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Tivo HD - cable companies and h.264

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by tvmaster2, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. tvmaster2

    tvmaster2 Active Member

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    Cox Communications has apparently begun switching their HD channels to h.264, MPEG4 from MPG2.

    The Tivo HD doesn't like that, although I'm led to believe Tivo could correct the problem with a software update for the Tivo HD.

    Only the Premiere can access these channels.

    If all cable companies continue what Cox has begun...how long until ALL the Tivo HD's are essentially boat-anchors?

    It's not likely that Tivo will address fixing the HD to access MPEG4 channels, nor will they do a free swap to a low-end Premiere.

    Is it just COX so far who's doing this, or have folks with Comcast, Time Warner, etc been noticing that your HD channels are disappearing.....
     
  2. waynomo

    waynomo My One Time TCF Club

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    Seven...
  3. HerronScott

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

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    I haven't heard anything lately about Comcast moving to h.264.

    Scott
     
  4. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    The HD was first introduced in 2007. Five years old makes it an antique in the consumer electronics world. It's not reasonable to expect software updates to address a new functionality need that hasn't even existed for the first five years of use.

    This topic was thoroughly covered in the thread linked in post #2 here.
     
  5. tvmaster2

    tvmaster2 Active Member

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    Thanks for your input - I just disagree with that concept: five years old and it's obsolete. I don't expect things to last 20 years, but I do have televisions, receivers, vcr's, radios, coffee grinders, vacuum cleaners and automobiles that have stayed completely functional for that amount of time.

    When it was "introduced" is irrelevant - when it was purchased is the true date, as that is a date the manufacturer needs to support.

    The concept of "accepting" that what we buy needs to be re-purchased again every five years would have made Steve Jobs extremely happy (actually, Steve preferred every two years). People who have decided to accept that are being sucked in.

    The very fact that the item IS software based, therefore making it possible to keep it current, makes the concept of forced-obsolescence even more maddening.

    Sorry, not ready to go along with that concept just yet
    :)
     
  6. janry

    janry New Member

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    I hope I can still use my HD for OTA for a long time.
     
  7. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    San...
    It's a relative term.

    I surely do. We have a 1970 Chevrolet pickup with over 500,000 miles on it. I manage over 50 Unix hosts that were purchased and installed prior to 1995, and some were fired up in 1992.

    Well, no, that's not quite reasonable. It would preclude anyone from selling off old inventory at discount prices. That would be bad for everyone.

    There's one born every minute...

    I agree to a point, and in general. If the hardware supports it, then software updates should be made available, perhaps for a modest fee.

    I'm mostly with you. OTOH, I am mostly uninterested in the majority of software upgrades out there.
     
  8. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Well the concept you've chosen to disagree with isn't the one I stated. I said consumer electronics and coffee grinders, vacuum cleaners and automobiles aren't that. Also I didn't use, nor mean, the term "obsolete". I'm continuing to use my lifetime TiVo HD and don't expect it to be obsolete any time soon. I'm also driving a 19 year old car. If some new kind of gasoline is introduced that can't be used in that car, I certainly don't expect the manufacturer to do an upgrade, at least not a free one.
    iPhone users may be suckers in your eyes but if they are happy with what they do then that's their choice. Nobody's being suckered -- buying the new version is their only way to get the features they desire.
    Developing the required updates for the HD may cost tens of thousands of dollars worth of software engineer labor and test/debug, plus a significant cost of pushing the updates via TiVo servers. You should expect to pay the cost of this and, even then, TiVo may not find it to be a very desirable way to assign their software development resources. This case is not the same as fixing a bug that impaired functionality from the beginning, which they at least have an ethical responsibility to do.
    Again, you've defined a strawman concept to oppose -- not mine.

    There has definitely been a trend in many products of designing in less durability/longevity than "back in the day". I remember furnaces, water heaters, washers and driers designed to last much more than the 5-10 years you typically get now. I don't like it but it's just a case of producers catering to the bulk of consumers who prefer stuff to be a little cheaper at the expense of the durability. If most consumers expected more durable products, the manufacturers would respond accordingly -- and quickly. The concept of brand loyalty enters here. If you care about durability you have to have confidence that a particular brand means that. The bulk of consumers pay no attention anything but the cost of many items they buy.
     
  9. tvmaster2

    tvmaster2 Active Member

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  10. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

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    Well, we know that the Tivo HD can handle h.264 via a PyTivo "push".

    Question is, will the cable companies encode their h.264 in the format that the Tivo HD accepts, and if not, would it be a simple software fix?

    I have a feeling it might come down to hardware incompatibility. :(
     
  11. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Have you scanned this thread (linked in post #2 of the current thread)?
    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=491450&highlight=mpeg4+cox
    Dan203 makes some very pertinent comments there, including:
    . I think "obsolete" is a bit strong for the Series 3 platforms but the point stands nonetheless. I think the software mods would have to be trivial before TiVo could justify making them for products that are at least 5 years old and were replaced by newer products almost 3 years ago.
     
  12. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    San...
    That's a little specious. The distinction is an artificial one, and one that only exists because we as consumers have allowed it to be made.

    There is a parallel in automobiles, however. The entire concept of a "year model" is not one that has existed for the entire time that cars have been produced. It wasn't until the 1920s that General Motors began introducing cars with only primarily superficially or cosmetically different features than the previous year. Being fundamentally vainglorious, however, consumers lapped it up, and having a newer year model than your neighbor became a status symbol.

    Well, first of all, the automotive companies do just that. It is called a recall, and they happen all the time.

    There is a very real difference here, though, and one that cannot be parallelled in the automotive industry (at least not yet). A significant hardware retrofit is not something that may be reasonably required of a company. Software is another matter, however. Software can be easily and cheaply updated. Companies that make $40 peripheral cards, $20 mice, and $70 motherboards do it all the time.

    The suckering lies principally in getting the user to believe they are supposed to desire those things, and then to accept the requirement that they buy new hardware to get the things they urgently need which did not exist a month ago. It's called hype.

    Almost surely not. The code in significant detail already exists. Modifying the existing code is not that terribly expensive. Thousands? Surely. Tens of Thousands? Probably not. Even so, $20,000 - $50,000 is just not a lot of money for a company like TiVo, who has a reasonable fraction of a $Billion in the bank.

    SOP. Those people are paid whether they are pushing updates or sitting on their bums.

    That's a different matter, but I submit it is a much better investment in PR - and probably a cheaper one - than hiring Tim Tebow.

    The ethics here are a little fuzzy, but a company's reputation is not. A company like TiVo can abandon a small segment of the population without too many repercussions, but if the delivery of h.264 content on CATV systems becomes widespread, the probably cannot.

    Note TiVo would be more than happy to fire up a service plan for my retired 12 year old Series I. If they are willing to do that, then at some level they need to be prepared to continue to support those platforms, let alone one 6 - 8 years newer.

    Yes, in some cases. In others, it is little more than the producer having a virtual monopoly.

    In some areas this is true. In others, not. Some consumers are so addicted to their products they don't care how long they last or how much they cost. They just "gotta have them".
     
  13. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    San...
    Define "trivial". It certainly would not require a massive code re-write.
     
  14. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Obviously the operative definitions of "trivial" (and "massive", which you haven't defined. :p) are in the eyes of TiVo management. Even if the cost of the H.264 mod is only a few thousand dollars, I doubt that they would consider it a good investment compared to other uses of that resource.

    Actually I believe you're wrong that this mod would bring them a better return (in customer relations or any other area) than the Tebow thing although, for me, the Tebow thing has absolutely zero impact.

    The comparison to auto recalls is (to use your word) specious.

    The only antidote to "hype" is consumers who don't respond to it, unless you have some other more effective approach in mind (?). Go ahead and castigate the producers for using it if it makes you feel better -- but that's the only effect it will have.
     
  15. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    San...
    Well, to a limited extent yes. That is to say, one may spin an analysis more than one way, but if the overall cost is less than the overall benefit, it's pretty much a lock. Of course, there is inherent even in that cold analysis some level of perception. If the management incorrectly perceives the potential cost to be more than it really will be, or if they fail to consider all the returns on the investment, then the analysis will be skewed. Such failures are not uncommon.

    I was part of a discussion panel which included senior management and a few of us in engineering back when I still worked for the CATV company. They had huge stars in their eyes over someone's bright idea to go into large apartment complexes and install telephone switches to compete with (at the time) SBC. I told them they were nuts; they would never be able to make any money. For solid technical reasons, they simply would not be able to deliver all the services that SBC could, and I told them many customers would demand that. They countered with an argument that basically assumed 100% of the people in the complex would abandon SBC in favor of their service. Their actual penetration turned out to be less than 30%, and very few, if any, of their customers were very satisfied with the sevice.

    The product never made a single penny of profit. Two years and several million dollars later, they wrote it off. I had left the company by then, so I don't know for certain how much they lost, but it would not surprise me if they failed to recover even 25% of their investment.

    So the bottom line is you may be ultimately correct. Users can only hope the senior management at TiVo is a bit more enlightened than that of the CATV company. (Not a difficult task, mind you.)

    Not if they suddenly had 20% of their customer base enraged by not being able to record stuff. They would also take a huge financial hit if tens of thousands of used TiVos suddenly flooded the market.

    For me, as well, which is my point. They have spent perhaps many tens of thousands of dollars on an ad campaign which has alienated a significant number of potential future customers and done nothing at all for another significant number of potential future users. At the current level of subscriber impact, it really makes little sense to spend any significant amount on supporting h.264. If it grew to nearly all channels for all subs on a significant number of large MSOs, then it is another matter.

    Oh, and BTW, the code for this function would probably be essentially identical on the Premiere, so developing it for the S3 would more than likely cost almost nothing at all.

    Not at all. The auto company discovers an issue which causes something on the vehicle not to function as designed, and they issue a recall. Whether the failure is due to an external or internal influence, or both, is not generally relevant. Of course, often the recall is issued in order to forestall expensive litigation, but it is still a financial decision, and often one made to improve customer satisfaction. Relatively small things can cause a consumer to buy someone else's product, and spending $200 per owner to encourage them to buy a $20,000 vehicle can be good business.

    No. Well, yes. Stop producing idiots who buy into hype.

    I don't castigate the producers for bilking morons. I castigate morons for gladly allowing themselves to be bilked.
     
  16. tvmaster2

    tvmaster2 Active Member

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    if Tivo doesn't want to continue to support, service and make whole their products merely three years after they were available for sale at retail locations, they should really get out of this business.

    How anyone can read this any other way is bizarre.

    If cable companies make it difficult for Tivo - boohoo Tivo, here's a Kleenex.
    Serioulsy, Tivo just won a HUGE, multi-million dollar judgement for their intellectual property and patents, likely arguing to the courts that they couldn't support their customers otherwise.

    So START SUPPORTING YOUR CUSTOMERS!

    If your damn box can be software upgraded to offset what some slimey cable companies are re-engineering, then counter them.
    You don't win if you don't fight, therefore, by rolling over to the cable companies, Tivo loses.

    Fix the H.264 software, and show the cable companies that they are going to have to spend ALOT more money if they want to join the fray.

    If customers just roll over, agree to pay expensive upgrade fees because they seriously believe that consumer electronics shouldn't last longer than three years....I feel sorry for you. Get a bloody backbone, customers. :)
     
  17. jrtroo

    jrtroo User

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    It is not a fix. It was not broken, you are asking for a new feature that was not offered (or required) when you purchased your device.

    Unfortunately, this has become a common, accepted experience in the gadget world. Asking nicely may help, but in the end I would expect that tivo executives will see a much greater return looking forward and not backwards.

    If I were losing this functionality, I would get a premiere and sell my old HD until while the prices are high (i.e. before this rolls out more widely). There are even those purchasing old S2s with lifetime, despite it also being swallowed up by newer technologies and requirements.
     
  18. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    San...
    First of all, it is not barely three years. It will be at least another two to five years before h.264 encoding is anything but very rare.

    How many other electronics companies still support anything, let alone provide upgrades, 5 - 8 years after the introduction of the next generation product?

    They are neither making it easy nor difficult for TiVo, any more than the transition to digital programming made it easy or difficult for TiVo. No one should expect TiVo to retrofit all their Series 2 units to digital, and if hardware issues really are at the core of the issue (I definitely think not), then they should not be expected to handle that situation, either. Are you demanding your TV manufacturer retrofit their system, as well? Good luck with that notion.

    Don't be utterly foolish. The suit had nothing to do with any TiVo customers. The suit, rightfully settled in TiVo's favor, was entirely based upon the fact Echostar had built their DVRs in infringement of TiVo's patents. Any such infringement is illegal and actionable. Indeed, any failure on TiVo's part to issue a suit would very likely have resulted in their losing those rights altogether. In any case, EchoStar made billions of dollars by stealing TiVo's ideas, and the law says someone like Echostar has to either pay agreed-upon royalties to the patent owner before the fact or be forced to pay penalties to the patent owner after the fact. Such considerations are completely irrespective of any situation concerning the patent owners own customers.

    Now you are just ranting senselessly. How TiVo would lose out by their customers being forced to buy a new box from them is beyond me.

    That is completely nonsensical. TiVo's success or failure to upgrade their older units will not cost the CATV companies a single penny.

    You started out with a moderately defensible position in part, but now you have just gone off the deep end into total rubbish.
     
  19. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Exactly -- and is what I said much earlier in this thread. Also, BTW, this is why lrhorer's auto recall analogy fails.
    Correct about the "total rubbish" part. Doubtful about the "moderately defensible" part.
     
  20. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    San...
    No analogy is ever perfect, and this is not a new feature from the perspective of the user. They are not benefiting directly from it, the CATV company is. The CATV company could choose to deliver the service via a compatible means (like SDV), but they do not. It is not providing any additional features to the subscriber. Now that is not TiVo's fault, but it certainly is not the subscriber's either.

    Some parts of his original stance are indeed somewhat defensible. To wit, a minor software fix (like that implemented for the long defunct S1 TiVos when DST changes went into effect) can be if not exactly demanded, at least reasonably requested. That they should be expected or worse yet an entitlement is pushing it too far, but there certainly is precedent. The notion that it is indeed good for TiVo's business is also quite defensible to a point. Just because something costs money and cannot be shown to directly benefit the revenue line does not mean it is necessarily not good business. Companies that forget that - like Nortel - are doomed eventually to fail. There is a great deal more to continued profitability than just bottom line revenue, and especially more than just top line revenue. What's more, as I already pointed out, the flooding of the market with a glut of suddenly cheap TiVos would drastically impact sales of new TiVos, and nothing impacts the bottom line like a drastic slump in sales.
     

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