TiVo subscribers want mobile upgrade sooner

Some say digital video recorder company's upgrade to free mobile TiVoToGo service is too slow in coming.

TiVo's new TiVoToGo service is gradually reaching subscribers, but for some, it's too slow in coming.

The Alviso, Calif.-based company announced Monday a new free service allowing subscribers to transfer copyright-protected programs from digital video recorders to notebook computers. The service requires an upgrade to software used in TiVo digital video recorders, and while users are starting to receive it, some have posted messages on TiVo community Web sites saying they want the upgrade faster.

The company has planned a staggered rollout for the upgrade and expects all those eligible to be upgraded in about four to six weeks. Those wanting high priority on the distribution list can go to the TiVo Web site to sign up. As of late Tuesday, about 21,000 people had signed up to be among the early birds. The TiVo Desktop software supports only Windows XP and Windows 2000 operating systems.

To transfer television programs onto a laptop, subscribers must install the no-cost TiVo Desktop software on a computer. The system encrypts the program during the transfer, so subscribers must use a password to decrypt and play back the show.

TiVo would not say how many subscribers had been upgraded, but said the staggered rollout was always part of the plan and was announced on the company's Web site and in press releases.

"This is how we've always done our software upgrades," said Kathyrn Kelly, a company spokeswoman. "The process enables us to control the upgrade process and find any software bugs without affecting all our customers."

Not all TiVo subscribers or computers are eligible for the upgrade, which takes place over phone lines to DVR recorders. The upgrade is only compatible with Series2 DVRs. DirecTV satellite TV subscribers and Mac users can't use the service.

TiVo has about 2.3 million subscribers to its DVR service, which allows viewers to pause live television shows and control the recording of TV shows. More than half of TiVo's subscribers come from DirecTV, but the satellite company has decided not to enable any TiVo services beyond the DVR capabilities.

TiVo says a Mac version of the software is in the works, but the company has not set a release date. TiVo plans to make the service available to subscribers with DVD recorders later this year.