IceTV sets a glacial pace on TV revolution

Australian-based company IceTV today launched an on-screen television guide for digital viewers, with plans to introduce ad-skipping functionality in the future.

Australian-based company IceTV today launched an on-screen television guide for digital viewers, with plans to introduce ad-skipping functionality in the future.

The electronic program guide (EPG) is to be delivered in a subscription-based service called "ICEguide", which works in conjunction with digital set top boxes and PC tuner cards to allow viewers to browse program listings and schedule recordings up to a week in advance.

Currently, personal video recorders (PVRs) and Windows Media Center PCs in Australia are dampened by the lack of a readily available EPG - even though Australian company Development One claims it's had a working EPG for the past one and a half years.

ICEguide, which only contains free-to-air channels, will be delivered over the Internet to PVRs such as Topfield's 5000PVRt, a standard-definition set top box with a 120GB hard drive and twin tuners that allow two programs to be simultaneously recorded. The subscription service is also being made available for PC-based PVR applications -- initally Showshifter, with plans to support others, such as MythTV and Windows Media Center.

The process is more convoluted than originally described at a demonstration last August, when Peter Vogel touted additional features, including one that would automatically skip television advertisements from recordings made with an ICE-powered PVR. Rather than working wirelessly to update the weekly guide, the Topfield 5000PVRt needs to be connect via USB to a PC with an Internet connection to download the guide.

ICEguide does not work with pay TV services, such as Foxtel iQ, and is only available in Sydney and Melbourne at present. IceTV expects to provide an EPG for all capital cities by May 2005 and plans to introduce a wireless delivery system to simplify the update process later this year.

The subscription-based service costs $3 per week and customers must sign up for a 12-month contract. IceTV also sells the Topfield TF5000PVRt with a 12-month subscription to ICEguide for $1099.

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Hi, I look after product development for CBS Interactive in Sydney - which lets me develop a range of websites including CNET Australia, TV.com and ZDNet Australia.

 

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