Archives For Satellite TV

Updated DirecTV TiVo Timing?

Dave Zatz —  February 22, 2011 — 21 Comments

Has the highly anticipated (new) DirecTiVo been delayed once again? Last we heard, from a TiVo SVP, the modernized DirecTV DVR was on track for an early 2011 launch… and anecdotally corroborated via beta testing recruitment. Yet a doubtful Twitter inquiry was met with this DirecTV response yesterday:

Details are still being determined, launch maybe in late 2011.

Now this could be the case of a well intentioned but misinformed tweet. Or it could indeed be another delay of the product originally slated for a 2009 release. I’ve got an email out to TiVo seeking clarification.

(via TiVoCommunity)

DISH Network Calls TiVo Stale

Dave Zatz —  January 28, 2011 — 33 Comments

Over the last several weeks we’re been hit by a large number of comments originating from DISH Network. While we encourage industry participation and greatly appreciate corporate disclosure, this is a clear case of astroturfing – these drive-by comments largely bad mouth the competition while pumping their own product lineup, versus joining the conversation. My friends at GigaOm/NewTeeVee have been similarly hit and seem to feel the same.

Generally speaking, the comments haven’t been very compelling (or coherent). But the most recent contribution is extra special… posted by someone who identified himself as DISH Network employee and originating from DISH Network’s IP range:

TiVo has not made a lot of strides [...] since their initial product release.  That’s why I’m glad I am both a customer and employee of DISH Network. DISH is constantly at the forefront of new technologies [...]

Now I often come down on TiVo for their slow pace of innovation. But it’s a bit different when the criticism comes from a DISH Network employee… as they’ve been engaged in a protracted patent infringement battle. Which, incidentally, DISH/EchoStar lost. To the tune of $100 million and possibly counting.

So this is the point in the article where I’d typically make some snarky remarks wondering how exactly DISH might have found itself “at the forefront of new technologies” and suggesting TiVo’s been preoccupied with legal proceedings at the expense of innovation. But I’ll leave any further commentary to you in the comments…

First revealed as the Slingbox 700u at CES back in January, the smallest, sleekest Echostar placeshifter is now available to DISH Network customers for a low $99. And it’s the tight integration with DISH DVR hardware that allows the “Sling Adapter” to shed so much bulk… and cable clutter. Whereas an agnostic Slingbox requires video and network connectivity, along with an IR blaster and power adapter, the Sling Adapter requires a single USB cable to facilitate the broadcast of your television content around the home and beyond. However, Sling Adapter access is currently limited to web browsers on Windows or Mac OS X. Versus all the various options (web, OS X or Windows software, mobile clients) available to Slingbox customers. Lastly, the Sling Adapter only brings placeshifting capabilities to ViP 722 and 722k DISH hardware. Which might be OK as literally millions of these units have been deployed and this model DVR is standard for new customers (at no charge).

The initial reviews:

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As I don’t typically track investor relations outreach, I’m not quite sure if this is unprecedented or not. But it does seem noteworthy… TiVo has launched a website summarizing their ongoing patent dispute with EchoStar/DISH Network. And, beyond itemizing their progressive court victories to investors, it appears TiVo’s challenging the judicial system to do the right thing (as they see it) and wrap this up once and for all:

As TiVo has argued in its brief to the full court, the case is important to the entire patent system because judges must have the authority to enforce their orders in patent cases. Otherwise, determined infringers will be able to force innovative companies — and the investors, suppliers, customers, and commercial partners who respect and rely on their patents — into an endless game of litigation cat-and-mouse.

We’ve been covering this issue for years, including that time I about fell asleep in the courtroom, and I’m mostly bored at this point — preferring to focus on technology over litigation. Also, early on in my blog career I made the command decision to avoid investments (to the best of my ability) in companies I cover. But we know who reads our blog… and figured you’d appreciate this little nugget.

Yesterday, Logitech formally introduced the first Google TV product in form of their “Revue” television companion box. I think we have a decent handle on basic Google’s initial TV functionality – in terms of web search, video, and apps. But Logitech has layered on some additional functionality, which is compelling… and potentially confusing.

However, we here at ZNF roll geekier than most. IR blasters may not be the most efficient technology, yet they don’t scare us. And while we may be surprised by Logitech’s $300 price tag, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker… if Revue delivers something both unique and powerful. Until we see a Google TV with native DVR capabilities, Logitech’s video pass-thru and Harmony-esque remote control capabilities do indeed seem promising.

Instead of merely adding another box to the mix, the Revue actually controls our other boxes (via integrated IR transmitter or additional external IR blaster) and relays video (via HDMI input). So while set-up may be a bit more complex, the end result appears to be a bit more of an integrated home entertainment experience. The tightest integration thus far is specific to DISH Network set-top boxes that extends search across one’s program guide, recorded shows, and DISH VOD:

No IR blaster required for set-up with DISH Network. Simply connect the Logitech Revue Companion Box and your DISH receiver to your home network. With a wireless home network, just connect the Revue box to the network and use a single Ethernet cable between the Revue box and the DISH receiver to provide Internet connectivity to both devices.

Bundled with the Revue is a very nice looking, slim wireless keyboard, with integrated touchpad. However, that’s it — there’s no traditional remote control included. And there isn’t even an optional remote accessory, at least not at launch. Yet Android and iPhone smartphone users will have access to a free Harmony app for full-on (and more compact) control.

Speaking of accessories, Logitech is also leveraging their extensive video camera experience to bring conferencing/chat capabilities to the Google TV platform by way of a $150 camera. It seems a bit pricey, but I assume you need beefed up hardware to properly capture audio and video from across a living room – as opposed to sitting inches away from a typical computer-based webcam. It’s not my thing and, given the number of iPhone 4s saturating the marketplace with Facetime, I wonder if others will want to join into Logitech’s “Vid” network. But it’s a nice value-add for Logitech.

So we’ve got a lot to chew on here. And I’m not convinced we’ll have all the answers until Revue units start arriving. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one towards the end of the month, but Mari‘s a bit more skeptical. From our informal email exchange, which she didn’t realize I’d be quoting, shortly after Logitech’s presentation:

Looks fun, but not sure it’s useful.

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