After years of uncertainty Australian TiVos will lose access to the TV guide after October, leaving thousands of lounge rooms in the lurch.
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Streaming TV and movie service Quickflix is available on an impressive range of devices, including smart TVs, computers, the Xbox (including the Xbox One), Android dongles, mobile TVs and tablets. Add one rather unexpected addition to that list: TiVo.
Having dominated the US market for personal video recorders (PVRs) throughout the early 2000s, hopes were high for TiVo when it launched in Australia, backed by the Seven Network, back in 2008. But Tivo never got any significant traction, and almost five years down the track, the service appears to be close to death. You can't even buy a new TiVo recorder anymore.
While Snow Leopard doesn't seem to have broken too many Mac apps, when it does it seems to do so pretty spectacularly. If you've been trying to use the TiVo Transfer feature in Toast 10, here's the steps you need to follow to make it actually work.
To date, TiVo's main offering in the video-on-demand space has been movies in partnership with Blockbuster. That's about to expand dramatically however, with the release of new higher-capacity TiVo-branded PVRs and a host of download options.
If you don't fancy paying for movie downloads, TiVo has just expanded its service with an entirely free option: radio podcasts from the Nova and Vega networks.
Well, here's one way to fill that new 1TB drive you just attached to your TiVo: purchase and download a movie from Blockbuster onto it. More than 100 movies are being offered at launch, with new titles at $5.95 and older fare for $3.95 a pop.
One of the limitations of using a Tivo as your PVR of choice is that there's no straightforward way of transferring recordings of shows you want to keep permanently onto an external device. The recently released Home Networking Package makes that possible, but at $199 it's a fairly pricey solution. Some Tivo owners are arguing that the pricing is unfair, given that when the original Tivo was released Tivo executives suggested the pricing for networking mobility would be much lower ("tens of dollars") was the phrase used. I somehow doubt that this would constitute grounds for taking Tivo to the ACCC over deceptive behaviour, but the suggestion that early adopters should get a discount on the new gear, which is being floated on mailing lists such as OzTivo, still seems like the right thing to do.
The biggest roadblock to legal movie and TV downloads remains the huge amounts of bandwidth they consume, which can punch a huge hole in your monthly download cap (even without taking HD into consideration). The ideal solution would be cap-free ISP accounts, but since that's never going to happen deals between ISPs and content providers are the next best thing. Lara Sinclair at The Australian reports that Seven and Internode have done a deal which will see Tivo downloads excluded from the total for customers who sign up for a new Internode/Tivo bundle. No word yet on whether Internode's existing customers will also get similar benefits if they purchase a Tivo, but that would seem a likely outcome. The nature of the deal (which apparently kicks off in late March) suggests other ISPs aren't likely to get a bite at the Tivo cherry. But there are other cap-free content options. If you favour iTunes for movies, iiNet remains your best bet, while there are now plenty of cap-free choices for the ABC's iView, and BigPond Movies for Telstra customers.
Seven leading in race to deliver movie downloads
Tivo next week will begin a trial of offering a downloadable movie of the week to subscribers (first title up: The Waterhorse, pictured), but it's not quite as generous as it seems. The service, being offered in conjunction with Blockbuster and due to hit all Australian Tivo boxes by December 1, is essentially designed to make sure that people don't get a rude shock on their ISP bill when Tivo's full downloads service launches in March 2009. Or as the company PR puts it: "The aim is to provide TiVo customers with the ability to road test downloading video content over the internet straight to the lounge room and understand the critical role both internet speed and download quotas play in ensuring the service is a pleasurable one." We've noted before that movie downloads are always risky if you have to pay for the bandwidth, and despite Tivo's promise to use effective compression, we suspect this is going to prove too costly for a lot of people's download caps.
The Aussie implementation of Tivo has only just gone on sale, but the developers of the PVR technology are already talking up forthcoming features. Nick Tabakoff at the Australian reports that Tivo should offer free viewing of YouTube clips from early next year, with earlier plans to charge for the feature now apparently dumped. We imagine it'll only be a matter of time before someone comes up with a hack to allow saving YouTube downloads onto the Tivo. YouTube free on Seven's Tivo
With the recent launch of the Foxtel IQ2, the imminent (and much-delayed) appearance of Tivo in Australia next month, and Sony promising its own PlayTV personal video recorder (PVR) option before the year is out, there are more big-name PVR choices for Aussies than ever before. Getting your favourite TV programs automatically recorded for playback at a time that suits you is an obviously appealing concept, but despite the arrival of these new entrants, you still have two basic choices: a fairly pricey system that works well but is hard to customise, or a much cheaper and more flexible option that may not deliver on the simplicity and reliability front.
If, like me, you've been waiting for a plug and play PVR then our pals at Gizmodo have a lot of interesting news to share. First up, Seven has confirmed that TiVo is definitely launching here, but not until August.(I was turned down for the TiVo beta - first beta I've ever been knocked back for! sob!)And if you're PlayStation inclined, Sony have announced we'll get its PVR addon for PS3, PlayTV sometime in the 4th quarter.I've never been a huge fan of pay TV, but I've been enjoying the Foxtel IQ lately.My question to you is, have you found a PC-based PVR that "just works"? I've heard good things about MythTV but never tried it. I've only used Microsoft's Media Center to play music. Yes, I'm pretty much a noob.