Monday, November 21, 2005

Taking Your TV Shows With You

I've been using the TiVo ToGo software off-and-on since the day it was available. It's a little kludgy, and it doesn't always work effortlessly, but when it does, it's a dream:

You have a show recorded on your TiVo? Fire up your laptop, download it wirelessly (that takes a while), and watch it on your computer or burn it to a DVD. That also takes a while, and you're stuck with the buggy software they're partnered with. Still, it's a nice, inexpensive feature.

Now comes news (I got it from AdAge) that TiVo is adding the ability to move your shows to your iPod. Cool.

Now a couple of caveats: so far the TiVo ToGo software is Windows only (arrgghhh!)... here's hoping they eventually fix that. (Since I moved 90% of my life to Macs I can't use TiVo ToGo at all.)

Meanwhile, here's what may be obvious to most of you but many others of you may be unaware of: you already own something that probably does the above beautifully, if not wirelessly.

Your camcorder.

Just hook up the AV input on your camcorder to the second set of outputs on the TiVo (the ones for VCR dubbing) and record the show on your camcorder. Once that's done, you can plug your camcorder into your computer and edit, burn, or whatever as you normally would, to watch anywhere you like at your convenience. Until they ruin that.

Speaking of which, NBC/Universal has become the first broadcaster to make a deal for peer-to-peer distribution of its content. Wow, huh? Don't get excited. The deal calls for downloaded films and TV shows to be viewable for (you knew this was coming didn't you?) 24 hours only.

Oh, but here's the good part: You can still keep the file on your computer for 30 days, so others can download it from you.

Gee, can I?

When will they learn? Remember Circuit City's disastrous Divx format? Where your DVD player called in to tell them how long it'd been since you started playing that particular DVD so Circuit City could decide whether you were still allowed to play it or not? That got a giant "fuck you" from the public, and rightly so.

I don't subscribe to any music service that applies similar restrictions. Once something is on my computer, it's mine. I don't want it phoning home, I don't want it checking what I do, and if it's ever going to tell me "no" then it's not invited in. End of story.

From radio to the Walkman to the iPod to PVR's and beyond, we want our media to be free. We want our media to be mobile. We want to take our media with us, to listen or watch at our convenience, where and when we like. Tech manufacturers and content providers should be working every day to help us do that, because (as torrents prove) we have whole generations coming that will do it whether they get help or not.

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