25 thoughts on “TiVo, the digital hub, powered by Strangeberry?”

  1. Sounds like a lot of vapor to me. Tivo currently operates in a massive, very well understood market (watching and recording TV). All this other stuff is at best unknown. At worst, it’s shown to be unwanted by consumers. Also, not sure I would trust Sun people on a consumer product.

  2. Rendezvous is Apple’s implementation of the ZeroConf protocol suite. It’s TCP/IP based so yes it’ll work over anything that IP can be run over -“Wi-Fi, Ethernet or powerline networks” or pigeons carrying little notes or whatever.
    The partnerships TiVo announced were all for TiVo-server-based services. The trick is that TiVo is the *client* here. Run a TiVo server on your PC or Mac or whatever that advertises itself using Rendezvous and then a TiVo with the Home Media Option will be able to find it, and then they can exchange material via TiVo’s open file format & protocol. These partners are all just shops that have included TiVo’s formats in their products, nothing particularly fancy. Indeed any good coder can bolt on TiVo’s sample code to any appropriate application in a few hours.
    As to why TiVo’s HMO doesn’t get more attention – Well, it costs an extra hundred bucks. It’s fairly limited in what it can do if you only have a single TiVo. It can only do one thing at a time – no photos AND music, one or the other. Only some formats are supported; no AAC for instance. Their implementation of streaming audio is broken so most net radio can’t be accessed. No video at all (so much for those collections of MPEGs & AVIs and QTs and DIVXs.) No picture-in-picture. It requires the TiVo server service be running on a local machine. It can only share TiVo video with another local TiVo on the same account. It allows the TiVo to be programmed via the TiVo website but it doesn’t have the nifty conflict-resolution that makes TiVos a joy to use. In short for $100 it does about half of what a dedicated $200 device does.
    The good news is that hackers (good sense) have come to the rescue. There’s an excellent JavaHMO service being freely developed that vastly improves on the lacking (“lame-ass”) TiVo supplied server. Unfortunately the HMO service itself hasn’t improved, or even had it’s bugs fixed, since it was first rolled out quite some time ago. Indeed many customers are getting worried they’ve being abandoned by TiVo, some sort of uber-service is being developed (Strangeberry-based?) that will leave us with our somewhat pricey and not-quite-finished HMO behind and forlorn.
    Of course there’s also the issue that TiVo hasn’t got a lot to work with. They’re processor & memory bound, while their boxes are excellent at what they do they’re also highly tuned for just recording & playing TV. All of the added functionality has to run on top of TV-recording without interfering with it, probably a tricky proposition. The Series 1 TiVo’s reached their wall, it appears that the Series 2 are now reaching theirs. Presumably the eventual Series 3 will have more headroom and be able to do more, possibly enable Strangeberry services.
    Finally, it’s important to keep in mind what TiVo has that others don’t: Mindshare, easily the best interface on the market, and a boatload of patents. Since TiVo is heavily owned by ‘big media’ they can’t really rock any boats. But as TiVo’s competition improves (the various cable co’s PVRs, MS’s offerings, etc.) the arguments against many features will be weaker and then TiVo can really become a “hub” and not just a specialized service.
    Because Marketing always told me lists should have 7 items.

  3. I have the Home Media Option on my Tivo and love it. To me, it was worth the money. It effortlessly pulls my digital content off my Mac…but why oh why can’t my Tivo play AAC files that I’ve bought off the iTunes Music Store!!!???? I think this is a huge problem and they should be concentrating on fixing this first.

  4. Excerpt from eHomeUpgrade:

    TiVo vs Microsoft: The Future Battle Over Connected Home Entertainment

    If you connect all the dots, to come to a speculative conclusion, the partnership with Strangberry will lead to a device, coupled with a possible TiVo compatible Media Adapter, that will give Windows Media Center (WMC) a run for its money. You might be wonder, what is he talking about? But hear me out. This is the exact same market Microsoft is going after. MicrosoftÌs intention is to partner with content and service providers to offer entertainment services via WMC. Moreover, they want to easily distribute this content around the house using Windows Media Extender technology, empowering XBOX and other WME devices to stream native PC media content and paid services. If you think about it, this model will work out quite well for Microsoft in the long run. However, TiVo is no dummy. It currently has one of the best implemented, easy-to-use DVR user interfaces on the market, but it knows it faces a shaky future. If positioned correctly, TiVo has a fighting chance to give Microsoft some pretty hefty competition.

    Possible future TiVo scenario:

    A no PC required Digital Media Server that is digital video recorder, broadband entertainment content/services device, and a home network digital media streaming device all in one. Moreover, TiVo will introduce accompanying Network Media Adapters that will be able to stream the content from the TiVo server (and from network PCs) to other rooms in the house; as well as, be able to remotely program the TiVo server to record television programs and order on-demand services like movies, music, games, etc.

  5. One other thing to mention on TiVo’s HMO, it is not enabled on any of the DirecTv-TiVo combination boxes (including the upcoming HDTV-TiVo). I understand that this out of fear from DirecTv that enabling the HMO will support digital piracy and undermine their lucrative market.

  6. One other thing to mention on TiVoÌs HMO, it is not enabled on any of the DirecTv-TiVo combination boxes
    Right. Last I heard there were two reasons for this: DirecTV wasn’t paying TiVo the bump for v.4 of TiVo’s software, and v.4 is required for HMO.

    That DirecTV would limit functionality out of concern of illicit digital video extraction seems pretty doubtful to me. TiVo uses a robust public key encryption system, probably better then the encryption DirecTV uses. DirecTV’s weak points wouldn’t be TiVo’d DVDs.

    Anyway TiVo has put a lot of work into (re)unifying their code base & migrating back in the ports they did for DirecTV. It is reported that knowledgeable folks can replace their DirecTV-TiVo v.3 drive image with a generic TiVo v.4 drive image and then order HMO for that hybrid beast.

  7. I heard a about a box out of India called a “wice box”. There was an article on it floating out on the internet, but never anything after that. Anybody else know anything about this device. Sounded spectacular at the time

  8. As far as I’m concerned, acquiring Strangeberry was a good move on TiVo’s part. Now maybe M$ will wake up and put out something good as well (do they ever??)..

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  15. It’s interesting to see the direction TiVo has gone in the three years since this original discussion. The potential to control networked devices has been partially realized. With the TiVo Series 2, 3, and TiVo HD DVRs we have seen internet integration, with services like Yahoo weather and traffic being delivered through the TiVo box. And, of course, using TiVo as an interface to one’s Amazon account to rent or purchase movie downloads is another way TiVo is monetizing the home network integration. While interesting features, I find that the reason to sit down with my TiVo HD is to watch TV and generally don’t pay too much attention to the current bells and whistles, although I do use the Amazon service on occasion. It will be interesting to see what the TiVo DVR looks like three years from now…JB from http://www.dvrspot.com

  16. The Sky + here in the UK is a similar device and 3 years into its launch, it is still struggling to gain/retain market share. Not sure if a better option wouldnt be to venture into online TV and cable networks…

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