TiVo wants to join the home network

The digital video recording service company announces new software that essentially allows recorders to access and share content on home networks.

LAS VEGAS--TiVo couldn't beat the PC, so it's joining it.

Abandoning its quest to be the center of home networks, TiVo wants recorders using its service to simply be a part of the network. The DVR (digital video recording) service company announced Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show here new software that essentially allows recorders to access and share content on home networks.

The new tack differs from the company's plans announced last year at CES for recorders using its service to be the hub for home entertainment.

"What we found in our market research was that consumers found it awkward to have to manage digital content in two places," said Brodie Keast, a senior vice president at TiVo. "The PC has won as the center of digital content."

The company was surprised by the popularity of 802.11b wireless-based home networks and decided that the best way for TiVo subscribers to access and share digital content was to simply piggyback on wireless networks, Keast said.

"The idea now is to move beyond DVR, where the network is the center of focus," Keast said.

The popularity of wireless home networking has grown as more companies have committed to designing new products that allow consumers with multiple PCs in their homes to access resources connected to a network--resources such as printers and high-speed Internet access. Consumers have also found wireless networking to be a noteworthy and convenient complement to broadband access, which has also been gradually gaining adoption in the United States, according to analysts.

The $99 Home Media Option will be downloadable to Series2 recorders from TiVo in the spring.

The new service will allow subscribers to remotely schedule the recording of shows over the Internet. Subscribers will be able to play music and videos as well as view photos from devices connected to the network. The new service also lets subscribers with more than one recorder share content on both recorders. For example, a show seen on a recorder in the living room can also be played on a recorder in a bedroom.

Special coverage

At the Consumer Electronics Show,
the theme is tech anywhere, anytime.

In related TiVo news, the company said that it has developed a DVR reference design that supports recording in high-definition television formats. In addition, the company has teamed with DirecTV to develop an HDTV DVR with TiVo service. HDTV offers higher quality video and audio playback over standard analog broadcasts.

Other manufacturers at CES also announced DVR products. TiVo licensee Toshiba said Thursday that it would begin shipping a combination DVD and DVR product in the second half of the year.

Consumer electronics maker Pioneer said earlier in the week that it would release two DVD recorders, including one with a hard drive. The $999 DVR-002H will come with an 80GB hard drive. The DVR-002H and the $625 DVR-001 will be able to rewrite to DVD-RW and record to DVD-R discs. Both will be available in the summer of 2003.