Ep 139: Press Gang, Media Watch, James Talia & Nerida Haycock

James Talia joins us on the phone from the UK with a Boxcutters scoop. Not even Media Watch had the information we have for you on this show. Nerida Haycock sits in Ross’s seat, keeping it warm and us informed. We talk about Press Gang in our youth television series and have a super-tough question in the quiz.

It’s all there in 139:

Quiz entries and personal messages accepted here.

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  1. I’ve been using my (oz)TiVo for the past several years. The user interface for the TiVo is the best so far, and is still held as the standard against which others are judged. The fast forward is intelligent, you can tell it to save only the latest xx episodes of a show, or record only first-run episodes. The best (at last non-unique?) is that you can tell it to record a show by name, wherever they move it to, rather than specifying this channel, that time, and to start recording xx minutes before the start, and yy minutes after the end, to catch the time slips that especially Channel Ten thinks is mandatory.

    I hope that the official TiVo hasn’t taken away too much of what makes them the best.

    To all those people complaining about commercials. Do what I do. Press fast forward! It’s been years since I’ve had to endure a commercial break.

    I love that Naked News line. The office wondered what I was laughing at.

  2. scalpel4hire says:

    Iann Boxcutter has beaten me to the punch, but I’m still adding my 2c worth:

    It’s interesting that even folk as tech-erudite as your good selves just don’t seem to ‘get’ TiVo.

    [Aside: I really wish the phrase ‘ad-skipping function’ could be wiped off the face of the communal consciousness. This is just a complete irrelevance in any debate about pros/cons of TiVo. That IS something your old VCR does. I’ve been happily avoiding ads since about 1981…]

    I’ve also been a member of the OzTiVo community, with a pair of modified US TiVos, and boy, is TiVo NOT just the same as a VCR.

    Hard to know where to start, but how about twin HD digital tuners?

    No, better yet, let’s start with having a screen that has recordings labelled sensibly; no pile of un-labelled or mis-labelled tapes to FF & RW back & forth, back & forth, to find the show you want.

    Then move on to buffered recording, so when you get home 15 minutes after that favourite show started, you just start watching it from the beginning (“skipping through the commercials”, he added through gritted teeth).

    Then there’s pausing live TV to answer the phone, or just rewinding a few seconds if you missed something.

    Setting the machine to record remotely, over the web. Which VCRs do that?

    Telling the machine to record some program every week (‘Boston Legal’, eg), so when it gets shifted from 9.30 to 10.30 from 1 week to the next, no problem, the machine just deals with it.

    Here is the real ‘killer app’ of DVR’s, by the way. Those 3 magical letters: EPG. Electronic Program Guide. The real problem in ‘selling’ TiVo is that nobody really gets how much this means, until you’ve lived with it. (Kinda like “no cut/paste on the iPhone”.)

    As you no doubt suspect, I could go on & on, about the simple effectiveness of TiVo’s user interface, or the intelligent FF/RW functions which only TiVo seems to have, the great remote control, etc etc, but I’ll desist.

    What I find bewildering is the squealing about the proposed cost of TiVo.

    Josh, for one, seems to find Foxtel IQ an essential of life, but my understanding is that you can’t buy one of those at any price. One signs up to an endless monthly subscription, and as soon as you stop paying, you lose access to the service AND stored recordings. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    So running an IQ for a few years costs how much? (On top of the $40 plus per month you have to spend just to get the crappy basic Foxtel package.)

    I agree that about $500 would be a better price point for TiVo, but factor in the EPG, which is going to be free in Oz, and I think $700 is not unreasonable.

    To get twin digital tuners, I currently use a couple of Windows Media Centres, which I built myself for well north of $700 each, and use IceTV as my EPG source, which costs $99 per year. Every year.

    $700 for twin digital tuners, great user interface, stable-as-Dwayne Johnson software (TiVo runs Linux), AND free EPG?

    A bargain, mate.

    PS. Must also mention ‘end-padding’ – TiVo can be set to start recording before the scheduled time (eg by 5 mins) and to stop recording after the scheduled end-time (eg 30mins). Gotta be better than G-Code recording.

  3. How good really are the electronic program guides there? The regular ones, such as are given to David Knox at his site, are sort of all over the place as to completeness. One great thing about TIVO in the US is it looks for movies, directors, actors pretty well most of the time because the guides are good. TIVO will find for you the one time in 3 years some obscure movie gets on the air on one of the 500 channels I get and record it for me. It’s unbeatable for that. It’s also good for ensuring you don’t miss yearly event like Itidarod. I don’t remember when the race is every year…but TIVO will get it.

    But if your guides are not good, this part would let you down quite often. And there are fewer channels in AUS. Even in the USA, sometimes the guides are not good enough buy usually it’s that they lack director info for first run shows. And some sports shows don’t distinguish an episode, so TIVO won’t realize that Thursdays, Fridays and Mondays episodes of “Ole La Liga” are actually all the same thing. But those deficits are not that bad. But EPGs really do matter.

  4. It’s interesting cause I seem to have heard a different discussion from the Boxcutters about Tivo than Iann and scalpel4hire. What I heard them express is frustration at such a great device being neutered in the Australian market. It’s for all the cool reasons that are outlined above that they want a proper, fully functioning Tivo to be sold here, instead of some overly expensive box without all the functionality.
    Man, I want Tivo so badly – I have ever since I first saw an ad about it in an American magazine about ten years ago. I’m just not sure I want the Tivo that 7 is offering to us.

  5. scalpel4hire says:

    I don’t think the TiVo that 7 is offering is ‘neutered’ (and pleeeeease don’t mention ‘ad-skipping function’ – see above.)

    With the caveat that we haven’t actually seen the beast as yet, my understanding is all the features iann & I outlined will be available on the basic Aussie TiVo.

    OK, 160GB is pretty small storage, but other than that, the ‘coming soon’ stuff sounds to me like cream, supplementing a best-of-breed unit.

  6. When you start talking about cost there are other issues to consider… yes, Foxtel charges (max) $16/mth for iQ, but if you’re going to get Foxtel anyway I think it’s a reasonable price – it’s over 3 years of usage for the same price as buying TiVo outright. And if your equipment fails in that time they replace it at no charge – what’s the warranty period on a TiVo? And if there’s an upgrade to the iQ hardware that’s part of the service too.

    TiVo’s intelligent programming (searching for stuff you may like) is the one thing that really is missing from iQ, so here’s hoping for the iQ users that a bit of competition encourages Foxtel to change that. Every other piece of functionality you mentioned that will be available with TiVo for its initial release is already available with iQ.

    As you said, it’s only as good as its EPG.

    (And sorry for sounding like Foxtel’s bitch – I surely ain’t.)

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