Remember Digeo's Moxi? After spending years in development, the DVR start-up was aiming to go head-to-head with TiVo by offering a DVR system optimized for sharing home recordings between multiple rooms in the home. We even got to see a demo and thought it looked pretty good. But it's a tall order to sell consumers on paying for a DVR--even one with some compelling value-added features--when they're used to leasing one that's "good enough" from their cable company with no up-front cost. The last we heard was that Digeo hit a rough patch (even … Read more
At the end of October, TiVo and Netflix announced that Netflix's streaming service would be coming to TiVo DVRs by the end of 2008. The companies have made good on their promise, and the service is rolling out to TiVo HD, HD XL, and Series3 boxes today. TiVo turned on the service for us over the weekend, and we've had the chance to give it a full workout. The short story: this is an awesome added feature for TiVo HD owners.
The interface is significantly different than what we've seen on the Netflix Player by Roku. Rather than offering up large box shots to scroll through, the TiVo's interface instead lists the names in text, with smaller box shots showing up on the right side. We preferred the TiVo's interface, as it allows us to see more titles at once, which is convenient if you have a large queue. On the other hand, we felt the TiVo interface was less responsive, which is a problem that affects almost all of the extra services on TiVo.
While the interface is an improvement over the Netflix Player, we still saw plenty of room for improvement. Now that Netflix has added a lot of content to the Instant Streaming service, our instant queue is getting pretty full. The current interface simply lists titles in the same order as your Instant Queue, which, if you're anything like us, is kind of haphazard. While the queue system makes sense for the traditional Netflix mailing service, we'd rather have more categorization options--such as by genre and star rating--for online streaming. We were also disappointed that there was no way to tell from the TiVo screen which movies were available in "HD" quality.
Like on the Netflix Player, video quality is determined by the speed of your connection. While the Netflix Player uses a "four dot" graphic to indicate video quality, the TiVo HD has a more granular meter, with about 14 bars. We generally got all 14 bars filled up, using a wired Ethernet connection and a standard cable modem.
Although the term "near-DVD" is often abused with video-streaming services, it accurately describes the video quality offered by Netflix streaming on TiVo. We fired up a bunch of movies and we were never disappointed by how they looked. Pan's Labrynth was available in "HD" and in most cases it looked as good as a well-mastered DVD--occasionally we could see some blockiness to the image or the background would be soft, but nothing to take us out of the movie-watching experience. Next up was Ratatouille, which wasn't available in HD. This looked slightly softer than DVD-quality (and much softer than the excellent Blu-ray), but not by much. Only the pickiest videophiles would turn up their noses at the image quality. In short, there's room for improvement, but it's darn good already. (You can read more about the technical details behind Netflix's streaming service here.)… Read more
As expected, Samsung has added support for HD streaming of Netflix video to its BD-P2500 and BD-P2550 players. The upgrade is available as a free firmware update (players should automatically prompt users to install the software update, or DIYers can download it from Samsung's support site and burn it to disc). Still no word on the promised DTS-HD Master Audio support for these players, but that will likely come in a subsequent firmware update soon.
The Netflix HD catalog is currently just a fraction of Netflix's streaming selection (300 titles out of around 12,000), but it will … Read more
This post was updated at 3 p.m. PST with information from the earnings call.
EchoStar's loss was TiVo's gain during the third quarter of 2008.
Alviso, Calif.-based TiVo on Tuesday announced it recorded profits of $100.6 million for the quarter, or 98 cents per share, compared with a loss of $8 million for the same quarter a year ago.
The staggering change in fortunes for the DVR maker was due to the patent litigation judgment it won against EchoStar. EchoStar paid TiVo $105 million in damages during the quarter--if it hadn't, TiVo would have … Read more
TiVo is launching a cell phone-friendly Web site that will allow users to search programming and set their TiVo DVRs remotely. TiVo Mobile will be a free service available "with any Internet-enabled phone through any network, regardless of carrier," according to the company. Any user will have access to the program listings, but only TiVo owners (Series2 or Series3/HD) will be able to set their home DVRs to record programs they would've otherwise missed. A similar service was previously available--for a fee--only to Verizon customers. The service (available soon at m.tivo.com) is currently in … Read more
Thanks to a new agreement with pizza giant Domino's, owners of TiVo set-top boxes can now order food from the chain directly through their televisions, and even track delivery time so they know just when the pizza guy will be showing up to bring them a nice, tasty treat.
Here's the deal: when a Domino's ad or product placement shows up, TiVo users can click through with their remote controls to order pizza, or can access an on-demand ordering screen through a TiVo menu. It's similar in theory to the deals that TiVo has… Read more
After a delay of several months, Dish Network will be releasing the DTVPal DVR in mid-December. The antenna-friendly HD DVR will retail for $250 (after a $50 instant rebate).
You may remember the DTV Pal DVR as the EchoStar TR-50. That's the name under which it was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, where it garnered CNET's Best of CES award for the home video category.
The latest iteration of the DTVPal DVR is pictured above. While the name and look of the product have changed a bit, it appears that it retains its core feature … Read more
Netflix streaming will be coming to TiVo DVRs by the end of 2008.
The ability to stream Netflix movies and TV shows will begin beta testing for select TiVo owners immediately, with an official roll-out scheduled for early December. It will be available on TiVo HD, HD XL, and Series3 DVRs (not Series2 or DirecTV models).
The service will effectively be identical to the Netflix feature available on the LG BD300, Samsung BD-P2500, and BD-P2550, Roku Player, and--as of mid-November--the Xbox 360. That means that existing Netflix subscribers can stream more than 12,000 movies and TV shows directly to … Read more
Hi--I've read your articles on Comcast/TiVo, but I'm still puzzled by the Comcast/TiVo connection. I have basic Comcast cable (haven't upgraded to digital cable yet) and I'm running two TiVo Series 2 DVRs (no cable boxes at all). Can I upgrade to Comcast digital cable service and keep my current TiVos or will I be forced to use Comcast's DVRs or Comcast's TiVo software? I asked Comcast numerous times and 50 percent of the time they say I can use my current setup and 50 percent of the time they say "no, you need to upgrade the DVR equipment." Can you shed any light on this? (In my zip code in Chicago, Comcast doesn't yet offer Comcast DVR with TiVo service).--Nathan in Chicago, via e-mail.
Good question, Nathan. Keep in mind that you're not likely to be able to keep using your existing all-analog solution for much longer. That's because many cable systems throughout the U.S. are in the process of upgrading their system to accommodate a larger line-up of digital channels. (For each bandwidth-hogging analog channel dropped, a cable system can add at several digital channels, which use bandwidth more efficiently.)
While these changes aren't directly related to the February 2009 analog shut off (that only affects over-the-air broadcast viewers), a lot of cable systems will be using the resulting "end of analog TV" publicity and confusion to woo their customers to digital service. Once a cable system goes all-digital, devices with analog tuners--Series 2 TiVos, analog TVs, VCRs, and DVD recorders--will no longer get a signal when you plug the RF cable from the wall directly into them. Instead, you'll need a digital cable box in the mix, which will convert the digital signals back to analog (via the RF/coaxial, composite, or S-Video output).
If you'll indulge me, let me share with you the final chapter in my Comcast + TiVo tale. The latest glitch with the service has proven to be the final straw. Succumbing to mounting pressure from my wife, yesterday I canceled the service that put TiVo's software on a Comcast cable box. After a slow start and troubling summer, our long regional nightmare is over.
Because I was curious to try TiVo service outside a TiVo-branded box and wasn't all that enamored with Comcast's regular DVR service in the first place, I signed us up for the service nearly five months ago. After struggling with the service all summer, I almost threw in the towel last month but then it suddenly improved. TiVo's refusals to display live TV or record a show became less frequent, and the service seemed to speed up to where the lags in bringing up the guide, changing the channel, or initiating a recording were nearly tolerable. Toward the end of last week, however, we found ourselves locked out of the On Demand service and without the ability to record anything. I called Comcast and discovered that this was a problem with its TiVo service only. Before hanging up the phone, I scheduled a service call to return me to the old Comcast DVR service. … Read more