Technologizer posts about TiVo

Four Times the TiVo

By  |  Posted at 10:49 am on Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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At the CEDIA home electronics show in Indianapolis, TiVo announced a new TiVo: the Premiere Elite. It’s a high-end upgrade to the company’s current DVR with four (!) tuners, 2TB of storage, THX certification, and compatibility with the MoCA standard for networking over coaxial cable. It’s $499.99 plus TiVo’s $19.99 monthly fee, and clearly aimed at the customers of the audio/visual installation pros who attend CEDIA. TiVo says it expects to ship it later this year.

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Best Buy’s New Insignia TVs: TiVo Goes Beyond the DVR

By  |  Posted at 10:08 am on Monday, August 1, 2011

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For more than a decade, TiVo has been one thing: a DVR. And while it’s been a really good one, an awful lot has changed about the way we find and watch TV since the first TiVo box debuted in 1999. And now the company is involved in its first non-DVR project. It’s designed the on-screen interface for two new Internet-connected LCD TVs from Insignia, one of Best Buy’s four “exclusive brands” (along with Dynex, Init, and Rocketfish).

Insignia’s TVs don’t have any DVR features, and doesn’t offer an on-screen programming guide for over-the-air or cable programming. So they’re missing the aspects of the TiVo interface most closely identified with, will, TiVo. But when Best Buy demoed one of the sets for me last week, the interface did look like it has some of TiVo’s approachable DNA. That’s a major plus: TV companies don’t tend to be very good at at coming up with user interfaces when left to their own devices.

The sets come with CinemaNow and Napster–two services owned by Best Buy–as well as Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora. They use Chumby widgets to provide access to more than 1500 applets with information on subjects such as weather. And they’re the first TVs with built-in support for Rocketboost, a Best Buy technology for sending audio to speaker systems wirelessly.

They don’t, however, include DLNA compatibility, which would let you stream content off PCs and hard drives on your network: Best Buy says that its goal with these TVs was to keep things simple, and DLNA still isn’t straightforward enough.

The 32″ TV is $499; the 42″ one is $699. Best Buy says they’re available now, and that it plans both to upgrade their software with new features over time and to introduce new connected TVs and other devices based on the software in these TVs.

The Best Buy-TiVo partnership was announced more than two years ago; I was excited at the time, then so much time passed that I’d forgotten about it. Now I’m curious what other Internet-centric products TiVo might be working on. A Roku-style TiVo box could be nifty. And TiVo might be able to do a better job than Google TV has done so far at imposing a decent interface on over-the-air and cable TV. I hope that the company is furiously working on some of this stuff, and just hasn’t announced it yet…

 



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Hulu announced its Hulu Plus premium service almost ten months ago, but it’s been taking its own sweet time arriving on devices. It’s only now available on TiVo Premiere–and Engadget’s Ben Drawbaugh wishes that it was better-integrated with other TiVo services.

Posted by Harry at 8:08 am

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I own a TiVo HD DVR and have Comcast cable. I’m mostly happy with the combination, except for one major gotcha: getting TiVo means giving up Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand service. But the two companies have struck a deal to add On Demand to TiVo–and for Comcast to lease TiVo boxes in some areas (starting with the San Francisco Bay Area) at no extra charge. Sounds like a win for everybody involved; tragically, though, it’s for the current TiVo Premiere model rather than my old HD.

Posted by Harry at 10:58 am

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How to Tell Me You Let Somebody Steal My Personal Information

By  |  Posted at 3:53 pm on Friday, April 29, 2011

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I’ve been getting a lot of urgent messages from major companies I do business with lately. Urgent messages telling me that information I gave them has been stolen by unknown parties.

Yup, I’m not only a PlayStation Network member–and therefore a victim of the current Sony security breach–but also a customer of at least three companies (Marriott, TiVo, and 1-800-Flowers) who were involved in the recent data theft from marketing company Epsilon. I wrote about this for my new TIME.com Technologizer column, But after reading all this correspondence, I have some advice for the corporate entities who send these e-mails. (I care about this stuff in part because I have the uneasy feeling I’m going to be getting a lot more of these messages in the future.)

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TiVo Prepping Four-Tuner HD DVR?

By  |  Posted at 4:07 am on Friday, April 15, 2011

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The new TiVo Advisors survey is far more interesting than most, spelling out a number of “potential products and features.” On the hardware front, two very specific devices are described:

  • A companion device for your DVR. It allows a second TV (in another room) to watch live TV (in HD) and also watch the recordings from your DVR.
  • A 4-tuner high-definition DVR that allows you to record up to 4 shows at one time (and watch a 5th show that is previously recorded).

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What’s Next for TiVo: Hulu, Streaming, Extenders

By  |  Posted at 8:31 pm on Monday, March 21, 2011

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While we generally shy away from rumor and speculation, TiVo’s been pretty quiet as they approach the one year anniversary of Premiere retail availability. Given our site heritage and interests, the lack of news out of Alviso can be frustrating. So we’ve whipped up a post based purely on hearsay, but one that hopefully gives some indication what TiVo is quietly working on.

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A Few FiOS TV DVR Notes (vs. TiVo)

By  |  Posted at 10:20 pm on Monday, January 24, 2011

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As regulars know, we recently left the cable hegemony behind in favor of Verizon’s FiOS TV…. to overcome switched digital video (SDV) tuning adapter flakiness and a CCI Byte content lockdown that essentially neutered our TiVo ecosystem. And, on the technological front, we couldn’t be happier. (But I may follow up with a less glowing billing and support post, as many of you cautioned.)

We’re a three TV/DVR household, although currently only possess two televisions — one powered by a TiVo Premiere and the other powered by the Verizon FiOS DVR shown above. So the question is, what DVR will power TV #3 when the time comes?

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TiVo’s iPad App Now Available

By  |  Posted at 8:17 am on Tuesday, January 18, 2011

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TiVo’s iPad app, announced in November, is now available via the the App Store.

I’ve had app on hand for several weeks now, and I quite like it. Whereas TiVo has been lagging the competition in providing this sort of functionality, they may have just leap frogged nearly all contenders in producing both a beautiful and functional television companion. Of course, it’s only a companion for TiVo Premiere owners. But perhaps there are a few more this week given that amazing $65 Woot deal.

The app itself is quite comprehensive. Who needs picture-in-guide when you can manage just about every meaningful element of your TiVo from an iPad without interrupting the television viewing experience. Remote control? Check. Guide? Check. Season Passes, To Do List, Now Playing? Check, check, check. Plus, you know no app is complete these days without the ability to share on Twitter and Facebook. So they’ve checked that off, too. Bonus — portrait and landscape views for any/every screen.

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TiVo’s New Remote: The iPad

By  |  Posted at 7:13 am on Monday, November 22, 2010

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Okay, time for some good news about TiVo: The company is launching a free iPad app “in the coming weeks.” It’s a remote control for TiVo Premiere boxes (early ones, sadly, won’t work) that essentially puts a slick, touch-friendly version of the TiVo interface onto the tablet, so you can find stuff to watch and otherwise wrangle your TiVo without using its remote or interrupting whatever’s on the screen at the time.

And judging from TiVo’s demo video, it looks really neat.

Obvious question: Might TiVo tweak this app so it not only let you find shows but also permitted you to watch them on the iPad? It wouldn’t be an insurmountable technical challenge to do so, presumably. So why not make it happen–especially since TiVo to Go already permits TiVo owners to route video from the box to other devices?



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TiVo’s New Pricing: Both Cheaper and Pricier–and Definitely More Confusing

By  |  Posted at 6:04 pm on Monday, November 15, 2010

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TiVo, the original personal TV box, is facing new competition from Apple TV, Roku, the Boxee Box, Logitech’s Google-based Revue, and other Johhnie-come-lately gizmos. Most of them cost less than TiVo, and none of them require a monthly fee. And the company is responding with a holiday offer–good through December 31st–that brings the price of a TiVo box from $299.99 down to $99.99, the same amount you’d pay for an Apple TV or Roku’s midrange version. It’s calling this an “instant savings” of $200. And there’s even an option to pay nothing up-front at all.

Except…it’s nowhere as simple as that. Actually, figuring out how much TiVo costs, and which version to buy, just got more confusing.

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Good news for Roku and TiVo fans: Roku and TiVo Premiere boxes are getting Hulu’s Hulu Plus service later this Fall. For ten bucks a month, Plus subscribers will be able to get scads of new TV episodes and a sizable back catalog of old stuff, and Roku and TiVo will let them watch it all on their TVs.

It’s good news for Roku and TiVo, too, since Hulu Plus will be an attractive offering that won’t be available on Apple’s Apple TV. I’ll be curious to see which is a bigger hit: Hulu Plus’s all-you-can-eat TV shows with ads, or Apple’s 99-cent HD TV rentals.

Posted by Harry at 10:52 am

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TiVo Gets QWERTY

By  |  Posted at 1:16 am on Tuesday, August 24, 2010

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TiVo has begun selling the $89.99 slider remote with a hidden QWERTY keyboard which it first showed off back in March when it launched its new Premiere boxes. Our friend Dave Zatz has tried one and mostly likes it. It has the signature TiVo “peanut” design, but is 25% shorter–presumably to allow for a keyboard with a width that lends itself well to thumbtyping.

The TiVo Slide uses Bluetooth to talk to all recent Tivos (the Premiere, HD, and Series 3), which means you don’t need to worry about pointing it at the DVR or whether there’s any furniture, pets, or children in the way; it comes with a USB Bluetooth adapter, which presumably helps to explain the pricetag. (The Slide costs almost a third as much as a Tivo Premiere itself–it would be nice if TiVo offered a Tivo-plus-Slide bundle at at least a modest discount.)

For as long as people have been entering alphanumeric text on TVs–which would be since home video games got high-score features, I guess–they’ve mostly been doing it via arrow keys and cumbersome on-screen keyboards. TiVo’s standard text-entry system isn’t bad, relatively speaking, but I’m always in favor of physical plastic QWERTY keys when available…



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In (Reluctant) Defense of Cable TV

By  |  Posted at 11:26 am on Monday, August 23, 2010

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The New York Times’ Matt Richtel and Brian Stelter have a nice story today on the threat posed to traditional cable TV by free and low-cost Internet TV. Despite the growing sophistication of Web service, Americans still haven’t  started cutting the cable cord in droves. Richtel and Stelter point to popular content that’s not available (legally) online–such as American Idol and True Blood–as a primary explanation for cable’s continued viability.

I’ve been writing about the idea of dumping cable for a long time and am instinctively drawn to it…but I haven’t done it. In our household, we’re heavy watchers of Netflix on Demand via a Roku box. We also watch Hulu and occasionally partake of movies and TV on iTunes and Amazon on Demand. But we still consume plenty for Comcast Xfinity cable TV. (For that matter, we also buy DVDs, and I’ve been known to pull out VHS tapes.)

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Best Buy and TiVo Developing Non-DVR HDTV(s)

By  |  Posted at 5:49 pm on Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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For years, I’ve pined for a TiVo-fied television. In fact, Humax was set to deliver a TiVo solution way back in 2005. Unfortunately, the 26″ LCD TV with TiVo DVR capabilities and integrated DVD recorder never made it to market. Last summer, when TiVo and Best Buy hooked up with a pretty expansive dealio, it looked might we might see another attempt at an integrated TiVo+television solution:

As part of the deal, the companies also said that Best Buy would finance an effort to bring TiVo’s software and search tools to Best Buy’s own brand of consumer electronics, like its Insignia high-definition TVs.

And now we have confirmation that development is underway. However, somewhat surprisingly, the Best Buy TiVo product will not include DVR functionality. Which may not be an entirely bad thing. For example, my favorite DVD player of all time was actually a TiVo (the Toshiba SD-H400). This is obviously Best Buy’s method of competing within the connected television space while is provides TiVo a platform to expand their brand and market. But I’m hopeful the companies choose to support streaming multi-room viewing (MRV) from TiVo DVRs and enable basic trick play functionality, in addition to the other connected features and UI. If so, I could see this easily being a killer kitchen or den television and DVR extender. Otherwise, meh?

From the press release:

TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO) and Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY) today announced that development is underway to integrate TiVo’s software and advanced television services into broadband-connected Insignia televisions. The new Insignia televisions will provide Best Buy customers with an exceptional, intuitive user experience for accessing online content by utilizing the latest TiVo non-DVR software and advanced television service. TiVo’s easy-to-use platform will give the viewer a one-stop-shop for delivering and searching content right on the television.

(This post is republished from Zatz Not Funny.)



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Digging Deeper Within the New TiVo Premiere

By  |  Posted at 11:37 am on Friday, March 26, 2010

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While many have fixated on TiVo’s new sluggish, incomplete HD UI and possibly limited feature set, TiVo Community über contributor bkdtv (aka K. Fowler) has more quantitatively analyzed the TiVo Premiere’s beefy new hardware. In addition to running through the chips and specs, he’s also conducted a number of speed benchmarks under the “classic” UI.

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