- Sep 8, 2003
For the entire article click here.In "Ghostbusters," one of the running gags that was assimilated into the lexicon of pop culture occurs when Bill Murray is attacked by the ghost.
"I've been slimed!" he shrieks.
Well, I've been TiVoed.
I came face to face with this recent electronic dependency at the Consumer Electronics Show just past in Las Vegas. In fact, the spectre of TiVo was ubiquitous at CES.
With more than a dozen products set to launch this year, TiVo continues to solidify its expanding niche in home video and beyond. While the DVD recorder still seems to me the logical successor to the VCR, the DVD recorder-with-TiVo now seems more logical.
The digital recording technology - or near-perfect copies of it - showed up as well in home networking products, in satellite broadcast systems, in cable TV boxes; and plans are in place to invade the space of satellite radio networks Sirius and XM.
TiVo broadened its application as a multimedia device too with a concept called "TiVo to Go," part of the company's Home Media Option, which allows users to transport digital content stored on a PC to the television. The device also will allow people who pay an extra fee to receive XM satellite radio through their TiVos. The system is kept secure via a simple key-sized memory device that needs to be plugged into the computer when the recorded content is watched or copied.
But the most exciting TiVo stuff to surface at CES was the high-definition DVR, co-sponsored by satellite provider and TiVo partner DirecTV.
The HD-DVR250 settop box, due by spring and forecast to cost about $1,000, has the ability to record HDTV off DirecTV's satellite HD channels as well as from over-the-air antenna sources. It's not magic: The DVD250 includes four tuners, two for satellite and a pair for terrestrial antenna. The antenna hookup is required since DirecTV can't deliver local HDTV stations, such as ABC and CBS, via satellite.
The new box won't be the first machine capable of storing HD content on a hard disc. Zenith's sexy HDR230 features an 80-gigabyte hard drive - good for eight hours of HD programs - and a terrific fourth-generation HD receiver for improved reception. It's now available for about $900.
TiVo's blown hot and cold since it came to be - along with a competing system, called Replay - as a method to pause and replay live television. Last year the company reported one million subscribers, most of whom pay a $12.95 monthly fee. Much of the growth was attributed by TiVo chief executive Mike Ramsay to his company's alliance with DirecTV, which offers satellite receivers with built-in TiVos to discriminating viewers like me.
One cloud on the horizon is the financial community's fear that DirecTV mogul Rupert Murdoch might derail the TiVo alliance in favor of some other technology. Ramsay pooh-poohed those concerns. "We have a pipeline of development that will take us well into next year," he said. "Despite all of the 'hoopla' and speculation ... I'm pretty focused on us being a strategic supplier to them for the foreseeable future."