TiVo has finally announced the release of the long-anticipated TiVoToGo feature for their series 2 machines. As the name implies, TiVoToGo enables content that has been recorded on the well known Personal Video Recorder (PVR) to be transferred to other devices that support MPEG-2, such as PCs and portable players. Support for playback on many different machines is also provided.
This will be achieved through a free software upgrade that will be automatically uploaded to subscriber machines over the telephone line. TiVo are being considered and cautious about upgrading the software of remote machines, a wise move in our view. A small number of machines have had the new version deployed to them, to try to ensure any unexpected problems can be handled. Given this, the upgrading of all machines will take quite a while. Those in a rush (most TiVo owners we suspect) can apply for a priority upgrade. Those who register with this are warned that even this priority list will take “a few weeks” to upgrade.
Software on the receiving PC must also be upgraded to TiVo Desktop 2.0, which only supports Windows XP and 2000. The playback machine must also have a MPEG-2 CoDec installed to view the recordings.
Network connections on the TiVo will be required, cabled initially, followed by support for some 802.11g adaptors.
DVD burning supported later
Although not initially available, burning of the some content to DVD on DVD writer equipped PC’s will be supported.
TiVo have done a deal with Sonic Solutions, providers of DVD burning software, to provide a special version of Sonic MyDVD, which will be available for purchase. A free trial of this software is available in mid-January 2005.
Following pressure from the film studios, not all content will be burnable. A point of some controversy amongst many of the TiVo faithful. Content marked with a “don’t burn” flag will be excluded. It is not clear how much, if any, content will not be flagged like this.
What’s not supported
While TiVoToGo is a great step forward for TiVo owners, there are a few things that aren’t supported at launch.
The upgrade will not be available to DIRECTV DVR with TiVo machines, and the same applying to the TiVo Series1 machines.
Macintosh computers are not initially supported, although it it understood that this will be available later.
While TiVos with integrated DVD Players will be supported, DVD Recorders with TiVo models from Humax, Toshiba, and Pioneer will not receive the TiVoToGo feature until later this year – probably because they don’t support the “non-copy” flag when burning DVDs.
In the lead up to the consumer electronics show, CES, TiVo had to bring out this upgrade. As more of the general public become aware of the possibilities of carrying out these functions on their home computers, TiVo’s concern would be that consumers would simply replace their TiVo boxes. Only time will tell if they’ve acted quickly enough.