NEW YORK (AP) — TiVo Inc. announced a new line of digital video recorders Tuesday to give television viewers more control over what they watch on traditional channels and over the Internet.
The fifth-generation DVRs from the company that pioneered the devices come as consumers have a growing number of choices for finding and watching TV shows and movies.
TiVo's devices face more competition than they did when they were first introduced in 1999. Cable and satellite TV companies are improving their own DVR offerings, while stand-alone devices such as Roku, Apple TV and Google's Chromecast seek to simplify Internet streaming on big-screen TVs. Meanwhile, game consoles and smartphones now come with apps to do much of what TiVo does. An Internet startup called Aereo offers an Internet-based DVR for broadcast channels.
With its new Roamio DVR, TiVo is counting on the notion that avid television viewers prefer one device to do it all.
"What TiVo is doing here is pressing home their advantage. That is, they know TV," said Colin Dixon, chief analyst at nScreen Media, a research firm in Sunnyvale, Calif. "What they are doing here is actually very difficult for anybody else."
Dixon said many casual television viewers will be fine with generic offerings from their cable company, but TiVo's appeal is with high-end consumers who are already paying the most for television packages and Internet video services.
The Roamio is the company's first major update in three years.
Like previous TiVos and other DVRs, the Roamio supports basic functions such as the ability to pause and rewind live TV. TiVos also lets you watch video from Netflix, Hulu and other Internet services on regular TVs, as long as you have subscriptions with them.
The new TiVos give you more options for finding shows to watch. The emphasis in the past was on finding programs to record, whether by title, actor, director, genre or keyword. The Roamios offer recommendations on what's currently on, based in part of what other TiVo viewers are watching and have watched in that time slot in the past. The new devices also let you narrow what you see in channel-by-channel listings to just movies, sports or kids shows.
Some of the new DVRs will also come with the ability to watch live and recorded shows on iPhones and iPads. Before, a $130 device called TiVo Stream was needed. Streaming is initially limited to devices on the home Wi-Fi network. This fall, out-of-home viewing will be available through other Wi-Fi networks, such as at work, hotels and coffee shops. An Android app also is coming by early next year.
The mid-range Roamio model comes with enough storage for 150 hours of high-definition television and can record up to six channels at once. Besides built-in streaming, there's built-in Wi-Fi support to negate the need for TiVo's $90 adapter.
TiVo is touting the $220 savings as it tries to persuade people to spend $400 for that mid-range model, the Roamio Plus. It's an investment that also requires a $15-a-month TiVo service for electronic television listings and other features. A high-end Roamio Pro, which can store 450 hours of HD programming, is available for $600.
The $200 base model has 75 hours of storage and can record just four channels at once. It also lacks built-in support for streaming to iPhones and iPads. But the base model can record over-the-air broadcasts, while the pricier models require a TV signal from a cable service. (Satellite TV isn't supported on any of the devices. AT&T'S U-verse won't work either, but Verizon's FiOS will.)
TiVo, which is based in San Jose, Calif., has been steadily gaining subscribers over the past two years, after seeing its business decline amid competition from DVRs provided by cable and satellite companies. TiVo now partners with many of those companies, including Comcast Corp., to provide a premium DVR offering. It also sells stand-alone DVRs, such as the current Premiere line.
TiVo had 3.4 million subscribers as of April 30, a nearly 75 percent increase from 2 million two years earlier.
Gartner analyst Mike McGuire said the new TiVos will appeal to people who want to find shows easily, whether they come from a traditional channel or from an Internet service. Although cheaper rival devices are available, McGuire said some consumers will be drawn by TiVo's simplicity — especially if they are already paying for premium cable packages in multiple rooms.
The Roamio expands TiVo's push into multi-room experiences. You can buy a TiVo Mini for $100 upfront and $6 in monthly service fees to extend the functionality of the main TiVo into another room. Two family members can watch separate shows even though all the recordings are coming through the main TiVo. Although that capability was available before, the Roamio offers under-the-hood improvements in allocating resources.
Jim Denney, TiVo's vice president for product marketing, acknowledged growing competition from other television-viewing devices and services.
But in offering both traditional channels and Internet video, as well as features such as viewing away from home, the Roamio "should be the best TV experience you can get. . It's your content wherever you want."
Cooking With Dog
Cooking with dog is not exactly what it sounds like. "Chef" cooks various Japanese dishes as Frances narrates and dog, a miniature poodle, looks on. To date, the 89 episodes have been viewed more than 45 million times. The channel certainly has a cult following. <em>SF Weekly</em> has <a href="http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2012/01/top_5_cooking_with_dog_episode.php" target="_hplink">complied a list of the top five episodes</a>, and there's a "<a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooking-With-Dog-Fan-Club/145541405522381" target="_hplink">Cooking with Dog Fan Club</a>" Facebook page.
HumanmiaL: Art of Transformation
HumanmiaL is half man, half animal, and 100 percent awesome. <a href="http://www.vice.com/read/the-humanimal-isnt-in-it-for-the-kicks" target="_hplink">According to <em>Vice</em></a>, HumanimaL is Alex Kovas, a London-based actor and artist who covers himself in body paint and wears animal masks, much to the delight of partygoers, wedding guests, and, of course, the YouTube audience. On his website, Kovas says that <a href="http://www.humanimals.co.uk/#!__about" target="_hplink">he has the ability to transform himself</a> into horses, antelopes, deer, a rabbit, big cats, dogs and even a unicorn. While he was recently <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGUlZb6uc5I&list=FLnyOp4LVxU78eTSsaQB92Rw&index=1&feature=plcp" target="_hplink">featured at a Wimbeldon party for Slazenger</a>, he told Vice that most of his corporate clients are in the medical and banking industries. <a href="http://www.vice.com/read/the-humanimal-isnt-in-it-for-the-kicks" target="_hplink">Click over to <em>Vice</em> to see an interview</a> with Kovas. <em><a href="http://www.awesome-robo.com/2010/11/8-of-most-fed-channels-on-youtube.html" target="_hplink">H/T Awesome Robo</a></em>
Charlie's Live Action Role Playing (LARPing) Videos
YouTube user <em>redwormcharlie</em> has dozens of videos of him and his fellow "Larpers" dressing in character and acting out role-playing scenes. Larping, for those of you who are not in the know, <a href="http://www.larping.org/larp-definition/" target="_hplink">is defined by Larping.org</a> as "a continuation of a table-top roleplaying game that people choose to act out by becoming a character and staging a fantasy world experience in which their character lives."
Air Guitar World Championships
All air, all the time. Watch the world's top airheads rock out on the official <a href="http://www.airguitarworldchampionships.com/" target="_hplink">Air Guitar World Championships</a> channel. Want to see it in real life? There's still time to get to Northern Finland in August to see the 17th Air Guitar World Championships. The air shredding begins on August 22.
<a href="http://www.cyriak.co.uk/" target="_hplink"><em>Cyriak</em> is a UK-based animator and musician</a> who creates videos, comics, illustrations and, well, animations. His 2010 "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FavUpD_IjVY&feature=plcp" target="_hplink">cows & cows & cows</a>" video been viewed more than 16 million times. On his YouTube page, he says he uses Photoshop, After Effects and Fruity Loops to create his videos. <a href="http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-amazing-youtube-channels-subscribe/ " target="_hplink">[Via MakeUseOf.com]</a>
Guns & Gardens - Doomsday & Apocalypse Survival
After watching a few episodes from Guns & Gardens - Doomsday & Apocalypse Survival, you'll no longer be unprepared for the impending zombie apocalypse. Marque Cornblatt, the "Inventor," says that Guns and Gardens "is a kind of doomsday think tank." The San Francisco artist is joined by his friends who not only build and sell defense equipment, but also show viewers how to defend themselves in the event of a zombie apocalypse. And yes, <a href="http://www.guns-n-gardens.com/app.html" target="_hplink">there's an app for that</a>.
Open Minds TV
Each week, <a href="http://www.openminds.tv/" target="_hplink">Open Minds</a>, an organization focused on extra-terrestrial, alien and UFO phenomena, releases a new episode of Open Minds TV. The show has only been on for a few months, but guests so far have included <a href="http://www.syfy.com/factorfaked/team" target="_hplink">Ben Hansen</a> from SyFy's "Fact or Faked," Navajo Rangers, <a href="http://tvblogs.nationalgeographic.com/2012/06/26/meet-the-ufo-chasers-ben-mcgee-physical-scientist/" target="_hplink">Ben McGee</a> from <em>National Geographic</em>'s "Chasing UFOs" and HuffPost's own <a href="http://www.leespeigel.com/index.php?ptp=bio" target="_hplink">Lee Spiegel</a>.