One video download theme I keep repeating is that despite the best efforts of the PC manufacturers in selling “multimedia PCs,” most people don’t have a PC hooked to the television in the location where they do most of their video watching. Moreover, it is too complicated to transfer downloaded video content from the PC (wherever it is) to the TV using just about any of the various schemes for doing so. That’s why I liked the idea of the Amazon Unbox to TiVo connection mentioned in the referenced article, but now SanDisk may have a more general solution with the Sansa TakeTV.
The basic idea of the Sansa TakeTV is simple:
It’s as simple as that once you connect up the cradle to the TV, but it has connectors for most standard TVs (standard AV composite inputs or S-Video).
Sansa TakeTV supports a variety of video formats, including DivX, XVID and MPEG-4. The Sansa TakeTV player is DivX Certified for Home Theater profile. The player connects to any PC via a USB connector, and works with Windows Vista, Windows XP and the latest versions of Mac and Linux.
SanDisk’s Sansa TakeTV flash memory-based player comes in a 4 gigabyte (GB) capacity, which holds approximately five hours of video, and 8GB, which can hold up to ten hours of video. It is available today for MSRPs of $99.99 and $149.99 respectively.
Seems incredibly simple and useful, right? However, there’s still a problem for non-technical users – how are they going to be sure what they download will be compatible with the TakeTV and for that matter, where will they find content to download? SanDisk’s answer to that is a beta release of a new video download service called Fanfare which is especially designed for the TakeTV player.
The first U.S-based content partners on the Fanfare BETA platform include: CBS, Jaman.com Inc., Showtime Networks, Smithsonian Networks, The Weather Channel and TV Guide Broadband. Among the programs available immediately are CSI, Survivor China, Dexter and Sleeper Cell.
Fanfare video content is a combination of free (ad supported) and paid episodes. The company is in the process of adding new episodes from current partners to the catalog, and acquiring additional programs, other premium content and channels. More than 85 titles are available today, with dozens more expected to be added each week to grant consumers access to thousands of hours of television programming.
SanDisk chose to launch an early version of Fanfare to begin to expose people to the innovative concept of easily transferring content from the PC to the TV. Fanfare will gain additional features when the full version is launched early next year. In addition –while the paid content model is common for other video download services—SanDisk is working closely with its content partners to establish an advertising-supported model for current season television programming.
We’ll have to see how Fanfare (http://www.fanfare.com/) works out, but I have to commend SanDisk for taking a novel approach with the Sansa TakeTV and Fanfare. This may turn out to be a real winner.