So, the Series3 box is the big news everyone has been waiting for, but it is hardly the only thing TiVo is showing at CES.
As I posted yesterday, TiVo put the sign-up for the 2.3 Desktop beta up on their site, and they’re showing it off here. 2.3 brings some features found in 3rd party applications like Galleon and TVHarmony to the TiVo Desktop – automated transfers, and transcoding shows. Typical for TiVo software, they’ve kept the interface simple. So this isn’t for power users, but it will work nicely for the average user. To setup automated transfers you have to have the show on your TiVo, and when you select the show from the transfer menu you have the option to setup an automatic transfer for the series. So you can’t write your own rule set or request transfers for series you don’t current have recorded, but I think that’s not going to be an issue for most users.
You can setup the desktop to automatically transcode transfers to one of three formats – Windows Media Library, Sony PSP, or Apple iPod. At least in the first release you cannot transcode shows that have already been transferred. And you can only select one format for the desktop, so you can’t transcode transfers for both a PSP and an iPod, or put some shows into one format and other shows into another. But, again, I suspect most users will be OK with these restrictions, and TiVo says they may add these capabilities in subsequent releases. Advanced users still have other options.
TiVo has also worked with Intel as part of the Viiv platform push to develop a plug-in for Windows Media Center Edition which gives TiVoToGo a ‘ten foot interface’ that allows you to use the TTG features – transfers, etc – from the MCE remote control. It makes TiVo a seamless part of an MCE installation and it looks pretty slick.
There is also a new feature in the HME API, and I think this one has already been made available. HME applications can launch other HME applications. So if you’re running application 1, it can save its state, close down, and open application 2. Then application 2 can hand back to application 1 which resumes at its previous state. But this also means that you can programmatically call an HME application with a ‘state’ for it to start in. TiVo has tied this to another feature in the OS – ‘wormholes’, which are shortcuts that can jump from one screen to another area. The demo there’s showing here is a TiVoMatic that pops up on a program for King Kong. You press Thumbs Up for more info and that takes you to a King Kong showcase with promo, trailer, etc. But the new thing is a link to buy movie tickets for the film now – and that jumps into the Fandango HME application, right into the listing for King Kong, highlighting the theater closest to you (based on zip code) and the next showing. Seamless, very nice.
TiVoPony also answered some questioned I had about HME and this new feature. It is possible to have the TiVo call an HME application it doesn’t yet know about, by having it call the app’s URL. So this kind of thing could be used for interactive advertising, promotions, etc. Pressing thumbs up could open an HME application with interactive features, etc. THAT is a very powerful thing to be able to do.
Oh – the photos have finished uploading: http://www.gizmolovers.com/Photos/CES2006/