I would like to see Tivo come out with a multi-dvr controller. It would work similar to a remote extender at times but would have a hard drive with all the Tivo software to manage your viewing and would hijack other dvrs, such as the new ones being released by DTV, turning them into a "Tivo". The best part would be if an individual had more than one dvr, the controller would keep track of everything on every dvr at the same time, and the user would not have to be concerned where the program was. The actual dvrs would become dummies waiting for the commands from the Tivo controller. On older series one models, the serial port could be activated and used for the controller to get feedback to keep updated on what was actually on the dvr, but all the progam viewing management would be controlled by Tivo software built in the controller. When a person was watching tv live, the controller would just act as a remote extender, but when the person brings up the guide they would have the option of using the controller guide rather than the dvr guide and that is when the real magic would take place - when they make a selection it would send the signal ( same as using a regular dvr remote) to the dvr. Tivo would take care of the software and the progam information, we would have Tivolution magazine and the other great management tools of Tivo again and on every dvr we owned. It would not have to cost as much, as it would not actually record the shows, just control the other dvrs, and it could be updated to control dvrs by other manufacturesr just by sending the proper signals at the proper time.
I'm thinking more of an HDD-less and encoder/tunerless TiVo, with a Flash system disc, and huge RAM drive, which in addition to being an MRV client, will be able to set recordings on other DVRs (which will also have similar features).
TCD240080, 160 GB HDD.
FC3 Linux box running Galleon.
TiVo desktop on XP machine.
It's definitely thinking outside the box, rather than concentrate on competing with far bigger players in the hardware market, Tivo could dominate the software that controls all of them. The more features the competitors build in, the more the Tivo can hijack...and it could all be done using their remotes and the Tivo
software to replace the human pressing the remote buttons at the right time so all the person has to do is enjoy the show at a time that is best for them. Software upgrades would add more machines to the list whenever a competitor releases a new product.
It reminds me of the days when Microsoft declared war on the internet, they were going to replace it with their own network - well in the end it was the software that allowed people to move freely around anywhere that won the battle, and Microsoft realized the answer was not replacing the net itself but the software that allowed people to share the information on the net.
I really don't see how you'd expect this to work. The TiVo would have to be able to control all the other DVR platforms to 'mind control' them - and since they don't provide feedback, the TiVo could never know if it was on the right screen. For this to work properly you'd need a feedback channel. It would be like IR blaster channel changing, but orders of magnitude more likely to go wrong.
All tivo powered units have serial/usb ports that could provide feedback, as was in my orginal post - I can't say much about other dvrs. If it was just a plug and play setup, others would have done it by now, unfortunately it will take a little bit of work but the finacial rewards would make it worthwhile. For about the same fee as people pay to run one Tivo they could control many in their house.
All tivo powered units have serial/usb ports that could provide feedback, as was in my orginal post - I can't say much about other dvrs.
That's the problem - the other DVRs. They would have to support control via an interface that supports feedback. And all the DVRs I know about do NOT do this. They only support IR control, which is one-way. TiVo would be unable to know it is controlling them correctly and in sync. And the other vendors would certainly have no incentive to help TiVo take over.
And, honestly, I can't see people buying something like this. If you wanted a bunch of DVRs that work together, buy multiple TiVos. TiVo wants to get their software into more products, not eliminate the need to do that. Why would TiVo want to enable users to buy other vendor's DVRs? They sell you one control box and the competition rakes in money on the DVRs. No way.
The serial/usb was a quick answer, not the best, the best would take a bit longer to set up. As I posted originally the unit would work as a remote extender but when the menu button was hit the video would be supplied by the controller. In order to accomplish this the controller would intercept the signals coming into the tv, either by componet, s-video etc. and either replace it or over impose it. The controller would have the monitor circuit in it in that it would decode the signal coming an and send it to the tv, not a tuner just the decoder which would be split so that the coder would read the signal as well, and just as the circuitry in an lcd monitor knows which pixels to turn on the card could use this to read he display. Most dvrs use the same screens, such as when you request a delete, the same screen comes back up, likewise most keep the same fonts. Once they can read which pixels are to be turned on it would not be unreasonable for the programmers to set up the program to determine which pixels are needed on or off.
As for buying the same tivos all the time, yes that would be great and certainly better. In reality is doesn't work, most people do not buy multible Tivos at the same time and when they add to their collection things have changed, some may no longer be able to get a Tivo but would prefer to keep the familiar Tivo interface , AI and setup. With the Tivo controller setup they would keep the same AI and interface they are familiar with and use the same service regardless of which service they were forced to sign up with at that time in their life. As Tivo would be a controller , not a dvr it would have less to upgrade to keep current with the latest and greatest feature releases. Whenever something new comes out it would only take a downloadable software upgrade to update the controllers for the new features, no hardware problems to contend with at that point.
You may not see this working and that is understandable just as there were people that never believed a man could walk on the moon. You may not be able to see the situation where people are forced to buy a different dvr but would have preferred to keep their Tivo, but for some this is already becoming a reality, people with DTV are being forced to drop Tivo if they wish to remain with DTV and want a DTV DVR. Perhaps you would not be interested, and you prefer to buy all new dvrs and even give up Tivo if those features are not found in the Tivos availalbe at that time, and yes this would not be for you, but some prefer Tivo, they love the service and would prefer to stay with Tivo. Many people do not want to "learn" new things, prefer to keep the same setups they are familiar with but need the newer hardware - These people would be interested in the Tivo controller.
Tivo will never own the market, they just don't have the financial resources to go up against the giants, but they do have a faithful following; and they can continue to keep and grow that following and remain profitable - but they need to think outside the Tivo box.
Could it be done? Yes, it could. However, TiVo has finite resources. What matters in the Return On Investment - ROI. Developing something like this, needing to intepret video to handle the feedback, handling the multitude of possible platforms, etc, would take a lot of engineering time and effort - and money. And how many of these boxes would they sell? Not many. Now what else could they invest that time, effort, and money in? New hardware like the CableCARD box, maybe a dual-tuner analog unit, going forward a Blu-ray/TiVo, etc. New software - support for more audio formats on music, more broadband features, fleashing how HME to give API access to the core DVR features, etc. And doing those kinds of things would give them a much broader and larger market than trying to make some kind of uber-controller unit. Most homes don't even have a DVR (6-7% of homes have one, IIRC), and most of those that *do* have a DVR only have one. They can worry about trying to handle every situation after they've already addressed the vast untapped market that exists now.
Just about anything *can* be done, given enough time and money, but in business the question isn't just can it be done, but can the investment be justified? And the cost of a project isn't just the direct cost, but the indirect cost in other projects that are *not* being done to use the resources on what is being done.
Right now TiVo has a lot of work to do on just basic things like engineering platforms for new markets (like the box that just launched in Taiwan) since international expansion is a key drive for them. Completing the engineering for the Comcast DVR release, and hopefully landing more cable deals like that. Completing the CableCARD DVR and launching that. Continuing to develop the HME API to add more features like video, access to the DVR functionality, etc. Finish the TiVo Adapter work so that can be released. Etc.
TiVo is not going to address all situations, and that isn't the best use of their resources. Some people are simply going to have to decide between TiVo and another product, and that's just how it is.
Even though it can be done, I don't see any reasonable market for such a product if it were. Most people aren't going to want to daisy chain devices just to try to get a TiVo UI on a non-TiVo product. And to do all the TiVo features while front-ending another product you'd need pretty much a full TiVo because you'd have to have storage to handle the guide data, buffering, broadband content, etc. So it would cost pretty much the same as just buying a TiVo anyway.
lol - I get it, you are the unofficial devils advocate on this,
you win , you can have the last word. This will be my last post...
A controller, even at $300 and say a new sony High definition recorder for $600 would still be less than the orginal DTV HD recorder and would work with any HD source and would open the door for future and cheaper non specific HD recorders - but if Tivo gets bogged down in the hardware development costs where their products are obsolete before they are released, they can not remain profitable - they must get out of the Tivo box and think software control. Once assembled the controller would be able to keep up to date with the latest features with only software upgrade - allow the competition to spend the big bucks on hardware developement for every platform.
Remote codes are pretty standard, much like the standards used on the internet, just as you don't need to make something for every computer using the internet, Tivo doesn't need to make something for evey piece of audio.video equipment - they just need to write for the standards (remote codes) and let everyone develop whatever costly hardware they want - all they need to do is be able to work them, allow Tivo to do what it does best "help users manage their viewing"
Back in the '90s, Microsoft had the idea they would replace the internet with their own system, after all they were the most powerful and everyone would use their proprietary system, they found out the abilty to use all the various hardware on the internet was better and more profitable than creating their own hardwired system. Tivo needs to think outside the box.