Sometimes even a well-designed and innovative product can still be a total dud. See the Apple Newton.
The industry analysts at Forrester Research now say they know why this happens.
In a new report released Friday, Forrester analyst James McQuivey zeroes in on what makes seemingly good products fall flat once they reach store shelves: lack of convenience. And he doesn't just mean "convenient" in that you can, for example, transfer a music device easily from your pocket to your car dashboard, but rather the entire experience using that music device--from buying the songs to putting them … Read more
Recently, Digeo began selling its new Moxi CableCard DVR at Amazon for a whopping $800. That got us thinking about the whole DVR category, and how the real prices of the products are often hidden with subsidies (from cable or satellite companies) or service fees (such as with TiVo).
If you're looking for a digital video recorder, your choices are limited by how you receive your TV signal--satellite, over-the-air antenna, or cable--and how much you're willing to pay a month. Satellite subscribers are shoehorned by their provider--Dish offers the excellent ViP722 (with the SlingLoaded ViP922 due later this year), and DirecTV offers the DirecTV Plus HD DVR HR21. Antenna-only folks were the most limited: previously, the only choice was TiVo (which, again, requires a monthly or lifetime fee for service), but the availability of the DTV Pal DVR offers the promise of a no-fee DVR with support for digital and HD TV signals--just pay for the hardware, and you're done. (CNET is currently evaluating the DTV Pal DVR, and will have a review later this month.)
For cable subscribers, things can be a bit more varied--and almost certainly more expensive. Nearly all cable companies now offer their subscribers an HD DVR option. They'll tout it as "free" (in that you don't have to buy the hardware), but your bill will undoubtedly include a rental charge for the hardware (and the remote!), as well as a "DVR service fee." Want to get a real TiVo instead? That may cut the rental charge and DVR service fee from your monthly cable bill, but then you're stuck paying a service fee straight to TiVo ($13 a month, $129 a year, or a flat $400 fee for the lifetime of the box). Meanwhile, your cable company still gets in on the action; they may still charge you for CableCard rental fees (needed for the TiVo to receive digital and premium channels), plus the normal service fee on top of that (the channel charges that make up the bulk of your bill). Going with the lifetime fee (just because it's easy), that brings the real-world cost of the cheapest high-def TiVo, the TiVo HD, to around $700.
Enter the Digeo Moxi.… Read more
A few years ago, this wouldn't have happened. It would have been unthinkable, too terrible even to imagine. No, a few years ago, I never would have missed the season premiere of Lost.
So imagine my surprise when my boyfriend and I were minding our own business, watching our previously recorded Top Chef two nights ago, when, during a commercial break we were barreling through in fast forward, I happened to catch the words "Lost returns tonight." Stop. Rewind. What?
We backed up to the beginning of the ad, and sure enough, Bravo HD was proclaiming that Lost had returned a few hours before!
Had we set it to record? No. Had we even known it was coming back this week? No! We don't watch ads anymore. Ever. But without them, we are apparently living in a dark age so backwards it's as though TV Guide hasn't been invented yet. Now my grandpa is more informed than I am about television culture.
If we didn't have a DVR, we surely would have known, because I bet Lost ads have dominated the airwaves for the past few months. Lost isn't a show to announce itself softly: it usually has weeks of setup, marathons of previous seasons, call-in shows, etc. If we didn't have the ability to fast forward through that dreck, we would have known to be home, in front of the TV, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Sure, we would also have been brain-washed by a desire for a Snuggie and Wendy's new chicken sandwich, but information comes at a cost. As Tina Fey would say, "a doy." … Read more
Apple: Jobs to Take Medical Leave of Absence http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/01/14/apple-jobs-to-take-medical-leave-of-absence/
Analysts: he probably won’t come back http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2009/01/why-jobs-isnt-c.html
In the interim, who’s leading Apple? http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-10143030-37.html
PC shipments up just 1.1 … Read more
We already knew text messaging service Kwiry could perform some cool tricks via text messaging--things like adding products to your Amazon.com wish list or adding movies to your Netflix queue. But now the service is adding rudimentary TiVo control to the list.
TiVo already offers more detailed DVR access via its Web site, as well as TiVo Mobile (for smartphones with Web browsers), but the Kwiry service should work with even the most rudimentary cell phones, so long as they have text messaging capability.
The TiVo beta should be available on Kwiry Wednesday. Here's how it's supposed … Read more
Many times in this space I've sung the praises of TV tuners, which let you watch and record shows on your PC, TiVo-style. Well, now you can get more than just the style: Nero's LiquidTV TiVo PC brings the actual TiVo software to your system.
The retail package includes the software, a TiVo remote, a USB IR receiver, a one-year subscription to the service, and an HD-compatible USB tuner. Normally it sells for $199.99 (way too steep, IMHO), but right now you can get the LiquidTV TiVo PC for $103.99 shipped.
The TiVo software probably needs … Read more
Remember Digeo's Moxi? After spending years in development, the DVR start-up was aiming to go head-to-head with TiVo by offering a DVR system optimized for sharing home recordings between multiple rooms in the home. We even got to see a demo and thought it looked pretty good. But it's a tall order to sell consumers on paying for a DVR--even one with some compelling value-added features--when they're used to leasing one that's "good enough" from their cable company with no up-front cost. The last we heard was that Digeo hit a rough patch (even … Read more
UK ISPs switch on mass Wikipedia censorship http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,10009938o-2000331777b,00.htm http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10116543-93.html http://www.boingboing.net/2008/12/07/how-the-great-firewa.html
Technology start-ups to be given £1B fund … Read more
At the end of October, TiVo and Netflix announced that Netflix's streaming service would be coming to TiVo DVRs by the end of 2008. The companies have made good on their promise, and the service is rolling out to TiVo HD, HD XL, and Series3 boxes today. TiVo turned on the service for us over the weekend, and we've had the chance to give it a full workout. The short story: this is an awesome added feature for TiVo HD owners.
The interface is significantly different than what we've seen on the Netflix Player by Roku. Rather than offering up large box shots to scroll through, the TiVo's interface instead lists the names in text, with smaller box shots showing up on the right side. We preferred the TiVo's interface, as it allows us to see more titles at once, which is convenient if you have a large queue. On the other hand, we felt the TiVo interface was less responsive, which is a problem that affects almost all of the extra services on TiVo.
While the interface is an improvement over the Netflix Player, we still saw plenty of room for improvement. Now that Netflix has added a lot of content to the Instant Streaming service, our instant queue is getting pretty full. The current interface simply lists titles in the same order as your Instant Queue, which, if you're anything like us, is kind of haphazard. While the queue system makes sense for the traditional Netflix mailing service, we'd rather have more categorization options--such as by genre and star rating--for online streaming. We were also disappointed that there was no way to tell from the TiVo screen which movies were available in "HD" quality.
Like on the Netflix Player, video quality is determined by the speed of your connection. While the Netflix Player uses a "four dot" graphic to indicate video quality, the TiVo HD has a more granular meter, with about 14 bars. We generally got all 14 bars filled up, using a wired Ethernet connection and a standard cable modem.
Although the term "near-DVD" is often abused with video-streaming services, it accurately describes the video quality offered by Netflix streaming on TiVo. We fired up a bunch of movies and we were never disappointed by how they looked. Pan's Labrynth was available in "HD" and in most cases it looked as good as a well-mastered DVD--occasionally we could see some blockiness to the image or the background would be soft, but nothing to take us out of the movie-watching experience. Next up was Ratatouille, which wasn't available in HD. This looked slightly softer than DVD-quality (and much softer than the excellent Blu-ray), but not by much. Only the pickiest videophiles would turn up their noses at the image quality. In short, there's room for improvement, but it's darn good already. (You can read more about the technical details behind Netflix's streaming service here.)… Read more