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TiVo and others tout all-in-one media devices

At NYC press preview, it's all about synchronization.

Writing about gadgets around the holidays can get pretty hectic--hello, PlayStation3!--but there are some pretty cool perks. Take Tuesday night, for example, when the DigitalLife folks (the ones who organized the big tech trade show last month) invited a host of NYC-area reporters to Manhattan's fashionable Nikki Midtown bar and lounge for a packed evening of consumer tech. The agenda included a press conference from TiVo featuring CEO Tom Rogers, as well as a showcase of some products that people may or may not be craving this holiday season. Oh, yeah, there was free food, too.

The general trend of the evening was media synchronization, something that (in this reporter's opinion) will undoubtedly be a big trend even after the holidays are over. TiVo's announcements, which Candace wrote about for CNET, primarily dealt with the ability to integrate forms of media from disparate sources--cable and broadcast television, broadband video content, home videos, online radio and podcasts--into a central format centered on the TV. Thanks to the soaring trend of Internet video, there now exist "television options that people haven't thought of as TV before," according to Rogers. The new features allow TiVo subscribers to send home videos to friends' and family members' TVs (provided that those friends and family members are also TiVo subscribers), conduct "unified searches" of all media on their TiVos regardless of source, and load non-rights-protected broadband content onto their TVs. Plus, TiVo has expanded its TiVoCast program, which brings branded content (including CNET's video offerings) to subscribers through partnerships. The latest is with CBS Interactive, the revamped new-media division of the network TV mainstay.

Rogers' logic was understandable: People are plunking down thousands of dollars for HDTVs and peripherals to build the ultimate home theater. Now, however, there's all this video content--an increasing percentage of it professionally created--that's available through broadband channels. With TiVo's new announcements, Rogers is hoping that the company will carve out a niche as, rather than just a digital video recorder, a bridge between forms of media with traditionally different platforms.

But beyond TiVo's press conference, the DigitalLife event was still full of gizmos that were designed to bring iPod video to the TV, broadband video to the iPod, or mobile video to what-have-you. There was the $199.99 iRecord, which claims to record video right onto iPods, Sony PlayStation Portables, and USB storage devices. The $149.99 DLO HomeDock Deluxe, on the other hand, hooks an iPod's video content up to a TV screen. And then there was an exhibit from Neuros, which was showing off two products: its MPEG4 Recorder 2 Plus, which codes TV shows and movies so that they can be viewed on everything from laptops to PSPs to handheld media players and cell phones; and the OSD, a Linux-powered device that goes a step further. With the OSD, not only can content be exchanged between platforms, but the sexy black box is also openly hackable. How's that for geek heaven?