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Television Media Technology

Tivo Signs Deal With Comcast 291

Posted by Zonk
from the stick-around,-why-don't-you? dept.
Chappy01 writes "TiVo has inked a long-term deal with Comcast, America's largest cable television operator, to develop a version of the TiVo service that will be offered to Comcast's DVR subscribers. The deal calls for TiVo to adapt its software to work on Comcast's existing DVR platform, and it allows TiVo to extend to Comcast subscribers the advertising it sells in the form of interactive video clips that automatically appear in the TiVo menu." From the article: "The move will increase TiVo's presence in American homes as it faces competition from generic DVRs offered directly by leading cable companies. Comcast Corp. expects to begin marketing the new DVRs, which will carry the TiVo brand, by mid- to late 2006." News also available from MSNBC and the Official Tivo Site.
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Tivo Signs Deal With Comcast

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  • Phone line needed? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:13PM (#11945019)
    Does it still need to connect to the phone lines these days? You'd think Comcast, with their digital service, could stop having to tie up the phone at strange hours of the night.
    • by jspayne (98716) <jeffNO@SPAMpaynesplace.com> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:24PM (#11945135) Homepage
      Does it still need to connect to the phone lines these days?

      No, the current TiVo boxen can use ethernet, and the Comcast boxen can talk DOCSIS. There will be no need for a phone connection.

      Jeff

      • by Anonymous Coward
        As long as those boxen don't have virii, it should just work.
      • The Comcast / TiVo boxes aren't even going to be available for over a year from now, so we can't draw too many conclusions from TiVo's current offerings.

        I think the only question is whether you'll need a cable modem and LAN, or whether the Comcast/Tivo boxes will have built-in DOCSIS so you just plug them into the cable and go, even if you don't subscribe to Comcast Internet. I'd imagine the latter.

      • The DirecTV boxes still can't talk via Ethernet without a hack to enable the USB ports.
      • the current tivo can use ethernet, AFTER THE INITIAL SETUP phone call to activate..

        I used to seriously wonder why, until I realized it was to prevent sniffing of the activation packets... you get enough of those, you could figure out the protocols and have ilicit activations..

        I am not aware of any tivo that does not require a phone line for activation/one shot connection..

        my boss had to issue his tivo to a neighbor for initial activation- it wouldn't work over his voip phone...
        • by DA-MAN (17442)
          the current tivo can use ethernet, AFTER THE INITIAL SETUP phone call to activate..

          Not true, I used ethernet to activate my unit. I only had a VoIP line and had issues getting my tivo to dial up through this. All I had to do was put ",#401" as my dial prefix.
          • ok-- but you couldn't sniff the activation packets could you? in a sense of knowing what control commands/strings/bits went between tivo and your box...

            yes, you could see the individual voip packets contents, but can you determine what passwords were exchanged?

            I was unclear, the fact is, you have to provide tivo with a pots sounding dialtone to initialize the system. (my employers inability to use voip may have been unique, but needing a dial tone is required)

            • If you use the area code #401 it will activate over Ethernet. No telephone line needed. This is how I did my TiVo, it has never been near any phone line/VoIP or anything else other than a ethernet cable.
            • by DA-MAN (17442) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @09:26PM (#11949254) Homepage
              ok-- but you couldn't sniff the activation packets could you? in a sense of knowing what control commands/strings/bits went between tivo and your box...

              Actually if I were interested I would have been able to capture the packets in their entirety. I didn't really care, just wanted to get my shit working however.

              yes, you could see the individual voip packets contents, but can you determine what passwords were exchanged?

              Re-read my statement, I said I could NOT get this thing to register via VoIP due to issues. I said I got it to work via ethernet. I didn't state it in the clearest fashion, but to reiterate what I was saying, when you first pull the unit out of the box plug in a USB nic and set your dial prefix to ",#401" and it will register via ethernet instead of attempting to dial out through the phone line.

              I was unclear, the fact is, you have to provide tivo with a pots sounding dialtone to initialize the system. (my employers inability to use voip may have been unique, but needing a dial tone is required)

              I was unclear in the order I stated things, hope this helps.
    • by kuwan (443684)
      Does it still need to connect to the phone lines these days?

      Yes and no. The latest Tivo boxes can operate over ethernet or 802.11, but you still need to set the box up over a phone line (which really sucks). My wife and I got a Tivo for Christmas from my parents and had to set it up at their house because we have no landline. But once it's set up it works great using a wireless adapter.

      There is still a downside though. Tivo series 2 boxes are supposed to have USB 2.0, but the Tivo software only has U
      • by wembley (81899)
        Yes and no. The latest Tivo boxes can operate over ethernet or 802.11, but you still need to set the box up over a phone line (which really sucks).

        This was not true for my 80g Series 2 TiVo that I got 2 years ago.

        I put a USB Ethernet adapter on it, ran a cable to my DHCP router, and picked some settings. No phone line was ever required.

        Can't see how wireless would be different.
      • by dreamt (14798)
        I don't think that the speed for transfers for Tivo2Go has to do with the USB1.1 interface speed. Transfers using T2G are much slower than transfering the exact same program from 1 Tivo to another Tivo.

        It might have something to do with the fact that in TivoTivo transfers, it is transfering the video in 'native' format. It probalby has to do some encoding (maybe combine audio/video stream) to transfer Tivo->PC.
    • I used to have a DirecTV/TiVo. I also have Vonage VOIP. TiVo's modem wasn't able to use my Vonage powered phone service, and the DirecTV/TiVo boxes had their USB ports disabled. This turned out to not be a problem at all though, because all it used its modem for was for purchasing Pay-Per-View movies from DirecTV. TiVo was unaffected by not having a phone connection. It downloaded all its programming via its satellite connection. So in effect DirecTV lost potential money from me buying Pay-Per-View movies b
  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:13PM (#11945022) Homepage
    Comcast is constantly raising fees to the point where I'm dropping things I get from them. But I hope it works out for them.
    • by ryantate (97606) <ryantate@ryantate.com> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:41PM (#11945312) Homepage
      Comcast tried to hide their most recent 6 percent fee hike by announcing the day before Thanksgiving [sfgate.com]. Shady.

      At that point, I decided to switch to Netflix. Comcast then offered to roll me back to the original rates and then take $10/month off of THAT. I went ahead and canceled anyway and have never looked back.

      I watch all my shows on Netflix DVDs now. I get to watch whenever I want and pause whenever I want without having to pay for cable or a DVR. All the HBO shows I used to watch are available, I just can't watch the latest season. Which is no problem because I'm catching up on everything I missed.

      It's been a little over three months and Netflix is still working very well. My monthly bill went from $80+ (with HBO but without DVR) to less than $20.

      For news I turn to the Web. I even watch Daily Show segments online.

      Guess I sound like a Netflix fanatic, but just wanted to point out there are good alternatives to Comcast.
    • Even worse... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Comcast is effectively raising fees by dropping channels offered to its analog subscribers, in an effort to force them to move to digital cable.

      I was paying $85 for Expanded Basic and HBO. They removed Encore and HBO3 from my package a while back and replaced them with shit (IIRC, the Hallmark Channel and Turner Classic Movies). When I got the next bill, the price for the two remaining HBOs was the same as I had been paying for three. I called to question this and was told it wasn't a mistake. Incensed tha
      • Re:Even worse... (Score:3, Informative)

        by endoboy (560088)
        ok, so Comcast is charging more than you like.

        That makes it OK for you to be a thief?

    • It's particularly irritating that they keep sending out ads for services quoting a price "for the next three months", with absolutely no clue what it will cost after that (not even in the fine print). Since I avoid doing business with companies that engage in deceptive practices (of which this is one), those go right to the trash.
    • I called to move my service, and the rep told me about a promotion they had where I could get HBO + Showtime + Digital Cable for only $29.99 a month for a whole year. I was paying more than $70 before! Call them up, and see if they have the same deal in your area (it was the Gold Plan or something like that). This is a great deal especially with the On Demand system they have where you can watch all the back shows that air on Showtime or HBO for free, aswell as all the movies that show on those channels
  • Great news! (Score:4, Funny)

    by skroob (450575) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:13PM (#11945025) Homepage
    Hopefully this will stop people from predicting TiVo's death.
  • by enrico_suave (179651) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:14PM (#11945040) Homepage
    Well if your a TiVo shareholder, obviously this seems like a good thing, but is having TiVo further in bed with content creators/delivery industries a good idea for consumers?

    The one really cool thing that I hope comes of this, is some more traction for bidirectional CableCards leading to uber standalone HDTV tivos... which hopefully inturn leads to bidirectional CableCard PCI tuners for PCs (I can dream, can't i?)

    e.
    • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mekkab (133181) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:18PM (#11945069) Homepage Journal
      As long as the product lines can remain distinct, Tivo gets the best of all worlds: MONEY, exposure through Comcast, and the ability to continue to have a full functioning stand alone DVR (i.e. no "unrecordable content", etc.)

      However, if they follow the Sony model (where the home electronics suffer becuase of concerns from the content side*), they're doomed.

      *After I learned my friends SONY surround sound system couldn't play CD-Rs, I decided Sony had gone too far.
      • "and the ability to continue to have a full functioning stand alone DVR (i.e. no "unrecordable content", etc.)"

        How so? I figured this would be like the DirecTiVo's that you can get from DirecTV. They don't work as standalone, they just save the digital feed from the dish.

        That's the way to go anyway, much higher quality.

        • I'm sorry, I didn't explain myself.

          You can go out and buy a Tivo box from Compusa (or where-ever), and you will still be able to do this.

          So people (like hackers) who want to upgrade or make mods to their tivo (but not make a mythTV box) can still do that and will be able to do that into the forseable future because the company isn't going to "go out of business" tommorrow.

      • by zzyzx (15139)
        I listen to CD-Rs on my Sony cd players all the time. It might not have just been a problem with the player or the disc.
        • It wasn't the disc; when I broke out my CD collection my friend said "oh, I can't play any of those..."

          Do a web search- there are a number of Sony DVD systems that won't play cd-rs and dvd-rs. (e.g. DVP-S9000ES) (however my CD walkman does a fine job)

      • But would never want Comcast's 3rd-party no-name DVR with my service. This makes perfect sense for me, and I'll actually think about upgrading to digital cable in ought-six and get one of these boxes, if it makes sense. Cuz most of the DVRs now are just a monthly fee and I'd rather pay for TiVo than junky box stuff.

        What'll really be cool is if you can get the on-demand stuff just downloaded to your TiVo and catch it that way. Maybe you can do that now, I dunno. I just hope they don't cripple any of the fu

  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:14PM (#11945043)
    I'm a fan of Tivo, but I think any impartial observer would note that Tivo would've definitely been negotiating from a position of weakness. Here's to hoping that they were able to negotiate a deal that would be profitable for them despite them needing Comcast much more than Comcast needed them.

    Since the stock is currently up 49.52%, it would appear that a lot of people think this really will benefit them (or there are a lot of shorts panicking and covering their positions).

    • Are you sure Comcast doesn't need TiVo? If so, apparently you haven't tried to use any of the interfaces to Comcast's features such as On Demand. This is very possibly the worst user interface ever... and this is somewhere TiVo can provide huge improvements.
    • by Josuah (26407) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:53PM (#11945425) Homepage
      TiVo may have been negotiating from a point of strength, not weakness. As evidenced by the number of Comcast customers that were willing to pay TiVo $50 + subscription fees a while back by standing in a line for hours to get a $50 discount on boxes at TiVo headquarters. TiVo made a point of advertising directly to Comcast customers frustrated with Comcast's horrible PVR system.

      I would think after this, it would be clear to Comcast that their customers would rather give all their money to TiVo, and Comcast would be better off taking a smaller profit per customer than no profit at all.
    • There are a lot of benefits for Comcast on this! Number One is that they are no longer in the business of co-developing and fully supporting DVR software. Instead they have somebody who specializes in doing both of those things. They get a natural way to tie their cable tv/dvr product into their ISP/portal product, since TiVo has already come up with an "acceptable" (to content providers) way to do this (Home Media and ToGo.) Plus they have a compettitive advantage over DirecTV/Dish, since DirecTV looks li [engadget.com]
  • TIVO shares up 50% (Score:5, Informative)

    by tpengster (566422) <slash@tpengst[ ]com ['er.' in gap]> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:16PM (#11945052)

    Tivo shares up almost 50% on the news

    http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=tivo [yahoo.com]

  • by koreth (409849) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:16PM (#11945053)
    What losers! Comcast's millions of customers could save so much money if they just built their own MythTV boxes from the spare computer parts they all have lying around their houses. I mean, it's the way I decided to do it, so it must therefore be the best possible solution for everyone on the planet!
  • by jncook (4617) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:20PM (#11945085) Homepage
    Substantial user interface design and testing went into the Tivo remote control, including many battles over which buttons to leave off (to reduce complexity), a special rubber for good click feel, and the distinctive peanut shape.

    I wonder if Comcast will ship new remotes to their DVR customers if they sign up for Tivo.

    James
    • by MarkGriz (520778) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:32PM (#11945223)
      "Substantial user interface design and testing went into the Tivo remote control,"

      Not substantial enough. Sure, it fits perfectly in your hand and the button layout is good too. But god forbid you set it down for a few minutes and the damn thing is constantly rolling off the couch.
      • by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @03:51PM (#11946024) Journal
        > it fits perfectly in your hand

        It also fits perfectly in the mouth of a 3 year old. Then, it's peanut shapes keeps it stuck there as she runs around the room making screamy-gurgley noises with most of a Tivo remote sticking out of her face.

        It took a while to clean all the gooey slobber off it too.
        • I have long practiced a basic user interface design principal.

          "Give it to a 3 year old and watch what happens"

          Any child under 5 is basically pure entropy in a compact package. If it can be destroyed or used in a harmful way, a toddler can tell you in minutes.

          Its awesome how many 'excellent' designs were completely trashed by my sisters children.

    • a special rubber for good click feel, and the distinctive peanut shape.

      Besides the obvious juvenile jokes about that sentence taken out of context I really don't see the remote as being all that great when using it with a system that is rather slow.

      Great, so the remote has a "click" feel. Does that help me to know that I actually did engage the button when the Guide takes 5+ seconds to refresh (yes, it is much better now that they 7.0+ series update came out but it still sucks)? Or when I click the TiV
    • a special rubber for good click feel, and the distinctive peanut shape.

      There's a few good Engrish jokes in there somewhere...
    • Substantial user interface design and testing went into the Tivo remote control, including many battles over which buttons to leave off (to reduce complexity), a special rubber for good click feel, and the distinctive peanut shape.

      I like the peanut shape, but my main gripe is that you have to LOOK at the remote to tell which side is which... often I point the tivo remote just to find out I shot myself and not the IR receiver.
      Other than that, we love our tivo remote :-)

    • Am I the only who doesn't like the Tivo remote?

      Sure, certain tasks are easy (play/pause, FF, RW, Select, arrow keys, etc.). But other tasks suck balls. Take, for instance the buttons to invoke/clear the info pages for a given program. Info is a tiny button that is hard to get to and the Exit button opposite from the Info button (which is equally as hard to get to, IMO) doesn't even exit from the menu. For THAT, you have to go all the way to the bottom of the controller to the Clear button.

      The Clear

      • "For my money a slightly wider controller with all the buttons in easy reach of my thumb would have been preferrable"

        Agreed. In addition to allowing easier access to more buttons, a wider and asymetrical (top to bottom) remote would solve the "rolls off the couch" problem (see my post above), and would also eliminate the "dammit, I grabbed it upside down again" issue as well.

        It wouldn't kill them to use more durable ink for the button labels too. 90% of the markings on my 2 YO remote have worn off compl
        • ...and would also eliminate the "dammit, I grabbed it upside down again" issue as well.

          That's the worst. It seems really easy to do, as well. The first time it happened to me I had to re-try the operation three times before realizing that I was holding the remote upside down.

          At first, I thought I'd discovered some wierd Tivo glitch. "Play and pause work fine, but FF and RW seem to be reversed!"

          Taft

        • I combat its wont to roll away by putting it down with its control face down. The rubber buttons act as a non-skid surface.

          And it's been more than a year since I've last picked it up and pointed it the wrong way. You learn to feel for the battery cover or the extra weight on the battery end of the remote, or just always place it in the same place with the same orientation. If you can't train yourself in that way, self-adhesive velcro strips or other attachments or mods can also give you the necessary ta
    • Substantial user interface design and testing went into the Tivo remote control, including many battles over which buttons to leave off

      I wish they had picked a better place to put the "TV Power" button on the DirecTivo remotes. Putting it right by the "instant replay" button and making it the same size and shape is totally not funny.

    • I love everything about it, except that the overall shape is nearly symmetrical, top-to-bottom, not just left-to-right. It has a nice look and feels right, but in the dark, I've picked it up so many times and rewound when I meant to fast-forward (or vice-versa). After the split-second of confusion, I have to fubmle around to get it oriented.
  • Tivo needed this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thenefariousone (710805) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:23PM (#11945127) Homepage
    While having good tech, brand recognition, and a hacker friendly box - before this Tivo was a company whose days were numbered due to competition and commoditization.

    Now they live to fight another day and build up their install base.

    Cheers to another successful company using with Open Source Software. ...before they used to say it couldn't be done.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:27PM (#11945162)
    We do enough Tivo stories here...
  • by Manchot (847225) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:28PM (#11945175)
    As a Tivo owner, I must say that I'm extremely happy about this announcement, as this will help keep the company from dying. However, we mustn't forget that they also lost their DirecTV deal, so they're not much better off than they were before. Hopefully Comcast pushes this onto its customers.
  • by FrothyBitter (848137) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:28PM (#11945181)
    I guess this means Comcast isn't going to roll out the Microsoft version they were testing in limited areas. I was interested in the Microsoft version because Comcast's software really blows. I ended up taking my Comcast DVR back because not only did nobody at Comcast know when or if the Microsoft version would ever come out, they'd never even heard of it.

    Now I'm using a HTPC solution, Beyond TV, which is barely acceptable. It has all the features a DVR needs, but the features don't all function on a level I would consider professional.

    I'm about to go to MythTV, I had that running once a year or so ago, but it took a lot of time and effort to get it working. I understand that's not as big of a problem now, so I'm going to give it another try.

    However, a Tivo/Comcast DVR really would be hard to beat. Well aside from the fact that Comcast wants to suck every last dime from my bank account every month. However, the quality of the Comcast DVR was excellent, it just lacked features.

    I'll most likely go back to the Comcast DVR when the Tivo versions are out. Other than not being able to archive shows, I can see the Comcast/Tivo solution being unbeatable. My PC solution will be able to pick up the slack by recording any shows I want to archive.
  • by Psykechan (255694) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:28PM (#11945185)
    No mention of using the TiVo remote in the new software. The remote and the interface are the best things that TiVo has going for them.

    Since they are focusing on just the ads and the wishlist features, this could be a big letdown for Comcast users that have heard good things from TiVo users.
    • Actually, my favorite part of Tivo is the sounds it makes. The little click-click coo-coo is so friendly and nice I sometimes press buttons just to hear it.

      If Comcast gets these sounds coming out of their boxes the deal will be worth it for them.

    • You like the peanut remote? I hate it. The one that came with the original sony tivos was so much better. The new one has non-logically organized buttons that are difficult to find in the dark, and the channel number buttons are placed in a completely awkward position at that bottom of the remote that makes it very difficult to use in the dark.

      And I can never find the power button at night either. I always end up hitting skip-back-5-seconds. Ugh.
      • And I can never find the power button at night either. I always end up hitting skip-back-5-seconds. Ugh.

        I do the opposite. I miss what someone on TV says and when I go to press the "jump back" button I turn off the TV. Annoying as hell.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Important Distinction: Comcast is licensing Tivo software to be installed in their own boxes by mid to end 2006, and not the unit itself. Comcast also inked a huge deal with Motorola recently.
  • I just got my Comcast bill last night and it had a paper insert on this service - they want $9.95 per month for this.
  • by Mean_Nishka (543399) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:37PM (#11945279) Homepage Journal
    I'm a faithful ReplayTV owner, and reluctantly picked up Comcast's HD recorder so I could record HDTV broadcasts. Their SA8000HD is for the birds.. Awful interface, jugheaded features, and a real step down from the ReplayTV's I've been using for the last six years.

    Most annoying is that it doesn't 'time shift' properly. If it's recording a show, I have to rewind all the way back to the beginning to watch it.. Even worse is if the recording ends while I'm still in the middle of watching it, it'll stop and force me to fast forward back through everything I already watched!

    They've slowly updated the firmware over the last several months, but this thing is DOA.. Just a clunky piece of well intentioned hardware. It is nice to be able to record two simultaneous HD streams, but it's just so poorly implemented..

    This is a good move for Comcast as the recorder they gave me really feels like it's still in beta. Good for Tivo too as they need a wider net.

  • by Elias Israel (182882) <eli@promanage-inc.com> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:39PM (#11945301)
    As someone who has visited the Gerrold/General Instruments/Motorola offices in Hatboro, PA, and who has spoken to a fair number of cable operators, I can tell you this:

    The box that this system will be built on, and the services to which it connects will almost certainly not be of the quality that Tivo now provides.

    First of all, check out the Wiki entry on this cable box [wikipedia.org], and you'll see it's not that impressive, although it does have a few nice features (HDTV, recording two channels at once, 120GB disk).

    Second, remember that cable operators buy these units by the millions, so every extra penny is a big deal.

    You wouldn't think twice about a nice feature in your Tivo box, even if it cost an extra $10. To a cable operator, an extra $10 per box is an insane, indefensible amount and they'll cut the feature instead.

    Finally, embedded programming on a cable box is worlds cruftier and more limiting than the Linux underpinnings of the current Tivo architecture. It's virtually certain that some features just won't be portable to this new box.

    Count me a curmudgeon on this if you like, but I'll believe it when I see it.
    • by dreamt (14798) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @03:00PM (#11945507)
      Finally, embedded programming on a cable box is worlds cruftier and more limiting than the Linux underpinnings of the current Tivo architecture. It's virtually certain that some features just won't be portable to this new box.

      From Tivo's press release [tivo.com]

      "This long-term, non-exclusive partnership will provide millions of Comcast customers with the opportunity to choose the TiVo service, including TiVo's award-winning user interface and features like Season Pass(TM) and WishList(TM), as an additional option. In addition, the service will showcase TiVo's home networking, multimedia, and broadband capabilities."

      Sounds to me like they are adding most functionality. I didn't follow to much of the Wiki's links, but is is possible that the Comcast box even runs linux (or some other OS) rather than just being "embedded"?
    • I am going to assume that this deal goes both ways. If you spring for the stand-alone tivo box I hope it will actually support comcast digital cable, including OnDemand from the same interface, which would rock. I can't see how this is bad news for tivo users.
    • by brianerst (549609) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @04:36PM (#11946480) Homepage
      I wrote most of that Wikipedia entry ('Features') and I don't agree with your reading of it.

      First, you've got to separate the hardware (Motorola 6412) and the software it's running. In my case, as in most of the country, it runs iGuide by Gemstar. In Seattle, it's running the Microsoft Foundation v1.7 PVR software. A slightly different Motorola box runs the Moxi software.

      The box itself is fine. 120G is a little light for HD programming (you can get about 10 hours on it), but the rest of its feature set is great. Dual HDTV tuners, record dual HD programs while watching a third, plus a nice programmable remote. The box itself is fairly sleek (if you like silver), not too terribly noisy (though it could be quieter) and supports component, DVI, S-Video and Firewire output. HD performance is very good, digital is good and analog is not so good - but as Comcast is moving toward digital simulcasting, the latter is rapidly becoming moot. The latest firmware (9.15) seems to have taken care of most of the bigger problems (freeze-ups on analog channels being the most common, though I never personally had that problem).

      The iGuide software is OK - it's certainly not as slick as Tivo, but it's really pretty decent. It has series recording (new episodes, new+repeats or all), 30-second skip, live buffer on both tuners (15 minute on HD, 60 on analog, 90 on digital) and you can record from the buffer (turn on the TV, see the middle of an interesting show, hit "record" and the whole show, including the buffered portion, is recorded). You can pad show starts/ends, set series priorities, when to delete programs (when told, when viewed, when disk space is low, after n episodes have been recorded), search for programs (a bit clunky). The Series Recording option is only as good as the guide data, though - when the guide data is bad (as is the case with the Simpsons on my local Fox channel - the syndicated episodes are marked as 'new') it sucks. With that exception, though, the Series Recording works like a dream.

      A lot of the stuff it doesn't have (like Recommendations - who needs 'em?) I don't miss at all. For the cost of the Tivo monthly service, I get a two-tuner box plus the Guide and still have a couple of bucks in my pocket.

      If your main concern is corporate control, I would agree you're better off with MythTV or Freevo, but compared to Tivo/ReplayTV, it's fine. So far, at least, Comcast hasn't played the evil corporation with this particular product (don't get me started on Comcast in general). The 30-second skip hack would be easy for them to turn off, and they haven't. I haven't watched an unwanted commercial in six months.

  • by blueZhift (652272) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @02:43PM (#11945340) Homepage Journal
    I think what we are seeing in the TiVo Comcast deal is Comcast making the very smart move of leveraging the TiVo brand. This is actually pretty good news for both. If things go well, don't be surprised to see Comcast make a play to buy TiVo outright. Yeah, I know many here think Comcast sucks, and maybe they do, but I wouldn't mind seeing what TiVo has built and their name survive, even as part of Comcast. So far I've been pretty happy with TiVo and as a Comcast customer, adding TiVo can only be a good thing!
    • Yeah, I know many here think Comcast sucks, and maybe they do, but I wouldn't mind seeing what TiVo has built and their name survive, even as part of Comcast. So far I've been pretty happy with TiVo and as a Comcast customer, adding TiVo can only be a good thing!

      Be careful what you wish for. Business folks often think that buying a company is worth it *just* for the brand (it makes business sense). And in that case, any culture of freedom that the brand used to have evaporates in light of new management. T

  • Has anyone explored Comcast's Video on Demand? I was amazed to be able to see the classic film "Hardbodies" for free. But it didn't end there: They had almost the full first season of Diff'Rent Strokes avaialble, all free! Saved me the cost of renting the DVD. I was in 80s nostalgia heaven.

    "Tube Time" is easily my favorite showcase of shows on Comcast's VOD. I eagerly await for more 80s tv shows in rotation.
  • As a "regular" (i.e. non-DirecTiVo) TiVo user, I lament the lack of DirecTiVo features (e.g. record-two-shows-at-once) while enjoying the analog TiVo features (e.g. TiVo2Go). Any word on which features ComcasTiVo(tm) will support?

    $0.02,
    ptd

  • I ditched Time Warner cable for DirecTV and Tivo because the SA-8000 sucked so badly (I had two of them die due to hardware problems, and the software showed every sign of being written by monkeys).

    If Comcast is willing to get away from Scientific Atlanta's piss-poor product, maybe there's hope that the other cable corps will as well.

  • by deviator (92787) <<gro.aisenma> <ta> <pdb>> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @03:03PM (#11945534) Homepage
    This is a huge win for TiVo - egg on Hughes' face, maybe?

    (the reason I say this: We've been using the DirecTivo for a few months. It's not nearly as good as TiVo's own offering (dog slow, for one thing!) - and lags behind TiVo's own Home Media Options & TiVoToGo features--Hughes refuses to add these features, because they're going to introduce their own proprietary DVR "sometime this summer" that will "have all of this and more." It pisses me off, because the true TiVo boxes are outstanding--and Hughes is watering down TiVo's brand! I had expected TiVo to fade into obscurity, but this means Comcast recognizes that it's better to license this technology from a company who has already poured their heart & soul into developing it rather than trying to do it themselves...)

    So if you're debating between DirecTV and Comcast cable, go with Comcast. :)

  • win/win? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @03:05PM (#11945556) Homepage
    This should help existing TiVo subscribers (especially us lifetime-service-buyers) by ensuring TiVo's viability for the coming years, and it should help Comcast subscribers by giving them access to a better DVR. Personally, as long as my stand-alone TiVo retains its current level of hackability, I'm not too concerned about what kind of limits the ComcasTiVo might have.
  • good news (Score:3, Informative)

    by robgue (829997) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @03:08PM (#11945579)
    well i recently switched from a directv tivo unit to a comcast hd dvr unit and i miss the simplicity and stability of the product. yes the hd is cheap and the dvr price aint bad at all but it is very buggy. the sound constantly goes out(optical), the screen freezes, using the dvr has long pauses inbetween operations(so you think it froze on you), sometimes the guide doesnt show what shows are playing. that and its just not as friendly to use as the tivo unit.(my wife won't touch it, but did with tivo) looks like tivo will be around a little longer at least in name before comcast swallows it
  • by Corporate Drone (316880) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @03:16PM (#11945664)
    You guys are missing the point... TiVo isn't agreeing to provide hardware, they're offering access to their service, which, currently, includes software, feature set, and scheduling.

    So...

    • No TiVo "peanut" remotes; the existing DVRs will retain their Comcast remotes.
    • No carry-over of the lack of responsiveness of Comcast DVR boxen (unfortunately, will it be replaced with the remote control lag of the recent release of TiVoToGo software update?)
    • No guarantee of availability of TiVoToGo content... when TiVo gets in bed with a content provider, will additional restrictions on what can be downloaded/burned show up?)
    • No guarantee of CableCard functionality; will TiVo be as anxious to see CableCard mandated, now that they have their deal with a content provider?
  • I just got cable when I moved to the south Bay Area because I can't attach my Dish to the apartment building. Bummer. The channel guide on Comcast is AWFUL! Channel 11, the "TV Guide Channel." 25% of the screen is a scrolling list of channels and what's on. The rest of it? Advertisements! Shouldn't it be the other way around? The guide on DirecTV and Dish Network is FAR superior to what currently exists on standard cable.
    I just want to know what's on TV, not more ads. Blah.
  • Select - Play - Select - 30 - Select [*bing bing bing*] aka the 30 second skip ahead. Otherwise, TV, whether live or recorded, isn't much fun to watch.
  • Charter cable, which competes region by region against Comcast in certain markets, made a deal with Motorola and created a Tivo knockoff, called Moxi. It's quite a bit like Tivo, even improving some things with the interface IMO, like making the channel guide vertical instead of horizontal. (It's hard to describe exactly, think of the Windows Explorer interface with the start button instead of the program guide way that Tivo does it).

    I saw the box and the way Charter is competing hard against Comcast in

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