May 27, 2005
Tivo Beats Estimates
There is good financial news for Tivo investors as reported by CNet. Tivo beat analysts estimates and narrowed it's expected losses for the quarter. It also increased its subscriber base by 339,000 users (72,000 of which are non-DirecTv subscribers).
Good news for Tivo.
May 26, 2005
Echostar to rollout PocketDish
According to Investor's Business Daily, Echostar is set to roll out it's own portable video player which will integrate with it's DVR and satellite products. The report mentions that the product called "PocketDish" will be produced by Archos, which already sells similiar products.
I have my doubts that this product will make much of an impact on the market, but it may convince Echostar subscribers who are already in the market for a portable player to purchase PocketDish over some other competitive products to ensure compatibility.
Hat Tip: TVPredictions.com
DVR Sales Robust
Via TVPredictions.com, DVR sales and usage have increased dramatically over the last year. Last May, 3.6M households had a DVR service while current usage is up to 9.2M. What's more, in a survey conducted by the same market research group, 89% of DVR users are "very satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with their DVR.
It looks like the market is doing pretty well.
May 25, 2005
Time-shifted Car Radio: Way overdue!
A while ago, we reviewed ReplayRadio which will record internet radio programs similiar to a Tivo. Having a long commute, I still use it regularly to dump my favorite news and talk radio programs on to my MP3 player which connects to my car stereo, and it comes in handy to keep me calm while the traffic is snarled. It works great for recorded shows, but to my knowledge, there is no solution for live radio in a car.
Given the relatively small data rate that is used in audio broadcasts, I can't understand why no car stereo manufacturer hasn't added time-shifting features to one of their products. Add some inexpensive RAM and some added logic to the circuitry, and you've got a hot new feature to beat up your competitors.
I can understand that many features of a DVR don't make sense in a car radio like recording programs on a schedule. It would require some complicated user interface on small device. It would also require your radio sucking up your battery power while the car is off to record in the off hours. For many reasons recording programming on a car stereo is a bad idea.
The ability to rewind and pause live radio, on the other hand, would be really useful without adding much complexity to the user interface. I don't know how many times I've missed a traffic report by a few seconds because I'm pre-occupied and a rewind button would make that a thing of a past. Perhaps with a small additional battery, a feature to continue to record for 15-30 minutes with the car turned off would make it possible to pause a radio show while I run a quick errand. If I hear a new song I really like on the radio, it would be cool to rewind it to give it another listen, or rewind it further to hopefully catch the disk jockey mention the performers name. Fast forwarding radio commercials would kind of nice too.
So what's the deal, car stereo manufacturers? Get to work!
May 24, 2005
Dance till you Drop DVR
Want another good reason to build your own DVR? The guys at Build Your Own PVR.com have an article on integrating a Dance Dance Revolution game into a PVR complete with USB enabled Dance Pads (USB enabled Dance Pants sold separately).
May 23, 2005
The Argument For BitTorrent
Via PVRBlog, Mark Pesce has a wonderful two part piece on BitTorrent and how it is effecting television distribution. I'm still not certain what the future of television will look like, but it's pretty clear there are going to be a few big winners and few big losers as a result.
I think the missing piece of the puzzle, which Alexander from eHomeUpgrade has mentioned a lot recently is a DRM technology that is platform independent. If there was a standard, ubiquitous encoding technology that was easy to implement on any platform and allow transfer to most devices, it would be a win for producers that don't want unrestricted duplication without getting some stipend for their work, but also a win for consumers that can have access to more content legally.
You only need to try to get Tivo with Tivo2Go to transfer a show to a PSP (Sony Playstation Portable) to realize things just ain't right.
May 19, 2005
New MythTV Programming Guide Service
PVRBlog is reporting that there will be a new programming guide service available to MythTV called LXM Suite. Users will be charged a small monthly fee (6 months for $30 during their trial period), but hopefully the coverage and reliability will improve.
This is a good thing for MythTV that has previously relied on Zap2it data for non-commericial use only. Hopefully this will pave the way for other micro-providers to develop for the platform. Once MythTV is successfully installed, it's a pretty competitive DVR product, and LXM Suite may make it even better.
May 18, 2005
MPAA Tightens Screws on Bittorrent
Via EHomeUpgrade, the MPAA is filing lawsuits against BitTorrent directory providers who list links to downloadable files to television programming. According to MPAA Chief Executive Officer Dan Glickman:
"Every television series depends on other markets (such as) syndication and international sales to earn back the enormous investment required to produce the comedies and dramas we all enjoy. Those markets are substantially hurt when that content is stolen."
I'm not sure why a BitTorrent directory website is any different than google except that google is big enough to fight back.
Copyright issues aside, BitTorrent of television shows is a great resource for downloading and viewing programming your DVR didn't catch. For some series that require context to get emotionally involved in the show, downloading old episodes let new potential viewers catch up and become regular viewers, so in some ways it stimulates more viewing as opposed to hurting their investments.
That being said, it's still not the optimal way of getting old programming content and instead of hiring a bunch of lawyers, I wish the MPAA would acknowledge the demand BitTorrent has unearthed for old content. It's not rocket science to provide the content online with DRM safeguards, and if there is truth to the theory of the long tail, there is a huge market by providing access to every episode of Joanie loves Chachi, let alone every episode of Lost, Alias, or American Idol. I'd be happy to pay a monthly fee to be able to more easily download old episodes of shows that I missed the first time around.
I believe a ubiquitous and easy online service at a low monthly cost would likely be more effective than litigating to stop the distribution of television programming via BitTorrent. Of course, then the MPAA would be making money for the industry instead of spending it on lawyers.
We're finally back from vacation after a few fantastic days in Costa Rica away from the computer. Thanks for your patience during our break.
May 06, 2005
No New Posts until May 15th
I'll be taking a much needed vacation to Costa Rica this upcoming week so there won't be any new posts until I return May 15th. Until then, feel free to peruse the high quality links on the left of the site.
May 04, 2005
Tivo Desktop 2.1
Via PVRBlog, Tivo Desktop 2.1 is out and it is either good news or bad news depending on your viewpoint. The good news is that it support Microsoft Portable Media Center devices so you can transfer shows to those devices. The bad news is that it blacklists certain apps that made it easy for people to strip off the DRM encryption.
More at Engadget
May 03, 2005
CableCard and DVRs
Stephen Speicher has an excellent article describing CableCard technology and the minefields that must be navigated before the technology can really be used. It's definitely a "must read" if you want to understand the technology and why it's important to the consumer.
Review: Sonic MyDVD (TivoBlog.com)
May 02, 2005
Review: VideoVault (eHomeUpgrade)
eHomeUpgrade has a three part review of an interesting product called VideoVault which manages collections of DVD videos on your computer. The product will store DVD data on your hard drive, keep it in a searcheable database, and then export it out back as a DVD or transcoded into another format for use on a portable device.
Sounds like a handy piece of software for videophiles.