This was something out of CES that I forgot to comment on at the time, but I was reminded today by an article I stumbled over in Multichannel News. Comcast commissioned Panasonic to develop the AnyPlay Portable DVR TZ-LC100 for them. It has a folding, clamshell design that contains an 8.5″ LCD, stereo speakers, and a 60GB drive. It resembles a portable DVD player – which makes sense since it also plays CDs and DVDs. It is supposed to be available in early 2009. And I think this is just a poor idea, doomed to fail.
To be clear, I don’t think being able to take you recordings with you is a bad idea. I think systems like TiVo’s TiVoToGo and DISH Networks partnership with Archos (and the former PocketDISH players) to sync content from their DVRs to PMPs is a fine idea. No, my problem is with this implementation.
You’re taking the DVR with you. The whole DVR.
Think about that for a minute. If you’re on the road, and you have your DVR with you to watch your recordings, what’s at home recording the shows that air while you’re not there? Right, nothing. Unless you have another DVR – but then why have two? To me it doesn’t make any sense to take the DVR away with you. This player has some saving graces, in that it is basically a portable DVD player that put on some weight (for the drive), but that’s about it.
As PMPs get slicker, smaller, and more capable – see the newest offerings from Archos, not to mention the iPod Touch and iPhone – this unit is positively massive by comparison. And you know physically smaller players, which increased storage capacities, will be out by early 2009. By then we’ll probably have an iPod Touch with 32GB, or even 64GB, of flash.
In the past I’ve argued that media center PCs aren’t catching on for similar reasons. The market is moving toward laptops en masse. But if your main PC is a laptop, and it travels with you, then it doesn’t work very well as your media center DVR. So you’d need to buy another MCE PC just to be the stay-at-home DVR – which is costly if you don’t need the PC since you have the laptop.
I think Comcast would’ve been much better off working with Panasonic on something more like DISH Network’s Archos arrangement. A PMP that could be plugged into Comcast’s DVR STBs to sync content over for playback, not a unit that is a DVR itself. Either over USB, or the FireWire ports their STBs are required to have anyway. Leave the DVR at home.