As I originally reported from CES TiVo Desktop 2.6 adds support for Web Video, if you purchase the TiVo Desktop Plus upgrade. And TiVo is making Desktop 2.6 for Windows available starting today. Since all TiVo units currently only support MPEG-2 video, this works by using TiVo Desktop Plus to transcode web video from whichever format is is distributed in (H..264, Quicktime, etc) into MPEG-2 and then transferring it to the TiVo. There are two ways to do this ‘native’ feeds and folder monitoring.
With the native feeds you can select one of the video feeds pre-selected by TiVo from the new interface on your TiVo. These feeds use the RSS client built into TiVo Desktop to download the videos. Unfortunately, only videos listed by TiVo can use the built-in RSS engine. There is no interface to add your own feeds. For unlisted feeds you need to use another client, such as iTunes. You then have TiVo Desktop monitor the download folder used by that external client. When a new video is downloaded into that folder TiVo Desktop will automatically transcode and transfer it. That does mean you can have TiVo Desktop monitor any folder to transcode and transfer – which could include a BitTorrent folder, etc.
Since this news just broke this morning, I’m working on a more detailed look at the software and hope to have my review up in the next day or two. Note that this functionality does require the purchase of TiVo Desktop Plus for $24.95, since that licenses the codecs needed for transcoding. And this is limited to Windows, while TiVo says:“TiVo continues to work with Roxio on delivering equivalent functionality on the Mac platform.”
There are other improvements in TiVo Desktop 2.6, such as the ability to publish multiple video folders for access from the TiVo. Unfortunately, and very disappointingly, the content of these folders is all lumped into the single group in the TiVo’s Now Playing List, so we’re still lacking folder support for PC content. Very frustrating. If you have a TiVo Series3 or TiVo HD, 2.6 will also provide higher quality transfers. HD content will be transcoded as 720p video. AC3 audio will be preserved. And it has better handling of different aspect ratios. And even SD video gets a higher bit rate.
Certainly welcome additional functionality overall. Still, transcoding through the PC is a stop-gap for the Series3 & TiVo HD until native H.264 and WMV/VC-1 decoding is supported. That will allow those units to download the majority of web videos directly. I’ll have more to say once I’ve had time to do my full write up.
In the mean time, here’s TiVo’s press release for Desktop 2.6:
TiVo Gives Consumers an Easy Way to Download Internet Video Automatically to Their Television Sets
First announced at CES, Season Pass™ functionality applied to web video now available
ALVISO, Calif. â€“ March 18, 2008 — TiVo (NASDAQ: TIVO), the creator of and a leader in television services for digital video recorders (DVRs), today announced TiVo® subscribers can now watch video content from the Web directly on their television sets. Through an updated version of TiVoâ€™s Desktop Plus PC software, users can now discover and enjoy a broad range of Web entertainment available directly from their TV. The simple application, which uses the popular Season Pass™ functionality, continues to deliver on TiVoâ€™s pledge to offer consumers an easy way to search, discover and enjoy the broad range of entertainment no matter what the source.
Starting today, TiVo users can subscribe to and watch a broad range of video content available through Real Simple Syndication (“RSS”) feeds, including everything from network nightly newscasts and The Sesame Street Podcast to Daily Headlines from MTV News and College Humor from CHTV. The application also gives consumers access to niche interest and hobbyist videos covering areas far more specialized than cable and satellite channels.
The availability of the Web video comes on the heels of last weekâ€™s announcement that TiVo subscribers will be able to access YouTube™ videos directly on the TV via a TiVo DVR later this year. Upon launch of the TiVo-YouTube service, TiVo users will be able to search, browse and watch these videos directly on their television sets.
“TiVo users will have the best video from the Web easily available on their television sets from user generated as well as brand named sites,” said Tara Maitra, Vice President and General Manager of Content Services at TiVo.
The new Web video capability requires TiVo Desktop Plus 2.6, an update to the Windows application which also converts TV shows recorded on a TiVo DVR for viewing on portable devices including iPod and Sony PlayStation™ Portable. TiVo Desktop Plus 2.6 is available for a one-time fee of $24.95, and is a free upgrade to earlier versions. “TiVo continues to work with Roxio on delivering equivalent functionality on the Mac platform.”
With this new feature, users can choose web videos downloaded on the home PC using web browsers, RSS video clients such as iTunes podcasts, or other video download software to automatically copy to their TiVo DVRâ€™s Now Playing List alongside recorded broadcast and cable TV shows. TiVo is also providing an on-screen guide of select Web video sources for users to browse and select as individual episodes or get a Season Pass™. Subscribers can even use the TiVo serviceâ€™s Season Pass functionality to get their own personal video folders on their PC, where they save their home movies and other video downloads. High Definition television enthusiasts will appreciate that TiVo preserves the original quality of high-resolution web videos, up to 720p, when delivered to TiVo Series3 or TiVo HD DVRs.
Maitra added, “Through the addition of new applications such as web video, we continue to build towards our goal of making TiVo the one stop shop for content, through one box and one integrated user interface. With our combination of premium content available through Amazon Unbox, millions of songs via Rhapsody and music videos, and soon YouTube videos, we feel like weâ€™re connecting consumers to entertainment in a way no one else can.”
For more information on TiVo or to download TiVo Desktop Plus visit www.tivo.com/desktop.
About TiVo Inc.
Founded in 1997, TiVo (NASDAQ: TIVO) pioneered a brand new category of products with the development of the first commercially available digital video recorder (DVR). Sold through leading consumer electronic retailers, TiVo has developed a brand that resonates boldly with consumers as providing a superior television experience. Through agreements with leading satellite and cable providers, TiVo also integrates its full set of DVR service features into the set-top boxes of mass distributors. TiVoâ€™s DVR functionality and ease of use, with such features as Season Pass™ recordings and WishList® searches and TiVo KidZone has elevated its popularity among consumers and has created a whole new way for viewers to watch television. With a continued investment in its patented technologies, TiVo is revolutionizing the way consumers watch and access home entertainment. Rapidly becoming the focal point of the digital living room, TiVoâ€™s DVR is at the center of experiencing new forms of content on the TV, such as broadband delivered video, music and photos. With innovative features, such as TiVoToGo™ transfers and online scheduling, TiVo is expanding the notion of consumers experiencing “TiVo, TV your way.®” The TiVo® service is also at the forefront of providing innovative marketing solutions for the television industry, including a unique platform for advertisers and audience measurement research. The company is based in Alviso, Calif.
TiVo, Season Pass, WishList, ‘TiVo, TV your way.’ and the TiVo Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of TiVo Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other jurisdictions. © 2008 TiVo Inc. All rights reserved.
This release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements relate to, among other things, the availability later this year of the YouTube service to TiVo subscribers with broadband-connected TiVo Series3™ DVRs. Forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as, “believe,” “expect,” “may,” “will,” “intend,” “estimate,” “continue,” or similar expressions or the negative of those terms or expressions. Such statements involve risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by the forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially include delays in development, competitive service offerings and lack of market acceptance, as well as the other potential factors described under “Risk Factors” in the Companyâ€™s public reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Companyâ€™s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2007, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the three months ended April 30, 2007, July 31, 2007, and October 31, 2007, and Current Reports on Form 8-K. The Company cautions you not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which reflect an analysis only and speak only as of the date hereof. TiVo disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.