Video services

TiVo Goes PC

3:10 PM -- In its latest attempt to be all things to all people, TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) has hooked up with Germany-based Nero to bring the digital video recording (DVR) pioneer's service to the domain of the personal computer.

That mouthful of a product, dubbed the NeroLiquidTV|TiVoPC, ports the TiVo "experience" to PCs (those that use Windows XP or Windows Vista) via a retail kit that sells for $199 and includes the tuner card, a TiVo remote control and an IR blaster. The downloadable software-only version costs $99. Both options bundle in a year subscription to the TiVo service. (See TiVo Gains PC Entry.)

As an added bell and whistle, users can export recordings to mobile devices such as iPods or the PlayStation Portable, or burn them directly to a DVD.

The combo is just hitting the market, so it will be a couple of quarters before we know whether TiVo's latest play resonates with consumers any better than do other other PC-DVR systems on the market. If anything, it gives TiVo yet another distribution channel, expanding beyond the stand-alone DVR model and its partnerships with the likes of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Cox Communications Inc. , not to mention its recently renewed deal with DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV). (See DirecTV & TiVo to Play It Again , Cox Tees Up TiVo Test Bed , and Comcast Expands TiVo Footprint .)

But it does pre-empt cable's own ambitions in the PC environment. Though not much of a consumer hit, there's a one-way version (the OpenCable Unidirectional Receiver, or OCUR) that enables PCs to access digital cable channels, including premium channels like HBO, using a CableCARD interface. (See CableCARD Six-Pack .) A more complicated and capable interactive version that also supports tru2way -- called CablePC -- is still in the works at CableLabs , but no specs have been issued. It's also been referred to as the Bidirectional OpenCable Receiver (BOCR) -- not exactly a name marketers will be salivating over. (See Cable Developing Two-Way PCTV Play .)

We've been told that Bill Gates was supposed to demonstrate CablePC at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, but the whole thing got pushed back... way back. The next CES is just over three months away, so perhaps Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will give CablePC its first big public splash when he keynotes the gadgetfest the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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