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Old 12-13-2005, 08:23 PM   #1 (Print)
robaustin
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Tivo Podcast App Review

As a longtime podcast listener and a podcaster - here are my thoughts on the Podcasts app in the new features added:

Well I got the update to my TIVO that includes the Podcasts app. I have to say that it is somwhat limited.

It has a number of categories with 6-8 podcasts featured in each category. There are some indies but it is mostly big names (aka Ebert and Roeper, The Lost podcast, etc…).

It doesn't seem to actually download the podcasts in a subscription based manner - I think it either downloads them on the fly to be played and then deletes them right away, or it streams the audio. So there's no way to tell if you have listened to an episode or not.

You can add Podcasts to your favorites list by hitting the thumbs up button on one of the featured ones, or by entering a feed URL manually. Let me tell you - it is tedious work entering a feed URL using the directional keys on a little onscreen keyboard (that's not even in Qwerty order - it's in alphabetical). The main operators you need are also there (like forward slashes and periods) but it is so clumsy.

I really had hoped at the very least there would be an interface to the Yahoo Podcasts directory - with a small search function - which would at least let you enter 4 or 5 characters and find podcasts with that string in them. It doesn't seem like too much to ask for.

It does show the iTunes artwork and all shownotes which is nice, and the playback seemed to be fine for the podcasts I sampled. I give it a B-. It will likely get folks who haven't checked out podcasts to listen - but I don't think it will replace the podcasting functions of Galleon for me. Galleon lets me manage everything from the PC - so I can cut and paste URLs in. It also lets me access my iTunes playlist and that makes it easy for me to get at podcasts already downloaded.

Overall - not bad - but needs search functions implemented with an interface to the Yahoo Podcast directory. Once they do that it'll be great. TIVOPONY? You out there? Can ya pass that along?

--*Rob
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Old 12-14-2005, 12:24 AM   #2 (Print)
Lenonn
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Agreed on the URL thing. Entering them is quite a challenge, and it makes me wish I could hook up the keyboard to the TiVo (like I can do with the Sony Jukebox that may parents own).

And it would help to be able to pause these things. A nice thing would be if you had the ability to play a podcast's audio over the audio of another program on the TiVo (like Battlestar Galactica podcast over the episodes).

I know, wishful thinking.

But it's an interesting implementation as is. I just need to play around with it a little more.

Last edited by Lenonn : 12-14-2005 at 12:25 AM. Reason: Font correction
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Old 12-14-2005, 08:27 AM   #3 (Print)
robaustin
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The URL/lack of search in the Yahoo Podcast directory is a severe oversight - even more than pausing in my mind - because "average joe" is not going to realize what URL he has to enter to begin with. You need to put in the RSS feed URL - NOT the website URL. Most people won't get this....

Pausing should also be available - and to implement this what they should do is start playing the podcast as buffered -and continually download the REST of the podcast to a temp cache on the TIVO - this way once it is all downloaded, it can be paused. Once you go off the Podcast's page it gets deleted from the cache. That's the way it SHOULD work in my opinion. Doesn't seem like it would be hard to do as most podcasts are in the 30-60 MB file range - and if you have broadband it does not take too long to download that.

--*Rob
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Old 12-14-2005, 10:29 AM   #4 (Print)
HDTiVo
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The user interface and features should be consistent with the original DVR. Fast forwards, 30 sec skip, 7 sec back, jump to tick marks at sensible intervals, resume from paused point...etc.

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Old 12-14-2005, 11:11 AM   #5 (Print)
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Old 12-14-2005, 04:32 PM   #6 (Print)
wgary
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One word answer -- Galleon. Yes, it requires a computer in the loop, but that seems a reasonable trade-off to me. There is enough value-added in terms of archiving and other features, that I don't think a Tivo-only solution will ever be able to completely match.
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Old 12-14-2005, 09:23 PM   #7 (Print)
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I've never been able to completely get the Galleon podcasting features working, which was why I was kind of hoping TiVo would make theirs more user-friendly.
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Old 12-15-2005, 01:58 PM   #8 (Print)
HDTiVo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiVoPony


That's a description of the implementation and the reasons for the existing flaws, but as the poster above me and many others will write, there are simple solutions to the problems which would allow for a true TiVo quality experience.

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Old 12-15-2005, 02:03 PM   #9 (Print)
TiVoPony
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTiVo
...but as the poster above me and many others will write, there are simple solutions to the problems which would allow for a true TiVo quality experience.


Unfortunately you're quite incorrect. If there were a simple implementation that brought trickplay to podcasts it would have been implemented that way.

What I've provided is a clear and concise explanation of why that capability is not available today. Requiring the consumer to have a local PC on 24/7 or buffering the podcast on the DVR are not simple options, contrary to what other posters may say.

Cheers,
Pony

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Old 12-15-2005, 02:15 PM   #10 (Print)
robaustin
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How about featuring more podcasts or access to Yahoo's Podcast directory so we don't have to type URLs?

Just curious.....

--*Rob
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Old 12-15-2005, 04:56 PM   #11 (Print)
HDTiVo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiVoPony
buffering the podcast on the DVR are not simple options,

Why?

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Old 12-15-2005, 05:33 PM   #12 (Print)
TiVoPony
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTiVo
Why?


Because it's not supported in the HME protocol.

While you're listening to a Podcast, your DVR is still buffering live television, recording programs, etc. There isn't a separate virtual buffer defined specifically for HME developers to use. None of the HME resources used by an app are stored on the hard drive...HME doesn't touch the drive. Audio is streamed, not downloaded and stored to the disk. So trickplay is dependent on the capabilities of the server that feeds the stream, not the DVR.

It's not a simple matter of rewriting the app. Virtual buffers would require extending the HME protocol to allow access to the disk. May happen, may not. But it's a fundamental change, and not an insignificant task.

While it's been suggested (and was considered during design) that we could allow trickplay for some podcasts (that have servers correctly configured to allow it)...that creates confusion for customers, average or otherwise. And confused customers tend to call us, which is an expense. It's always preferrable to have a single, consistent approach within an app. Different rules for different podcasts is a bad idea.

This isn't a religious war, everyone here would like to be able to trickplay podcasts. There isn't anyone here to convince that it would be good to have. Is it the most important thing our engineers could be doing at this exact moment? Absolutely not. Guaranteed.

But it still would be nice to have, eh?

As I said much earlier, there are ways to get there, but they're either a bit more complex than you might imagine technically, or they require a different relationship with the content owners.

Cheers,
Pony

edit: sometimes I can't spell

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Last edited by TiVoPony : 12-16-2005 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 12-15-2005, 06:02 PM   #13 (Print)
Denvers Dawgs
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How and when can I use the podcast feature with tivo

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Old 12-15-2005, 06:17 PM   #14 (Print)
gonzotek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiVoPony
Because it's not supported in the HME protocol.

While you're listening to a Podcast, your DVR is still buffering live television, recording programs, etc. There isn't a separate virtual buffer defined specifically for HME developers to use. None of the HME resources used by an app are stored on the hard drive...HME doesn't touch the drive....
Aren't cookies stored on the drive? I'm not making any point about the discussion at hand, I just thought I understood that bit of the HME protocol, and if I'm wrong I want to know .
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Old 12-15-2005, 06:25 PM   #15 (Print)
Justin Thyme
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Interesting elaboration of the design challenges.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TiVoPony
...As I said much earlier, there are ways to get there, but they're either a bit more complex than you might image technically...
No doubt TivoPony does take some of these requests to the engineering staff. Possibly marketing guys should get combat pay for all discussions that start with "How hard would it be to...."

I accidently sprayed one of the marketing guys with coke when he stopped me in the hall mid gulp and asked about some seemingly insignificant feature "tweak".

Really. It was an accident. As a joke he brought a full face visor/ spash screen to the next meeting.
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Old 12-15-2005, 09:15 PM   #16 (Print)
TiVoPony
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzotek
Aren't cookies stored on the drive? I'm not making any point about the discussion at hand, I just thought I understood that bit of the HME protocol, and if I'm wrong I want to know .


It's ok to be wrong.

Information is stored on the server, not the DVR. The DVR is just a receiver of commands and information, but it doesn't save anything. Not even cookies.

For HME, the DVR is a thin client that's just displaying the output of an application that is running far, far away on a central server somewhere. If you flip the power switch on that thin client...it has no memory of where it was, or what it was doing. The smarts, and storage, are on the server.

Cheers,
Pony

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Old 12-15-2005, 09:23 PM   #17 (Print)
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on the upside though, i think the podcasts are awesomely quick to load and the streaming is absolutely flawless. our wireless network is faulty almost everyday, and my laptop gets disconnected often, but the TiVo's always connected for some reason. which is a good thing because i use the weather app a lot (what to wear).

going outside to check the weather? what, you think this is 1991?

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Old 12-15-2005, 09:52 PM   #18 (Print)
gonzotek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiVoPony
It's ok to be wrong.

Information is stored on the server, not the DVR. The DVR is just a receiver of commands and information, but it doesn't save anything. Not even cookies.

For HME, the DVR is a thin client that's just displaying the output of an application that is running far, far away on a central server somewhere. If you flip the power switch on that thin client...it has no memory of where it was, or what it was doing. The smarts, and storage, are on the server.

Cheers,
Pony


Thanks for the explanation, Pony.
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Old 12-16-2005, 01:18 PM   #19 (Print)
HDTiVo
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Its really great to have a detailed explanation of how it works and understand where the problem(s) lie.

An approach seen on the PC is the Podcast popup window showing the controls that are available. If it is possible for the TiVo to detect the server's capabilities, then it could show on an screen picture of what trickplays can be done. That might be a good compromise between confusion and functionality.

Another solution would be to route everything through TiVo Co.'s servers and let TiVo's servers add any missing trickplay functions, as well as resume/memory, etc. Certainly many burdens with this approach, though.

Probably alot of this has been considered already and there is only so much time and money. But TiVo's reputation for high quality and functionality is very important; the Brand is where the money is. So let's look forward to advances as this emerging capability of the product develops.

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Old 12-28-2005, 11:14 PM   #20 (Print)
bugZ
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Has anyone succeeded in adding TWIT or Inside the Net podcasts? My TiVo display proper show info and graphics but spins on "Loading..." after selecting play. The built-in podcasts work fine. As a new poster this board will not let me include urls but they can be found on TWIT's web site.
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Old 12-29-2005, 08:03 AM   #21 (Print)
davidvanb
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I'm having the same issue with TWIT. It sure looks like it's set up correctly. The show description, graphic and list of previous podcasts are all there, but it just loads and never plays. I had a similar problem with the Sub Pop podcast which I noticed was removed from the "Music" directory last week.

Glad to see I'm not the only one.
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Old 12-29-2005, 05:41 PM   #22 (Print)
neekoh
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I feel TiVoPony on this one. As a product manager in the biotech world, scientists seem to think they have the solution to everything, everything should be implemented as they see fit, and if they request it, everyone else must be doing it too.

Alot of the posts/suggestions on this thread are very similar to what I hear from my customers. However as a service/product provider, you have to design features to the mainstream, not the top 1% of users who are very advanced.
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