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TiVo Thinks Outside the Box

29 Sep, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

TiVo content is moving beyond the box.

Thanks to a partnership with software company Nero, TiVo’s latest DVR offering — called Nero Liquid TV/TiVo PC — allows users to watch and pause live TV on PCs operating Windows XP or Vista, record shows to a computer hard drive, transfer TiVo files to other computers, export TiVo files to iPods and PlayStation Portables, and — perhaps more importantly — burn them to DVDs. The system allows the TiVo to be controlled using either the TiVo remote, or the PC mouse connected to the system.

“There are more and more people out there who easily want to enjoy their content on whatever device they have, and there’s no easy way to do it,” said Nero President Richard Carriere. “We want to create a liquid media experience.”

TiVo CEO and President Tom Rogers added, “To be able to extend the features of TiVo to a new platform without compromising the integrity of what has made TiVo such a revolutionary product is a significant achievement, one we know both new and old fans of TiVo will love.”

Russ Crupnick, senior industry analyst for entertainment with The NPD Group, noting that about 30% of Americans are using DVRs, called the new TiVo a “huge benefit to consumers” but questioned the security of the system.

“Everything I’ve heard from TiVo has been the opposite, on how to keep it inside the box, keep it from being moved around,” he said. “Does this mean I’ll be able to take The Dark Knight and put it on my iPod? How will we be able to keep these files from showing up on BitTorrent?”

Nero points out it uses Content Scramble System (CSS) copyright encryption in its DVD burning technology. MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 compressions will be used for playback, and depending on the speed of the PC used, a TV program can be converted from TiVo in 15 minutes.

“We respect those DRM rights,” Nero’s Carriere said.

“This is all about wanting to take content with you,” added Craig Campbell, technical director for Nero. “It’s got portability plus ease of use. … It’s over and beyond what you can do with your typical TiVo.”

The TiVo system will be available Oct. 15 at all major retail outlets for $199 and includes software, the TiVo remote, a TV tuner card to allow TV signals to be received by a PC, an IR Blaster that allows for a wireless, infrared connection between the PC and a cable or satellite box,  and a one-year subscription to the service. The software-only version will be available for download for $99.

Crupnick said that only 2% to 3% of consumers are regularly using legal digital right now, but TiVo’s new offering has the ability to hurt physical media.

“If you can just plug and play, move content wherever you want, that whole [digital delivery] sector could just explode,” he said.

In a separate announcement, Nero introduced Nero Move It, a software program that allows consumers to convert music, videos, and photos from one file format to another, and transfer them directly to other portable media devices. For example, all the music and video on an iPod can easily be moved with Nero’s software to a Blackberry or a PlayStation Portable, without the need to move the files first to a computer hard drive.

Retailing for $49.99, the software recognizes more than 200 current devices on the market, with the company adding more down the line.

“This changes the game, not only for us … but also for users,” said Alex Sayyah, director of marketing for Nero.

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