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Justin Thyme said:
Hot damn. Good on them. No doubt it is latin script chinese, so no way to tell if this also might mean they have internationalized their code base (at least unicode and large font library support).
The c|net article linked above shows hanzi in some of the screenshots.
 

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I was all wrong about Pinyin Charles. From the third screen over, the now playing titles appear to be multibyte, and I have no idea what that illegible junk on the 4th screen is, but I would guess the guide is too. No way to know what encoding they used, but whatever- this involved a lot more than a string substitution type port. I know you have experience in this field so perhaps you have some thoughts on how you would do a keyword wishlist entry using a remote. a chinese onscreen keyboard? Jeez. I thought roman text entry was hard enough. If they dumped keyword wishlists, then all strings- actors, directors, titles could all be offered from picklists- with "chapter"callouts to jump ahead in the picklist.

Overview impressions- A successful internationalization port of the Tivo Software. This is a nontrivial work item to adapt Tivo's software to a majorly different language- this isn't just bitmaps- they have to have support for multibyte character sets to display Now playing list and Guide database interactions. There is a nice improvement in the interfaces supported, (addition of an ethernet port will probably mean transfers will be faster than any previous tivo), but this appears to be an otherwise stock 2.5 capability device. When we hear of transfer times for TTG functionality, we will know if the remuxing processing bottleneck has been addressed in a substantial way.

I don't read chinese- the translation from which I extracted the following specifications is here.

Features:
analog input- no cable direct connection
160 GB HD
1 Ethernet port, standard RJ45
2 USB 2.0 ports, future use to support storage installation
mpeg2 encoding
720x540 resolution !
standard SD video inputs and outputs Svideo, composite.
no "optical" audio- assume that means no 5.1 dolby.
14 day guide
Main screens in chinese glyphs. Screen shot of now playing list is difficult to make out characters, but they aren't roman glyphs

Monthly fee based subscription One year of subscription valued at NT$1,500 ($44 or $3.60/mo)

Introductory offer:
NT$12,900- $384 USD. (Best buy sells a 140GB Tivo for $349)
free installation
Free first year subscription
Dlink wireless connector included free.

Missing from article-
  • Where was this puppy manufactured?
  • no mention of dvd burner unit (though complaints about this being missing)
  • any mention of TTG/HME features
  • method of inputing text to navigate guide (title, actor searches) of course the US way is not the only way- you can have items in the list as kind of chapters to jump you ahead in a pick list. I think I was way offbase about Pinyin (romanized chinese) though.
  • No suggestion on where the mothership servers are. At Tivo's US facility? (I assume so, since that is what TivoPony said they do for the UK).

Odd things-
  • Let's assume the ethernet port is a modification that will only appear on Chinese market Tivos. Ok. Why is the rear panel in english then?
  • USB external storage- was this just speculation on the reporter's part, or are they making a firm commitment to provide external drive support? For Playback only like a linkplayer, or for archiving too, or for Direct recording use?
  • Are they shooting for the high end market first? Why enter with a high capacity, high cost unit instead of a 40GB unit?
  • There is a picture of a dlink wireless device that I have never seen before, except maybe in very blurry form on TivoJerry's tall stack. It has a what appears to be a directional antennae.


 

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The Taiwan offering is a better deal then any offering over here.

160 gig hard drive
free wireless adapter
free shipping
first year of service included, no monthly fees for a year.
$3.75 monthly fee.

All for 400 dollars.

Now wasn't there another article saying that a similar dvr in Taiwan, would sell for something around $2,300? This deal will easily make TiVo the choice over any other DVR in their market.
 

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Justin Thyme said:
I know you have experience in this field so perhaps you have some thoughts on how you would do a keyword wishlist entry using a remote. a chinese onscreen keyboard? Jeez. I thought roman text entry was hard enough.
It would be awkwardly possible. But here's a little-known, important fact: many older Taiwanese are pretty lousy with all the phonetic systems (although the younger generation can type pretty rapidly).

If I were in charge, I would market wireless tablet add-ons to allow users to input text by handwriting. Maybe also allow input via Palm Pilot (there are Palm programs that can do Traditional Chinese handwriting recognition and send IR to TiVo DVRs).
 

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Hew said:
The Taiwan offering is a better deal then any offering over here.

160 gig hard drive
free wireless adapter
free shipping
first year of service included, no monthly fees for a year.
$3.75 monthly fee.

All for 400 dollars.

Now wasn't there another article saying that a similar dvr in Taiwan, would sell for something around $2,300? This deal will easily make TiVo the choice over any other DVR in their market.
I know nothing about the Taiwan market, but pricing no doubt reflected the typical pattern of shooting high then ratcheting down to lock onto a price the market will bear. Once they start manufacturing on the chinese mainland (if they haven't already), they will be able to sell it into the Shanghai market for pocket change. As for comparison with american prices, you can make a 300GB Tivo for $79 (free 40gb Tivo, $79 300GB MIR outpost.com Seagate, obligation for one year sub ($156). So double the capacity Tivo for $230. A real penny pincher would by a lifetime and recover 90% of the lifetime when they resell on ebay, so that would bring it down to sub $100.

Sure HD swaps are not for civilians but cottage industries pop up overnight, and believe me- The Taiwanese and mainland folks are going to figure out the HD swap stuff real real fast.

So ironically, when you see Tivo Greater China (TGC) coming out with the economy 40GB models, you are going to see the very high end simultaneously served (800GB tivos). It will be very interesting to see how personal video evolves on the mainland where access to extremely low cost video is common.

Once a few more articles come out, I will have a few chinese national friends of mine read the articles and explain these odd expressions. For example, I didn't understand what level of system functionality they have. If you look at the translation, there are references to photos and music but I was not too sure how much of HMO features are there. They may not have ported all the hmo/hme/ttg features yet, but to get a bead on the ethernet port improvement, at least it would be interesting to hear how fast an MRV transfer of a half hour show is on a wired connection.
 

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Justin, I can't say for certain but believe that is a typical Dlink wireless USB adapter in a stand... so you can place it further away from the unit using a USB extension cable on in certain cases where directly plugging a USB device will block access to other ports (such as my 140HR S2 which has a blocked AV output). I have gotten a similar accessory with other WiFi USB adapters.
 

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TiVoPony said:
Just to be clear...we didn't make infrastructure improvements in the UK. The TiVo service has always been run from our server farm here in the US, even for UK subscribers (the Internet is a wonderful thing). We recently upgraded all of the servers hosting the UK version of the service - new servers & the latest software. They're running the equivalent of the US service now (from a server perspective).

Pony
TivoPony- just curious. Is this the way the TGC service works? Unified backend in the US, or do they have their own? Is it also running "the equivalent of the US service" (from a server perspective) now?

If so that would be an awesome achievement.
 

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This just in. Possibly Tatung is manufacturing? The quoted article confirms some of the specs and price points I related yesterday. New stuff is the distributors. Will followup later on them- curious about mainland connections. also, name that it goes by is Tivo 8. Wonder what that is about.

"TiVo 8 will be sold through Tatung, a local manufacturer of consumer electronics and electrical home appliances, Synnex Technology International, a 3C distributor in Taiwan, and PChome Online" Source.
 

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Justin Thyme said:
Will followup later on them- curious about mainland connections. also, name that it goes by is Tivo 8. Wonder what that is about.
"8" is a lucky number. You'll often see prices at Chinese supermarkets like $2.88, $3.88, and so forth.
 

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Justin Thyme said:
This just in. Possibly Tatung is manufacturing?
No. Universal Scientific Industrial. It says so in the article you quoted (very last line):

TGC introduces TiVo to Taiwan market
Shawn Chen, Taipei; Adam Hwang, DigiTimes.com [Friday 9 December 2005]

TGC (TiVo Greater China) Taiwan, the Taiwan subsidiary of US-based TGC, on December 8 debuted the TiVo 8, a 160GB HDD (hard disk drive) DVR (digital video recorder) model based on TiVo technology, for launch in the Taiwan market at a recommended retail price of NT$12,900 (US$385).
TGC was founded specifically for marketing TiVo DVRs and related services in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore, with TiVo being the largest shareholder, according to TGC Taiwan. Taiwan is the first of the four target markets, mainly due to its high penetration of broadband Internet-access services and cable TV, said general manager Travis Lin for TGC Taiwan.
TiVo 8 will be sold through Tatung, a local manufacturer of consumer electronics and electrical home appliances, Synnex Technology International, a 3C distributor in Taiwan, and PChome Online, an on-line shopping web portal in Taiwan, Lin indicated. Apart from the cost of the TiVo 8, an annual service fee of NT$1,500 (US$45) will be charged beginning from the second year after purchase, Lin noted. TGC Taiwan aims to sell 40,000-50,000 units a year, Lin added.
In addition to marketing, Tatung is interested in ODM/OEM production of TiVo products for TGC, according to company general manager WS Lin. Currently, Taiwan-based Universal Scientific Industrial is the OEM maker of TiVo products for TGC.
http://www.digitimes.com/NewsShow/NewsSearch.asp?DocID=5090678C0243B7F6482570D1004AA21F&query=TIVO
 

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How will TGC affect TiVo's future numbers?

Will TGC's subscribers be counted as TiVo subscribers?

If not why not? They are using TiVo, even though they aren't paying monthly fees directly to TiVo. Lifetime member subs that have gone beyond the 3 years are still counted in the sub numbers, so I don't see why TGC's subs shouldn't be counted just because they don't pay directly to TiVo.

Any word yet on wether TiVo will be able to sell advertising on TGC's box's?
 

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Hew said:
How will TGC affect TiVo's future numbers? Will TGC's subscribers be counted as TiVo subscribers? Any word yet on wether TiVo will be able to sell advertising on TGC's box's?
Good questions... with the company being a seperate entity only partially owned by TiVo, I imagine subscriber numbers would be reported seperately. It also raises the question of how do they license the TiVo technology? I don't know a thing about international business, but I wonder why they didn't go in as themselves...

(Instead of creating a seperate company or going it alone, D&M is licensing their ReplayTV technology to what looks like a pre-existing company: http://www.digitalnetworksna.com/about/replaytv/press.asp?ID=612)
 

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ChuckyBox said:
No. Universal Scientific Industrial. It says so in the article you quoted (very last line):]
Thanks. I will have to learn to quit speed reading one of these days. :eek:

I took a look at the Online store where the "Tivo 8" is being sold. Cool to see.

Little fella in his new clothes.​
The CNET Taiwan article that I excerpted above was almost a total lift of the material on the Taiwan online shopping site. Here's the translation page.

There are some new pictures and a bit more confirmation on the capabilities.

I know I have seen a rear panel like this before. But where?​

Yep, down to the screw locations- it pretty much looks like a 540 with the exception of the ethernet port. They must have used the same dies, etc.

Other new info:
  • The "photo album" description from this text may well be an idiomatic expression or a marketing metaphor to describe the now playing list as if it were a "photo album" of treasured television shows. It doesn't sound like HMO slideshow at all.
  • No network functionality at all that I see, besides guide. No MRV, no HMO, no HME. Which makes sense. You go with your first phase of the port, then bite off more.
  • No confirmation of any future use of the USB ports (CNET article seemed to state external storage use).
 

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Justin Thyme said:
The CNET Taiwan article that I excerpted above was almost a total lift of the material on the Taiwan online shopping site. Here's the translation page.
Wow... the Babelfish engine is definitely superior to Google's BETA:
http://translate.google.com/transla...&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&prev=/language_tools

The "TiVo weapon milk function" scares me. Though I feel compelled to ask if that's included in the service fee? ;)

Back to your regularly scheduled thread...
 

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WOW. I missed that one: (under screen shots heading "what is tivo")
"TIVO weapon milk function :
(1) Item defends delta sweeps. TIVO may watch item, does 30 minute [unintelligible), defends three-horse harness team. A remains, you may [unintelligible) or go the refrigerator take the material, then return again watch 30 minute decayed teeth."​

Wow. Tivo is using Taiwan to test market some sort of autonomous function that watchfully will protect my horses with this Milk weapon that somehow decays the infiltrator's teeth within 30 minutes.

Naturally, there is no mention of sheep protection. TivoPony? Do you have any firm time frame for Sheep protection support? No marketspeak. We want a firm date.
 

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Justin Thyme said:
Yep, down to the screw locations- it pretty much looks like a 540 with the exception of the ethernet port. They must have used the same dies, etc.
Okay, let's have a show of hands: How many of you think the next production run of the U.S. Series 2 boxes will include an ethernet port? Faster processor? More memory?

Somebody needs to pop one of the Taiwanese boxes open, because that's going to tell us where we are going.

  • No network functionality at all that I see, besides guide. No MRV, no HMO, no HME. Which makes sense. You go with your first phase of the port, then bite off more.
The articles indicated that the service would be more basic than what is currently available in the U.S. That makes sense from a marketing point of view, too -- there's no point in confusing your story with a lot of value-added features when nobody even has the basic features yet.

It is interesting that the box has a phone jack, but there is no mention of telephone support -- only internet. Does anybody know how well-wired Taiwan is with broadband and home networks?
 

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ChuckyBox said:
Okay, let's have a show of hands: How many of you think the next production run of the U.S. Series 2 boxes will include an ethernet port? Faster processor? More memory?

Somebody needs to pop one of the Taiwanese boxes open, because that's going to tell us where we are going.
Tivo is software.

From a software perspective, you want to have as homogeneous a hardware platform as possible. Then when you have a new software release, you can easily propagate it to all devices. Look how long it took TTG to come to the DVD burners. For the future, the reduction in variant platforms means that you have fewer sources of bugs due to unanticipated subtle hardware interactions in legacy devices. My feeling is that existing SA Tivos are going to be around for a long long time to come. The parts that break can be fixed, so until the cost of replacement comes down to the cost of a repair, you are going to have a hefty number of legacy devices.

But this sort of conservative approach to hardware updgrades is related to whatever Tivo's software development philosophy is. I'm a big fan of simultaneus builds and testing for all platforms and a single unified code base. Do a weekly build to all platforms both single and double byte character versions, big and little endian. You catch problems with poor coding practice before they pollute too much of your code base. But the software for each Tvo model may well not come from the same code base and might actually be a fork due to complexity of squeezing the last drop of performance out of proprietary hardware which used barely enough computing power to get the job done.. The only stuff I did of that was very old school- all assembler and direct manipulation of memory mapped memory io locations with critical timing dependencies. Any change in hardware meant that all timing dependent interactions would have to be retuned and retested regardless how distant they were from the hardware change. Anyway, the point of this ramble into unified software bases is that it is hard to do at first when you are pushing the hardware to the limit, but it becomes easier as hardware perfomance is sufficient to be more forgiving and smarter so that you can upgrade to new software releases rapidly. The programming staff can spend much more time on new features than porting and tweaking for all the different variants (140, 240, 540, "560" (dvd burner).

So I think it would be a mistake to expect the kind of incremental hardware variations you see added each year to general purpose computing platforms where it doesn't matter because software is insulated by drivers, or added each year to totally hardware oriented CE devices where it doesn't matter becase software is an afterthought.

That's bad news for tech whores like us, but good news for Everyman (aka joe average user).

With GP computing it is easy where the hardware is virtualized and all you have to do is write a new driver (which usually is provided by the device vendor). With hardware oriented CE devices, the hardware engineers don't give a rat's *ss about the software implications and will break the software to get the latest and greatest chip in. There are no legacy issues because as you see, software updates maybe last the first year (and then only to fix bugs), then there is nothing.

So Tivo is in that middle ground, and something has to give. ONe thing you can do is try not to dribble out incremental hardware improvements, and instead put more of them in fewer models

If dvrs were already well known in the Taiwan market, and there was a lot of demand there for high end features, I think you could have seen a major new experimental platform in Taiwan. But the huge market for greater China is in the Tivo for Everyman. The SA architecture machine.

When we get a shot of the TGC motherboard, I think you are going to see the same broadcom chips. I think there is a chance for variations using chips that are even cheaper or using chips manufactured in PRC (for political, not technical advantages).

On the other hand, the US machines won't always lead with new features. Some features are easier to do in Greater china markets. For example, whenever the high end market emerges and you see HDTV broadcasts there, you probably will see analog encoding of HDTV (components) inputs first in China. Obvsiously, it may take a while for the demand for HDTV devices to grow in China, but the opposition to HDTV encoding shows no signs of ever slackening in the US.

This is all just armchair engineering opinion, but I think some of the considerations I touched on play a part in the decisions Tivo is making on minor upgrades to the platforms.
 

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davezatz said:
Wow... the Babelfish engine is definitely superior to Google's BETA
Well, Google's beta only handles Simplified Chinese (used on the mainland and in Singapore). That page uses Traditional Chinese (used elsewhere, including Taiwan).
 
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