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Old 12-03-2005, 06:31 PM   #1 (Print)
Lynxpro
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External Hard Drive for Series3 suggestion

Since I will most likely be purchasing a Series3 stand-alone TiVo whenever the thing actually debuts, I'd like to make a common sense suggestion.

Today, I was on the Weaknees website and I noticed they are selling an external Maxtor hard drive (Quickview QVX Expander) that uses an external SATA port to plug into Scientific Atlanta DVR set top boxes (Explorer 8300 HD, 8300 MR, and 8300 HD-MR) and other company DVRs (Motorola probably) as other hardware manufacturers and content distributors (Comcast, etc.) give their blessing. Since other manufacturers are doing this, I really want to see TiVo make a commitment to such an option - whether its through SATA, Firewire400/800, or USB 2.0 - on the Series3 platform. Many will recall that this was a feature many of us asked for (via Firewire400) before the Series2 platform debuted and we never got it.

TiVo has had a great tradition of looking-the-other-way in terms of end users upgrading the internal hard drives of their TiVo units, but this little option would help out the rest of the community who might be too intimidated with Linux and prying open their boxes (and voiding their warranty), not to mention potentially losing their lifetime subscriptions with malfunctioning hardware. This suggestion would also keep the stand-alone TiVo (Series3) units competitive with the cableco offerings. Please take this suggestion seriously.

While I'm at it, here are a few other options I want to see on the Series3 units (and some suggestions on the business end too):


*MPEG2 to MPEG4 encoding/decoding. If H.264 MPEG4 licenses are too expensive, use Xvid. Or use AV-1 (Windows Media 9) if Microsoft offers you cash to do so (if there is no other option).

*Ethernet port built-in. No more stupid dongles.

*Screen Saver.

*Firewire400 (at least) input/output.

*Progressive output on non-HD content. Take away another bragging right of ReplayTV's while you are at it.

*DVI and HDMI support. If the jacks are too expensive, sell "break out boxes" for input/output jacks so the consumer can decide what they need, just like what is done with gaming consoles.

*At least Dolby Digital 5.1 audio output support.

*Open Apple Airport Wifi slot for easy wifi upgradability. If you negotiate with Apple to include this, you might actually find them more willing to grant you iTunes Music Store/iPod compatibility. Btw, the Apple Mac folks are your most passionate customers so try to offer them same-day support on TiVo software updates, or you'll see many of them buying El Gato hardware instead of yours. If you suggest to them using their Firewire based iSight camera exclusively, you might be able to get an iChat compatible program to run on the TiVos. Heck, if GAIM can run on a 50 Mhz PPC Series1 TiVo, this should not take too much effort on a more capable Series3.

*Negotiate with D&M Holdings to "retire" ReplayTV in exchange for becoming a Series3 licensee so that they can produce more *premium* TiVo hardware in line with their Denon and McIntosh products. TiVo needs as many subscribers as possible, and even if this is only 200,000 more, that helps in the grand scheme of things. Getting ahold of the ReplayTV intellectual property would also strengthen any future litigation issues over DVR technology against rivals.

*Slap a better processor in the Series3. Take advantage of your new alliance with Intel over the Viiv platform and stick a StrongARM or even a Yonah processor in the Series3. The 200 Mhz MIPS processor just isn't sufficient anymore.

*30 Second Advance button. Even VCRs have this button and it speaks of the ineptitude of SonicBlue's legal team in not being able to excuse the ReplayTV litigation from the courts over it. The time is right to officially add such a button to the Series3 remote controls.

*Video Zoom Feature. This would be very helpful, and most modern day DVD players offer a zoom feature. Added bonus of offering an option to print the zoomed screen by finding a printer on the home network c/o "Bonjour" which you already support. Use .PNG format for any created "zoomed" or "screen captured" pics if adding such features would require a separate license from what you currently use for JPEG.

*Licensed TiVo parts such as mobos and tuners for sale. Let us more astute users build our own TiVos with as many zany features as possible. Just require the subscription just as you do with official hardware. This would take the steam out of your so-called open-source competitors like MythTV.

And finally...

Get the friggin "Series3" (or whatever you are going to call the stand-alone HD box platform) box out on the market NOW! Don't wait for CableCard 2.0 to be certified. Microsoft isn't waiting for it and neither are any of the flat screen manufacturers bragging about their DCR features the past 6 months. As long as the CableCard 2.0 standard will be the same PC Card design (meaning slot compatible) as the existing 1.0 standard, don't wait. The end user can upgrade for PPV/VOD when it becomes available.

Oh, and one other thing...

$100ish fee to transfer "lifetime" subscriptions to new hardware. And as we give give away our old stand alones to people we know, they will buy subscriptions for their machines and the Company won't be out the added expense of producing new low-end machines yet still get the service money. After all, TiVo's main problem with profitability is manufacturing costs. This scheme would help that out as well as promote brand loyalty.

I think that pretty much covers it.
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Old 12-03-2005, 08:23 PM   #2 (Print)
megazone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynxpro
Since other manufacturers are doing this, I really want to see TiVo make a commitment to such an option - whether its through SATA, Firewire400/800, or USB 2.0 - on the Series3 platform.
I agree that being able to add more capacity via an external drive (probably USB2.0 since TiVo supports that now - and FireWire is fading in the market now that Apple has shifted primary focus to USB instead, and external SATA is still rare and expensive), I won't hold my breath. The main reason TiVo hasn't done something like that is a low level design decision. The TiVo software treats all configured drives as one file system and, in its current form, it cannot handle capacity being added and removed without the entire filesystem being repartitioned. This gives the software a fixed base to work from when calculating recording capacity, predicting future ability to record, etc. If an external drive could be connected, and then disconnected, it would throw things off.

It could be done, but it would be a major change to the foundation of the code. I think that if they were to do it, it would most likely be done as part of the Comcast funded 6412 work, but even then I wouldn't expect it.

What would be easier would be an offload/backup capability. Where the external drive was not part of the active recording capacity of the unit, but you could move shows off the recording drives to the external drive to free up space, and you could play back from the external drive. Kind of a TiVoToGo without a PC in the middle. However, since they do have TTG, the simplest of all would probably be adding automated transfers to TiVo Desktop (which recent announcements indicate they're doing), and adding the ability to remote delete shows on the unit from the desktop. Then you're extra capacity would be connected to the PC and you could have the system pull shows over and make room on the TiVo.

Quote:
*MPEG2 to MPEG4 encoding/decoding. If H.264 MPEG4 licenses are too expensive, use Xvid. Or use AV-1 (Windows Media 9) if Microsoft offers you cash to do so (if there is no other option).
That's VC-1, not AV-1, and MS *charges* companies to license it, they don't pay people to use it. They have reasonable licensing fees to encourage adoption, but it is a product to them.

The next generation unit will almost certainly support MPEG4 in addition to MPEG2. TiVo indicated this at CES2005, and there have been other mentions since then. Plus a number of job postings on their site looking for developers with MPEG4 experience. I have said, a few times, that I hope they include VC-1/WMV support as well. Both Blu-ray and HD-DVD have adopted the triad of MPEG-2, MEPG-4, and VC-1 as their official codecs. With Mandatory Managed Copy a feature of both as well, people will be able to copy content from the next-generation discs to their PCs - and conceivably to a TiVo as well. On top of that, WMV is growing in popularity for online content, so it would be useful for TiVo to be able to support that content natively. Once you have the ability to handle MPEG-4, VC-1 isn't a big addition.

Support for similar formats, like DivX (I dont' see Xvid being supported), would be nice but I won't hold my breath. Of all the others, DivX seems the most likely since there are a growing number of DivX certified DVD systems, and it is increasingly popular as an online format. Additionally, there is an official certification process for DivX which would matter for a CE manufacturer like TiVo.

Quote:
*Ethernet port built-in. No more stupid dongles.
The next generation system will very likely have a 10/100baseT port (I doubt GigE, but maybe) - the prototype shown at CES2005 did. WiFi will still be via USB2.0 adapters.

Quote:
*Screen Saver.
This is non-specific. TiVo already reverts to LiveTV if left on a static screen for too long - that's done as a screen saver.

Quote:
*Firewire400 (at least) input/output.
For what? One systems that allow recording from a digicam, that makes some sense - like the DVD-RW units. The Toshiba and Humax systems have FireWire input for that. But FireWire isn't widely used outside of that, and it is already considered obsolete in comparison with HDMI for digital connections. They'd have to justify the expense of adding FW by some purpose.

Quote:
*Progressive output on non-HD content. Take away another bragging right of ReplayTV's while you are at it.
I don't think this is a big deal. It can't improve the picture over the original signal, and most newer TVs have better upscalers anyway.

Quote:
*DVI and HDMI support.
Since the next generation of standalone system is the HD CableCARD box, it will have HDMI. And HDMI is compatible to DVI with an adapter.

Quote:
*At least Dolby Digital 5.1 audio output support.
This only makes sense on a system that can record in Dolby Digital - like the HD box, which will have this. Or the DVD units, which already do (for DVD playback). On an analog box it would be wasted money since the recordings will never be better than 2ch stereo.

Quote:
*Open Apple Airport Wifi slot for easy wifi upgradability.
This I just can't see ever happening. TiVo tried for most of a year to get Apple to help with TiVoToGo on Mac, and Apple balked, so TiVo is having to do it themselves. Now the rumors are that Apple is developing their own DVR system for MacOS. If that turns out to be true (and I think Apple will do it eventually in any case), then helping TiVo with their product is even less appealing.

On top of that, TiVo has already shown their own TiVo-branded WiFi 11g USB 2.0 adapter. (Which I'm hoping will go on sale soon.) So they've already developed a solution.

Quote:
Btw, the Apple Mac folks are your most passionate customers
And what do you base that on? Most of the folks you see running TiVo related blogs, most of the active people on the forums, mailing lists, newsgroups, etc, aren't Mac users. I'm not saying that Mac owning TiVo users *aren't* passionate, but it is a stretch to claim they're somehow more passionate.

Quote:
or you'll see many of them buying El Gato hardware instead of yours.
Their loss, IMHO.

Quote:
If you suggest to them using their Firewire based iSight camera exclusively, you might be able to get an iChat compatible program to run on the TiVos.
Requiring keyboard support, which, to date, TiVo has been strongly against adding. (Not that I agree with them, I'd like to be able to plug in a USB keyboard for some things. And support for a wireless one would be nice.)

But I'd balk at being required to buy Apple's accessories just to use something.

Quote:
*Negotiate with D&M Holdings to "retire" ReplayTV in exchange for becoming a Series3 licensee so that they can produce more *premium* TiVo hardware in line with their Denon and McIntosh products.
Unlikely, and really not something I think TiVo needs to pursue. D&M Holdings has been doing a *fine* job of running ReplayTV into the ground on their own. No new HW, no new software, and a gutted development team.

As for high end devices - they can't even get their own systems out. They announced a high end media server that was going to have features from ReplayTV in it a couple of years ago - it never shipped. Since then, nothing. None of the announced plans behind the purchase of ReplayTV have come to fruition. Even if they did license TiVo, they don't have a good track record for actually shipping products they've announced.

Quote:
TiVo needs as many subscribers as possible, and even if this is only 200,000 more
At the prices for the high end servers, it'd be lucky to be *2,000* more. Even at the lower end, ReplayTV's entire install base is supposedly a few hundred thousand.

Quote:
Getting ahold of the ReplayTV intellectual property would also strengthen any future litigation issues over DVR technology against rivals.
TiVo would be better served in this by seeing if they can just buy the IP outright as a cash deal. TiVo did this with some patents IBM held this year. And they were bidding on ReplayTV when SonicBlue went bankrupt, but lost to D&M Holdings.

Quote:
*Slap a better processor in the Series3. Take advantage of your new alliance with Intel over the Viiv platform and stick a StrongARM or even a Yonah processor in the Series3. The 200 Mhz MIPS processor just isn't sufficient anymore.
The deal with Intel is really just about marketing dollars from what I can tell. It isn't a serious technology deal. I'm sure the next platform will have a faster processor, it will need one to handle the features planned. Something like Yonah would be using a bazooka for a fly swatter. There are more powerful embedded CPUs available, be it Power core (as the original TiVo used), MIPS, ARM core, or even x86.

Quote:
*30 Second Advance button. Even VCRs have this button and it speaks of the ineptitude of SonicBlue's legal team in not being able to excuse the ReplayTV litigation from the courts over it. The time is right to officially add such a button to the Series3 remote controls.
Not going to happen. It is a political issue. As long as it remains a backdoor, it pacifies the content providers and advertisers, while at the same time making power users (like myself) happy. Making it an official feature opens a can of worms that wouldn't do TiVo any good.

And the lawsuits against SonicBlue/ReplayTV had nothing to do with 30 second skip. They involved two main issues - SendShow aka Internet Video Sharing, which allowed any ReplayTV to share shows over the net with any other ReplayTV (well, the 4000/4500 could share with other 4000/4500 units, and the 5000 with other 5000 units), and Commercial Advance. Commercial Advance was the *automatic* commercial skipping feature, which attempted to spot commercials in the show and jump over them instantly.

DNNA killed both of these features when they bought ReplayTV. CA was replaced with Show|Nav, which is a manual version of the same feature. You have to press a button, then the unit attepts to jump to the end of the commercial break in one jump.

Quote:
*Video Zoom Feature. This would be very helpful, and most modern day DVD players offer a zoom feature.
It would be cute, but how many people really use these features?

Quote:
*Licensed TiVo parts such as mobos and tuners for sale. Let us more astute users build our own TiVos with as many zany features as possible. Just require the subscription just as you do with official hardware. This would take the steam out of your so-called open-source competitors like MythTV.
Not going to happen.

First, it wouldn't do ANYTHING to the MythTV or FreeVo crowd. If you think so, you don't understand the development community. It isn't about building their own HW, it is about the software being open and extensible.

For TiVo to sell components would be silly. You may as well just buy a cheap TiVo and then hack it for that purpose. There is no way they could be cost-competitive with mass market mobos and tuners because of economies of scale, plus the added costs of needing new production and distribution lines for such things. The standard TiVo mobo is custom, it won't mount in a standard case, so either you'd have to buy the Tivo chassis (back to just buying a TiVo to hack), or they'd have to make a new version for standard cases. The tuners are intergrated into the main board, so to make them separate they'd have to have a new design.

There just isn't enough of a market for this. TiVo isn't looking to sell to hobbyists who want to kit-bash a DVR. And it wouldn't do anything to limit MythTV, since TiVo is only useful where the service is available, and MythTV is world wide.

Quote:
Get the friggin "Series3" (or whatever you are going to call the stand-alone HD box platform) box out on the market NOW!
Developing hardware takes a lot of time. The next box is planned for mid-2006, and that's probably not going to change - except, most likely of anything, to move *later* in 2006.

Quote:
Don't wait for CableCard 2.0 to be certified. Microsoft isn't waiting for it and neither are any of the flat screen manufacturers bragging about their DCR features the past 6 months.
Microsoft is going with CC1.0 because of the work required in certifying an open platform like a PC to support a closed, secure platform like CC. It was a major challenge. And they're still not going to have it out until late 2006, after TiVo's box, if both schedules hold.

Quote:
As long as the CableCard 2.0 standard will be the same PC Card design (meaning slot compatible) as the existing 1.0 standard, don't wait. The end user can upgrade for PPV/VOD when it becomes available.
There are hardware differences in supporting CC1.0 and CC2.0. Which the physical card is the same, and a CC2.0 card will work in a CC1.0 receiver (at CC1.0 levels), if you build a CC1.0 receiver, that's it - it will not be able to support CC2.0 features even when the cards come out. So you need to build the unit to support CC2.0. It can work with CC1.0 cards for now, and when CC2.0 cards come out it would work with the new features.

Quote:
$100ish fee to transfer "lifetime" subscriptions to new hardware. And as we give give away our old stand alones to people we know, they will buy subscriptions for their machines and the Company won't be out the added expense of producing new low-end machines yet still get the service money. After all, TiVo's main problem with profitability is manufacturing costs. This scheme would help that out as well as promote brand loyalty.

No, manufacturing costs are not the main problem at all.

As I replied in another thread, SAC - Subscriber Acquisition Costs - are a major problem. While it is a nice thought that people would hand down their old box and TiVo would make money there, the reality is a lot of people would upgrade and either keep the old box as a $6.95 additional unit, or just dump it. People would also use this for any box that died, taking the old unit out of the stream and producing no new revenue. And since boxes to have a lifespan, if someone has had lifetime for years, and then hands it down, how much additional revenue will TiVo see from a box even if it is subscribed?

Lifetime is already a VERY good deal, a severe discount from the equivalent monthly revenue to TiVo. TiVo would be happy if no one ever bought lifetime, and everyone was monthly. They'd realize more revenue from that. So it isn't in their interest to increase lifetime subscriptions.

A $100 transfer fee would be a direct *loss* to TiVo at current price levels. Even a $200 fee wouldn't be very good for them.

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Old 12-07-2005, 06:47 AM   #3 (Print)
tivogurl
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>The 200 Mhz MIPS processor just isn't sufficient anymore.

MIPS is a great CPU. Fast and low power. A 500 MHz MIPS would probably be adequate for most anything TiVo needs. A TiVo isn't a general purpose box, and all the hard core computing is done in accessory hardware (MPEG encode/decode) anyway. The UI is quick enough as is. About the only things that need CPU horsepower are processing schedule updates and rearranging season passes, which are infrequent.
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Old 12-07-2005, 10:03 AM   #4 (Print)
classicsat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynxpro
Since I will most likely be purchasing a Series3 stand-alone TiVo whenever the thing actually debuts, I'd like to make a common sense suggestion.

Thoght I'd say this
At this time, at least in the wild, Series 3 is a conceptual term used by the general public. There is no saying if TiVo is working on a so called "S3" DVR. Likely the upcoming CC model will continue to carry the Series 2 badge.

paraphrasing HDD upgrade comments
Well, of the bat, they should make the Series 3 SATA, and have an SATA port, like the SciAtl DVRs have. Still the question would be to let
an added drive either marry to the factory system, or work as a drive to copy recordings on and off of. They could set it up tp play MP3s/JPEGs from a mass-storage device, and copy them to space on the DVR.

Quote:
While I'm at it, here are a few other options I want to see on the Series3 units (and some suggestions on the business end too):


*MPEG2 to MPEG4 encoding/decoding. If H.264 MPEG4 licenses are too expensive, use Xvid. Or use AV-1 (Windows Media 9) if Microsoft offers you cash to do so (if there is no other option).
It depends how legal those alternative codecs are. After all, TiVo won't recommend any of those "free" MPEG2 codecs as they are plainly illegal, or dubious at best.

Quote:
*Ethernet port built-in. No more stupid dongles.

*Screen Saver.

Might be nice. Some don't like it popping to Live TV.
I am a little annoyed at that sometimes.

Quote:
*Firewire400 (at least) input/output.

*Progressive output on non-HD content. Take away another bragging right of ReplayTV's while you are at it.

*DVI and HDMI support. If the jacks are too expensive, sell "break out boxes" for input/output jacks so the consumer can decide what they need, just like what is done with gaming consoles.

Don't get what you mean exactly, but the cost of DVI/HDMI (which are nearly functionally the same thing, but with a different connector), is in the chipset for it, which has to be built on the main or on a daughterboard. an HDMI> DVI is simple and available.
Quote:
*At least Dolby Digital 5.1 audio output support.

Since most future TiVos will be Digital recording (from digital cable or ATSC, and likely IPTV or DVD-HD), having at lead HDMI and digital audio , and likely component, will be a given.
Quote:
*Open Apple Airport Wifi slot for easy wifi upgradability.

USB is good enough. They just have to work on widening the driver base, or their own wireless solution, perhaps their own bridge, configurable by menus on the DVR. Plus add WPA, or an upgradeable security model.
Quote:
*premium* TiVo hardware

They need to create a budget version of the platform (non HD, single tuner, two tuner expandible). For a premium model, they need to approach one of their existing or previous partners, such as Sony, Toshiba, or Philips.

Quote:
*Slap a better processor in the Series3. Take advantage of your new alliance with Intel over the Viiv platform and stick a StrongARM or even a Yonah processor in the Series3. The 200 Mhz MIPS processor just isn't sufficient anymore.

If there is something better. So far, MIPS works well, just get a faster one.

Quote:
*30 Second Advance button.

Having it a backdoor is a good thing, opeining it wouldn't be PC with the broadcasters.

Quote:
*Video Zoom Feature.

Maybe. PIP as well, or dual output (second output SD only, like the Dish 942). I don't think mny people would like to print screen caps though. Now using the TiVo for a digital media appliance to manage and print your personal digital photos, maybe, but even that is "out there", since there would be driver issues, and printers nowadays can print form cameras directly.

Quote:
*Licensed TiVo parts such as mobos and tuners for sale. Let us more astute users build our own TiVos with as many zany features as possible. Just require the subscription just as you do with official hardware. This would take the steam out of your so-called open-source competitors like MythTV.

At most, IMO, make the unit somewhat modular, in have an auxuillary slot for an additional digital tuner or analog tuner/encoder.

Quote:

Get the friggin "Series3" (or whatever you are going to call the stand-alone HD box platform) box out on the market NOW!


I don't believe the mostly in bed upcoming HD-DVR is "Series 3", but an extension of the Series 2 platform.
The are waiting for, if anything, Multistream (not to be confused with CC2.0), to be ratified.
If MS is not an issue, they are probably working on tooling and getting kinks worked out of the maufacturing process and the hardware/software.

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Last edited by classicsat : 12-07-2005 at 10:26 AM.
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