Until the Echo hit the street, the Xbox 360 was pretty much the only Windows Media Center Extender still on the market. Companies such as D-Link and Linksys discontinued their extenders years ago—probably because they couldn’t compete with the subsidized price of Microsoft’s gaming console.
Note: This review first appeared in the March 2013 issue of the magazine.
TiVo's Desktop platform is about to switch to a paid pricing model.
Ruh roh Shaggy, time is quickly running out to grab the free version of TiVo's Desktop software for PC. Starting June 5, 2013, the free version will no longer be available to download, so if you want to listen to music and view photos on your TV, or transfer shows from your TiVo DVR to your PC -- all of which the free Desktop software allows -- you'll have to download the software before the deadline. Even then you could still end up having to pay a subscription, depending on your operating system.
TiVo is on a roll. Following a $500 million settlement with satellite TV company Dish Network and its set-top box provider, EchoStar, back in May 2011, TiVo just put the squeeze on cable TV operator AT&T, which is on the hook for at least $215 million through June 2018 to settle a patent lawsuit related to digital video recorder (DVR) technologies.
Microsoft has filed a U.S. trade complaint that, if approved, would ban TiVo from importing set-top boxes into the U.S., Bloomberg reports. However, the legal scuffle isn't likely to result in that.
"We have filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington against TiVo Inc. for infringement on four Microsoft patents," Microsoft said. "We have a strong and robust patent portfolio that we will vigorously defend against infringement. It is our responsibility to protect our customers and partners and to safeguard the investments we make to bring innovative products and services to market. However, we remain open to resolving this situation through an intellectual property licensing agreement, and we look forward to continued negotiations with TiVo."
In other words, Microsoft is performing a bit of legal posturing here and it's more likely that the two sides will come to some sort of an agreement as opposed to banning TiVo imports outright.
According to Bloomberg, the four patents in question involve program schedules and selection, controlling the interface, and a way to restrict use of the DVR based on the program's rating.
What just a day ago was rumor, now is a sure thing. Both TiVo and Roku boxes will be getting access to Hulu's $10 per month Plus service. TiVo will be offering the feature to customers that purchase Premere DVR service. Of course, a Hulu subscription will still be required.
Roku is taking the pricing angle to lure in potential buyers. In a statement, Roku founder Anthony Wood called the company's streaming solution "the most inexpensive device to stream Hulu content [to a TV]." The Roku boxes retail for between $59.99 and $99.99 and have access to Netflix and Amazon video already.
Is this what TiVo needs to pull out of their slump? With the cheaper option in the Roku, it's tough to see how TiVo will attract new buyers with this feature.
Cox Communications is getting out of its element a little bit by announcing that it will soon start offering TiVo Premier DVR boxes with access to Cox's Video On Demand service.
"We recognize that consumers are attracted to a growing range of devices that enable them to access broadband content and interactive capabilities," said Pat Esser, President of Cox Communications. "With TiVo Premiere, Cox is providing consumers even more choice. Our subscribers will not only have access to TiVo's user experience but Cox's robust Advanced TV offering including On Demand service."
According to Cox, this is the first time a cable operator has opened up its entire video on demand library to a retail DVR. As part of the agreement, Cox says it will actively promote TiVo Premier to its subscriber base, offer up support for TiVo Premiere as an optional set-top, and provide free installation of TiVo Premiere boxes purchased at Best Buy and other retail and online outlets.
Google has decided to dip its toe in the stream of anonymized user data coming from TiVo. By subscribing to the TiVo data, Google hopes to make ads more useful to both advertisers and viewers. Google’s angle for selling TV ads is that they will only charge for the ads that are actually watched. So, if most people skip an ad, the channel makes almost nothing on it.
Online it’s easy to track impressions via clicks, but having the same scheme on TV upsets the people running the networks. Google already has a similar deal with Dish Network, and this deal just extends their statistical powers. Eventually, the data Google wields will make it painfully clear to advertisers how few ads people actually watch. This has the potential to erode the financial foundation of many television networks.
Neilson data has long been the guiding force behind the value of ads, and the networks are
understandably concerned about possible changes. Google contends this arrangement will simply lower the barrier to entry for TV ads. Will TV networks go along with the plan?
In an attempt to better compete with streaming giant Netflix, Blockbuster this week announced a new deal to begin transmitting movies to TiVo users.
"This relationship with TiVo is step one in getting into the places that consumers care about," says Kevin Lewis, Blockbuster's senior VP for digital.
As part of the deal, Blockbuster will start selling TiVo DVRs in its retail stores later this year. However, neither company was willing to divulge how many of Blockbuster's nearly 4,000 stores will participate. Nor is it known what movies will be available, as "The studios and we are trying to figure it out," Lewis added.
Due to begin in the second half of 2009, Blockbuster's OnDemand will feature content to both buy and rent, and will be integrated into TiVo Series2, Series3, TiVo HD, and TiVo HD XL DVRs, Blockbusters says.
Barring any changes, TiVo owners with Blockbuster accounts will pay up to $4 to rent a movie and then have 30 days to begin watching. Subscribers will then be given a 24-hour window. Alternately, movies will be available for sale at up to $20 a pop, but DRM will prevent subscribers from copying purchased content over to DVD.
Who isn't streaming or planning to stream Netflix content these days? If asked that question yesterday, you could have answered 'TiVo' and been correct. But today we've learned that Netflix and TiVo have partnered to offer streaming downloads by the end of 2008.
This isn't the first time Netflix and TiVo have flirted with each other. Back in 2005, it looked as though the two were going to cozy up to each other before the deal ultimately fell through "indefinitely." Fast forward to today and Netflix now adds TiVo to a growing list of players who either already are, or soon will be streaming the online rental service's downloadable catalog of titles. Other players include Roku and its set-top box, Microsoft with an upcoming dashboard update to its Xbox 360 console, and select Blu-ray players from LG (LG BD300) and Samsung (BD-P2500 and PD-P2550).
The deal with TiVo has already entered the beta stage for select TiVo owners, and an official roll-out is planned for early December. The service will be available to Netflix subscribers who own a TiVo HD, HD XL, and Series3 DVR.
Second Opinion is where readers respond to the Doctor, share their wisdom, correct him if he's wrong, and generally show the world what smart, beautiful people you are.
I can’t agree more with the Doctor regarding his advice to Michael Collins (June 2008) on a TiVo as the best option to extend your DVRing capabilities, especially for transferring recorded programs to a computer. The TiVoToGo feature is great. However, the Doctor’s advice regarding the FireWire ports of most cable DVRs is, as Dwight Schrute would say, “False!”