) and use the old 1.3 software (no way to set show priorities) for a few days-- it was absolutely impossible to get it to record all of my shows, since some episodes always overlap with others. (Simpsons/Junkyard Wars, for example)

          Well it does let you choose what wins in a conflict, it might be fine grained then (TiVo isn't -- you can set the new show to beat all old shows, none of the old shows, or not go at all -- to get anything in between you have to visit the SPM, and watch the "Please Wait" icon for a bit). So it might be better then TiVo's 1.3 software, I'm sure it can't be as good as the 2.0 software without a SPM.

          I'm also not sure if it has wishlists, and I know it doesn't have suggestions. Not as important as the SPM though.

          As much as I bitch, I do love my Tivo-- but I hope this is a swift kick in the rear for Tivo and that we see ethernet-enabled, commercial-skipping, internet-show-sharing, remotely-programmable, 480p-output Tivos with 320 hours of storage space in the near future.

          I hope so, but I'm guessing the commercial-skipping is not coming anytime soon as they are trying to get money from advertisers (selling the iPreview stuff, and telescoping commercials). Show sharing, and seemless show sharing (making N ReplayTVs, or TiVos act as one unit with N tuners -- on Now Showing list, one ToDo list, one place to set a wishlist or pass and have the TiVo or Replay work out who records it, and what disk it lives on) would be enough to convince me to upgrade.

          Hopefully TiVo catches up with sharing, or Replay catches up with scheduling. Either would make me buy again, even in this economy :-)

          • I'm also not sure if it has wishlists, and I know it doesn't have suggestions.

            Yes, Replay has wishlists. In fact, it had them before Tivo did. That was one of the main reasons I got Replay instead of Tivo two years ago.

            About prioritizing: I find with the Replay the best way to go is to use what they call "non guaranteed" programs for nearly everything. That lets the Replay manage the disk space just like Tivo does. You only set "guaranteed" for those programs that you ABSOLUTELY gotta record, like a live broadcast that will never be repeated. If you follow that, you rarely have to deal with conflicts, though occasionally it might not record exactly what you thought it would.

            • Replay has wishlists. In fact, it had them before Tivo did.

              Cool, I didn't know.

              If you follow that, you rarely have to deal with conflicts, though occasionally it might not record exactly what you thought it would

              Um, the whole point is for me to tell it what I want, how much I want it, and to never deal with it again. "it might not record exactly what you thought" sounds a whole lot like "the car may not take you to your work place, it might take you to someone else's"

              For example, I kind of liked the sitcom Rossanne. I have a wishlist for it. It airs about 8 times a day. If it ever causes me to lose an episode of West Wing or ER I'm going to be really really pissed off (even if it is because the network moved one or both shows around!)

              I kind of like Star Trek Deep Space Nine now that I actually manage to catch it, so I have a wish list for it too, it's more important then many shows, but less important then others. I'll be pissed if I get rossane and not DS9. I'll be pissed if I get DS9 and not (new) ER -- again even if the conflict is because one or both networks moved the shows.

              I like West Wing a lot, but I like it less then ER. If the two are ever on at the same time, I want ER. I'll be pissed if West Wing gets recorded (unless the ER is a re-run, if it is and West Wing is new, I want West Wing). Even if one or both the shows are at a different time because of a special, or a schedule change.

              My wife likes Gilmore Girls, so we record that too, if it is new, and doesn't conflict with West Wing, or ER, but we do get it rather then Rossane.

              The TiVo deals with all of that because it doesn't have non-guaranteed/guaranteed, it has a numbered list. If I want ER (first-run-only) no matter what, I move it up to the top slot. If I want West Wing (first-run-only) almost as much I put it in the second slot. Rossane goes down around number 28.

              Like most GUI things this is actually easier to do then to explain. And once done you never miss a show (unless it is to catch one you like more). It's not a minor thing. If it isn't real close to 100% it is way less useful. If it is real close something like To Do and Tivo's history (which is mis-named because it includes future events like "Won't record DS9 "Tribbles Again" wednsday at 10:00PM because it conflicts with a higher priority show ER "Wackyness with a Spleen") can help bridge the gap, but it requires a little effort (like for ToDo remembering that not seeing a show on Tuesday might be an issue -- you start to lose track of what days and times and networks things are on very quickly once you mostly don't need to know!! or for history having lots of "normal" conflicts will hide the abnormal ones).

              It would be even better if I could say "DS9 after 1995 is in slot 7, before 1995 is in slot 40", but you can't do that. Yet.

              If it sounds like I'm a TV addict, well, sort of I am. But I'm more just interested in simple problems that turn insanely complex, and scheduling to catch TV shows turns out to be one of them. Grab one of the XML show schedules some time and code up a storm. It's really a challenge!

              P.S. I'm not belittling your Replay, before TiVo's 2.0 software Replay did a lot of stuff TiVo didn't, and even now it does do some things TiVo doesn't (and once the new boxes hit Replay will do a whole lot of stuff TiVo doesn't -- for at least six months, maybe years). Depending on how important "those things" are either unit could be a good choice.

      • If you want to spend some money and time hacking on the Tivo you can actually install an ethernet card in it (well, the stand-alone units at least) and use some software to extract the mpeg streams onto your PC. Not sure if you can get them back in there but being able to create VCDs at least would be pretty nice. Check out 9thtee.com and avsforum.com
        • If you want to spend some money and time hacking on the Tivo you can actually install an ethernet card in it (well, the stand-alone units at least) and use some software to extract the mpeg streams onto your PC.

          Yes you can, but it seems more likely that TiVo will change things that will break this. In part because they don't want to piss off their partners (they also don't want to piss off their customers, some of which do this, so it is a hard choice for them). In part because those programs rely on the internal structure of files on the TiVo which might be changes for reasons that are completely unrelated to wanting to break the hack. (For example the much rumored VBR in 2.5)

          Sonic Blue is less likely to change the way ReplayTVs send to each other because that would make a new one unable to send to an old one.

  • from the faq...

    Q. I don't have a home network. Will I need to get one?
    A. Yes. ReplayTV 4000's are enabled by an Ethernet connection only. There are also all kinds of incredible features that work only when your ReplayTV is connected to your PC. But don't worry, home networks are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. And, to make this even easier, ReplayTV is providing, for a limited time, a choice of promotional offers including a Free NETGEAR Home Network (a $100 value), with the purchase of an RTV4080, RTV4160 or RTV4320.

    The fact that you can bypass commercials still will affect a very limited number of users. Yes, home networks are relatively inexpensive (less than $2000), but your average consumer will not want to set up a firewall/router and a home network just to watch TV. Looks like the mainstream is still bound to low quality "VHS" technology for a little while longer.

    • Yes, home networks are relatively inexpensive (less than $2000), but your average consumer will not want to set up a firewall/router and a home network just to watch TV
      Why would the average user NEED to settup a home firewall/router? connect the box to you PC via network, what use is a router? If it's not connected to out internet then whats the use of a Firewall? Alos, I don't think the person willing to spend $2000 for one of these would have much of a problem with the network harwdare costs.
    • If you just wanted to connect between two ReplayTVs to share the movies, couldn't you just use a crossover cable? That's relatively inexpensive. Or do you need the PC in order to manage the transfers?

  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @09:16AM (#2255085)
    Assume I want time-shift ALL my weekly viewing
    from night to day or to weekends etc, I'd need
    a maximum of 20-30 hours on the laziest weeks.
    I have seven four-hour tapes now for this purpose,
    and rarely time shift ten hours a week.

    I suppose the other 300 hours could be for
    archiving, but there isn't that much I'd want.

    I'd guestimate 100 hours would satisfy all
    but the hard core vegetables.
    • The 320 hour capacity is using the highest compression setting, or the worst quality. Using Best Quality is going to result in a very small fraction of that 320 hours, probably around the 100 hour target you mentioned. I've got a 100 hour TiVo and I've had it pretty close to maxed-out several times since I am storing a Godfather marathon from one of the movie channels and a few other non-DVD movies recorded in best quality.

    • If you don't like some MPEG artifacts, you'll record at a higher quality. ( 17 hours )

      You can also take an entire series you don't watch during the main season and watch it over the summer.

      Another feature of a PVR is you tell it what you like to watch ( Replay: Themes,Zones, Tivo: Thumbsup/down ) and it records things you *MAY* be interested in.

      When you sit down at your TV, you have 320 hours of revolving programing to *CHOOSE FROM*, not necessarily watch.

      Robert
    • As a current ReplayTV owner, I can confirm that whiile 320 hours is accurate it may be a bit misleading. It really equates to:

      320 hours at "standard" (low) quality mode
      160 hours at "medium" quality mode
      106 hours at "high" quality mode

      While that may still seem like a lot of time, I would have killed for that much space during the last Olympics broadcast.

      Also, another justification for such large capacities is that over time, you find yourself watching much less "live" TV and much more of what you have set up to record.
    • THe four-hour setting seems to have disappeared off the newer vcr's; it's either 2 or 6. BUt it doesn't matter for me; I have to use 2. My moster television has 700 horizontal lines, and extrapolates from the 450 or so usable lines. Anything short of full quality looks lousy. And then with the CBS feed apparently being digitized, then back to analog before my cable company redigitizes, then over inadequate bandwidth, then back to s-video before being interpolated like this, watching cbs is a pain--my analog signal is better! (ok, the second cbs channel is only bad rather than horrible, but still . . .)


      hawk

  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @09:18AM (#2255089)
    From their FAQ:

    Q. How does ReplayTV use my Ethernet connection?
    A. ReplayTV uses the high-speed Ethernet connection to connect to your home network. This means that your ReplayTV is now connected to your PC and to the Internet. If you have more than one ReplayTV, they'll be connected to each other, too. This means, you can now share recorded programming between multiple ReplayTV's within your home, access new television content through your PC via the Internet, and even share programs with friends who also own ReplayTV 4000s. The Ethernet connection can also be used to transfer digital photos from your PC to your ReplayTV and once on your ReplayTV, you can watch digital slide shows on your television.

    OK, this stops just short of saying, "Yes, you can record all those Simpson reruns on ReplayTV, then copy them to the hard drive on your PC for archival/editing/sharing with the entire world", but it seems like that would be a logical use as well. Then again, logic rarely plays a part in copyright/IP law. What do you guys think, would that sort of thing be possible with this unit, or do they have some built-in protection against it (i.e., only copying to other ReplayTV units)? And if so, how long before the MPAA comes a-knockin?
    • would that sort of thing be possible with this unit,

      I also wonder, if instead of getting your video feed off the air you got it from your DVD player (or the DVD drive of your PC - since the devices aparently will shares data fairly seemlessly), couldn't this quickly become the ultimate DVD ripping device? (pardon me - I mean DVD backup device - soley for personal use with DVDs I actually own.) I mean it would go through a decompression/recompression cycle, but it would stay in digital format the whole time, certainly adequate to make a fairly good VCD copy of a DVD.

      Also, with your ReplayTV connected to your PC can you burn the files to CD then mail the disc to your friend (who I assume would have to run the CD off their PC and view it on their own ReplayTV due to ReplayTV's own encryption/compression) instead of sharing it over the Internet? (I'm asking whether this would be technically feasible, I agree the MPAA will have its own opinion as to whether it is legally feasible.)


      • I also wonder, if instead of getting your video feed off the air you got it from your DVD player (or the DVD drive of your PC - since the devices aparently will shares data fairly seemlessly), couldn't this quickly become the ultimate DVD ripping device? (pardon me - I mean DVD backup device - soley for personal use with DVDs I actually own.) I mean it would go through a decompression/recompression cycle, but it would stay in digital format the whole time, certainly
        adequate to make a fairly good VCD copy of a DVD.


        Not unless you have a better different DVD player and TV than most of us.


        The best quality video format that comes out of the back of my DVD player is S-video, i.e., analog. My TiVo accepts S-video input and provides S-video output, despite the internal digital storage format. There's D/A and A/D conversion happening a lot. The only device I have that produces native digital video output is my camcorder with IEEE-1394. Everything else talks via analog signals, even if the internals are digital.


        Likewise, the best quality input into my TV is S-video (also analog).


        I've seen a few new TVs with 480p and 1080i input jacks of late, but I am not familiar with the details of these digital formats. Likewise, I haven't seen any DVD players or satellite TV receivers that have digital video output jacks.


        I've become a lot more aware of some of the limitations in current consumer electronics since I recently purchased (and upgraded) a TiVo. It's a wonderful improvement over VHS, except for disk space limitations and archiving.


        In order to overcome the archive problem (and the device specific playback problem that I think is looming) my next venture will be looking at video capture on the PC.

  • the frustrations and payoffs of being an early adapter. this looks to have some features that promise flexibility and freedom that other dvr's don't offer. but the dilemma of which new personal tech to support...

    my own personal example in the dvr world, just within the last week!

    but how often have i seen a cool item, gone out and been severely disappointed by promises not met. take this latest tivo dual receiver instance. the website makes claims of great features that were available in the latest update that happened in august.

    i've got to get this! after crawling through my attic and installing the second line from my dish (hot fun in the summer) i hook up the system and anxiously await the firmware update. no firmware, only tivo programming, hmmm.

    call customer support, they say, call sony (the maker of my new dual system.) sony tells me that tivo had to pull the firmware update since it didn't work. i ask, any news on an e.t.a. for release to make the system work as advertised? no.

    so, i call tivo. customer support there lets me know not to worry, they're working on it and most likely they'll have it out, hopefully, before summer is over. i say, well, summer ends in about 3 weeks, do you have a more specific estimate? no. i ask if there is anywhere on the website that states the delay on the firmware update? no. i explain how i purchased the lastest dual receiver with the belief that it would work based on the information on the tivo website that said it would. did he understand this? yes. i said, okay, just wanted to state the obvious, thank you for your time.

    ah, what to do? if it wasn't for us throwing our money at the latest gadgets... uhm, where would we throw it?
  • This box seems sweet, but I have digital cable and nearly everything I like to watch is in the digital range. I think the that box can control a TV tuner by sending out it's own IR. But that still sucks, digital cable comes to me in MPEG2, it doesn't make sense to convert that to analog and then convert the analog signal back to digital to recompress it.

    Plus why do I have to rent my digital converter box from the cable company, why don't they just standardise the format so we can have digital cable ready TVs, VCRs, and now PVRs.

    The DirectTV people get to have Tivos built into their recievers.

    Blah... My rant for today.
    • Don't forget 2 things about your digital cable.

      First off, the digital signal is encrypted by the cable company. One good thing about DirecTV is, no matter where the customer is, they will use the same decryption. That is not the case with digital cable, certian operators use different encrypts.

      Secondly, most cable providers include anlaog channels with the digital stream. If that is the case, without the ADC you wouldn't be able to record those channels. Also, I wouldn't doubt them using little tweaks on the MPEG-2 compression that makes it incompatable with some hardware.

      And let's face it, cable companies are a real PITA.
    • Plus why do I have to rent my digital converter box from the cable company, why don't they just standardise the format so we can have digital cable ready TVs, VCRs, and now PVRs.

      Because it gives them control. Requiring a user to have one of their boxes to decode digital cable makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to steal. Not so on analog. The cable companies want to keep the standards closed, that way it makes it that much more difficult to crack.

      Cable companies are in a good position now though. Since their network is bidirectional, piracy has been almost completely eliminated on the digital side. They can simply choose what to send you and what not to send you. It is theoretically possible to have digital cable ready boxes freely available, but you would have to call the cable company and register it with them before it would work. That would though force some standards, and cable companies don't like standards. Just look how long it has taken them to agree on how to broadcast high-definition.

      Not to mention, most digital cable systems are actually a hybrid analog/digital system. Usually, the first 100 channels or so are still analog, then anything above that is encoded digitally. For a DVR, that would mean you would still have to include the hardware to do MPEG2 encoding, which adds to the price significantly.
  • Well, as some people already pointed out this will let loose a lot of lawyers.

    At least over here in .de a similar case has been fought and won by the tv conglomerates. This was about a normal VCR with a simple DSP and cheapo modem. It compared the actual pictures being recorded with the trail-in and trail-out the stations used to "slide" the viewer from program to commercials and back. Of course these were subject to change and there the cheapo modem came in. It would contact a central (subscription) server once in a while to suck up on the currently used frame patterns.

    Reportedly worked like a charm. That is why the lawyers came kicking in.

    Years ago I used to say American courts are ruled by insanity (like granting millions for the famous McDonalds coffee being too hot and lawsuits like these). These days I have to admit that the American influence has made us worse. There is the German Telekom (de facto telecommunication monopolist) suing for the exclusive use of the letter "t", the exclusive use of the color magenta (butt-ugly reddish-pink) and lately they even threw the book at some guy who hosted and maintained a website called "The black pages". The Telekom being the publisher of "The yellow pages" was wise enough to pull that one back in time. I don't know if they are still following the other lawsuits ("t" and magenta), but if you want to catch up, it's all on www.heise.de

    Brave new world.
  • Great product, too bad their (pre)order page is down. Shopping on the web is getting worse and worse.
    • The link from the FAQ is bad. Try this one [replaytv.com] they also state.

      As for a ship date, (from the FAQ):

      Only a limited number of ReplayTV 4000s will be manufactured this year. They will ship to customers on November 15. You can be guaranteed one of the first ReplayTV 4000's by reserving yours today. Go to the buy now page or call 1-877-ReplayTV. ReplayTV 4000s will not be sold in retail stores.

  • I won't care either way until either of these companies (TIvO, replay) grow up enough to open their markets to Canada.
  • We've improved the user interface. With ReplayTV4000, we are using 24 bit graphics, produces a sexier, more appealing user interface when compared to existing DVRs.

    If this is the ad copy, God help the manual.
  • by martyb (196687) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @10:06AM (#2255232)

    I can just see the net admins at colleges trying to deal with this. They've had to deal with napster and the like and all the bandwidth they'd consume on their LAN. Now imagine an entire dorm (or campus!) sending saved shows to each other.

    If there's a way to hack the system, I can well imagine folks at the likes of MIT will find a way to do it. The result is that the initial broadcast of a show over the airwaves, cable, satelite, etc. could eventually be dwarfed by the time-delayed transmissions.

    The Result? Bypass the current transmission media and get your shows direct from Replay! Sign up for the shows you want and they'd send it to you, over the internet. Then, just add video servers on the internet with pre-compressed movies available on a pay-per-view basis and you've got all you need to bypass the Blockbuster video rental shops -- just watch what you want, when you want it, without having to go out to get / return a video and no worry about late fees. Sure, it'll be free to share between RePlays for now, but I suspect that's just the initial push to build market share, and then there'd be a rollout of central server subscriptions, copy protection, and per-show charges.

  • I was surveyed by Replay a while back (I've had a few of their units) and what they are starting to build here is the idea of a whole house multi-media server. The fact that it happens to be targeted at the moment to TV recording is probably just marketing. Their getting folks interested in the concept (it's pretty new/foreign to many) and will probably "spin" it more toward that once people are familiar/comfortable with it.

    The idea is you can keep video, audio (not yet discussed, but I'm sure is in there), pictures, etc in this unit, share it with your desktop, TV and other units, download video/audio/movies from the internet/etc/etc. Just like a file server, but geared toward multimedia (with the requisite MM oriented management tools).

    It's really a powerful idea (IMHO) and while you can do this with a PC, they have a very nice interface and management tools and a nice "black box" approach. I think the $2000 for the extra space is silly, but...

    I've already updated my ReplayTV 3030 to 80 Hours and will go to 160 soon. Once you start using these things with expanded capacity, you do start to "cache" programs/movies more and more. In fact, once you get over 60 hours or so, you start thinking of the device as some sort of server/respository (unlike with the 30 hour models where you are frequently deleting things when done, making it feel much more like just a time shifter). I really hope the "folders" stuff they mention will be in the next firmware update for all ReplayTV units though. I could really use it about now...

    Unfortunatly, I think their likely to get sued to oblivion, but I have to beleive they expected this and have been preparing for it. I'd love to see them get through such a case unscathed as it would put a nice hole in the RIAA's dike.

    I don't work for Replay, just been a pretty satisfied user for 1.5 years :-)

    Gerry

  • Nothing New (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nhavar (115351) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @10:21AM (#2255275) Homepage
    This is nothing new. My wife and I have been doing this for awhile with the ATI AIW cards. We have three computers running with the card and their default software (which includes guide and PVR functions) all hooked up over a home network. Movies can be shifted back and forth over the network and viewed from any machine/tv in the house. Additionally they can be DIVX'd and sent to CD, etc. It cost me around $150 for each card (the newer much faster Radeon is $200 and the even faster 8500 is around $500 w/RF remote). 20 gig hard drive is about $69 bucks...so for about 219 you can have most of the functionality that is offered by this set top box plus be able to play your favorite games on the big screen. Or you can overpay, or your can wait for nVidia to play catch up in this area.
    • BTW "NVIDIA Personal Cinema Redefines PC Home Entertainment" all the features listed in that article ATI has had for the past 3 or 4 years now. (Hardware DVD, PVR features (adjustable compression, zoom, pause, cc, video magazine, multichannel preview, editing), 3d acceleration etc.). And while ATI is playing catch up in the 3d accelleration market I think some of the new hardware they've had come out has proven that they can play with the big boys like nVidia.
  • Ludicrous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Controlio (78666) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @10:24AM (#2255293)
    It's funny... it seems as if ReplayTV has been scouring the TiVo message boards [avsforum.com] and looking for complaints from the underground. Every single one of these features are things that have been worked on or at least discussed in the TiVo Underground [avsforum.com]. Seems like the TiVo employees aren't the only ones browsing the bulletin boards in their free time.

    Things of this nature have been discussed for a long time, but eventually discarded as being impractical. Now, here it is in box form, and it's even more impractical than I would have ever imagined.

    First of all, I spent $250 on my 20hr TiVo, and then an additional $300 in hard drives for a total of ~144 hours recording time in 120gig of storage. This combined total is CONSIDERABLY less than their 40hr unit, and comes with over 3x more storage time. This, alone, proves that it's not worth it. And $2000? For a PVR? Don't even get me started. I would MUCH rather buy a video card with TV in and the PVR-like services that video cards are being bundled with now. Then I could record to my heart's content... not that I've ever been able to accumulate 65hrs of content on my TiVo to date...

    The networked video storage... this was never spoken of (out loud) because of the frowning of not only the TiVo sponsors, but the threat of lawsuits to a young company. People seem to have major issues when you distribute copies of programs with no visual loss between generations. At least someone else is here to take the fall that TiVo couldn't.

    Skipping commercials was the other big problem. This has always been available via backdoors in TiVo (removed in 2.0.1, rumored to be back in 2.5), but again, never a mainstream feature because of the sponsor problems it would cause. I'm going to be real interested to find out how the television community reacts to these features, and hopefully ReplayTV can be the whipping boy to pave the way for TiVo's next software update.

    This will be the only good thing to come out of ReplayTV, the fact that every legal team even eyeing TiVo in the past will all start looking Replay's way now... and if Replay can get away with these features without a problem, expect the apprehensive TiVo to have them Q1 next year. As for me, I couldn't even consider buying a PVR for $700. I almost never bought mine for $250, there's just NO WAY I could justify that much of an expense. Not when I could get at TiVo with better service (just a few less tricks up it's sleeve) for $199 nowadays.
  • As an owner of a hacked ReplayTV (i stuck in an 80gb drive) i can tell you that, imho for most people going beyond 80 or 100 hours is not all that helpful. The ReplayTV is a time-shifting device, not an archiving device.

    As the space you have for storage goes up, the problem you immediately run into is the inability to record two things at the same time. This happens more often than you might think, principally because networks compete for the same audience by sheduling shows that have similar appeal opposite each other (the bastards) like for example, X-Files and Dark Angel.

    So, personally, i think that ReplayTV would be better served by sticking in an extra tuner in there in preference to a bigger harddrive.

    Tivo has announced a unit with two tuners, but i believe it only works with directtv. similarly, the microsoft ultimatetv can record two things at the same time, but only off directtv.

    Of course, once there are two tuners in there, it will be easier to use up the space. Harddrives are upgradeable, however.

    Another approach, since these new units are going to be networkable, would be to be able to network two or more units together. Have them negotiate between them who is going to record what when, and then present one user interface to control all of them. that would be nifty, though an expensive way to be able to record two things at once...

    • i guess i should read the faq before posting. I retract my earlier complaints.

      ReplayTV is NOT going to offer two tuners because then why would people want to order multiple units?

      The multiple unit setup sounds pretty much ideal - the thing sounds as scalable as you might want it to be
  • Does anyone else see this as the next step in content distribution?

    The only thing they haven't done here is include the DOCSIS cable modem in the box itself. With broadband IP into the house and this device on it why wouldn't they continue on to setting up distribution servers with PPV movies on them or pay-to-watch reruns of your favorite sitcom?

    If we assume we need 2 Mbps for reasonable quality video that means we could expect to multicast up to 15 shows simultaneously in the space of one 6 MHz (30 Mbps) TV channel. Let's say we wanted top quality regular TV, we're still only talking about 6 Mbps per show. Now, HDTV is where it gets fun. I remember reading somewhere that it took nearly 80 Mbps to do HDTV, dunno if that's right or not. (I guess that would lead me to ask how they're doing it in one TV channel then... heh.)

    If the consumer can specify what they want in advance, and throw in some Tivo-like "recommendations" then true video on demand could start to take shape. Then again, just a Tivo and regular cable will do the same damn thing, this idea is just a different way of distributing it.

  • by ryanvm (247662) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @10:54AM (#2255420)
    Everybody keeps saying, "Whoa - who needs 320 hours of TV?"

    However, I'm assuming that ReplayTV advertises their hours just like TiVo does, which is based on the lowest quality setting. If it's similar to TiVo, here is what it is probably like:

    • 320 hours = Basic = pretty crappy quality
    • 160 hours = Medium = tolerable but not great
    • 120 hours = High = cable TV quality
    • 80 hours = Highest = DVD quality


    • DVD quality? I don't think so.

      One of the main problems with PVRs like TiVo and ReplayTV is that it is preforming lossy compression on what is already a low-quality signal coming through your cable system. Think recoding VHS in SP vs LP/EP. In SP, its almost as good as watching whatever quality it was in the original broadcast-- Thats about what you get from 'High Quality' on a PVR, if even that.
  • I am about to start investigating and building a similar system using ATI's Radeon AIW cards and a P3 with tons of hard disk space. Too bad neither Tivo or Replay are available as multi-system devices :(
  • Replay should take a lesson from KaZaA and TopText http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/07/31/201521 6&mode=thread [slashdot.org]

    They should insert their own ads in place of commercials. After the networks attack them, they can stand behind some 'consumer rights' statement, and say that this is a war between consumers and the networks. They can just claim that users want this like EZula does.
    They could make tons of money, uh, I mean really give consumers added features and benefits.
    ya.
  • The irony is that ReplayTV originally shipped with a Firewire port that wasn't activated, but was included for 'future enhancements.' It was removed in subsequent releases (and never supported in the original hardware) because of threatened backlash from the studios.

    Aside from having a les elegant interface (and, in my opinion, recording functionality) than TiVo, ReplayTV is basically selling you service all over again when you upgrade hardware. When you buy a TiVo you can get lifetime service or pay monthly, but there's not an inordinate amount of motivation for TiVo to drive their customers to buy new hardware. Replay gets another $200 (tacked onto the price) every time someone buys a box, and at no other time, so they aren't motivated to create hardware that won't immediately obsolesce. The LAN access is a good example of this. You want it? Fine, but you just ate the lifetime guide service you bought, because now you're going to pay for it again.

    The other problem I have is that without the option of month-to-month or annual service, you're counting on ReplayTV staying in business, a proposition they've already shown is speculative at best. Since TiVo actually gets money from subscibers every month or year to keep the guide up and running, that guide will continue, run by some company, even if TiVo goes bellyup.
    • Service fees (Score:2, Informative)

      by Therlin (126989)
      I love my TiVo but I'd like to make it clear that if you buy a new TiVo box, you cannot transfer your paid lifetime service to the new unit. But you can sell your current TiVo and the service goes along with it.

      On the positive side, if TiVo does not have a local dial-up number (and not all of us live in the usual metropolitan areas), it will use a toll-free number for its nightly call, not costing the owner any money. ReplayTV instead will use a long distance number if a local one is not available.
  • by IvyMike (178408) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @12:33PM (#2255871)

    Seriously, since I've had my ReplayTV, I've wished that it could get show listings, etc., over my home network. It was obvious when I first got it that one of the future upgrades should be an ethernet port. But my home network cabling doesn't go near the TV, as I suspect is the case for a lot of people.

    On the other hand, I now have an 802.11b base station. Wi-Fi would be perfect in this situation. No need to run cable out to the TV! Hopefully, the ReplayTV people are working on that right now. (Also, Xbox could use an 802.11b option, too. Listening, Xbox designers?)

  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @01:33PM (#2256170)
    Start with the closest standalone TiVo model, the 30 hour HDR312 from Philips. It is $300 (list). Add in TiVo's lifetime subscription fee. It is $249. You're already at $550. Add in an Ethernet kit from 7thTee that you have to install yourself. That is $100. Now you're at $650 and you've got a TiVo that has 10 hours less, and an unsupported ethernet connection with a minimum of useful software.

    Shell out $700 for the low-end ReplayTV (40 hours), and it has the lifetime subscription at no charge. Ethernet is built in. You've got USEFUL networking apps that are SUPPORTED by the company. And you can download (via iChannels) content over the web so you've got a new content provider for non-mainstream media.

    I think it is almost a no-brainer for advanced TiVo users to get one of these. I really hope it takes off. Or TiVo gets their act in gear.
  • The pre-order form [replaytv.com] has a space for a "promotional code", and the form suggests using their code "GG471297" for free installation.


    Anybody known of other promotional codes to use?

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @02:46PM (#2256590) Homepage
    What's needed now is automatic peer-to-peer commercial skipping. That way, once a few people have skipped a commercial, everybody else on the net then skips it.

    All that has to be shared is information like station="WMAL" date="2002-06-03" skip-start="08:31:00" skip-end="08:31:30". Every time you push the "30 second skip" button, an entry like that gets created. Entries are distributed over Gnutella or Freenet. When watching a show, your player queries the net for entries with appropriate station, date, and time info. If a few different people have skipped over the same time slot, your player should skip it too.

    Great open source project for somebody.

  • by raygundan (16760) on Wednesday September 05, 2001 @03:48PM (#2256938) Homepage
    According to this cnet article [cnet.com], the networks will be able to opt out of having their programs shared, even over the local network. This seems to put a serious cramp in ReplayTV's plans-- the only networks who won't immediately opt out are NASA TV and PBS. (Note that SonicBlue has purchased ReplayTV and that the names are used interchangeably in the article) To quote:

    Sonicblue jumped into the market for digital video recorders Wednesday, unveiling four high-end boxes it will sell under the ReplayTV brand.

    Sonicblue acquired the digital video recording pioneer on Aug. 2 after announcing the deal in February. Digital video recorders (DVRs) allow consumers to record TV shows onto a hard drive instead of onto videotape.

    As reported earlier by CNET News.com, the four boxes vary in price and capacity from $699 for 40 hours of recording to $1,999 for 320 hours. Unlike its competitors, Sonicblue will not charge a monthly service fee.

    The new boxes include broadband access and allow consumers to send TV shows via home networking to other ReplayTV boxes. However, Sonicblue Vice President Steve Shannon said the company will allow TV networks to decide if this capability should be disabled for their particular shows.


    So, in short, this feature will probably be disabled by angry networks before it leaves the gate. And it also answers the lawsuit question-- ReplayTV won't be sued, because this feature will come pre-disabled for your convenience.

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