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Will New Apps Keep TiVo Afloat? 240

Posted by timothy
from the what-else-floats-in-water dept.
Dave Zatz writes "Tivo, struggling to keep customers and inch towards profitability as execs step down, has continued to shift focus from pure PVR functionality towards digital convergence. Tivo's recently released Home Media Engine SDK extends Tivo's capabilities as developers churn early Java apps out, including the eBay-developed BuyItNow and the independent Airport Express AirTunes remote control. The recently released Tivo To Go allows PC users to transfer shows to their computers for viewing, editing, and burning shows. Mac users aren't entirely forgotten - a hidden feature in the OSX Tivo Desktop 1.9 provides AAC music playback through the television."
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Will New Apps Keep TiVo Afloat?

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  • by fembots (753724) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:14PM (#11692226) Homepage
    Legality aside, is TTG another thing that media publishers have to worry about in the future? First it was MP3 downloads, then came the movie downloads, now this TV downloads?

    It reminds me of Futurama, since it was usually scheduled to be interrupted or pre-empted by the football, fans have to resort to downloading from the internet, and Fox was sending C&D letters left right and centre.

    Now that people can pre-record these TV shows, edit out advertisement and "potentially" share them illegally over the internet on P2P network (there you go, I have used all "keywords" in one sentence), I'm sure companies will starting complaining about lost sales in DVDs/Ad placements.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As somebody whose used Tivo2Go, I can tell you that you can't just share the file out. You need to enter a password each time you view the file, and you can't use it on more than 10 PC's. So, filesharing's not really an option, though you could share with a few select friends.

      What makes Tivo2Go really suck though is transfer time. Over a 100BaseTx network, it takes ~45 minutes to transfer a one hour show. Now, if it takes me that long to transfer the file, what is the point of taking it with me? I could ha
      • by snuf23 (182335) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:24PM (#11692345)
        There are methods you can use to strip out the DRM from the .tivo files:

        TiVo To Go MPEG2 Decrypting [evillabs.net]

        This is one method, there are a few others.
        • by LordKronos (470910) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:45PM (#11692598) Homepage
          So what. Maybe 1% of users will figure out how to transcode it to remove the DRM. The instructions are out there, but let me tell you that it isn't exactly easy. You can go the GraphEdit route, which means installing the DirectX9 SDK, installing the correct codecs (which have to be paid for) and figuring out how to configure all the filters (the instructions out there aren't idiot proof). Or you can go the Nero transcoding route, but then youve got the bugs in loading the videos, Nero splitting the output into multiple files, etc. Or you can go the Sonic route, burn it to DVD, the rip it back off. I've found methods that work great for me, but it's too much trouble for the average user to figure out. Maybe one day there will be an application that makes it easy for users to do this, but right now I liken it to the warez scene...most users couldn't figure out how to get past the crap to find the real stuff.

          And even before TTG was released, people figured out ways to hack the TiVo and download the video. So now you have the feature available to 100% of users, and maybe 1% will abuse it. Before, the feature was available to 0% of users, and STILL 1% abused it. Which scenario is better for TiVo?
          • I agree completely. Most people don't even care about the DRM.
            I really don't care much. I pull the shows off to free up space or to watch them in another part of the house. Once I've watched it I delete it.
            For the warez scene I'm sure it's much less of a pain to rip it via another method. If I wanted a show for archival purpose I'd probably be more likely to buy the DVD if available or bit torrent it then rip it off the Tivo. Especially considering the time it would take to edit out the commercials.
            But the
        • I'm kind of waiting for the "DVDShrink" application that runs continuously and keeps my HDD and my Tivo in sync, as well as stripping Tivo's DRM from the files so they can be dumped into DVDs easily, without paying even more for the privilege of burning them to CD.
      • by topham (32406) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:43PM (#11692572) Homepage
        Right now Tivo is restricted to 10baseT speeds because it maxes out the USB 1.1.
        (WiFi takes a hit too, even though it theoretically is faster than 10baseT).

        Many of the Series2 Tivo's have a USB 2.0 capable chipset, I understand the drivers aren't there yet, but they have supposedly added some of the capability into the latest version of the OS, over the next while I expect they will be providing driver updates to support USB 2.0 based ethernet.

        This should improve the transfer rates, hopefully they throttled them because of issues with USB 1.1. (or they maxed it out).
        • Actually, drivers for some USB 2.0 ethernet dongles are now supported in the most recent release, 7.1a. My Belkin USB2.0 interfaces are about twice as fast as they were under version 4.x.

          A one hour show in Basic mode takes about 8 minutes.
          In Best Quality, an hour of video transfers in under 30 minutes.
      • You realize that's because the tivo still uses USB 1.1, which has max speed of say, 1.5mbps, rather like thinnet.
      • Or maybe you would plan ahead, and transfer the shows ahead of time?
    • by RetroGeek (206522) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:25PM (#11692360) Homepage
      I'm sure companies will starting complaining about lost sales in DVDs/Ad placements

      They can still place them there.

      When I watch TV, I mute ads, or flip around. This does not stop the ad company from placing the ad. After all, they are not paying ME to see it, they are paying the TV show for placing it. The cost is the same whether I watch it or not.

      Heck, I routinely tape (VHS) shows so I can fast-foreward through ads. Or when two shows are on in the same time slot. As far as I am concerned, there IS NO prime time. I tape when it is aired, and watch when I want to, not when some over-paid executive decides I should.

      This is known as enpowernment.

      All the **AA's hate this of course.....
      • by eln (21727) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:37PM (#11692511) Homepage
        When I watch TV, I mute ads, or flip around. This does not stop the ad company from placing the ad. After all, they are not paying ME to see it, they are paying the TV show for placing it. The cost is the same whether I watch it or not.

        That may be true, but the bottom line is that companies pay TV networks to advertise there because you and millions of people like you watch the shows, and will therefore watch the advertisements. If everyone is skipping over the ads, then companies are not getting the visibility they were going for when they bought that ad, and continuing to buy ads in television media is no longer worthwhile.

        As more and more people skip over ads, demand for ad space will go down, price will follow, and so will the total revenue of these networks, which operate almost entirely from revenue generated by advertisements. This is why DVR technology sucks so bad for television stations. Widespread use of DVR technology could potentially cut off their primary source of revenue, and unless people are willing to pay far more for television than they do already, TV stations are at a loss as to how to replace that revenue.

        That being said, I watch shows exclusively from my DVR now. Even if I'm sitting there with nothing to do while the show is on, I'll record it and watch some other pre-recorded show, then watch the first show later, when I can skip over the ads, so I guess I'm part of the problem.
        • This is not our problem. The media companies need to adapt or die and change their business model. Though I fear that the new business model will involve product placement, and then it will become ever harder to escape it.
        • by Em Ellel (523581) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @05:32PM (#11693108)
          That may be true, but the bottom line is that companies pay TV networks to advertise there because you and millions of people like you watch the shows, and will therefore watch the advertisements. If everyone is skipping over the ads, then companies are not getting the visibility they were going for when they bought that ad, and continuing to buy ads in television media is no longer worthwhile.

          As more and more people skip over ads, demand for ad space will go down, price will follow, and so will the total revenue of these networks, which operate almost entirely from revenue generated by advertisements. This is why DVR technology sucks so bad for television stations. Widespread use of DVR technology could potentially cut off their primary source of revenue, and unless people are willing to pay far more for television than they do already, TV stations are at a loss as to how to replace that revenue.

          That being said, I watch shows exclusively from my DVR now. Even if I'm sitting there with nothing to do while the show is on, I'll record it and watch some other pre-recorded show, then watch the first show later, when I can skip over the ads, so I guess I'm part of the problem.


          Dead on. I believe Darwin called this evolution. TV Networks are becoming obsolete and they are fighting tooth and nail to survive. If they do not find a way to make money, (i.e. outlaw PVRs, pass laws against skipping commercials, find alternate revenue stream, etc.) they will die. It is certainly a bad thing for networks, but is it a bad thing for shows or for the viewer? Right now networks are a middle man with too much control - get rid of them and both the TV producers and viewers will be happy. Sell TV directly to consumer. A few decades back HBO and the like figured out a way to bypass advertizing and networks to sell (almost) directly to consumer - you pay for the channel, they are not hurt a bit by PVRs. Now someone needs to start selling content directly to PVRs over network - bypass cable company, bypass networks, etc. Sell shows, not channels.... here I go off on a rabling rant again....been saying this for at least 5 years, since I got my first Tivo...

          -Em
          • If they do not find a way to make money, (i.e. outlaw PVRs, pass laws against skipping commercials, find alternate revenue stream, etc.) they will die.

            There's another way they can survive. In the past, a fish that was having trouble surviving in water crawled up on land and learned to breath air instead of water. That's kinda what needs to happen here, they need another oxygen source, not an artificial way to keep their current source. Because we (the people) are gonna take away their current source on
        • "That may be true, but the bottom line is that companies pay TV networks to advertise there because you and millions of people like you watch the shows, and will therefore watch the advertisements."

          Thing is, before I got my Tivo...I still never watched the ads...that was the time to go pee, mix a drink, or do something else useful.

          I have a hard time imagining that most people actually sit, watch and concentrate on tv ads...when I'm watching with other people, that's the time we talk or get back to things

        • I use a PVR (SageTV) and I skip stupid ads, but I back up and watch interesting ads (my favorite is the Pedigree "We're for dogs" ad). The lesson is that ads can prosper if they are creative and interesting. On the other hand, deliberately annoying ads should die a horrible death.
        • They're doomed (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @07:27PM (#11694408) Journal
          Tivo are doomed. They were popular because they solved a problem that pisses a lot of people off: advertising. Their customers were those who were the most annoyed by the advertising, enough to pay money to do something about it. Their customers loved the fact that Tivo was "sticking it to the man" for them.

          Not the case anymore. Now Tivo is about "compromise" and "innovation" and putting ads back into their customers shows and supporting Macrovision blocking of pay-per-view shows etc.

          The thing they don't seem to grasp is that their customer base are made up of those who were not prepared to "compromise". These are people who said "No, I'm not prepared to compromise on this. I will not accept shit in my cornflakes. I don't care if there's less shit and it's harder to taste, I'm not giving you my money unless my cornflakes are shit-free"

          Advice to Tivo: Stop looking at ways to "innovate" and get back to "fixing your customers problem"

          • Re:They're doomed (Score:3, Insightful)

            by earlytime (15364)
            As a Tivo customer, and shareholder, I disagree.
            What i get most from my tivo is the ability to painlessly watch whatever shows I want, whenever I want. I'd enjoy my Tivo even if there were no ffd-ing through commercials. There's no tapes, and no discs, just the menu of available shows. I think Tivo's moves to add features are excatly what the platform needs. Now that the cablecos are providing DVRs to their customers, tivo has to jump even farther out with usability and features. I think alot of people ass
      • Heck, I routinely tape (VHS) shows so I can fast-foreward through ads.

        You go through all this trouble and you havn't gottena Tivo yes, cost in time savings alone not to mention tapes it would definatly be worth it.
    • Tivo is already connected to the internet, why can't it web browse?
    • How is this different than recording on a PC TV Tuner card?
    • It could happen, but the format is in a .tivo

      I think the only people going to be sharing it are other tivo users....(at least until a crack is made for .tivo)
  • by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:16PM (#11692246) Homepage
    Download times vary widely. Most people report shows transferring a little quicker or a little slower than real time, meaning if you have a one hour show it will take about an hour to transfer. Many factors impact your throughput including file size based on recording quality and your network design. For example a show recorded in high quality will take longer to transfer than a show recorded in basic quality.

    I finally got my Tivo2Go system upgrade about two weeks ago (it took quite a while to come down to my unit) and I tried it out. I was absolutely dumbfounded at how slow the video file transferred over.

    I intended on copying over the entire Tivo contents and then coverting them w/Dr. Divx (quite the task on my slower 2x400 Celeron machine) and then watching them on my Archos. Well, when I saw how slow the damn thing copied in the first place I figured why not just keep using the "Save to VCR" function as I have been doing?

    What I would like to see is a "Save to VCR" function that will let me queue up multiple shows and save them all in one shot rather than one at a time. I could set the Archos up and let it record for a couple hours over night. Wake up and be done.

    Tivo2Go sounded wonderful until I realized it was in a format that was worthless to go straight to a portable media device, it was slow as hell to bring over from the unit, and then it was slow as hell to convert with Dr. Divx.

    Blah. Just do as I asked and change the "Save to VCR" function for me :)
    • It is painfully slow. Dr. Divx kept crashing on me, but I was able to convert some files with the GraphEdit approach.

      I've just resorted to initiating the transfers before I go to bed. Just like the good old days -- a 3 hour download of "Stairway to Heaven" over copper. :)
    • I finally got my Tivo2Go system upgrade about two weeks ago (it took quite a while to come down to my unit) and I tried it out. I was absolutely dumbfounded at how slow the video file transferred over.

      I don't know about Tivo2Go, but the app that I use to transfer files to my PC from my "hacked" DirecTivo (MFSFTP) isn't multi-threaded, so it basically locks up the Tivo while it's transferring the video. It sounds like the Tivo2Go application you're using might be trying to keep the resources of the Tivo a
    • Pretty picky...

      Sure, its definitly very slow, however; I've just been using it to archive stuff I know I want for a while or overflow for when my tivo gets too full. I'm too lazy to upgrade my tivo's HD. Sure, it took a while to transfer the items, however; doesn't your "Save to VCR" take just as long as a show will?

      Tivo is just trying to protect themselves. If they were to offer direct mpeg downloads they'd be sued out of existance. This way they can offer their service, let the hackers do what they
      • Sure, its definitly very slow, however; I've just been using it to archive stuff I know I want for a while or overflow for when my tivo gets too full. I'm too lazy to upgrade my tivo's HD. Sure, it took a while to transfer the items, however; doesn't your "Save to VCR" take just as long as a show will?

        Exactly my point. Why bother to let us copy the files over the network when it's basically just copying it in real-time anyway?

        For the purpose of putting it on a portable media player it really doesn't mak
    • The average 1 hour show is at least 700 megabytes. If you can transfer that much data over a home LAN quickly, you must have quite the amazing home LAN.

      Not only that, but most Tivo hard drives are 40 gig or 80 gigs. What in the world made you think you could transfer (nearly) the entire contents of that hard drive over a network fast?
  • Too Late (Score:2, Insightful)

    by turtled (845180)
    I think it's too late for Tivo. They should have done this a couple years ago. Now everyone has their own PVR. I have had a "DVR" from DishNetwork for almost 2 years. With DirecTV and Comcast setting their own box out... that's the final 2 nails in the coffin...
    • I had an original directivo. I love the interface, its is the best interface for a pvr system out there. What left a bad taste in my mouth was they required a daily call. I didn't have a phone since my roommates and I all had cell phones, there was no point to shelling out $20 a month for a phone. I figured directivo needed the phone line for updates and guide, but browsing the forums, it was just used to spy on my viewing habits. Guide and updates were available over the satellite stream. Not only di
    • Re:Too Late (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JQuick (411434) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @05:32PM (#11693104)
      A friend of mine just got a Dish network DVR. I must say, that compared to Tivo, it truly sucks. It's not even like comparing Mac to windows for usability. it's more like comparing Mac to a graphical DOS app.

      The remote control has far too many buttons, and some common functions on buttons that are poorly placed.

      If you are watching a show, and either accidentally or deliberately go into the menus, the video buffer of what you were watching gets immediately flushed.

      The layout of the menus, the UI, the inability to record shows based on name, etc. show a shoddy inattention to detail. Basically, you can search by program name, but only record by time of day.

      I was shocked by how poor the interface was, and how unpleasant the system was to use.
  • by booyah (28487) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:17PM (#11692269)
    A company out there, whos had their market influenced by competition and innovation, trying to improve their business by means other than litigation.

    I'm not one who watches much TV, therefor a Tivo was never big on my shopping list, but I have to say its refreshing to see a company try to improve their product rather than sue the compition.

    Heres to you Tivo, and best of luck.
    • Good point - when I first looked at the Example Apps, I didn't see a lot that caught my eye (Tic/Tac/Toe on your TV?) and it turned me off. But maybe somebody will come up with a real killer app and not only will this keep TiVo in the Black but also create something special and unique.

      myke
  • This could be a great thing for advertisers imagine being able to have a buy it now logo pop up during your comercial. But I guess if you are watching on a Tivo you wouldn't see the commercial.
    • This could be a great thing for advertisers imagine being able to have a buy it now logo pop up during your comercial. But I guess if you are watching on a Tivo you wouldn't see the commercial.

      Now imagine the possibilities of having a buy it now logo pop up during the program content!
      • Do you want to buy the sofa that Jane is sitting on? It looks comfortable. You've never seen an episode where Jane's sofa was not sparkling clean.
      • Do you want to buy the cell phone that Sam is using? It has exellent cov
  • Heh, cute (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:19PM (#11692288)
    This may just be my perceptions. But this is what the progression of things has looked like to me.
    1. Tivo sells PVRs.
    2. Microsoft, afraid that Tivo could someday use its position as a PVR vendor to push upward into areas of functionality traditionally the sole domain of the PC, starts trying to muscle into the PVR market so as to eventually make PVR sales impossible to profit from, at least for Tivo.
    3. Tivo, beginning to realize that soon PVR sales will be impossible to profit from, begins to push upward into areas of functionality traditionally the sole domain of the PC in order to retain health.
    And I laugh.
    • Great, except that it wasn't Microsoft that made PVRs impossible to profit from. Microsofts PVR cost way way more than a Tivo. It was the cable companies and their generic brand PVRs that did this.
  • No, it won't help (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Electric Eye (5518) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:20PM (#11692303)
    I'm a loyal TiVo customer, and I simply don't get what this company is trying to do. They've basically blown it with the cable providers, so their only real hope in making some serious cash just hit the shitter. I kinda feel like the first days of Java when it was thrown out ther to "developers" who created useless applets. I have no desire to look at pictures on my TV. I can do that by plugging in my digital camera. I have no desire to share stuff with my Mac, unless I can download the videos in a normal codec (MPG) and save stuff on my computer.
    What else is there to do on this thing that developers are really going to tap into to get my mom, dad, sister and in-laws to buy a TiVo?
    I've said this before, but I am dead serious: they need more porn. It's always driven technology and made money. The cable companies are cashing in. The hotel chains are cashing in. The industry is cashing in. Now, that won't mak my family buy it, per se, but people WILL buy it if they see more hooters and camel toe.
    This move for a "developers kit" it desperate becaue they can't think of anything else. They need a CEO like Jobs, because a visionary who can execute is the only way this company will be saved.
    • by abroadst (541007) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:32PM (#11692457)
      Good idea about Jobs. I think Apple should buy TiVo. It would fit perfectly into their whole home-media-centricity. If Apple bought TiVo it would instantly put them ahead of Microsoft's Media Center and give them a real wedge into the living room. And porting TiVo's application layer to OS X should be pretty straightforward if they want TiVo 3 to be a Mac for the living room.
      • by tgibbs (83782) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @05:11PM (#11692868)
        I think that Apple should get into the media center market, once the CableCard 2.0 standard is available, but I see no point in Apple buying TiVo. What would TiVo bring to the deal?

        Name recognition? If anything, Apple's is even better.

        Profits? TiVo is losing money.

        User interface? Apple doesn't really need TiVo's help in user interface design, and the once-innovative TiVo interface is starting to seem a bit clunky next to things like iTunes. Apple would be better advised to come up with their own from scratch.
      • Tivo has somehow managed to pick up almost 5bil in debt. NO ONE is going to buy them. Everyone is waiting for Tivo to go under and then buy up everyone's support contract after the fact and take over from there.
    • by xC0000005 (715810)
      I doubt even an egotistical, power hungry maniac, I mean visionary CEO, can help here, because TiVo's vision has become everyone's vision. I bought TiVo back when it first came out, and it was like they were on to something.

      They were.
      That was a good thing until everyone else got onto the bandwagon. Now TiVo's just one of many PVRs you can get.

      In particular, loosing the cable network deal was a killer. Comcast keeps offering to basically give their boxes away and they come with PVRs now.

      The difference
    • by garcia (6573) *
      I've said this before, but I am dead serious: they need more porn. It's always driven technology and made money. The cable companies are cashing in. The hotel chains are cashing in. The industry is cashing in. Now, that won't mak my family buy it, per se, but people WILL buy it if they see more hooters and camel toe.

      Yet your signature is: Great Porn DVDs [excaliburfilms.com]

      You seem to have some sort of abnormal love for porn on your TV. I have no problems w/porn and have a sizeable collection myself but I certainly don't
    • Yeah ... I can see it now ...

      Jobs: "Porn on every Macintosh!!!! Vive la Revolucion!!"
    • They need to sell out to Apple, so that Apple can make the boxes prettier, tie it into iTunes (manage your video files in iTunes, complete with shuffle!) and let you store your aac files on the box itself.

      Or not. I still like my DirecTiVo just the way it is.
    • What else is there to do on this thing that developers are really going to tap into to get my mom, dad, sister and in-laws to buy a TiVo?
      I've said this before, but I am dead serious: they need more porn.


      I'd say you are a little short sighted. You answered your own question in the very next sentence. The TiVo Porn Plugin. Download porn pictures/movies and makes them easily available for one-handed remote controlled viewing. Sure, it may not sell TiVo to your mom or sister, but your dad just might buy in to
    • by tgibbs (83782)
      I'm a loyal TiVo customer, and I simply don't get what this company is trying to do. They've basically blown it with the cable providers, so their only real hope in making some serious cash just hit the shitter.

      I think going with the cable companies would have been slow strangulation for TiVo. The cable companies are interested in low-end commodity DVRs; reportedly, the "deal" Comcast offered TiVo was less than a buck per month per DVR.

      TiVo's best shot is the CableCard 2.0 standard due next year. This w
    • I have no desire to look at pictures on my TV

      Maybe you should have saved some money and bought a radio...
  • by mi (197448) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:20PM (#11692308) Homepage
    They don't have partnerships with cable companies and content producers tend to hate them.

    Fortunately, they are based on a decent OS and, by opening the platform up to the developers, can appeal directly to users.

    It will take a long while for cable-companies to offer anything comparable on their proprietary boxes.

  • "TiVo: TV Our Way"
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:28PM (#11692407) Homepage Journal
    Tivo, struggling to keep customers and inch towards profitability as execs step down, has continued to shift focus from pure PVR functionality towards digital convergence.

    I'm not sure Digital Convergence [digitalconvergence.com] is the model Tivo should follow. Although I suppose it'll be alright, eventually, now that their primary product [digitalconvergence.com] has entered the realm of open-source tinkering [lib.la.us].

    Oh, you mean the failure to capitalize Digital Convergence wasn't an editorial accident? Oops.
  • ugh, Common sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:35PM (#11692491) Homepage Journal
    What really bugs me about the attempts to stop TV from being shared on the web is the lack of thought about cause and effect.

    Here's a question: Why would anybody download a show off the internet?

    Here's a few answers:

    1.) Because I or my TiVo missed it.
    2.) I didn't know about the show until after it had aired.
    3.) Everybody's telling me about this show, but I want to see the original episode first.
    4.) I want to have a copy I can watch over and over again.
    5.) The picture quality of the downloaded version is better. (Believe it or not, I really have run into this.)
    6.) I can't get that show, I don't have the right channel nor can I get it.

    I doubt that an answer like "I'm sick of commercials" would be a widely used one. Who'd want to spend > 1 hour downloading a show to save 12 minutes in commercials? Not a lot.

    Imagine what would happen if all of these reasons were addressed. Who would want to acquire unauthorized copies then? What if it became standard for the first episode of any series to be available for download on the show's website? What if DVD releases of TV shows happened closer to when they were originally aired? What if I could pay a couple of bucks to buy download of an episode I missed? Who'd even bother with transferring files over the net then?

    Lots of business opportunities here. *Sigh*
    • What if DVD releases of TV shows happened closer to when they were originally aired?

      AFAIK, it's coming to that -- especially with newer shows. The O.C. is a relatively new program (Summer of 2003 it started?) Well, The O.C. season 1 is already out on DVD.

      Do you mean having the DVDs available like during the mid-season breaks? They could possibly make double the money they are now... Problem is that currently popular TV shows are really pricing themselves too high. CSI is what, $70 or $80 a season?
    • You'd think that the studios would do that, post episodes to watch online.

      They already are breaking the syndication market somewhat by releasing last season on DVD.

      I guess they're just not smart enough. They might even be able to make money on it, by charging maybe $1-$2 an episode.

      One problem is "how do you get it back to your TV?" Watching DivX on your computer is inferior to watching it on your TV.
    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      Two people have ever asked me to give them a copy of a show that I had recorded on TiVo. In both cases, they missed the show for some reason. I'm not set up to copy the shows off, so they were both out of luck.

      Another friend set my TiVo to record their shows for them, in case they missed it at home. They can just come over at their leasure, and watch it here.

      Piracy? Not really, everything's been on broadcast TV. I'm not removing the commercials, and really it makes for one extra viewer of

    • You missed a reason: because of regional differences, episodes have aired overseas and yet I have to wait a week to get my fix. I'm talking to you, BattleStar Galactica.

      This is the first show that I am sore tempted to download from the UK market, simply because I hate waiting a week to see how the teaser plays out. Really, the only fact stopping me is that I want the show to continue, and for that to happen I know that it needs (legitimate) viewers. But I'm pretty close to not caring; and oh yeah, I c
  • To Save TiVo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brandonY (575282) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:40PM (#11692534)
    Tivo's a great product, but they keep trying to let the users do everything they want....so long as it doesn't make any large companies sad. Here's what they need to do: 1.) Open the system fully. The Tivo started as a very hackable device, but they've been moving to a more and more closed environment. There should be guides on their own website explaining how to add hard drives. There's no reason we can't plug in a USB mouse and keyboard and run X on the thing. 2.) Open exports and imports. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to download an mpg file from my Tivo or load a new one into it. As much as I understand that they don't want to piss off corporations, TV my way is TV where I can send shows I like to my friends and archive my favorites on a permanent medium for myself. It ain't any less legal than a VCR. 3.) Offer a warranty. The TiVo is covered in stickers warning that doing anything except plugging it in will void your warranty, but the "warranty" is an offer to replace it for a small discount if it breaks. It it breaks, and I didn't touch it, and it's been less than a year or so, I want a new one, and I don't intend to pay them. 4.) Put in ad skipping. Sure, it won't endear you to anyone, but they don't like you anyway. Remember, the customer of the cable company is the advertiser. You are not a cable company. Your customer is the person who buys a TiVo. That's important. I'll repeat it. Your customers are not advertisers. They are not cable companies. They are not producers, movie-makers, or any of them. Your job is to appeal to consumers and only consumers. The advertisers will pay you for popups and the like, but if people don't buy TiVo's, you're out of business.
    • Re:To Save TiVo (Score:2, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) *
      There's no reason we can't plug in a USB mouse and keyboard and run X on the thing.

      You haven't use a Tivo have you? While the UI is wonderfully simple and easy to understand for just about anyone, I really don't find it "snappy" or responsive by any stretch of the imagination (nevermind since their most recent update for Tivo2Go).

      I certainly wouldn't want to be using X on a machine w/such speed limitations. Welcome to 1992?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Remember, the customer of the cable company is the advertiser. You are not a cable company. Your customer is the person who buys a TiVo. That's important. I'll repeat it. Your customers are not advertisers. They are not cable companies. They are not producers, movie-makers, or any of them. Your job is to appeal to consumers and only consumers. The advertisers will pay you for popups and the like, but if people don't buy TiVo's, you're out of business.

      You are mistaken. There was a time when TiVo thought

  • by ewanrg (446949) * <{ewan.grantham} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:43PM (#11692582) Homepage
    First off, TivoToGo doesn't let you DL and Burn files off your TiVO. It lets you DL them so that you can watch them on your computer. To Burn them to DVD you are supposed to buy seperate software at an additional cost.

    Second, DL times are slow because the TiVO has to wrap the video stream in DRM, and it can only do that so fast.

    So, the average user finds themself having to do all sorts of gymnastics to get the benefits that the marketing material promised would come from TTG. And it STILL doesn't allow you to do useful things like put your Home Movies on (or stream them to) your TiVO.

    And they wonder why their subscriber base is declining?

    ----

    I talk TiVO and HTPC a bit here [blogspot.com] too... :-)

  • I just got a Tivo 2 unit from Circuit City, and I'm going to hook it up to my cable, broadband, and wireless (encrypted) network.
    Any high points or gotchas?
    (Yes, I'm reading the FM, but you know that stuff usually misses one or two salient points)
    Will I get one of these apps when the unit updates?
    • You want to have it dial in by telephone during guided setup, and then you force another connect and reboot, and after that you can use any TiVo-compatible 802.11b adapter -- I'd suggest the Linksys WUSB11, which works well for me.
      • If you go out and buy that WUSB11, be careful to check for the version - v3.0 and lower are supported, v4.0 is NOT (check out All Wireless Network Adapters [tivo.com] on the TiVo support site). The version number is in small print on the side of the box, right under the UPC (may be elsewhere on other versions, but it is on there).

        As far as I know there are no version limitations on the WUSB12, which is a little bit more expensive but a much nicer unit to plug into your TiVo.

  • by snuf23 (182335) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:45PM (#11692594)
    I just got my upgrade to support the Tivo to Go transfers last week. It took a super long time to get the service upgrade which was annoying. I've also noticed a few lame things about the software. Tivo Desktop installs a server component on the PC (I believe for handling the sharing of pictures and music). By default the resource usage for this server is set to "Medium. Use this if you use your PC for light tasks such as word processing." Well, this medium setting uses a lot of CPU time. So much that it caused my DVD burning software to take twice as long as usual and ran the buffer very close to underrun. Normally I can burn DVDs while running other applications without a problem. Once I shutdown the Tivo server app, everything returned to normal. Considering the computer is a Pentium 4 3.2GHz I was amazed at how the Tivo server screwed up performance - especially considering it was idle (no transfers, no music playing on the tivo).
    As others have noted, the file transfer time is very slow. I guess this may be due to the Tivo's slow processor and the fact that the Tivo is still functioning (recording and playing back etc.) while the transfer is going.
    Supposedly the Tivo Series 2 units have USB 2.0 ports and the drivers with the 7.1 upgrade are supposed to enable USB 2.0 - but apparently this hasn't resulted in much of a speed gain. There are some notes on this in the Tivo forums [tivo.com].
    The media files you pull over are protected with DRM. They are linked to your Tivo device's media access key and require a password to play. There are a few methods circulating for stripping the DRM such as this one using GraphEdit:

    TiVo To Go MPEG2 Decrypting [evillabs.net]

    The files are MPEG2 which means they are pretty darn big. You can expect about 1.2 gigabytes for an hour show at medium quality. Despite the huge file size, the image quality on the shows I have transfered isn't that great. The output seems grainy compared to video caps I've done straight off of a composite video cable. The signal on the TV is clean.
    The last problem I've had is with playback of the Tivo files on Windows 2000. I have a DVD player installed and can play DVDs fine. I also have the AC3 codec installed so audio works fine (for example on Divx files with AC3 audio). But MPEG2 playback on any sort except standard DVD comes out squished. The horizontal aspect ratio is messed up, so everyone looks anorexic. Does anyone know how to fix this? I have no problems playing back on Windows XP. So while it's nice to finally be able to move stuff off when the Tivo is getting full (and no I don't want to hack it - if I broke the Tivo the girlfriend would kill me) the service certainly has room for improvement. Also the fact that the upcoming software for burning the shows to DVD (Sonic MyDVD) is being sold not included with Tivo service is pretty lame.
    • By default the resource usage for this server is set to "Medium. Use this if you use your PC for light tasks such as word processing." Well, this medium setting uses a lot of CPU time. So much that it caused my DVD burning software to take twice as long as usual and ran the buffer very close to underrun.

      Um, yeah. DVD burning != word processing. The former takes many more resources than the second so of course there's going to be clashes there. If you don't like it, turn down the setting on your TiVo serve
      • Yeah my argument was that the setting is set to Medium by default and there is no mention of it during the install. I had to go poking around to find the source of the problem. My girlfriend just thought her computer was acting up. It would be nice if it told you during the install. Also having a server element which eats cpu when idle like that just seems to be bad programming. Unless the app is doing something odd or spyware-ish in the background.
        I'm not sure why it was causing problems. It may have been
  • Is there any digital PVR type of machine that I can get without paying the $15/month fee? I'm wanting something to replace my VCR, but without the tapes. I don't want or need it to automatically record "suggested" shows for me. And I don't care about most other frilly Tivo features. I don't have cable TV, and I don't need it to play my MP3s or be connected to the 'net. Just plain-old record channel 4 at 8PM for one hour, etc. I want to pay $250, plug it in, and use it. Is there anything out there like that?
    • You can get a TiVo that has TiVo Basic, which gives you VCR like functionality and a bit more, without any monthly fee. I have the Toshiba SD H400 (which is a TiVo and a DVD Player). See http://customersupport.tivo.com/knowbase/root/publ ic/tv1199.htm [tivo.com]
    • If you have an old macintosh laying around you can couple it with and Elgato EyeTV [elgato.com] system. It may be a more than you are looking for though and, as I said, requires a macintosh to work with it. It uses a free online program guide as well as scheduled recordings. It works for me. Alternately you could build your own with a cheap PC, and MythTV.

    • There's always the Linux route (Freevo and MythTV), but you'll need to purchase at least a TV capture card and a computer. If you have a spare, that's great. Bear in mind this, the slower the computer, the more you'll spend on hardware to offset.

      MythTV [mythtv.org] has more than what you need since it has the live playback/pause capability. Freevo [sourceforge.net] doesn't have as many features as MythTV but it seems exactly what you describe. Basically a VCR, a jukebox, and a few extras.

  • IPTV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:55PM (#11692683) Homepage
    In my humble, 20-20 hindsight opinion TiVo missed a big chance by not sometime earlier beginning to research TV-over-IP, in order to create something where the TiVo becomes a component in an IPTV platform that bandwidth providers-- like DSL companies-- license. This would give Tivo a clear profit model, and do so in a way that directly makes use of their products' intrinsic advantages, rather than like they do now just giving away razors and desperately trying to convince disinterested people that they want to buy blades.

    Now it's probably too late for this. All the notable players are beginning to lock themselves into platforms for IPTV, and they're all choosing Microsoft's product. Yeah. Good luck getting THAT to integrate with a Tivo once it gets up and running.
  • SInce you're not going to be in cable boxes for much longer, think to the future and migrate now!

    But this I mean - produce the killer software/hardware add-on for the Mac Mini that really makes it an HTPC.

    Let us have the great TiVo UI on this device. Let Mac Mini owners participate in the Netflix downloading alliance. And in doing so you will find a huge market even if it's not as integrated into the video stream.

    Furthermore, one thing I would ask is that you let external companies define "channels" of
    • Based on what I've read, the Mac Mini lacks both the processor speed and disk speed to do realtime compression and serialization of multiple video feeds. There is a company another poster to your comment replied with that offers a system for the heftier Macs though.
  • I don't think TIVO is going to stay afloat because it's a flawed business design. I read that TIVO is going to be forcing viewers to view pop up ads in March while they're fast forwarding. My girlfriend has Direct TV and TIVO and loves it. I have Dish Network and a PVR and I love it but hate her TIVO. I don't want an interactive recorder. I want a device that lets me record program X at time Y and then play it back at my convenience.
    • The "pop-up ads" are just banners that appear across the top of the screen while you fastforward. They "force" you to want them simply because they are there. You can still fastforward at any speed you normally can. Considering that the max is 60x, these banners (which accompany specific commercials) will appear for no more than 1 second each, half a second for most of them.

      Despite some media outlets attempt to sensationalize the "pop-up ad" story, it's really a non-issue. They are just as invasive a
  • I am sick... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MaestroSartori (146297) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @05:03PM (#11692773) Homepage
    ...of hearing about this wonderful device / service combination which I am unable to buy. Tivo stopped selling hardware in the UK years ago now, and show no signs of selling any more.

    I want to buy it, but don't want a possibly dodgy second-hand premodified one from some person on ebay. I want a new, unchanged, virgin Tivo box to put under my telly. I am entirely aware that there are alternatives, but all either need more time or money (or both, MythTV I'm looking at you here), or are harder to use.

    I HAVE MONEY WAITING FOR YOU MISTER TIVO! LET ME KNOW WHEN I CAN GIVE IT TO YOU! :(
  • Putting Tivo on hold (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @05:03PM (#11692778)
    Last year I bought a refurbished series 1 Tivo. I love it, but more importantly my wife and daughter really like it as well. When they made the home media option for series 2 free, and dropped the price for subscribing a second Tivo, I almost bought two new ones right there. But as I'm watching the moves this company makes, I've become less and less likely to invest more money in their products. It seems like they keep giving away bits and pieces of the core functionality that make up the very reason I love my Tivo! Then they team up with Microsoft, which makes me think there'll be no Tivo-To-Go for my Mac anytime soon; plus I am wondering if MS is going to start forcing them toward their typical "look at what the customer really wants and find a way to shoehorn it into a full-blown Windows box so it doesn't conflict with our corporate goals" mode of operation.

    I'd really like to see Tivo succeed; but I haven't seen any evidence that leads me to think that's at all likely. So for now, I'll just keep using my old Series 1 box, and keep that VCR going out in the family room...

  • I'm a TiVo Series 1 owner for quite a while now (bought the 'lifetime' subscription at the original price.) Don't get me wrong, I still love the Tivo; the interface is the best, the packaging and stability excellent. But, my S1 is starting to show it's age, and it was time to think about replacing it with something with more capability and perhaps allowing some hacking. The Series 2 machine isn't that machine. Propiatary formats, a closed system, low CPU power on the platform, and not-so-great expandibi

  • I'm still looking for the good solution to getting my DirecTivo on the network. I have the O'Reilly Hacking TiVo book, but I never managed to get a bash prompt out of it. The drive upgrade went very smoothly though. I have TV shows from mid-december still recorded. I spent part of yesterday watching old Twilight Zone reruns. :)

    If anyone has real hints on getting HMO or the networking hacks going on a DirecTivo (HDVR2), I'd appreciate it. And no, I won't go with the other device options. I'm ver
  • Apparently, TiVo wants to get bought by somebody who can make hardware but who sucks at apps and UI (TiVo's real strength).

    Of course, this becomes less and less important as WMC-based PCs become better and OS alternatives get more polished.

    Ah, TiVo, it's been nice.

  • by rasper99 (247555) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @05:42PM (#11693220)
    I saw a few negative comments about Tivo to Go so I wanted to share my positive experience. I have been working on making DVDs not viewing on the computer.

    Slow transfers:
    I have installed the approved Linksys M200 USB wired network adapter. Transferring shows takes about 2/3 of the time of the show's length when recorded at high quality. My hub says it's at 100mbits. Bored during transfers? Go watch the Tivo! You can start a bunch of stuff transferring and go got bed.

    This is what I do that produces pretty good results by going with the flow a bit:

    Stop being a cheap ass and buy the dang Sonic software. The $50 version works just fine. You will spend that much on blank DVDs and Tivo service in no time. It's not the best DVD authoring software but once you set up the project it goes all by itself in one long, slow step (about 1.5 times show length on my Barton 2600) without user intervention. No screwing around with 27 painful steps to remove DRM, etc. With Sonic you can easily hack out the commercials in minutes. You can always leave commercials in and fast forward the DVD.

    Record on the Tivo at high or best quality.

    When making the DVD don't try to put more than an hour on a 4.7G DVD. Use the "fit to DVD" or High quality option. If you want to do a movie make two DVDs until dual layer media gets reasonable. There is an encoding quality option you need to turn up in the Sonic software that takes more time and increases quality.

    Even if you record something on the Tivo at basic quality and it isn't repeated so you can turn up the quality if you follow the above one hour per DVD rule it's still kicks butt over dump to even slow play VHS tape.

    The end result is not as good as a store bought DVD but then again the current season of the Simpsons isn't due out on DVD anytime soon.

    For our friends who like to share:
    Once it's on a DVD there isn't any DVD copy protection. You can make copies of the DVD. I haven't tried it but you should be able to make an ISO or Nero image and have your fun.
  • by teknikl (539522) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @05:49PM (#11693284)
    I just bought this damn box. I put a Linksys 10/100TX usb adapter on it - the files (900 MB for 30mins) come to my machine at 400 KB/sec. (yeah thats bytes) We have a 250 gig hard drive in there for good measure. At the moment I've got 49 spongebob episodes and a crapload of other stuff.

    TIVO 2 GO works great if you dont use the software - or if you do even. Want to do it by hand? Go to:

    https://[youttivoipaddr]/
    username:tivo
    passwo rd:yourmediaaccesskey

    DL all the files you want from your 'now playing list'. As for DRM - well... tmpeg makes a nice VDC of it - and virtualdub has no problem manhandling the files either.

    And sorry but I'd disagree with the statement 'everyone has one already'. I know LOTS of folks who just don't - you do too if you'd look outside your geek bubble.

    Could I have hacked this together myself? You bet. Am I too damn lazy? Well now ...
  • Call me weird.. but (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigjnsa500 (575392) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {005asnjgib}> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @06:00PM (#11693390) Homepage Journal
    this was exactly the reason I choose to purchase a used Series1 Tivo off eBay. I didn't want the DRM crap and the sucky transfer speeds. I hope you know why its that slow is because series2 is USB 1. You'll be lucky if you get 500kb/s. It maybe harder and more expensive to upgrade, but the troubles you guys are having transferring isn't true.

    I purchased a TurboNet [9thtee.com] card for the inside expansion slot. This gives me true 100mbit access. 900mb in 30 minutes... right.. try 10 minutes with this sucker.

    Upgraded the image to 3.0 with the Instant Cake [9thtee.com] imaging CD. This also includes all the cool tools like tivoweb, tivoftp, etc..

    All that remains is to extract the MPEGs to my computer. And that is handled with TyStudio [sourceforge.net]. Its a client/server operation and works very well.

    Now see? That wasn't so bad. Oh, on eBay my Series1 was $56 including shipping!

  • I've had a SageTV PC for the past 2 years which includes all of the functionality just coming to tivo now. I can freely burn dvds of my content, transcode the content to GBA Movie Player format and watch on a gameboy (fantastic!). I can look at photos, listen to MP3s, and watch dvds. I can watch contnet with any mpeg player (WinDVD, VLC, Power DVD). My universal remote works with it and it can switch my cable box. No subscription, free EPG.

    i really can't see how Tivo can beat that or mythTV
  • DirectTV markets a Tivo for $99 and charges only $5 / month for all of your Tivo's. Better yet, it has an integrated dual tuner so you can watch/record two different programs at once. Not a bad deal.

    The rub is that it only has Version 3 of the Tivo software, so you can't use the USB connector to hook up a NIC. No plans from DirectTV in the near future for getting the Tivo software up to date. So we can all enjoy these new apps, except for those of us who bought our DVR from DirectTV :-P

  • I like Tivo, actually I love my Tivo. That said, I worry about Tivos business stability. A couple other points though.

    1. Frequently the slashdot community will say get MythTV, get this, get that instead. Before I got my Tivo I priced out Myth based boxes and Windows Media Player boxes and they were all orders of magnitude more expensive.

    2. The home media player option. Frequently, the response is "why not just plug in your PC to your stereo to view JPGs or play MP3s". That assumes your computer is

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