For anyone who appreciates what "Beta was better" means, so too it was for ReplayTV, which in my view was, at it's peak, better than TiVo, Moxi, and everything else, real or vapor. I own several.
So it was with some sadness that I learned that ReplayTV, purchased by Denon and Marantz in a bankruptcy sale about three years ago, quit the set top box business last December, and Replay is being re-configured as software for PCs with TV tuner cards.
The beta release of that new software, which will be sold for $49.95 on Replay's web site and bundled with Hauppauge tuner cards, was announced last week. Instead of paying $12.95 a month for program guide service (as current and continuing set top box users do), they're charging a far friendlier $19.95 per year to feed a PC with essentially the same daily data.
I wish Replay luck, but of course it's not the same. And just when set top boxes are taking off in a serious way that goes beyond the boundaries of ordinary cable and satellite boxes, one of the true pioneers (ReplayTV was actually introduced slightly before TiVo, in 1997) calls it quits.
What does that say about the profitability of set top boxes as standalone products, without subsidized marketing? And what does it say about the power of Hollywood and the TV industry to sue? Is it just another example of the pioneering, visionary company never quite reaping the rewards of success? And is twenty bucks a year close to what we might call the true cost for delivering customized EPG (electronic program guide) service?
In any event, ReplayTV, the set top box, was a high water mark in consumer electronics, and will be missed.
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