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Television Media Hardware

Clones Are Overwhelming TiVo 402

jfruhlinger writes "The first line from this CRN/Associated Press story says it all: 'Debra Baker tells people she has TiVo. But she really doesn't.' As cable companies offer their own DVR boxes to customers for no upfront cost and a lower monthly fee than the original, people are using TiVo as a verb but are frequently not using using the product or service itself in real life. The article notes that the cable company's DVRs don't have some of the archtypical TiVo features, such as the ability to guess what you'd like recorded based on your viewing habits."
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Clones Are Overwhelming TiVo

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  • Privacy concerns (Score:2, Interesting)

    by r_glen ( 679664 )
    "...don't have some of the archtypical TiVo features"

    Such as selling your personal viewing habits to advertisers? I'm no tinfoil-hatter, but this is one of the main reasons I chose ReplayTV. I understand TiVo's data collection is aggregate, but the thought that someone keeps a record of everything I watch (or re-watch), and uses it for profit is a bit off-putting.
    Kudos to the newcomers!
    • Re:Privacy concerns (Score:5, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:18PM (#8955488)
      One phone call to either TiVo customer service (or DirecTV's customer service if you own a "DirecTV DVR powered by TiVo" device) is all it takes for them to send your device a signal to stop uploading the viewer-habits data. True, that's opt-out rather than opt-in... but at least they're making it easy to get out.

      Me... I kinda like the fact that it reports what I watch. I've always wanted to actually count in the ratings...
    • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:20PM (#8955499)
      All it does is increase the likelihood that the shows you watch will get renewed so you don't have to go stand outside a building and cheer for some crappy show on UPN or the WB to get un-dumped.
    • You are an idiot. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm sorry if this somehow gets marked as flaimbait, but Tivo ASKS YOU if you want your information used for data collection so the corps can see that shows like Farscape are more popular and possibly stay on longer if more people did this. If you dont like it? Simply choose 'NO' .. I can't believe you thought this was manditory? They keep NO VIEWING INFORMATION if you dont want them to. Sheesh.
    • Re:Privacy concerns (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Bloomy ( 714535 )
      I've been curious about that since I first got digital cable, which has recently been upgraded to Comcast's DVR. How do we know that the box isn't sending info back about what we watch?

      I also wonder, if the ones that report back get into enough homes, would the Nielsen ratings people sue because their business model of statisical sampling is being threatened by another method with larger sample sizes?
      • Re:Privacy concerns (Score:5, Informative)

        by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:11PM (#8955853)
        "I've been curious about that since I first got digital cable, which has recently been upgraded to Comcast's DVR. How do we know that the box isn't sending info back about what we watch?"

        Comcast is more likely to use their DVR to spy on their subscribers to make sure people aren't "stealing" extra channels that they aren't signed up for. To my knowledge, Comcast is not offering viewer information to advertisers, although it would be an easy way for them to increase revenue or use it in negotiations when Viacom or Disney start demanding fee increases for channels that Joe Public doesn't care to watch yet is forced into the programming bundle.

        Either way, Comcast's DVR does not offer the functionality that TiVo does. It is a shame that Comcast won't roll out actual set-top boxes with TiVo built in considering Comcast is a shareholder in TiVo. The same goes for Cox and Time Warner Cable. Yet none of them are deploying TiVo boxes. I think most of them believe that if they hold stock in TiVo, TiVo won't turn around and sue them over IP violations like TiVo did with Dish Network (Echostar) over the DishPlayer PVR.

        However, Joe Public will have a remedy come July 2004 when FCC rules take effect that allows us all to buy our own digital set-top boxes instead of being at the mercy to rent whatever cable box is best to the cable company financials. That means we might actually see TiVo-branded digital cable set top boxes for sale at Best Buy.

        The only area of concern I have for this digital jump is the lack of support for recording digital audio. I had an indepth conversation with a TiVo tech last week and he basically said the reason why existing TiVos do not offer SPDIF ports is that TiVo is afraid of being sued over DMCA violations because it would mean that the TiVo is making an exact copy of a digital audio signal from a program and archived on the customer's DVR. Perhaps they have their hands full fighting behind-the-scenes the "broadcast flag" requirements the FCC is trying to hoist on the whole industry while fighting the IP lawsuit against Echostar...

    • Re:Privacy concerns (Score:4, Informative)

      by 511pf ( 685691 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:50PM (#8955718)
      If you have DirecTV, call 800-347-3288 and opt-out. If you have any other TiVo, call 877-367-8486 and opt-out. I don't know why we're still having this discussion. Either the parent is ignorant or has an axe to grind. Parent - crying wolf about this hurts the fight against REAL invasions of privacy (PATRIOT Act, Operation TIPS, Total Information Awareness).
    • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:03PM (#8955800)
      "Such as selling your personal viewing habits to advertisers? I'm no tinfoil-hatter, but this is one of the main reasons I chose ReplayTV. I understand TiVo's data collection is aggregate, but the thought that someone keeps a record of everything I watch (or re-watch), and uses it for profit is a bit off-putting.
      Kudos to the newcomers!"

      Why do you care? TiVo hopes to use the information they can sell to increase their profitability and hopefully lower the subscription costs for their customers. How is that bad? Its not like they are going to tell advertisers and the government that "Joe Average" at 123 Average Way watches Cinemax (aka "Skinamax") every single evening. It is aggregate. And speaking as a TiVo enthusiast, I am happy they will be reporting viewing habits to advertisers. I want advertisers to know that they shouldn't advertise feminine hygene products during action programs and the like. I want to encourage advertisers to actually make decent commercials. And most importantly, I'm tired of 6,000 Nielsen homes dictating what is shown on television. There are over 1 million TiVo subscribers vs. 6,000 Nielsen homes. I want our numbers to count for something because I'm tired of seeing shows that I like (such as "Angel") getting cancelled. The other DVR/PVRs on the market, such as your ReplayTV (which has bankrupted two corporate owners and is now on its third and still has yet to get over 100,000 subscribers), do not have the power to save favorite television programs from cancellation. So in my book, TiVo's aggregate viewer data collection is a reason to sign up.

  • by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:12PM (#8955438)
    All my clones own Tivos. That's seven subscribers when before, it'd only be one.
  • by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:13PM (#8955445) Homepage
    record only first runs.

    as it is now, they record all showings.
    • by kman ( 44878 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:45PM (#8955687)
      Not true in the case of Time Warner's DVR - you can configure it to record all shows, first runs only, or only shows at a particular time.

      The other thing I like about the TW DVR is the ability to record two shows at once. You can even record two shows at the same time while watching a third recorded show. I haven't heard if the for-real Tivo's can do that.

      • by MeanMF ( 631837 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:53PM (#8955739) Homepage
        The other thing I like about the TW DVR is the ability to record two shows at once. You can even record two shows at the same time while watching a third recorded show. I haven't heard if the for-real Tivo's can do that.

        The Directv ones definitely can... I don't believe that any of the standalone ones have two tuners though.
      • TimeWarner's DVR is decent, and the price is certainly right, but it does have several shortcomings.

        1. Lag -- changing channels or bringing up the guide takes way too long.

        2. Buggy software -- it will crash on rare occasions, or get screwy and need to be rebooted. Every once in a while when I'm watching something recorded, it cuts away to live TV.

        3. There's no way to quickly skip ahead say, an hour. You have to just fast forward for awhile, and it's not fast enough. Also, a 30 second skip ahead would be
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:13PM (#8955448)
    Where's OpenCable [] when we need it?

    Because that's what's really locking TiVo out of the digital cable biz. They can't directly operate on a digital cable wire, and the companies such as Scientific Atlanta are not releasing their decoding specs so that TiVo can make a box compatible with cable systems that run their backend equpiment.

    Analog CATV is standardized, cable channel 27 in one town is on the same frequencies as cable channel 27 in another. OpenCable will basically do the same for digital. It should be noted however that OpenCable is leaving decryption and conditional access for others to handle... they're just defining a slot in which the system provider's choice of smart card that that will handle that stuff goes into.

    Slashdot has written before that this isn't quite the same as Open Source in the way that it's usually thought of here, this is a hardware spec that pretty much gives up a single-channel digital bitstream to the device's wishes once the access card lets it go.

    In the future, this could lead to "digital cable ready" TVs and devices, including TiVo that won't need the assitance of a settop box. But, of course, the present digital cable system makers don't want to give up their cash cow. That's why the current digital cable device makers can eat TiVo's lunch right now...
    • Mod This Up (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:26PM (#8955549)
      Tivo is doomed because they don't have access to the unencrypted but still encoded digital video stream. Because the cable television companies have this access they can make lighter weight Tivos that don't need to do a reencoding of the stream. This gives them an unfair advantage that spells the doom of tivo for that market segment. They can also mix the functionality into their already required encoder box such that few people will want to pick up an extra redundant tivo even if it does offer more features.

      • Not correct (Score:5, Interesting)

        by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:57PM (#8955761)
        DirecTiVo's have access to the full digital stream. They record digital info direct to disk without conversion. Since satellite owners are what Tivo was intended, and cable DVR service sucks balls for most who have it, I suspect that TiVo will eventually be bought out by DirecTV. New disks are coming this year that will allow three separate data stream recordings at once.
      • Re:Mod This Up (Score:3, Informative)

        by updog ( 608318 )
        No, cable DVR's still need an MPEG encoder. Your "digital cable" system is mostly digial channels (QAM modulated MPEG transport streams), but there are still analog channels in the lower numbers. For example, channels 2-40 might be analog.

        These analog channels need to be MPEG encoded before being saved onto disk and before you can enjoy your DVR functionality. Not only do cable DVR's need an MPEG encoder, but they also need full blown tuner which is expensive. So I wouldn't say that cable has any unfa

    • Why do I care?

      I have a TiVo fed by a settop. My settop is included in my cable package. I'm fine with that; it doesn't matter to me that the TiVo can't decode directly. Why do I care about OpenCable?

      • One reason: more reliable channel switching. I've had cable boxes with the remote 9-pin input and also some without so I've had to use the IR dongle thingys. Neither is 100% reliable and the channel switching speed is slow either way.
      • Your Tivo could record the digital stream directly, instead of taking the analog stream coming out your set top box and then reencoding it into digital.

        This is how the DirecTV Tivo's work. They actually lack an encoder completely and just record the DirecTV stream directly. The advantage is that recorded shows have exactly the same quality as live TV unlike a regular Tivo where there is some quality loss.

      • A) less redundant equipment to increase costs B) a smaller bill every month from your cable company C) 1 less remote in your living room D) 1 less thing to break E) Less power used
      • It'd allow TiVo to take advantages of several features already enjoyed by DirecTiVo owners...

        - Faster response to changes. If there's a last-minute change by the TV networks due to something like a presidential speech, the signal providers are usually good about updating their guide data as soon as they know about it. However, if you don't have a "daily call" between the change and the event, you're going to record the wrong programs because you don't get word of the change.
        - Another data source. It'd be g
    • Analog CATV is standardized, cable channel 27 in one town is on the same frequencies as cable channel 27 in another.

      While that's true for broadcast it's not uniformly true for CATV - though HRC and IRC are now mostly losing the battle - check out [] for a list of freqs

    • Analog CATV is standardized, cable channel 27 in one town is on the same frequencies as cable channel 27 in another.

      Not entirely. It is quite common for systems that even require an analog cable box to remap one or two channels to another channel number. E.g. the public access channel here is on channel 80 when you have one of the cable company's boxes, but on channel 99 for everyone else. Most often such things are done for scrambled channels like Spice so kids can't easily find them and listen in to
    • by Fermier de Pomme de ( 570654 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:57PM (#8955764)
      You are on the money - TiVo is being locked out but I have a feeling that it has something to do with the cable companies eagerness to maintain their closed and quasi-monopolistic networks.

      It reminds me of when I was young and my parents had to lease a phone from The Phone Company. What is amazing is that the same thing that was going on ~30 years ago is going on today.

      If the F.C.C cared about competition in the broadcast/broadband arena they would force open-spec cable/sat networks where any player could pay to have their unit approved by a testing body. Then the consumer would get to choose their AV gear based on best-fit, not because their sole cable provider has locked everyone out and made a deal with a single provider.

      If this were to happen you would see some amazing convergence applications - true home entertainment systems - that worked together seamlessly, in short order. The economies of scale would be there and the competition would drive product development.

    • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:18PM (#8955891)
      "In the future, this could lead to "digital cable ready" TVs and devices, including TiVo that won't need the assitance of a settop box. "

      July 2004 is when FCC rules go into effect that you and I can go to our local Best Buy and buy a digital cable set top box. Call up Comcast Customer Service. They will confirm it. I know I did after they installed a crummy General Instrument digital set top box that had a hole in the place of an S-Video port, had a covered up SPDIF port, and didn't offer a serial port for a separate device (like my TiVo) to change the channels. If you are upgrading to digital cable before the July 2004 timeframe and you are with Comcast, specifically request that they install the Motorola set-top box. That has all of those ports. Its too bad it doesn't have component outputs though...

  • Similar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by z0ink ( 572154 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:14PM (#8955451)
    Similar to saying "I had a burger and coke for lunch," when you really had a burger and Pepsi. TiVo is becomming part of American culture.
    • Re:Similar (Score:5, Funny)

      by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:27PM (#8955556)
      Similar to saying "I had a burger and coke for lunch," when you really had a burger and Pepsi. TiVo is becomming part of American culture.

      Yeah, It's kind of like when you say, "I just took a shit and wiped my ass with kleenex." In reality, you didn't actually take the shit anywhere.
    • Re:Similar (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 )
      Similar to saying "I had a burger and coke for lunch," when you really had a burger and Pepsi. TiVo is becomming part of American culture.

      As in, "I mistook my Tivo for a Kleenex box, and Bushed it all up!"
    • by Atario ( 673917 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:59PM (#8955777) Homepage
      Because "DVR" sucks.

      We already have too many TLAs -- DVD, VCR, ATM, SUV. All because no one can come up with a decent name for a new class of objects, only too-verbose phrases. "Automatic Teller Machine" is clearly too much to say, so the lazy thing to do is acronymify it, and you get "aee tee em". T'would be better to come up with an easy, catchy, single-word, pronouncable term for it (as in some European countries -- "autobank" or "bankomat" do nicely).

      But here we sit, saddled with "dee vee are". "Yuck. 'Teevoh'? Hey, neat!"

      So TiVo it is.
  • by Soporific ( 595477 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:15PM (#8955455)
    Most people hate the viewing habit feature on a TiVo. For me it was unpredicatable and produced some interesting results. Not to say it's a bad feature, but it's definitely something I can do without.

    • <sarcasim>
      So it anyoyed you so much you turned it off right, right? Went into settings where *maybe* just *maybe* there might be a setting for that where you can turn it on or off
    • by Yort ( 555166 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:29PM (#8955571)
      Most people hate the viewing habit feature on a TiVo.

      Actually, we were just talking about this today, and a co-worker of mine recounted an instance where an individual decided to give up his TiVo because it was too good at finding stuff he liked - he found he didn't have much of a life anymore besides catching up on all these cool TV shows he didn't know existed!

      Troy, who finally ordered his TiVo this week.

    • Well, I'm not most people. I like it.

      And even if the result suck, who cares? So what if Tivo records a bunch of shows you don't actually like? It will never bump recording of a Seasons Pass and it will never delete one of your "real" shows earlier.

      "Hate" seems a strong word here, ya know?
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:15PM (#8955456)
    I've heard people tell me "I have a good computer" but then I look and see it's not an Apple. Same thing I guess.

  • by routerwhore ( 552333 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:15PM (#8955463) Homepage
    I do love my Tivo, but I turned off the personal viewing feature long ago when I realized it had a twisted personality. It kept recording porn and cartoons...
  • by pegasustonans ( 589396 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:15PM (#8955466)
    TiVo's got the name-brand recognition, which is good, but it seems like they need to make some marketing efforts pinpointing what differentiates them from their primary competitors.
    • I love my TiVo, but is they haven't really dropped the price (or expanded the storage/dollar) as hard drive prices have fallen. I have to say that some competition is welcome.
      • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:25PM (#8955546)
        I love my TiVo, but is they haven't really dropped the price (or expanded the storage/dollar) as hard drive prices have fallen. I have to say that some competition is welcome.

        There's really a "Tale of two TiVos" going on...

        The integrated TiVo and DirecTV combo boxes, known officially as a "DirecTV DVR with TiVo" and commonly called a "DirecTiVo", have fallen in price dramatically recently. The units that were first sold for $299 are available for just $99 thanks to major subsidies from DirecTV. The service fee is only $4.99 per month and covers all TiVo units on the same household account.

        Meanwhile, the prices of the Series 2 stand-alone TiVo units have not fallen, and in fact their service costs went up to $12.95 per month with no discounts at all for having more than one. Clearly, being able to integrate with service providers is key for TiVo's survival...

        Nothing in TiVo's DirecTV contract prevents them from working with cable companies, only other DBS companies like Dish Network and Voom... clearly TiVo would like to have a dual-tuner-integrated box for digital cable, but the hardware makers aren't giving up the specs for that...
        • by SnappleMaster ( 465729 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:46PM (#8955688)
          I agree with a lot of what you said except this: "Meanwhile, the prices of the Series 2 stand-alone TiVo units have not fallen".

          They were want, $300 when first released? I bought mine for around $172 after rebate about 5 months ago. Amazon now has them for $129 after rebate. (All prices for 40 hour.)

          I think Tivo needs to sell the hardware as cheaply as possible and live off the subscription fees. But the non-directv subscription fees are a little steep ($300 for lifetime).

          OTOH Tivo's seem to hold their value really well. I recently ebay'ed a Series 1 Tivo with attached lifetime subscription for $356. Crazy...
  • I have a cheap-branded vacuum cleaner, but all vacuum cleaners are called 'Hoovers' (in the Uk at least).

    Similarly until recently all portable stereos were called 'walkmans'.

    Why shoud TIVO be any different - no company can rest on its laurels, it'll just be left behind by its competitors, but the name will live on in consumer's minds. Perhaps its how we're built - we need a 'tag' to describe something.

    • And all mp3 players will be called ipods?
    • Re:Like hoover (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rethin ( 536306 )
      Why? you ask? Because it dilutes the brand name. And building a respected well known brand name is very expensive and difficult. Companies are expected to take reasonable steps to protect their trademarked name. For example the Xerox corp has been fighting tooth and nail to keep the verk xerox from becoming synanomous with photocopy. This is exactly the reason why Federal Express changed their name to Fed Ex, because Fed Ex was becoming a generic verb that means send by express mail. If TiVo doesn't pr
  • Better than TiVi (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TexVex ( 669445 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:16PM (#8955475)
    I just got through building a really nice home media system with WiFi.

    The centerpiece is a PC running SageTV []. It uses a hardware mpeg encoder to capture video from my digital cable box and save it on a 250 GB hard drive. Encoding at the "DVD Standard Play" quality uses about 3 GB per hour of video and the quality is definitely acceptable. Also stored on the monster hard drive is my entire CD collection ripped to very high bitrate MP3. The hardware media card also includes a built-in radio tuner. The machine has a DVD burner in it as well, and SageTV glues it all together.

    Now, the really cool part of it is, I can access the mpeg video files and MP3s over my home network. With an mpeg video codec, I can use any of a variety of players to play my recorded television anywhere in my house on a laptop. SageTV also offers a separate piece of client software that allows you to remote-control the PVR from any networked computer and play any of its recorded media -- so, if I'm in the garage with my laptop, I can call up the current TV guide and select a program to record right there without having to directly interact with the media PC.

    TiVo runs Linux and is hackable, but still uses a proprietary filesystem for video storage. Plus, the folks at TiVo don't want you accessing the video externally anyway...
  • by Gangis ( 310282 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:20PM (#8955501) Journal
    I currently subscribe to the DVR service from Brighthouse here in Central Florida; which uses the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000 []. I have been blessed with the Passport software as opposed to the rather buggy SARA, and even though it may not have the advanced features TiVo has like being able to intuitively record programs (I don't really see the point anyway, I record what I want to watch) and searching for a show name by inputting the first few letters (currently I have to go through a whole list of shows in alphabetical orders and with 500 channels, it can get mighty long!) I love the box dearly and it's totally worth the extra $7 a month. However, it can be unstable at times, due to it's sensitivity with signal quality. If the cable company started offering TiVo itself for something like $15, I would definitely get it.

    I can't help but wonder if that's the path TiVo themselves will have to take in order to survive. We'll see.
  • reaching for the Kleenex,.....err tissues. There's nothing worse than when someone takes your idea and Xerox.... err copies it.
  • What I'd Like (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:22PM (#8955521)
    Is a DVR that I can just buy and hook up to my cable feed without having to pay an additional monthly subscription to the cable barons. Sort of like my VCR.
    • So either roll your own or buy one with a lifetime subscription. Or get a Tivo that has the free basic service.
    • You want TiVo Basic (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bryan Ischo ( 893 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @08:10PM (#8956187) Homepage
      You can get what you want. The Toshiba DVD player with built-in TiVo and the Pioneer DVD recorder with built-in TiVo both come with TiVo Basic, which has no recurring service costs. TiVo Basic includes a reduced programming schedule (3 days I believe?) and only lets you set up recordings manually - either via timer or be selecting them from the program guide. This is *exactly* what you say that you want.
    • Re:What I'd Like (Score:3, Interesting)

      "Is a DVR that I can just buy and hook up to my cable feed without having to pay an additional monthly subscription to the cable barons. Sort of like my VCR."

      move to canada [] (no really)! They have info on slicing xmltv stuff and uploading it to your tivo... but only if you are in unsupported region (i.e. tivo won't sell them service in canada). I guess that's a nother thing tivo is missing out on intenational sales, doh!

  • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:23PM (#8955523) Journal
    "I need a Kleenex"

    How many of you use the brand Kleenex?

    "Man this headache is killer, gimmie a Aspirin"


    "Aww do you got a boo-boo, let me get you a band-aid"

    Are you really using Band-Aid brand bandages?
    • It's the same, that is the point. That is the entire point of the article, that Tivo is becoming a generalized term for DVRs. This behavior is bad news for the brands in question, because it makes the brand generic. Of course, you could also say that it gives these brands a lot of publicity, I suppose.
    • I'll be sure to print this out and xerox it for my friends in the office.
    • My wife used to work for Intel and they sent her and a bunch of cow-orkers to a class on trademarks. She told me about how you're not supposed to refer to "a Pentium", but it's called "a Pentium processor []" or some such because the trademark was not to be used as a noun. Since then I try hard to use my best, trademark-correct language for humor's sake, as in "Could you please hand me a Kleenex(TM)-brand facial tissue?" or "Curse these blasted Band-Aid® brand adhesive bandages that never stick for more
    • by Hackie_Chan ( 678203 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:05PM (#8955810)
      Band-aid, Astroturf, Xerox, Kleenex, Coke/Cola, Saran Wrap, Jell-O, Kool-aid, Scotch tape, Wite-out, Cellophane, Boogie board, Popsicle, Styrofoam, Post-it note, Legos, Velcro, Thermos, Escalator, Listerine, Hi-Liter, Jeep, Vicks, Alka-Seltzer, Lycra, Spam, Cool Whip, Granola, Gatorade, Tylenol, Aspirin, Valium, Novocaine, Vaseline, Rolodex, Chapstick, Q-Tip, Pop Tart, Walkman, Frisbee, Hula Hoop, Ping Pong, Jacuzzi, Kitty Litter, Levi's, Play-Doh, Skivvies, BVDs, Jockey shorts, Teletype, Polaroid, Fiberglass, Plexiglass, Linoleum, Zipper

      And now Tivo. Nothing new here. But it can be temporary too -- Nintendo almost became one in the early nineties but died out later for example.
  • by bryanp ( 160522 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:24PM (#8955539)
    What's wrong with that?

    If my cable company (or some satellite company) wants to bundle a DVR with the service, so what? If you don't want to use it you don't have to - go buy a Tivo or build yourself an HTPC or whatever floats your boat.

    I love my ReplayTV 4500 with a 120GB hard drive upgrade and lifetime subscription. It has all the Tivo-esque features I want and some more that it doesn't.

    One day I may built a home theater PC as a toy but for now my RPTV fills all my timeshifting and commercial skipping needs.
    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:04PM (#8955807)
      What's wrong with that?

      If my cable company (or some satellite company) wants to bundle a DVR with the service, so what? If you don't want to use it you don't have to - go buy a Tivo or build yourself an HTPC or whatever floats your boat.

      If my operating system company (or some really big software company) wants to bundle a Web Browser with the software, so what? If you don't want to use it you don't have to - go buy Netscape or code one for yourself or whatever flots your boat.

      Uhm... wait a second.

  • From the CRN/Associated Press story []:

    Unlike cable DVRs, TiVo machines also can guess what programs a user might enjoy based on viewing habits.

    Does this remind anyone of Clippy? "It appears you are writing a letter....." Does anyone value this feature? Maybe its just me, but I don't like it when machines attempt to guess what my intentions are. I certainly wouldn't pay extra for the "feature."

  • by odano ( 735445 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:26PM (#8955553)
    The one thing tivo does have is the best remote control of any DVR. It is just beautifully engineered.
  • I had a TIVO for a day, until I found out I could not record without paying TIVO $10/month.
    When I bot it I thought I could program it like a VCR. Turns out you can, if you pay them.

    The idea is great, no more tapes, but TIVO's
    version isn't it.
    • by SnappleMaster ( 465729 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:52PM (#8955736)
      "I had a TIVO for a day, until I found out I could not record without paying TIVO $10/month."

      Sorry, wrong. Tivo can be operated like a VCR without paying the monthly. (The series 1 units can, anyways.)

      And I'm sorry but it sounds to me like you're a bit of an idiot to buy something with a basic understanding of how it works.
  • by NonSequor ( 230139 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:29PM (#8955569) Journal
    When it was the only PVR on the market, there was no reason to call a PVR anything other than a TiVo. TiVo now will have to fight an uphill battle to try to get people to associate the word TiVo only with TiVo-brand PVRs.
    • I actualy had to look up PVR to check what it meant.

      Web encylopedias seem to have plenty of alternate deffinitions, though I cannot recall having seen them used anywhere

      "A PVR is also referred to as a hard disk recorder (HDR), digital video recorder (DVR), personal video station (PVS) , or a personal TV receiver (PTR)"
  • by Secrity ( 742221 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:29PM (#8955573)
    I have a TiVo and a friend with a Scientific Atlanta DVR. I can tell you that the Scientific Atlantic user interface isn't any where as nice as the TiVo. I can do without TiVo surprising me with programs it decided I wanted to see, but it sure is nice to be able to do wish lists. The differences between the user interfaces on the SA and the TiVo seem to me like comparing a Mac to DOS 6.0.
  • There really generic bandages, but I call em that, Oh, and I have a "Swiss-army" knife. Who the Hell Cares?? My aunt has AOL, ask her, she has the "internet at home"
  • by Yort ( 555166 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:35PM (#8955615)
    In my most recent experience, the generic branding helped TiVo. See, my wife was initially hesitant to get a TiVo, feeling that it was too much of a yuppie-geek item to own, and that it would admit that she valued TV too much. And in my discussions with her, I used the term "TiVo" to mean mostly "DVR/PVR."

    Well, after a while, the VCR failed her on a couple of separate instances of trying to record Dr. Phil. Now she wasn't so opposed to a TiVo anymore, and thought we could get one! So I started looking around, and was actually leaning toward a ReplayTV, as our house has no land-line and ReplayTV is already set up for broadband access.

    But could I convince the wife that a ReplayTV was the same thing (and in some instances better) as a TiVo? Nope. Gotta have a TiVo. TiVo is what I kept telling her we needed, so by golly we'd better get a TiVo, and nothing else!

    Ordered it earlier this week.


  • I *love* my Tivo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Balthisar ( 649688 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:42PM (#8955664) Homepage
    Yeah, the subject looks dorky. But I'm a computer geek. I have an x86 box that's useless (Mac owner here) that I could simply turn into Myth or Freevo or whatnot. But you know what? It's not TiVo. They look nice, they work well, and yeah, they do things that TiVo doesn't. But... I can do all that with Linux anyway. TiVo is to television what Mac OS X is to the computer world.

    And no, this isn't flame-bait, and I don't want to get into a philosophical argument about my choice of metaphor. But... Mac owners that are also TiVo owners that are also x86 owners will truly know exactly what I'm talking about.
  • Sure, the "burly guys tossing the network programmer out the window" ad from a few years ago was funny, but how about some ads that lay out what the TiVo can do, and more importantly, what the cablecos' TiVo-wannabes don't do?

    They need a whole series of ads that directly address the cable companies in certain markets. Something like, "Think you've got a TiVo(TM)? Well if it came from your cable company, you don't..."

    Satisfied customers' word of mouth is a great way to advertise, but it can't compare to the reach that the cable companies have, unless TiVo does something like hiring a network of their customers to work in Best Buy and Circuit City part time as evangelists-- who else would be better suited to explain exactly what it does?

  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:05PM (#8955816) Homepage
    The problem with a box provided by the cable operator is that its features are going to be tailored to meet the desires of the cable operator, not the end user. That's how we've ended up with crappy digital cable decoders that have program guides that devote more space to ads than programming, no s-video or component outputs, no reliable and standardized means of remote control, and slow/buggy software. The cable operator wants a zillion cheap boxes that integrate into their overall business strategy, which places little or no value on what any particular subscriber might want.
  • kleenex (Score:3, Insightful)

    by enrico_suave ( 179651 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:34PM (#8955980) Homepage
    I'm sure tivo is happy to get verb status and market recognition, but they could end up being like kleenex::tissues and thermos::portable drink container keeps food hot/cold

  • by jriskin ( 132491 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:55PM (#8956085) Homepage
    I always find it awkward telling people I have PVR. Usually it goes like this:

    Them: "What do you think of Tivo?"
    Me: "Tivo's are great, I love mine"
    Me: "Well, actually I don't have an actual tivo, I built my own, its called SageTV, its pretty much the same as a real Tivo, but I can access my TV from any computer in the house, save stuff on DVD, no monthly fee, etc..."
    Them: "you built a Tivo?"
    Me: "Uh, well its a thing for your computer"
    Them: "Oh..." (blank stare)
    Me: "Tivo's kick ass!"
    Them: =)
  • by LinuxMacWin ( 79859 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @08:50PM (#8956404)
    Debra Baker tells people she has Unix. But she really doesn't. She has Linux.
  • by poofmeisterp ( 650750 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @09:24PM (#8956555) Journal
    With things like "Kleenex", it's obviously not. You don't NEED to say "I need a Kleenex" in order to get what you want from a mindless idiot. You can simply say you need a tissue and the problem is solved.

    People aren't all as technically-saavy as the /. crowd. If you were to walk up to Joe Dingledorf at the office and ask him to watch the game you recorded on your PVR or DVR, he may just kick your ass for hitting on him. If you say the same thing, but that it's recorded on your Tivo, he'll understand perfectly.

    Personally, I use my All-In-Wonder card and Gemstar Guide+ to do my digital recording. If someone asks me about it, I say something along the lines of having software and hardware that "basically turns my computer into a Tivo."

    Sure, I can't advertise a product that uses their trademark as an improper noun, or say that you can record video using their trademark as a verb (e.g. "Tivo it"), but I can sure as hell explain it that way to people on a personal level.

    There's nothing you can do to stop me, so Nyaaaaaaaaa!
  • by ayeco ( 301053 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @09:25PM (#8956567)
    I don't care what you say, my cable DVR sucks, badly. I have the motorola 6208, and it's the worst piece of crap ever. Sure, I can timeshift HD and SD programming, but the interface and useability blows. I'm serious. This thing give motorola a bad name, and that's too bad b/c they didn't write the software for it (the cable co's outsource it).

    I've had a Tivo for years. I'm not just a fanboy, I tried to get into my Cable co's pvr, but it's hard to like something that is that hard to use! The ff function barely works smoothly, there is not status bar that tells you where you are in a program, setting up a recording couldn't be any harder, and the guide is cluttered by stinking advertisements! etc etc etc.

    I'm so happy that I bought a Tivo and the lifetime sub when I did. I just wish I could use the tivo to record my cable co's HD programming. I'd buy a cable card tivo in no time flat (ok, it would have to cost less that $450 bucks).
  • by waferhead ( 557795 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .daehrefaw.> on Friday April 23, 2004 @09:42PM (#8956666)
    Mythtv runs on linux.
    It is licensed under the GPL.

    The interface makes Tivo look like a weak sister in most areas, and has FAR more capabilities.

    On well tested hardware and using well tested distributions, it can be set up in less than an hour, including Dling the software and deps/updates. YMMV, severely on poor hardware.
    (via KT333/400) There are numerous well written how-tos, and one of the better mailing lists you will ever see.

    Sound setup under Linux is typically the headache, as you can imagine.

    There is a Knoppix based CD version, knoppmyth, but R4 is bit dated. It CAN be installed and VERY carefully upgraded, as mythtv is available for Debian.

    One good, well suported setup---NF2 MB, Athlon XP, OSS audio, GF4 MX400, and FC1. (There are folks using it all dists tho)

    I personally found Mandrake Cooker to be just as easy, easier in fact as it is "current" to the point of bleeding continuously, as my "backend" is my "workstation", and that's my comfortable distro of choice. Again, YMMV.

    My new frontend is an Xbox, and it works beautifully, excellent TV out, DVD remote works perfectly, fully mapped to run Mythtv properly.

    It runs Debian, xbox-mythtv, a tweaked version of Xebian.
    • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @01:32AM (#8957483) Journal
      The interface makes Tivo look like a weak sister in most areas, and has FAR more capabilities.

      I'm not a Tivo owner, so I can't speak about how they compare, but I must say that MythTV's interface sucks.

      The interface is clunky and inelegant. It's extremely slow to navigate through. Conflict management is extremely complicated. You have to escape out several levels just to get back to the main menu so you can go back to a different branch of sub-menus (imagine if your VCR's menu had sub-menus, with sub-sub-menus, etc.)

      And the final straw that got me to uninstall MythTV? It doesn't play anything but recorded TV programs on it's own. You need MPlayer to play you videos/audio, in which case you have an entirely different interface, different key bindings, different reactions to events, etc.

      Personally, I just have a shell-script doing the TV-recording, and I playback using a basic filemanager that lists my videos (or playlists) and launches them with mplayer. I can play recorded TV programs, DVDs, Internet Streaming Video/Audio, etc. I never looked back after dropping MythTV.
  • by PunkPig ( 738544 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @10:43PM (#8956937)
    The clones have already won in Canada....and the consumers have lost. We have no Tivo or Replay TV. One of our two Satilite companies offer a 1 tuner DVR, the other offers nothing. My cable company offers a one tuner PVR.......... for $750.

    As an OT....I wouldn't want to be using my cable company's listings for a PVR. The show often do not match what is on and are very often generic(ie The Simpsons episode description is quite often "Matt Groening's subversive animated satire about Springfield's hapless first family"

  • Thoughts on Tivo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @11:09PM (#8957027) Homepage Journal
    I think Tivo will continue to be successful as long as they continue to deliver well thought out software. For the most part the user interface is great -- it's not too complicated, doesn't pack in a lot of crap I don't use and yet it delivers very powerful functionality. I've had several people see mine in operation and then go out and buy their own.

    I was talking to a friend of mine who has one of the brand X sattellite PVRs and almost every time I talk to him about it, he realizes that his PVR doesn't do everything (or pretty much anything) that my Tivo does. Such as allow him to search and record all shows by name, apparently. Must be a pretty shitty PVR he has...

    Sure you could throw together a bunch of open source software and have a digital PVR, but you're paying the Tivo guys for the slick UI and the smooth user experience. Sure you could probably do as good a job as they could given a year or two of development time, but in that time you could have also made enough to buy the service for life AND purchased a share of the company.

    So yes, I think the Tivo guys will have to stay on their toes if they want to stay alive, but competition is good after all. I don't see them going out of business anytime soon.

  • by Zed2K ( 313037 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @11:22PM (#8957072)
    I have a Scientific Atlanta 8000 dvr box via time warner and love it. But tivo can solve their little problem by licensing out the software to the companies that make the cable boxes. Or make their own cable boxes that are compatible. If they already tried to do this then they need to try harder.

    Then again the cable box dvr has 2 tuners and lets me record 2 shows and watch a recorded one all at the same time. Only way you can do that with a tivo is with an expensive direct tv box. Maybe thats their problem. Their product is too expensive.
  • by Zerbey ( 15536 ) * on Saturday April 24, 2004 @01:11AM (#8957429) Homepage Journal
    When I tell the average person I meet that I have a DVR (one of the Scientific Atlanta 8000's from my Cable Company) I'm usually met with a blank expressions followed by a lengthy explanation. Pretty much everyone understands what a Tivo is and what it does.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @10:35AM (#8959088)
    Tivo costs too much for many people. I bought my Series2 a year and a half ago (right as TW Cable started making their SA 8000 DVR available), and box+lifetime was over $500.

    TW's box was $6.95 per month at my package level (HBO/Cinemax). I have to have my S2 for over 6 years to get ahead of renting from TW, and that presumes I don't blow a HDD or have some other failure that requires me to spend $100 getting mine fixed to retain the lifetime (you can do this). Adding in a repair trip pushes it over 7 years.

    I wouldn't trade my Tivo for TW's box, but to a lot of ordinary people they do the same thing and the TW box is *way* cheaper to own. No upfront costs. No repair liability. Dual-tuner capability. I'm not saying the TW box is *better*, just that it has some compelling feartures and a great price point for the masses who can make or break a product.

    Personally I think Tivo needs to alter their revenue model and innovate a lot more. Some random ideas:

    Free Tivo basic. One sub fee for multiple boxes per household. Free HMO for second (third, ...) boxes. Sell "cool" or requested software updates as modules (Batch Save to VCR, distributed scheduling). Really innovate the hardware -- firewire for additional storage/tuners, built-in GigE, 900Mhz digital remotes -- *and* figure out how to sell it for a profit. Sell a "PC Pak" -- HW accelerated TV card + TivoOS for HTPC applications.

    I love Tivo, but I can't help but think its high price vs. cable and absence of innovation in software or hardware will sink it against the cable behemoths.

The Tao is like a stack: the data changes but not the structure. the more you use it, the deeper it becomes; the more you talk of it, the less you understand.