Archive for the ‘tv’ Category
One bit of kit I probably won’t be able to keep going much longer
In the midst of my zeal to get more value out of some of my older electronics I’ve just had a setback.
This morning I turned on my Tivo and got this screen:
To be honest, I’ve been expecting this news. There were always going to be two options. Either the hardware was going to expire (something I’d tried to mitigate already 3 years ago by upgrading the hard disc, the only mechanical component), or Tivo itself would turn the system off.
Option two happened first. Yes, I am an early adopter. Tivo launched in Britain in October 2000. But in having my Tivo for something like 8 years, I’m surprised that they waited quite this long.
The thing about Tivo which makes it different from other hard disc recorders is that it depends on a regular download of TV and radio programme data provided by Tivo itself. No EPG data, and the box becomes a dumb VHS device you have to laboriously set for each recording.
Tivo was something that Sky brought in to help navigate their hundreds of satellite channels. But a year later Sky realised it was something they could do themselves and launched the Sky+ box in 2001.
Tivo lingered for a little while but decided to stop selling their device at the start of 2003.
All that time it was actually Sky which maintained the Tivo platform. You never needed a Sky subscription however, Tivo worked perfectly well with Freeview, which is what I used it with. If you had a problem with your subscription it’s Sky’s call centre you get put through to.
I actually bought a Topfield Freeview Plus recorder a year ago and I have been running the two side by side. I’d been trying to wean myself off Tivo because I knew my hardware didn’t have a future although I still use it on a daily basis. The reason why is significant and it’s something that today’s manufacturers still need to pay attention to.
1) Tivo is really simple to use.
2) The box predicts what I want to watch and if I forget to record something, it normally does it anyway.
And that’s it. That’s what’s kept me using it for 8 years. Many’s the time I’ve been on the train in the morning and while flicking through the free paper realised there was something on TV that night I wanted to watch. Dammit, I’d think. I wish I’d set the recorder.
Imagine my delight when I got home and discovered that this gorgeous box had done it for me! There was always something on TV I wanted to watch. I stopped watching linear TV (and advertisements) the same week, and I’ve never gone back. That knack of prediction is something Freeview and Sky never managed to replicate.
Compared with the Topfield device I have now, even 8 years on, the original Tivo interface is a *lot* easier to use.
I shall miss it.
But Tivo is about to re-launch on a new platform and want rid of legacies like my old box. Although I imagine that with Tivo now being associated with Virgin Media , Sky don’t want to keep it going any longer. Maybe there are contractual issues. Who knows.
It would be interesting to know how many of the original Thomson Scenium devices are still out there, and what proportion of them are still paying £10 a month for the EPG download (there was also an option to buy a ‘lifetime’ EPG subscription for £300).
I will now have to try and make the best of the last few months of my Tivo’s life. It’s an analogue device so keeping it going beyond digital switchover was another issue on my mind. Getting out of the habit of tagging programmes I like or dislike will be a struggle.
But viewing has moved on. My next TV will be HD, as will the recording box I buy with it. It will have at least 5x the recording space, although the number of TV channels coming into it will stay about the same (I intend staying on Freeview)
My entertainment choice will still change though. My next TV will be able to download directly from the web and playback media from any device within a WiFi radius.
What won’t change is the amount of time I have to be able to watch the damn thing!
Get in quick or lose HD on Freeview
OFCOM are currently requesting comment from stakeholders in the UK’s digital terrestrial TV network. As tax and licence-fee payers, that’s most of us.
They are being asked by the BBC to authorise a change in the way the new high definition multiplexes are operated to allow for the use of encryption.
Encrypting HD-DTT risks stunting the growth of high-definition in this country and threatens to criminalise anyone who’s using any sort of non-standard cheap-and-cheerful reception equipment (which by law you are required to have a TV licence for). If you’re using open source receiver software, you can kiss that goodbye should this change go through.
What amazes me is that OFCOM published their letter on the 3rd of September and want comments back by the 16th. Err, that’s today!
That’s 9 working days to get comments in on a proposal that has far-reaching ramifications on the way the system of TV distribution works in Britain. Does this indicate that OFCOM doesn’t grasp the serious implications of this change, that it just writes to the ‘industry’ and allows such a short time for responses?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good background to why this request is being made.
And if you’re still reading this today, get some comments off to
The illusory magic of television can be just that
Graham Johnson writes about the difficulties of trying to produce TV on a limited budget. We don’t see enough first-hand accounts like this.
In the current environment, will these experiences get more common?
What this means is that they can release much higher quality versions of their programmes and it won’t cost them any extra to distribute them. It also means that their content starts to become self-organising as the viewers and listeners can link and tag and store the stuff they want.
Already dedicated viewers of some of the material released are producing their own subtitles to translate the programmes into english, known as ‘fansubbing’.
Having your own tracker is also a great idea because it allows you to be free with your content and still retain some control as the tracker server will be accruing some vital statistics about what material is shared, when, by whom and how widely.
Maybe in the future NRK won’t even need it’s own archives, as the material will all be distributed throughout the computers of the good people of Norway. (This is clearly fanciful, it will never happen!)
I can’t help thinking that someone in the BBC is thinking that they’ve been beaten to a great idea. But why not make a start by putting every BBC Schools programme broadcast last year on a P2P network, accessed by the BBC’s own torrent tracker?