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PlayStation 2 gets TiVo-like functions

Look out, TiVo. An Austin, Texas-based company is offering software to connect the PS2 with a PC running video-recording software.

Sony's PlayStation 2 video game console will gain TiVo-like video functions with software to be announced Monday by two start-ups.

Austin, Texas-based BroadQ is offering Qcast Tuner, software to connect the PS2 with a PC running SnapStream Media's video recording software.

Houston-based SnapStream released its Personal Video Station software last year. The program allows a PC connected to a TV signal to record and play back programs using the PC's hard drive, similar to standalone devices such as the TiVo video recorder.

To date, playback of SnapStream programming has been limited to monitors and other devices connected to a PC. But the network adapter Sony released for the PS2 last month finally gives the company a pathway to television sets, SnapStream CEO Rakesh Agrawal said.

"We've faced the problem of how do we get the content you've recorded to a television, because that's where people want to watch it," he said. "The PS2 gives us one path; there are going to be others."

Analysts said the concept faces a number of challenges, including a nascent market for using PCs to record television programming. Microsoft is promoting such functions with its upcoming Windows XP Media Center software, but it's likely to be some time before consumers think of PCs as media devices.

David Cole, president of research firm DFC Intelligence, noted that Sony executives have talked about using the PlayStation as a multimedia device, but it will be a few years before such ideas are practical.

"I think the overall idea of being able to view video and other content via the game console, that has real long-term potential, but I think you're talking four or five years down the road," he said. "You're really looking more at the PlayStation 3. By then, people will have more of the home networking capacity, and the game systems themselves will have more capacity."