:: Thursday, October 14, 2004 ::
Entertainment Geek Alert: So TiVo isn't available here. TiVo is the cable TV independent Personal Video Recorder that essentially is a hard drive connected to your TV. It needs programming information and there is no Canadian programming available. So the runner up is the Rogers Cable PVR. There are a couple of versions. A standard one and one that can record HDTV digital recordings. Both act as STBs - or set top boxes- that also manage the digital cable signal.
But as with some other very large monopalistic companies there is some confusion on what it's products do and can't, and their capabilities. The boxes I have read about have FireWire connections - and other features but they are disabled. For future upgradability via firmware, but there is no info on when that might happen. My main thing is this. I want to be able to move some programming to DVD to keep it. This isn't currently available here. There are TiVo models in the States that have a combined DVD-R built in, but they are not supported/sold in Canada.
So what of the Rogers PVR? Well, I read a great deal about it last night. The Roger's site has very little information and I was trying to put the link here for you, but I can't confirm it, as it's page not displayed at the moment... ;)
So after work and into the wee hours, I went to the Digital Home Canada site and read trough some forum threads including this one that talks about the Rogers HDTV version of their PVR - the SA8000HD, made by Scientific Atlanta. It included links to what the things look like, and other conflicting information about whether you purchase it via Rogers stores, Future Shop, or elsewhere, and what the boxes actually are. Main controversy - essentially store staff not knowing - is the size of the hard drive. Rogers store people say the SA8000HD has an 80GB drive, but the people on the forum have confirmed the model numbers on the machines with the Scientific Atlanta web site that they are actually 160GB. The regular flavour of the Rogers PVR seems to hold 80GB or about 50 hours of programming - according to Sher. A review from Design Technica talks a lot about it. And one interesting option, which gives me hope. The US version has a 'VCR out' jack that can port programming over to a VCR.
But if the PVR has it's content encrypted on the hard drive, I am not sure how that port or the FireWire would work. I would, as I said, just like to be able to jack the laptop to the thing and burn West Wing, or the Tour De France now and then to keep some episodes - beats the eight or nine video tapes of the Tour de France I have right now which is in excess of fifty hours of viewing right there, and if I could port it over, edit out the commercials and burn it to DVD that would be great. and what happens when I want to upgrade my rental PVR? How do I pull recorded media off one and save it or transfer it to the newer box? It's crappy outside, so I might take a drive to the Roger's store and find out more. At least confuse the minions behind the counter with what I already know... :)
And this doesn't even touch on Windows XP Media Centre Edition PCs (or MCE). Which would just allow me to do all of that. I might think about that in a year or so when more info is down. I don't need a second PC just to do that for right now... Bill does talk about all of that and digital convergence at length in this CNN article. Windows Media Edition 2005 premiered a couple of days ago. PC World's first impressions are here. Microsoft's MCE2005 page is worth a look too.
:: Mike Wood 11:51 [+] ::