Cool Tech Reviews

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July 10, 2007

TiVo users can now order Amazon Unbox videos direct

Back in February when and TiVo announced that they were hooking up the TiVo DVR with Amazon’s Unbox Internet video store, one problem I noted was that “it’s not perfect because you can’t order the downloads from the TiVo.” Instead you had to order through your PC for delivery to your TiVo. However, starting today, that gap has been bridged:


Posted at 10:45 am. Filed under Amazon, Brands, Companies, Digital Video Recorders, Internet, TiVo, Unbox, Video Downloads

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February 14, 2007

Amazon Unbox hooks up with TiVo for video downloads

I’ve always been hopeful about Internet video downloads even though the available services always seem to leave quite a bit to be desired. Gizmodo’s Charlie White summarizes the problems nicely in Top 10 Reasons Why Movie Downloads Suck, but I’d like to call out a couple of them:

3. No computer in the TV room: Most people don’t have a computer near the TV, and getting a downloaded movie from one to the other is awkward at best.

10. Too complicated: Finally, all of that knowledge and computer know-how needed for downloading movies is simply nonexistent in the skill sets of the average movie viewer. They’re just not willing to go through the learning curve to get the digital data from the PC to the TV screen when they can effortlessly pop in a DVD.

These aren’t problems for a “power user,” but they surely are impediments for the casual consumer. That’s why I was interested to see the alliance announced last week between Amazon’s Unbox movie download service and TiVo, the digital video recorder makers, to provide Unbox downloads automatically and directly to the TiVo DVR. The details of the announcement are here, but the FAQ may be more illuminating.

In a nutshell, if you are the owner of a broadband connected TiVo Series2 or Series3 DVR, you can register the unit with Amazon from your PC and whenever you purchase any video at Amazon Unbox (again from your PC) you can specify that it be delivered to your TiVo. If you delete it from the TiVo, it can be downloaded again free from your Amazon Media Library.

It’s not perfect because you can’t order the downloads from the TiVo, but it neatly gets around the two problems listed above. Of course, there are still more of the “10 Reasons” to overcome, but at least it’s a start. Amazon’s Unbox had a very shaky launch, but presuming that they have ironed out the bugs, the only downside that I see is that broadband connected TiVo Series2 and Series3 boxes aren’t particularly common – TiVo estimates that there only are 1.5 million potential candidates. However, if you happen to own one it would be worthwhile to head over to Unbox and at least kick the tires when this rolls out later this year.

Update – March 7, 2007: The Amazon Unbox TiVo service is now live.

Posted at 10:49 am. Filed under Amazon, Brands, Companies, Digital Video Recorders, Internet, TiVo, Unbox, Video Downloads

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February 28, 2006

TiVo vs. Windows Media Center: Which one is right for you?

digital501 has a great review of the TiVo and Windows Media Center PCs with the objective of helping the end user choose which one is right for their needs:

There are two basic ways to enter the world of the Personal Video Recorder (PVR): through a dedicated hardware unit, like a TiVo or ReplayTV, or through a software-based PVR that runs on your home computer, like Windows: Media Center Edition (WMCE) or MythTV. In this article I will compare the most popular form of each platform, TiVo and WMCE, to help you figure out which one would be best for you.

To summarize, WMCE currently has more features than TiVo, though TiVo is catching up. WMCE requires a large cost up front, but no monthly fee, while TiVo is a lower (or no) cost up front (for basic models) but has a monthly service fee. MCPCs can also be used as home computers. Finally, TiVo is much easier to install.

Hit the link for the full details. Thomas Hawk adds to the review with details on HDTV:

Media Center can record HDTV, but only through over the air transmissions, TiVo Series 2 cannot record HDTV at all.

On the other hand, the DirecTV TiVo can not only record satellite premium HDTV (which MCE cannot) but it has four tuners (two HD, two standard def). This is the unit that I personally own and watch most of my TV on at the present time. Be careful with this unit though in the longer run as DirecTV very well could stop supporting it someday or force a trade in as they have recently begun a move from MPEG2 to MPEG4. The DirecTV HDTV TiVo supports the outgoing MPEG2.

Both Series 3 TiVo and CableLabs approved Vista Home Premium machines will record HDTV coming up later this year. Comparing a Series 3 CableCARD enabled TiVo with a Vista Home Premium CableCARD enabled PC will make for a very exciting comparison when the time is right.

More by following that link as well, including a pointer to Hawk’s earlier comparison of Media Center with the DirecTV HDTV.

Posted at 9:17 am. Filed under Companies, Microsoft, Personal Video Recorders, Software, Software PVR, TiVo

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