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TiVo Moves to Bypass Cable 286

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the changing-the-middle-man dept.
Thomas Hawk writes "TiVo is throwing in the towel on cable. According to CEO Mike Ramsay, 'offering service through one of the primary cable platforms is not the best way to grow our business at this time, because the economics are not very attractive, instead, we have decided to embrace the PC as our friend.' This may add to the complexity of an already convoluted message that TiVo has been criticized for being unable to articulate to the masses. In the same article TiVo says it plans to introduce a new line of recorders that will accept CableCards. The company has declined to say when new machines will be introduced or how much they will cost. Most significantly, there is still no elaboration as to whether this new standalone box will be able to record cable or satellite HDTV."
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TiVo Moves to Bypass Cable

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  • huh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by menace690 (531682)
    What is a cable card?
    • Essentially, it's a cable card in a box.

      http://tech2.nytimes.com/mem/technology/techrevi ew .html?res=9C0DE1DB1739F933A05751C1A9629C8B63
    • Presumably the smartcard that you can use to tune your cable company's digital cable offering without using their box, which was mentioned in the article.
    • Re:huh (Score:5, Informative)

      by plilja (91030) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:34AM (#11284813)
      A cable card is a hardware card, issued by your cable provider, that allows the decoding of cable channels that are broadcast with encryption. I don't believe any of the large cable companies are currently issuing cable cards, but they are supposed to start issuing them by the end of 2006. Cable cards are required for any third party hardware to decode encrypted channels on third party hardware. Pretty much all extra content (HBO, Pay-Per-View, etc.) is encrypted, and most of the cable companies are concidering, or already have, started to encrypt non-extra content as well (that is any content above "basic-cable" level).
      • Cablecard deployment (Score:4, Informative)

        by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Friday January 07, 2005 @01:28AM (#11285107)
        All cable companies do it right now, every single one of them. They probably don't advertise it because they'd rather you not use cablecard (they make a killing off of you leasing or buying the digital cable box off of them.) They were federally mandated to carry the cablecards by June 1st 2004. I already know for certain cox is doing it, and they don't advertise it at all. The only way you can find out about it is if you dig around their website.
      • Re:huh (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dachannien (617929)
        What I'm hoping for is a TV capture card (i.e., the kind that sits in your PC or Mac) that is digital cable ready (which would mean that it accepts a Cable Card).

        Of course, I'm really hoping one of these gets released before the middle of this year, when the FCC pretends it's Congress and mandates broadcast flag recognition.

        • Re:huh (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dachannien (617929)
          Bad form to reply to my own post, but according to the EFF [eff.org], the FCC isn't regulating broadcast flag for cable/satellite applications, but evidently the MPAA has convinced the cable industry to roll over on its own. I suppose that wouldn't necessarily stop a "rogue" manufacturer from releasing a nonconforming product which accepts cable cards and does the QAM decryption but which doesn't force restrictions based on a broadcast flag.
      • Re:huh (Score:4, Funny)

        by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:54AM (#11285423)
        Cox offers cablecard, but requires a professional install.
    • Sorry, fixed link:

      NY Times Link [nytimes.com]
    • Re:huh (Score:3, Informative)

      by JoshRosenbaum (841551)
      I went and researched this a bit, and found the following links useful:

      http://engadget.com/entry/5180876097686388/ [engadget.com] http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/specsformats/C ableCARDprimer.php [audioholics.com]
      http://broadcastengineering.com/news/broadcasting_ cable_era_begins/ [broadcastengineering.com]
  • So ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tim_mathews (585933) <tmathews04@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:25AM (#11284748)
    What's it do? If you don't hook it up to cable or satellite (unless you get a special card), it just becomes a fancy hard drive in a fancy box? Why do I need one again?
  • Lost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by confusion (14388) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:27AM (#11284759) Homepage
    First, I am a huge Tivo fan. I've got 2 of em, and I would be lost without them.

    Tivo's recent actions have left me pretty convinced that they're lost. They don't seem to have a cohesive business plan on how they are going to fend off all the "generic" pvr/dvr's that come free with cable or satellite service, or for the onslaught of PC based solutions.

    Tivo certainly has refinement and ease of use in its court, but I can see that eroding quickly. They are having to keep adding new features under the same pricing model just to stay competetive.

    Long live Tivo...

    Jerry
    http://www.syslog.org/ [syslog.org]


    • I don't have a Tivo but have seen people start getting PVRs with satellite service. What is Tivo's "value added proposition" specifically? Or is it a case that their product is too easily cloned?
      • Re:Lost (Score:3, Insightful)

        by confusion (14388)
        When it came out, it was revolutionary. Right now, its the dominant player, and probably the most refined, to the point where my parents are comfortable using it.

        The problem is that there really isn't much value proposition left. Tivo has been riding on reputation while the market has been changing. That happens over and over in the business world, but I'm sad to see it happen to my beloved Tivo. Tivo seems to be trying to play catch-up by doing things like tivo2go, and find a new niche, like the part

      • Well, I know TiVo's value add to me: it doesn't suck!

        I got HDTV service, and was irritated that my TiVo didn't record HD, so I thought I would give the cable company version of the PVR a try.

        Did it suck! It's a Scientific Atlanta 8000HD though Time Warner, just so you can avoid it yourself. They bill it as "just like TiVo", but they clearly forgot to add "except that TiVo isn't a complete piece of crap, like this is."

        No wishlists, no discriminating between first runs and reruns, arbitrarily forgets to
    • by JJahn (657100)
      I agree with your conclusion that Tivo doesn't have a coherent business plan. However, there are no free pvr's with cable or satellite service right now. They all cost at least a $5 / month fee (Charter Cable wants $10, bastards...), and an additional fee if you rent the unit. Still pricey enough over time that Tivo has a chance, but that could change quickly enough.
    • Re:Lost (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hollins (83264) on Friday January 07, 2005 @01:09AM (#11285003) Homepage
      I'm also a TiVo subscriber and huge fan.

      The rub for me is that most competing PVR services are owned by companies that are also content creators or which have close ties with content providers. Look at the contractual relationship between Comcast and Viacom, for instance, or even DirectTV and the NFL. So I'm very suspicious of Comcast offering PVR service with my cable package while Viacom is lobbying congress for extensions to the broadcast flag.

      I think it comes down to a question longevity. If TiVo dies, then I expect these other providers will begin crippling PVR features. However, after the broadcast flag becomes effective, Viacom may start pressuring Comcast to deploy DRM restrictions, at which point TiVo becomes the hero, and shores up market share.

      Regardless, things don't look good for TiVo in the long term. Their hardware is a loss-leader that is entering the commodity realm, free software implementations of the same features are improving rapidly, and we seem to be converging on effective web services that can serve the data I currently pay a subscription fee for.
      • Regardless, things don't look good for TiVo in the long term. Their hardware is a loss-leader that is entering the commodity realm,
        No kidding! Just before Christmas, Tivo gave away several thousand units. My wife picked one up (after waiting in line for 3 hours). Downside: now we are paying the monthly subscription.
      • Re:Lost (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Merle Corey (125658) on Friday January 07, 2005 @09:16AM (#11286572) Homepage
        However, after the broadcast flag becomes effective, Viacom may start pressuring Comcast to deploy DRM restrictions, at which point TiVo becomes the hero, and shores up market share.
        Ah, but you've forgotten about this [slashdot.org].

        TiVo has already demonstrated that they're perfectly willing to hop into bed with content providers so as to not make waves.

        I'm a TiVo fan too, had my series one boxes for years now. Trusting that TiVo will do the right thing just because they're not part of a media conglomerate is a mistake.

        MC
    • Lost? We'll see... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by roshi (53475)
      I am also a big TiVo fan. I'm on my second unit, having given the first away to my sister to spread the love. I agree that a lot of their recent moves have been pretty worrying. I actually started putting together a MythTV box when the banner-ad-while-fast-forwarding announcement hit.

      After some thought, I've decided to give them the benefit of the doubt for the time being. TiVo has a lot going for it. The user interface is brilliantly executed, both simple and powerful enough for anyone. TiVoToGo, especial
      • Tivo is far more going out of business then apple ever has.

        Tivo has never posted a profit, and has no strategy to make a profit. And has a userbase that will only shrink in time. Yes they have added users continually, but not at a rate to keep up with the market (that bit is apple like). But in the end their users are more likely to switch to a dvr that their cable company gives them.
    • And since TiVos don't work without calling home, I suppose they become scrap metal if the company does under. Maybe that will happen, maybe not, but the thought would certainly cross my mind if I were considering buying one.
      • um, not "does under," but "goes under," i.e. out of business.
      • Re:Lost (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Rude Turnip (49495)
        I've read several times that TiVo has a "boat anchor" plan in place in case the company goes out of business. The plan is to release all the specs so that users may reconfigure the system to use another guide service.

        • "I've read several times that TiVo has a "boat anchor" plan in place in case the company goes out of business. The plan is to release all the specs so that users may reconfigure the system to use another guide service."

          That is an extremely good idea, and they should say it up front. I wish 321 studios would have had a similiar plan to relase their source code under a FOSS license for their DVD copier before going out of business.

          They are going out of business anyway, might as well release their product u
    • It's a digital video recorder, not rocket science. It's trivial and cheap to put together hardware that works like TiVo, and the program information is widely available. Altogether, that means that there just is no business model there: TiVo-like functionality just becomes an add-on to PCs, cable boxes, and other devices.
    • Tivo Is the PVR in most satelite bundled systems...
      not true for cable, but in the case of satelite, it's Tivo...
  • tivo beaten in 2005 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I predict that the 2005 ces devices introduced will beat tivo at its own game.

    Dvd recorders with hard disks cost $399 now (excluding the buggy $250 ILO one at Wal-Mart). By the end of the 2005, they should cost $225.

    It is like the 5mp name brand (canon, nikon, etc) digital cameras. They cost $400 just before Christmas 2003 and then dropped $100 or more by Christmas 2004.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How are they doing this without reverse engineering the cable companies card info? Are they working together with them?

    http://www.immigrantornot.com/ [immigrantornot.com]
    • the cable card interface is an open standard (forced on the cable companies by an anti-trust suit) - theoretically anyone who want's to can make/buy/lease a settop - however it ain't easy to implement
  • by antdude (79039) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:31AM (#11284788) Homepage Journal
    Click here [nytimes.com]. Thanks to NY Times Link Generator [blogspace.com]. :)
  • How about this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yorkpaddy (830859) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:33AM (#11284800)
    I doubt this is what Tivo will do. but, how would this work. Tivo could act like a cable provider, but use the internet as the transfer medium instead of coaxial cable. Networks could offer tivo shows which they could offer to their users. The users could watch the shows at any time based on their choosing. The super small cable channels (Outdoor life network, knitting central...) would love this. ? ... profit
  • But who cares? I don't want this to degenerate into some sort of "my tv show is the greatest" rah rah session, but what could possibly be on tv that is so good that it warrants recording?

    It's not like tv became garbage overnight. It's been pretty bad for a while. What shows are there today that in 10 or 15 years people will be reminiscing about? Where are the Knight Riders, the Happy Days, the Sledge Hammers?

    I look at the spring lineup and can't find a single thing that warrants shelling out the cash
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Fucking Night Rider???? Please tell me you are trolling.
    • Make your mind up bro, either you don't this thread to "degenerate into some sort of 'my tv show is the greatest' rah rah session" or you do. Anyhow, assuming you really want to know what other people are watching on their TVs, here goes:

      Battlestar Galactica
      ER
      Little Britain*
      QI*
      Question Time*
      Stargate Atlantis
      Stargate SG-1
      Teachers*
      The West Wing

      The shows marked * are probably only relevant to us Brits, and unlikely to be seen much elsewhere. However, the other shows should be familiar to most p
      • I find it funny that you don't mention The Office when you even have a quote from it in your sig.

        I just picked up season one the other day and loved it so much I picked up season two the next day. Very, very good series. I wish more Americans enjoyed British humor so we could get more shows coming on our shores. We're making an Americanized version of The Office which I assume is going to suck, and hard.
        • The Office isn't exactly a current show anymore. And as no more episodes or specials are ever going to be made, and I've seen them all, there's little point in me listing it as a reason for me to carry on watching TV.

          By the way, as well as the two series that you have, there are also two Christmas specials, both of which are available on a single DVD, if I remember correctly.

          As for the US version of The Office, well I have to agree with you there. Most recent cult British comedies and dramas that have bee
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:54AM (#11284930)
      Am I watching the wrong channels?

      No, you're just making the common mistake of believing your cherished childhood entertainment was somehow better than what is available now. The shows you reminisce about are essentially trash. Just take the rosy glasses off of your hindeyes.

      Don't be offended by this comment - everyone does it, me included.
    • Your commentary about the quality of tv shows aside, you're kinda missing the point. TiVo isn't designed to archive, it's designed to time-shift. The whole point of TiVo is that you can watch what you want, when you want. You set it to record the shows you want to see, and then play them back at your leisure. So if they're running Futurama reruns at 0-dark-30 in the morning, fine and dandy. With TiVo, I can watch them the next morning with my cereal. In effect, it's a more flexible replacement for all
    • Where are the Knight Riders, the Happy Days, the Sledge Hammers
      Good one!
    • In my opinion most of the good shows have moved off the broadcast networks and onto the secondary cable channels. Monk and The Dead Zone on USA, The Daily Show and Southpark on Comedy Central, Stargate SG-1 and Atlantas (and hopefully Battlestar Galacticia) on SCIFI. I am also able to find shows that match my interests on the History Channel, TLC, DIY, Discovery, etc.

      I do agree that it seems like the networks have decided we are all morons. On the other hand people must be watching or they would show somet
    • You are watching the wrong channels. :-)

      Seriously, my favorite channels dont show good things when I am able to watch them. They are on at weird times, very early morning, while I am at work, etc, etc. Now I record them, and watch them as I like.

      Bonus is, when the kids or dogs start fighting, or the wife comes over and *has* to talk, I can press pause, deal with the situation, then go back to what I was watching ( more or less, I have a DirecTivo, and an SA8000 unit, the SA8000 has the uncool habit of c
    • "Where are the Knight Riders, the Happy Days, the Sledge Hammers?"

      Trust me, I know what I'm doing.

  • by the angry liberal (825035) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:36AM (#11284824)
    'offering service through one of the primary cable platforms is not the best way to grow our business at this time, because the economics are not very attractive, instead, we have decided to embrace the PC as our friend.'

    Translation: Guys, we have not posted a profit yet and our doors have been open almost 8 years. We have got to do something FAST! Drop the cable, push the DirecTV DVR and extend functionality to the PC fast. Otherwise we are going to lose more investors.

    I like my Tivo, but I wish these cats would figure out some way to make a profit.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <`gro.oc-onpt' `ta' `ydenneks'> on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:36AM (#11284825) Homepage
    that is so attractive to companies?

    Boss: "Hey! Wow, everyone sure did love feature x and y."

    Engineer, proudly thumbing suspenders: "Yes sir, we really hit the nail on the head!"

    Boss, now turning to glare at the engineer: "Pack your bags johnson. If we don't tolerate your kind here"
    • I'm not N. American so you'll have to excuse me for giggling at the image you just conjured up. Where I come from suspenders are worn by women and hold their stockings up. Just what kind of engineers do you have at your place? ;)

      (Note: if you don't want to be giggled at by the English use the word braces. Whilst you're at it, reconsider the word pants as that conjures up images of grotty y-fronts - in addition to pants, I wear trousers to work ;))
  • Killer App (Score:5, Funny)

    by itoleck (304334) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:40AM (#11284844)
    What TIVO needs is a new box with a midget inside that does all of my work, so I have time to watch TV!
  • I knew Tivo as it originally started was a failed business model. Cool, but doomed. It was priced way too high with the subscription fee or lifetime purchase to really make it. Yes, a lot of people bought Tivos, but a lot more didn't. The competion from Cable companies who offer their own DVR for $10 a month while not as good as Tivo was good enough. Dual tuners, a single box, no serial or IR blaster configuration, replacement boxes if one goes bad, no initial investment in the box itself.
  • What Tivo is doing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RebornData (25811) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:54AM (#11284928)
    I think this is the ultimate acknowledgement that they have been unsucessful getting the cable companies to license / resell their technology. Tivo's obviously been trying to make themselves less threatening to content vendors by limiting PC interoperability. But, since "big cable" is for the most part not going with Tivo for DVR, the incentives for Tivo to kiss their asses has gone away.

    Yes, it's a desperate attempt to stay in business... Tivo has realized that, aside from DirecTV, they're going to have to sell their own units on their own merits, and that they'd better close the gap in PC interoperability. Let's hope it's not too late.

    Of course, it will be a cold day in hell before any of these new features makes it to my DirecTivo... DirecTV is as strict as any about content control.

    -R
    • Not getting cable companies on board was a big blunder on Tivo's part. I was considering buying a Tivo, but opted not to. Instead, I just rent a DVR from Time Warner Cable. Is it as good? Not really, but it's good enough. No up front costs. No need to write checks to another company every month. And if anything breaks, like the hard drive, I can replace it for free. Why lay out several hundred dollars plus monthly fees, when I can just get it all from my cable company for less?
  • by Manchot (847225)
    If I were Tivo, I'd try to set up deals where shows can be distributed over the Internet via a BitTorrent-like protocol. IMO, this is one of the easiest ways in which they'd be able to maintain a viable business strategy. There are several advantages to doing this: 1. Low maintenance costs. Aside from hosting the tracker and a high-speed seeder, the bandwidth required would be extremely low. Also, since the torrents would be distributed only to Tivos, they wouldn't have the MPAA or anyone like that worryin
    • If I were Tivo, I'd try to set up deals where shows can be distributed over the Internet via a BitTorrent-like protocol.

      Hahahaha. I stopped reading after this sentence. There's no way in hell the MPAA or networks would ever allow that. ReplayTV was almost sued-to-death over their show-sharing over the Internet support which is why they had to drop it in new versions. What I'm wondering is why MythTV and other free PVRs haven't stepped up to bat and come up with that BitTorrent sharing thing. ;-)

  • by doormat (63648) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:59AM (#11284952) Homepage Journal
    Last year, Tivo announced TivoToGo at CES 2004. They annouced availablity this past Monday (Jan 3, 2005), and a very few people have got the new 7.1 software required for TivoToGo at the moment (check out the Tivo Community [tivocommunity.com]).

    Tivo showed a demo of a CableCard 1.0 demo at CES today. They plan to offer a CC HD Tivo in 2006. They needed to get this cable card Tivo out in APRIL 2005, not 2006!!! CableCard is an open standard anyone can implement, Tivo or anyone else doesnt need permission from the cable companies.

    There is only one caveat with their 2006 annoucement - there are a few limitations that Tivo might be waiting for CC 2.0 to come about for. The first big thing is that now CableCard 1.0 is unidirectional (from the cable co to your box). CC 1.0 is also limited to one tuner (analog or digital channel) per physical cable card. CableCard 2.0 is bidirection (so the Tivo box can talk to the cable company, allows PPV-on-demand, interactive guide data, etc), and CC2.0 provides up to 5 tuners per physical cable card.

    I would bet that if Tivo is waiting until 2006 to release their CableCard HiDef-capable Tivo, it damn well better be CableCard 2.0. Tivo can provide splitters inside the box to allow for anywhere from 2, 3, up to 5 tuners. I doubt most people have a practical need for 5 tuners UNLESS... (this is my wish) Tivo enhances their Home Media Option to allow smart scheduling, so that you can have one SuperTivo and several client Tivos (pass through tuner, no Hard disk) that just stream content from the SuperTivo over a home network.
    • It's still new (took a year), but they do have some industry support, such as Sonic MyDVD [sonic.com].
      • It's still new (took a year), but they do have some industry support, such as Sonic MyDVD.

        Bah.

        Sonic does a lot of OEM deals -- this isn't an issue of "getting support", this is TiVo going to an OEM software manufacturer and giving them a (relatively small) chunk of cash to provide the features they need.

        What I don't understand is why Sonic's software won't be out until later in Q1. Did TiVo's format keep changing, did they save money by having Sonic take their sweet time, or are the TiVo guys total geni

  • by tji (74570) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:59AM (#11284954)
    The original poster seems a bit confused. The CableCard version they are working on is their solution for cable TV systems.

    CableCard is the open standard for digital cable. It allows a TV to work with a cable system without needing a seperate cable box. The CableCard is a PCMCIA card that works with the cable security system to allow viewing of premium channels, PPV, etc. CableCard support is currently available in several high end HDTVs (it's only in the high end units now, because it requires a built-in HD tuner).

    The new Tivo will have dual tuners, and will support QAM256, for full HDTV viewing/recording. It will be very similar in functionality to the HD DirecTivo (dual tuners - record two programs while watching a third).

    There are some pictures of it here [avsforum.com].
  • I have a Tivo. I like Tivo, but it's nothing more than a souped up VCR. It's an incremental step, not a quantum leap. Any idiot who sat down and thought about it could make it better. Start by adding in IMDB integration. Just put a little link in the listing info. Half the time I watch a movie, I'm looking something up on IMDB using my laptop anyway. You don't need to bloat the thing, but stuff like that seems like such a natural fit. If you're willing to pay for a Tivo, you probably have broadband
  • If they do try to record HDTV, I predict that Cable/Satellite will follow up with DMCA-to-Tivo-King-4.

    It looks like it's going to be a classic match.

  • by pikapp767 (781015) on Friday January 07, 2005 @01:16AM (#11285032) Homepage
    I've researched this issue and the headline of the article is correct. TiVo is moving to bypass cable but not by throwing the whole system away and not allowing you to record cable BUT by integrating a cable card into a standalone TiVo box. This eliminates the need for a cable decoder. Their intent is to differentiate themselves further from the cheap knockoff PVRs that the cable companies are deploying. As an avid TiVo user myself I assure you that TiVo will not be dropping the capability to record cable programming.

    Here is an article that better describes what TiVo is doing: http://olympics.reuters.com/audi/newsArticle.jhtml ?type=technologyNews&storyID=7252458/ [reuters.com]


    More information and analysis will most likely be available at my source for TiVo information http://www.tivoblog.com/ [tivoblog.com] tomorrow.
  • by Dot_Killer (473321) on Friday January 07, 2005 @01:16AM (#11285033)
    They were so busy allowing 'content' providers to decide what features to include they forgot to keep an eye on the market. The law about timeshifting was on there side so have the balls to put on the features that will keep at the head of the pack.
    They could have been selling branded TiVos to cable companies, just like the DirecTV TiVo. The should have encouraged the hackable TiVo. Since anyone can make a pvr they should have made it more open so they would be the M$ of pvrs. Now it seems they are moving to put TiVo on the PC, something that people had been wanting for years.

    I knew it was a bad sign when Series 2 DID NOT come with an ethernet port, my god; just so they could sell licenses to TiVo certified USB ethernet cards.
    Plus the company seems to have moved away from the geeky silicon valley feel, if it was ever there to the greedy dumbass business types who want as much control as possible but forgot what made them successful.
    You cannot even set up a TiVo without a phone line or internet connection to connect to them. Something as simple as switching from cable source to antenna source has become a pain.
    On the Series 1 you could do manual recordings without a subscription. My nephew got Series 2 and you cannot do anything but switch channels without a subscription. That kind of crap annoys the hell out of me. They want absolute control of everything and still want their hand in your pocket after you buy the device.
    It was fun while it lasted
    Hopefully some company will make a device that did what the TiVo didn't, or maybe they'll just hack the Xbox 2.
  • by midifarm (666278) on Friday January 07, 2005 @01:23AM (#11285077)
    I'm kind of glad that I haven't purchased a TiVo box yet. Does anyone know the future of the service with current boxes and/or providers? I don't want to have to succmb to the wills of Redmond in order to use TiVo. Besides I really don't want my computer to be the center of my TV. I like the separation of church and state.

    Peace

    • Depends where you are. Here in Canada we don't have service available to us... so we've made our Tivos bought from the US work without it. Access to certain groups to get the information is restricted to Canadian residents and the stated goal is that we'd sign up for the pay service if Tivo ever offered it here. If Tivo goes away though, you can be sure that the service emulation stuff we use will become readily available. In my case I run a .Net app that pulls data from zap2it, parses it, and then make
  • They could try to move into the Windows arena and make software to compete with Windows Media PC. Sure there are Linux programs that act like TiVo, but Windows is bigger and that could carry them. Vendors could build these Media PCs and put TiVo software on there instead of Windows pvr software. Then they could build interoperability with the set-top.
    TiVo is chasing volume, and with a tech device the best way to do that is put as many features people want in it and also allow for newer features to be added,
  • Every time there is a Tivo or PVR discussion on slashdot, I wonder, is there something on TV that is worth watching, that I am missing.

    Then I wander off and do the stuff I normally do and forget about it.

    I have 70 channels of crap on my cable, which I buy only to make my 10 year old happy. He can watch Sponge Bob 5 times a day, if his homework is done.

    What am I missing? Is there really anything on TV worth watching on purpose?

    Maybe I am an oddball, but my time goes like this (by weight, not by volum

  • by nxs212 (303580) on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:15AM (#11285294)
    I own a Sony SAT-T60 DirecTV receiver that is also a tivo unit. Since I will never go back to cable (well, maybe only when Verizon starts offering it via fiber) because of crappy signal and few channels, buying a satellite receiver with Tivo built-in was a logical choice:
    1. Signal from satellite comes in digital format and is saved that way to tivo's internal hard drive. Try doing that with your home-grown video capture; going from digital to analog to digital defeats the purpose of getting satellite in the first place!
    2. With directTV tivo you can tape TWO channels at the same time while watching something else that was "taped" before.
    3. You can pause live tv, go answer the phone, door, microwave your dinner, etc. and then resume play from where you paused it.
    4. Wife or girlfirned rudely interrupted you? (while you were watching the game winning goal/shot/touchdown?) NO problem! don't get mad, just rewind - Tivo always keeps 30 mins of the channel(s) you are watching in a buffer.
    5. Tivo units run Linux and are very hackable, software and hardware-wise. You can add or replace its hard drive to increase capacity, add network card to use broadband to pull down guide data snf updates via the Internet (instead of telephone call) Many people have modded their Tivo boxes to display weather, run webserver so you can connect from work and schedule stuff and view other stats...like what your kids are watching right now :)
    6. With that network card installed on series 1 and wireless 802.11 usb adapter on series 2 tivo you can pull down shows to your desktop, laptop or xbox (with minor changes to os on tivo)
    7. You can skip all those annoying commercials - you will save about 15 minutes per 1 hour show. Once you get used to this feature (takes about 5 minutes) you will not understand why your inlaws' tv cannot do this...
    8. Ecellent search capability - want to see a movie with Angelina Jolie or Harrison Ford? Type it in and let tivo search up to two weeks of programming guide data. Found it but it's playing at 3am on Friday? No problem, with a click of a button you can add it to be taped for you.
    9. Small form factor and lower power consumption. Sure, you can probably get most of these features by taking a small pc and adding two tuner cards, sound card or mobo with optical out jack for sound, another dedicated hard drive, rd receiver and remote control but you will still need another box to get the satellite singal. Less hardware, especially the ugly pc kind is a plus.
    Finally, the money you'll save by using a low power device vs 300W pc will probably be enough to offset the $5 Tivo fee that DirectTV charges their customers. (A LOT of people bitch and moan about five bucks but ignore how much power and $ their home grown pc/tivo-clone will waste. Building something that will look attrative in your living room will cost quiet a bit as well.

    P.S. Person who designed Sony SAT-T60's remote control is a genius! ...I can't say the same about other mfg's remotes.
  • Doesn't TiVO kinda seem like Apple did? Had a great product that defined a market, only to not seem to know where to go since then.

    Hopefully they don't have go through the dark ages Apple did before making a comeback.

  • by BobPaul (710574) * on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:33AM (#11285359) Journal
    Here's a Registration Free Link [nytimes.com] for those who want to read the article selling their soul.
  • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:39AM (#11285377) Homepage Journal
    Aside from all of the wailing (what, TiVo has replaced Apple a the new "beleaguered" company?) it turns out TiVo has slipped in some goodies along with the announced feature set of their new v.7.1 software.

    Among the goodies folks are finding is an undocumented one: A built in web server. [tivocommunity.com]

    No, apparently not Apache but something else, what counts is it's there, it works, and it allows download of XML files containing show listings and the shows themselves. To get to it follow these steps:

    1. Sign up [tivo.com] for an early download of TiVo 7.1. Must have a Series 2, no DVD burner built-in (player is ok), DirecTV models aren't handled by TiVo. Basically TiVo Service Numbers beginning with 110, 130, 140, 230, 240, 264, 540, & 590.

    2. While on TiVo's web site note your password and the "Media Access Key [tivo.com]" (MAK) for your TiVo. You'll need these later.

    3. Wait for 7.1 to be downloaded and installed on your machine. Continually forcing reconnects will not hurry this, indeed the cumulative server load by that sort of thing will only delay the rollout.

    4. Once you've got 7.1 (it's downloaded, installed, you've rebooted) point a web browser at https://your.tivo's.ip.address/nowplaying/index.ht ml . For user supply tivo and the password is your "MAK [tivo.com]".

    5. Go wild.
    What, big deal? OK, how about pulling your video off your TiVo, the much-feared video extraction [tivocommunity.com] ?

    Turns out you need to have TiVo's DirectShow decryption filter installed, and that only comes with their TiVo Desktop v.2 [tivo.com] which is, for now, Windows 2K/XP only. You also need a decent mpeg2 codec, which MS doesn't include in Windows. TiVo recommends [tivo.com] a couple of commercial ones but there are also free ones out there too. Or, you might have one that came with DVD software.

    However, contrary to TiVo's marketing, once a .tivo file is pulled through this it can be edited, saved, even burned to DVD, with nothing more special needed. That's right, no waiting for Sonic's soon-to-be-shipped [tivo.com] software, no magic mojo involved, trusty ole TMPGEnc [tmpgenc.net] and Nero [nero.com] and all the rest are perfectly fine. Indeed once passed through the magic DirectShow filter (and your password supplied) the .tivo files are free to be rendered into a more normal mpeg2 files.

    Sure the $50 "custom" software will probably do more with automation, labeling, and such, but I'm betting nothing that can't be whipped up in a few days by TiVo's customers, likely beating the Sonic software to the punch.

    Pretty Kewl, eh?

  • 12:43 central and attempts to look at messages or metamod give only 503 errors.
  • They're not "throwing in the towel" on cable, they're simply tired of trying to get acceptable partnership agreements with cable companies. And the CableCard solution (which is built in to some TVs already with more to come), in addition to getting rid of one of the boxes on your TV is a standard that they'll be able to support without having to get the cable company's "permission." It sounds to me like a perfectly rational and reasonable solution.

    What I'm concerned about is an apparent upcomming "deal" be
  • What a Geek Wants (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Whatchamacallit (21721) on Friday January 07, 2005 @11:53AM (#11287741) Homepage
    What a Geek Wants:

    1. A PVR that will grab your shows and is useful as an appliance for day2day usage. Include a DVD burner for mom and dad to archive their own stuff without using a computer and network. Include HD abilities.

    2. A way to transfer the recorded data to a server in a format that I can use and convert. Preferably, without using TiVo's proprietary software. This will probably be sniffed and hacked a few months after TiVoToGo is available to many users.

    3. Some way to organize all that video onto a Serial ATA RAID SAN where I can archive a ton of data. Have the ability to burn DVD's or convert to DiVX, etc. Edit the content to strip commercials, etc. Or more likely a TiVo box with 4-5 hot swap drive bays on the front.

    4. Support for Linux, BSD, and OS X...

    5. Bypass cable content providers by using BitTorrent built into a TiVo! Just do the same thing a cable company does but instead of needing a cable infrastructure or Satellites stream it over the Internet using BitTorrent as the transfer mechanism and an XML TiVo program guide. Imagine your TiVo uploading bits and pieces of your recorded shows to those people who didn't record it or watch it live. (increase the buffer on live TV from 30min upto 2 hours and store it until it's overwritten by an actual recorded show or when space is low - BitTorrent upload it's bits to other TiVo users) Whatever's popular will stream over the Internet at faster and faster speeds). Increase the standard disk space on the TiVo with a couple of those new 500GB hard disks. Encourage people to not delete shows on their TiVo as it will help the community to share the data via BitTorrent.

    This whole BitTorrent concept is about to peak, there are VC companies just looking for the right company to back with an Internet delivery mechanism. TiVo could blow away the competition and probably get sued but it's coming. I would pay TiVo for television content if they can do it effectively.

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