Praise to TiVo for announcing extensions to their TiVoToGo system that will copy recorded programs onto iPod and Sony PlayStation Portable video players. Assuming it's easy to use, this completes the loop, so to speak, for portable media -- creating a holistic video recording and viewing system encompassing home and mobile use. And incorporating video content which, almost by definition, viewers want to see. For too long portable video has had the pieces, without the whole system.
Another new feature, says TiVo, will make it easy to do overnight updates of portable media content. Let's hope that TiVo's advanced copying scheme will allow other parties to the table, in addition to Apple and Sony. TiVoToGo started with Windows Media players, but this portable video format hasn't really taken off. Now, compatibility with these already-popular portable platforms promises to make the feature a real hit. Even if TiVo doesn't keep the "generic" portables on the same track, the entire portable media category is clearly poised for big growth, with TiVo merely representing the name-brand that has to stay ahead to survive the onslaught of generic DVRs and other recording systems.
I've previously written in this space about the different visions of portable video viewing -- carry it on a drive, or get it wirelessly. Now, the media-you-carry model has a well-known method of acquiring personalized TV content. You can start watching a program in your living room, and finish watching it on your way to work or school, or on your lunch break!
At least, that's the vision. It will be interesting to see what TiVo has actually come up with, how fast the transfers are, and what an overnight update really entails. Note that a connection with a PC is still required for all this. So there will still be some inconveniences. But in a way, the extra hurdles that the "early adopters" must jump through don't really matter. Once consumers get a hold of that vision, it doesn't really matter whether the very first expression of it is perfect.
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Cliff Roth is Video/Imaging DesignLine Site Editor.