Sync TV, Inc, a subsidiary of Pioneer Research Center USA, Inc, launched a private beta of their ‘Unlimited Download’ service for TV today, and they sent me an email about it. They’re joining an increasingly crowded market, but there are a few things that could set SyncTV apart. It is based on open standards and works on Windows PCs, Macs, and Linux PCs, with plans to work on TVs and portable devices in the future. There is DRM – but it is an open-standards system known as Marlin. The entire SyncTV system is an open platform, allowing other vendors to implement support.
SyncTV claims the service will provide ‘home-theater quality’ downloads with quality as good as, or superior to, DVD. There will be programming available with 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus surround sound, and in high-definition when possible. There are plans to enable streaming of content from a PC to a DLNA enabled TV, and presumably other DLNA enabled devices. Personally, I’d love to see them hook up with TiVo and, if not enable downloads right to the TiVo, work something out so their software can wrap things in TiVoGuard (TiVo’s DRM used on TiVoToGo) so we can transfer downloads to a TiVo for viewing on a TV. Though I have a PS3, and that supports DLNA, so I’m set there.
SyncTV will be a subscription service, with content organized by ‘channel’. You subscribe to a channel for a ‘low monthly fee’, and you have unlimited downloads from that channel. Some of the channels may be existing TV channels – they give Showtime as an example. Some channels may also make content available on a pay-per-download basis. Content can be played back on up to five devices, including the PC on which it is downloaded. Once compatible portable devices are available, you’ll be able to specify up to ten portable devices as well.
If you’re interested in beta testing, sign up on their site. They also have a blog for product updates. (Hey, SyncTV, if it is a blog, how about some RSS love! Give us a feed!) They also dropped a press release.