Is TiVo Heading Down a Proprietary Path???

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by mchiles, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. mchiles

    mchiles Member

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    I don't own a new TiVo HD unit. I have a Series 3 unit which I soon plan to upgrade with a jumbo internal hard drive and a jumbo eSATA unit hung off the back.

    But I have gotten to thinking about all the trouble there has been upgrading the TiVo HD to a larger hard drive. (Thanks for your pioneering efforts Spike 2K5!!)

    In addition, the new HD currently does not have eSATA external drive support. And the new HD wireless networking supposedly only works with the TiVo Branded Wireless Network Adaptor.

    Is TiVo with the introduction of the new HD unit, starting to head down a proprietary path, where only TiVo branded and/or approved products will work with the new units??? Will only TiVo branded/approved eSATA enclosures work in the future?? Will Tivo offer Tivo branded/approved internal hard drive upgrades??.

    Will TiVo send an software upgrade to all existing Series 3 units that will turn off the eSATA port and render as doorstops, ALL Series 3 units with aftermarket, non-TiVo approved, internal and/or external hard drive upgrades???

    Perhaps TiVo has been told by their patent attorneys that they need to have a closed system to make sure that they can protect their patents. Maybe TiVo has decided that open source isn't the way to go and to protect themselves and their patents and they need to close their systems from aftermarket and third party upgrades, hacks and reverse engineering.

    Anyone have any idea if this is the direction that TiVo is heading. Or, will TiVo continue to turn a blind eye to the upgrade aftermarket and let others make money off upgrading TiVo units??

    Just wondering.....
     
  2. supasta

    supasta Active Member

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    IMO it is about time TiVo start capitalizing on the $ going to other 3rd parties doing hard drive and other upgrades.
     
  3. rainwater

    rainwater Active Member

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    Perhaps they are attempting to fix the addressing issue so larger drives will be supported?

    This is no different than the S3 which doesn't have official support either. The TiVo HD does have the port though.

    This isn't surprising since TiVo has been unable to keep up with the driver development of new chipsets. TiVo can't force the chipset manufacturers to provide drivers for linux and thus far few companies have provided them. If you look at the current list, you will be hard pressed to find a adapter that you can buy in stores today. This is not the fault of TiVo, but the result of using Linux.

    If TiVo wanted to do "proprietary" enclosures, then they would not have chosen to use eSATA. It would be down right impossible to conform to the eSATA standard and only work with one enclosure. eSATA drives work the same as SATA drives internally, so the TiVo itself doesn't even know the difference. Adding overhead to this system would mean TiVo would have to increase the hardware requirements and thus raising the cost of production.
     
  4. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    Tivo may offer their own branded upgrades, but I don't think they are headed down a proprietary path.

    According to spike2k5, the old upgrade tools were designed to upgrade boxes with 32-bit addressing (up to 2 terabytes) and the TivoHD is the first box to ship with 64-bit addressing (up to 9 zettabytes) for storage. Hence, the old tools are not compatible.

    The TivoHD also uses a new Silicon Image eSATA controller which supports virtualized storage. The current version of the TivoHD software doesn't appear to support that feature.

    Tivo hasn't helped third parties with the upgrade. Those vendors sold upgraded TivoHDs with the expectation that the old methods would work. They don't.

    Thankfully, a new upgrade method (WinMFS) starts testing today and it shouldn't be long before public release. Upgrade vendors are waiting on these new tools as well.
     
  5. GoHokies!

    GoHokies! O2->CO2 Converter

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    I had to look up what the heck a zettabyte was. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. If I have it right, a ZB is one million terabytes?

    I want a Tivo with all that storage. :D
     
  6. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    I agree with others here that this is more a support issue than trying to go proprietary. Once the ethernet port was added then TiVo is not blocking off other ways to do wireless bridiging and so forth. Then they could just worry about tweaking performance for the Tivo wireless USB adapter that they knew would only change if TiVo saw a need for it to change. MOst likely freed up a lot or resource time and development/testing effort.

    eSata does have the cable labs involvement as well since shows "leave" the box. It sounds like that is in hand though since Tivo put up a time line for turning that on. I suspect at the least you can do some simple hack to use other eSata drives/enclosures but TiVo will be the officially supportd one. I would never see TiVo turning off other devices unless they had to for some cable labs compliance thing - which would likely not be the case.

    Internal drive upgrades TiVo stays away from since that means opening up the box and exposing the unshielded power supply. TiVo did sell other drive sizes but itseems those did not sell from TiVo.com so they just let the 3rd party take that business over. Probably saves them a bundle by not having to stock various SKUs for various sizes and the retail stores know they have thesame thing as TiVo.com in an easy to order and display on shelf single size or so.
     
  7. KRKeegan

    KRKeegan Im lost and confused

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    I think TiVo to a certain extent sells TiVo branded wireless cards and harddrives for those individuals who are not as technically inclined as all of us. By selling a TiVo branded hard drive they can be sure that the product will work in a specific fashion without any hassles. Many consumers are willing to pay a premium for this assurance, and TiVo should continue to market and sell these items as long as they remain profitable.
     
  8. psyton

    psyton New Member

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    Incorrect - one could opt to use eSATA for the bus, and still have a branded drive that the box would accept or reject. Tivo is not an open systems platform, and as such, holds all the cards on what it will and will not allow.

    I am surprised they didn't lock it down when designed and sell branded external storage - same with the wireless adapter support.

    Even harder when the OS is a major rev behind (2.4 vs 2.6). But the problem would be much worse w/ other embedded oses. But again, doesn't matter, Tivo isn't a PC - they can decide what, if anything, they allow.
     
  9. rainwater

    rainwater Active Member

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    Yes, I agree. However, this would add cost to the box and require a more overhead. I really don't see that as an effective option. Cable companies DVRs now support eSATA so it would make no sense to restrict the hardware to a "Tivo" branded one.
     
  10. vstone

    vstone Active Member

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    I think it boils down to a juggler with 3 flaming bowling pins: one: introduce new platforms and features, two: minimize overhead (read consumer support issues), and three: trying to keep us guys who want 2 TB of online storage happy.

    A Tivo HD out of the box that uses a Tivo USB doohickey is fine for us folk. Don't expect them to complicate the issue just because we want to save $10 on a doohickey and want to archive every episode of 24 in HD.
     
  11. psyton

    psyton New Member

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    How does it add any cost to the box (above the initial r&d)? It's only software. As far as overhead, maybe if their implementation sucks, but then again after the DST fiasco I'm less impressed by their engineering capabilities, so maybe you have a point.

    The "sense to restrict" comes from the business end - revenue. Throw out some numbers of expanded tivos and a reasonable gross margin. It adds up quick. How many bought the S3 and otherwise would not have if their only option for space expansion was a tivo branded drive? I would think not many at all.
     
  12. drew00001

    drew00001 New Member

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    Similar to open source economics, I am sure Tivo sees the need (and is aware of the benefits) of giving techies and developers some access to its functionality.
     
  13. mportuesi

    mportuesi As seen on TV

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    I don't know why they don't just build the wireless support into the box now. Just about every other consumer electronics device does this. Offering a Tivo-branded adapter has avoided some pitfalls, but It's still a pain for the consumer to have to go out, buy, connect and configure an external networking device.

    Perhaps it's a cost issue, but heck, even my Nintendo DS handheld - a children's toy - supports Wi-Fi. It certainly should have been standard in the Series 3, which was a pretty expensive piece of hardware.
     
  14. megazone

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

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    It is cost - WiFi components would be a significant cost in the hardware budget for the unit. On top of that, a lot of TiVo's are buried in entertainment centers where the WiFi reception is *terrible* - no good signal path, and lots of interference and reflection from other components. Being able to position the antenna (in the adapter) allows for MUCH better reception for many users.

    As for the DS - wireless is a core function of the unit. Portable devices make much more sense to include WiFI - they're portable and are designed to roam around. And the DS uses WiFi for multi-player gaming, a core feature of the unit. So it was natural for it to have it.

    WiFi isn't a core feature of the TiVo - wired Ethernet is much better and WiFi is really only to be used if you can't use wires. I'm sure TiVo knows exactly how many of their users use networking - and how many of those use wired compared to WiFi. You'd need a significant number of WiFi users to justify standardizing the components.

    I think 'every other consumer electronics device' is quite over-reaching. Almost no TVs have WiFi. Very few cell phones have WiFi. Most (nearly all) laptop PCs include WiFi, but most desktop PCs don't. Most DVD players, A/V receivers, etc, do not include WiFi. The Xbox 360 doesn't have WiFi. The Slingbox doesn't have WiFi. I could go on, but I think I made my point - consumer electronics devices with built-in WiFi are actually a small minority of CE products.
     
  15. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    Amen. I was annoyed at my Wii that it was wireless only. Luckily it worked just fine with my existing wireless infrastructure, but I already have a switch in my AV cabinet so it's not a big deal to just plug another component in...
     
  16. mportuesi

    mportuesi As seen on TV

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    Being able to position the antenna is a legitimate point, but the cost issue can easily be resolved by removing something else - such as the modem - and making that available as a USB accessory. That would also encourage use of broadband, something TiVo wants.

    The existence of a built-in WiFi wouldn't prohibit people from buying an external adapter if they needed one.

    The real point I was trying to make is that the DS - a device that retails for $129 - is able to include WiFi as part of its base feature set.


    Let's qualify that by saying CE products where WiFi makes sense. Most TV's, DVD players or AV receivers don't need WiFi as part of their base feature set. A TiVo absolutely requires some sort of internet connectivity in order to fetch guide data, and a wireless connection - spotty as it is buried in someone's entertainment center - is sufficient. Besides, WiFi usage and WiFi support are only getting bigger over time, not smaller.

    To the person who complained about Wii's wireless support: Nintendo sells a wired ethernet dongle if you need it. Nintendo decided that more people want wireless than wired built-in, and I think it was the right decision. I think it's the right decision for TiVo too.
     
  17. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    Well, I'm glad I didn't have to pay for wireless in my Tivo. I have five devices that need IP connectivity, including my HD DVD player. Four of them have an ethernet port - works for me. Luckily the Wii got signal (also luckily it supported the right alphabet soup mix that is my wireless network) so I didn't have to buy a wired port. I've never been a fan of directly integrated wireless - how long did it take Tivo to support WPA? Do they even support WPA2? Just use a wireless bridge - can work with more than device and is more likely to support all the standards you need.

    Different strokes for different folks...
     
  18. rainwater

    rainwater Active Member

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    The cost of the latest generation WiFi adapters is much more than the cost of a modem adapter. At this point I would venture to say the modem included on a TiVo box cost less than $1. Also, what happens when the wireless standard changes and the adapter no longer works? The modem, ethernet port, and USB ports are very low cost components and make the box upgradeable (aka a new usb wireless adapter can be created, etc).
     
  19. megazone

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

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    Again, it comes down to actual use - TiVo surely knows exactly how many people are using WiFi compared to wired Ethernet, and they don't seem to feel putting WiFi in the unit is warranted.

    Note that a large segment of TiVo users still use the modem - think of how many broadband connected users they claim to have (something like 500,000 IIRC - I don't feel like looking it up), compared to total subscribers. The majority of users are still on modems by those numbers. So removing the modem isn't a viable choice, not that they'd save much doing so.
     
  20. moyekj

    moyekj Well-Known Member

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    I don't quite agree with the statement that Tivo knows "exactly" who has what - there are many using ethernet port and a wireless ethernet bridge instead of a USB adapter so Tivo can't possibly know those are wireless and not wired. However I do agree with Tivo leaving it out if nothing else for cost reasons and the fact that there are economical solutions available to the user.
     

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