TiVo is now accepting applications for beta testers of their new software. TiVo Desktop 2.3 allows the conversion and transfer of TiVoToGo content to both iPods and PSPs as reported in November. So go kick the tires and let me know what you discover!

Register here: http://research.tivo.com/transfers/

DirecTV’s press conference isn’t until Thursday evening, but two manufacturers have already outted DirecTV 2Go. First was Humax with a generic looking PMC. Next up is RCA, with this sexy Lyra X3000. In addition to the DTV interface and content, these devices also handle a variety of multimedia. The Lyra is expected to hit stores this month at a competitive $399.

Details of the DTV 2Go service itself are still sketchy at this point, though it’s clear it will not be immediately available upon the Lyra’s release — a free software upgrade will be available later this year. It’s not clear what XM (XM2Go) and TiVo (TiVoToGo) have to say about their naming strategy. ;)
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Well my prediction that Akimbo would leave the hardware market in 2006 has proven false, and it’s only the fourth day of the year! A new RCA-produced box running Akimbo software will debut at $199 this spring. Unlike the existing box, a video-on-demand (VOD) library of current releases will be offered by broadband service Movielink. Sadly, like the existing box, content will not be offered in HD.


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Samsung’s New XM Portables

Dave Zatz —  January 4, 2006 — 1 Comment

Samsung has introduced two new portable XM receivers, the Nexus and the Helix. Both are hard drive based devices which support MP3 and WMA audio tracks. Additionally, they both allow you to record XM content for later playback. Like the Sirius S50, the Nexus is limited to playing live satellite while docked. However, the full-color Helix has a built-in antenna for live XM on the go. The Nexus comes in $199 and $299 sizes; the Helix is $399.

Guess that LCD TV running TiVo software didn’t pan out, as Humax two-times TiVo and integrates a DirecTV tuner instead. First up, the 20″ SD model, followed later in the year by a 16:9 32″ HDTV.

But wait, it gets better… DirecTV 2Go is official and will be powered by a Humax portable media player (PMP).

DirecTV 2Go & PMP Press Release
Humax LCD TV(s) With DirecTV Press Release

Humax says: The HUMAX DIRECTV 2Go compliant PMP device is designed for a direct connection to a DIRECTV DVR, which will allow the consumer to transfer DIRECTV content recorded at home – a key benefit of the HUMAX platform. Additionally the device features DIRECTV branding throughout the User Interface including a DIRECTV approved playlist interface similar to DIRECTV receivers. In this relationship, the PMP device is HUMAX-branded, and will be sold at numerous retail and internet retail outlets. The device is scheduled for release later this year and in line with DIRECTV’s launch of this new service. In additional to DIRECTV content device will support music (MP3 and WMA) as well as photos and other non DIRECTV videos.

“The HUMAX LCD TVs with integrated DIRECTV Tuners make it possible for a DIRECTV customer to simply connect a coaxial cable for a true plug-and-play experience, there is no need for external wiring or connections associated with an external set-top box,” said HUMAX USA’s vice president of business development and strategic marketing, Tony Goncalves. “And with DIRECTV’s high-quality digital signal, the picture is second to none.” The 20-inch model is 4:3 and features a modem and USB port, component video input, two composite video inputs, and an audio and video output. Available in the first half of 2006, the 20-inch model has an anticipated MSRP of $749. The 32-inch model will ship with a DIRECTV MPEG4 TV module consisting of a DIRECTV HD Tuner, ATSC tuner, component video, composite video, S-video and HDMI inputs. HUMAX plans on developing additional modules to support future DIRECTV hardware. The company expects the 32-inch HD model to be available in Q4, with pricing to be determined.

Starz has launched Vongo, a new movie download service. What makes Vongo unique is the $9.95 all-you-can-eat subscription plan. PC downloads require a custom app that work in conjunction with Microsoft’s DRM. In addition to desktop or laptop viewing, transfers to MS mobile devices running Portable Media Center v2 are currently supported. Starz intends to expand service to Sony’s Connect download service in the near future. Their stated intention is to also offer video downloads to the iPod, but that strikes me as unlikely.

Starz originally began offering movie downloads via RealOne over a year ago. I briefly gave the service a try, but was dissapointed with an unpredictable selection of mostly older films. If the new service offers current, mainstream content, both the pricing and timing could be right to make some waves.


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2005 Reviewed, 2006 Previewed

Dave Zatz —  December 30, 2005 — 1 Comment

2005 Review
2005 was the year we collectively dipped our toes into the portable media pool. Sure, there were many product introductions, price drops, and business mergers across the board but a mobile revolution was brewing.

On the hardware side, Apple’s video-capable iPod obviously grabbed most of the headlines. I wasn’t overly impressed with the technology, but Apple put portable video into the palms of the common folk. Neither the Creative Zen Vision nor the Archos AV500 are perfect, but they’re good examples of full-featured portable media players that debuted in 2005.

Two media devices, both sexy, did impress me in 2005: Sony’s PSP and the Slingbox. I’m not much of a gamer, but the world has never seen this sort of graphical power and luscious display in such a compact form factor. Combine that with WiFi and a low $250 price point — the PSP’s a winner. Sony’s ongoing firmware/functionality updates earn them brownie points. The Slingbox could be the slickest device you don’t need. By leveraging your home video sources and your broadband connection, SB allows you to view your content on any Internet-connected PC worldwide. Not only did they introduce the place-shifting category, they nailed the functionality on their first try.

On the content end of things, iTunes video and TiVoToGo were the big news items of 2005. While both services have short-comings, it’s the first time mainstream consumers have had access to portable content outside that travel DVD player for the kids.

2006 Preview
What about 2006 you ask? We’ll see mobile media go mainstream as Apple commits to a full-fledged videoPod and expands their content offerings. TiVo and others will assist by automating content acquisition, conversion, and synchronization. 2006 will be the year video-on-demand, via broadband, gains a toe-hold… Microsoft, Apple, and TiVo will experiment with renting movie content for PC, TV, and portable playback — maybe Netflix will even find partners and recommit. Akimbo will be the odd man out, either moving solely to software and service (see ReplayTV) or being acquired. XM will offer video, but no one will care.

As with 2005, in 2006 microdisplay prices will continue to plummet and confusion will continue to shroud CableCARD. On a personal note, TiVo’s stand-alone dual tuner HD DVR is overdue in my living room… will I get some love in 2006? I’d also like to see Verizon’s FiOS TV in my neighborhood — Comcast has absconded with enough of my cash. Will local and regional jurisdictions step up to the plate and issue Verizon licenses to operate?