AVS Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few weeks ago, (I believe it was Monday, April 7th), I took a trip down to TiVo headquarters near San Jose. A buddy of mine in the product development group had agreed to allow me to see the new "HDTiVo" product in its current phase after I had been nagging him for months about it. (Hey, do you blame me? I had just purchased a big screen and wanted the opportunity to start viewing hi-def material on it because that's what these new televisions are all about--BUT, I wanted to have the chance to view it in the manner to which I have become accustomed with my TiVo for these past few years).


My buddy has been telling me for about a year now that the TiVo I currently have has the hardware (and a good portion of the software) capabilities to do that right already, that one of the biggest components missing right now is the hard-drive space (in a standard, unaltered unit). He has also been telling me that there's probably going to be nothing mystically new or sexy about the HDTiVo product, just that it will be a TiVo that can process, store, and output HD streams. But hey, I'm in joe-consumer mode when I am using or thinking about TiVo... so I can tend get all misty about it instead of the straight-brained technical geek I normally am. Hopefully, what I've written thus far will do a great deal to enlighten some of you TiVo-induced-silly-brained, like-minded (like me) individuals; there's not going to be anything in this product that will be as ground-breaking as the original TiVo/DVR idea was. That doesn't, however, mean that TiVo is just holding out on us all with this new product. Though the original TiVo design was built to handle HD, there are, as I understand it, new AV in/out chips and, of course, new connectors to be placed on the boards. Given TiVo's stringent QA standards, it would seem to me that anything new to any product, be it small or large in nature, would involve a great deal more integration and testing time to make sure it comes out right.


So we drove down there in the afternoon and headed up to his desk. A few minutes later, I was walked across the office and introduced to the person at TiVo that I understand to be the chief-HDTiVo-chips-and-software-development-dude. He had TiVos all over his desk, most of them with their covers off. He also had a Hugh's DirecTiVo (GX series, I believe) with video output attached to his computer monitor. It was displaying some HD material from Showtime, in a 4:3 display mode (though the material was wider-aspect than that), with gray bars on the side (to even the burn-in) as part of a TiVo display feature. The material looked pretty good... no apparent difference (no apparent degradation at least) between it and other HD material I had seen in terms of quality.


So there... I'd seen a TiVo outputting HD material to a display device. I had seen with my own eyes that they truly were making such a product. That should be enough, right?


OK, it wasn't. I started to ask some questions in regard to its features. I had been wondering, for instance, if it would be capable of outputting at different resolutions, or if it would scale all material to the same resolution. I had also been wondering that if it were capable of outputting at different resolutions, if it would be selectable as to what resolution would be displayed. The answers to both of those thoughts were that the device was capable of outputting at different resolutions, and that it was also a selectable feature. The developer showed me a menu off of the TiVo setup menu that allowed him to select between 480I, 480P, 720P, and 1080I. He said that at this point, the Tivo would scale whatever material it received to the output resolution that had been selected. He then switched through a few of them and went back to showing the Showtime movie. I could see that the scalar appeared to be working and that it appeared to show no artifacts of the material at any scale-mode, though I didn't intensely scrutinize the output. I asked about the possibility of a 1080P output, and the developer kind of laughed and said there was nothing out there right now being broadcast in 1080P that he knew of, so it wasn't a feature at this point.


I also asked what kind of outputs the TiVo on display had. He said that it had all the usual outputs a current TiVo has, plus component and DVI. I asked about firewire output, and he said not likely (too many copyright, copying, duplicating, piracy, etc., etc., issues that television studios/networks would get sue-happy about I would figure). Now, at this point, I should inform you, though you may be aware already, that TiVo generally builds reference designs that go to other electronics-makers (Sony, Hughes, Philips, etc) and that those makers have some autonomy on additional outputs and features that are available on their particular products... so it's not entirely impossible that some vendor could put a firewire output on their TiVo based model... but that's just my opinion and has nothing to do with what anyone at TiVo said.


In regard to how TiVo would allow one to dump recorded material to tape or some other medium, it currently appears that the TiVo will still be able to dump to tape, even via component if desired. However, as was explained to me by the developer, when the material is output in that way, it is flagged down to a resolution of 480 (whether I or P, I don't recall). Once again, that's one of those things that I figure keeps TiVo out of court with television networks and able to keep providing you with that beloved DVR recorder... they are a business, and in my opinion, and a business does not exist just to give us nerds every feature we want despite the fact that they could get "sued out of business." I can understand that.


I also asked questions about how far along the product was in its development cycle. My impression from the response is still alpha/early-beta. The developer informed me that the devices chips were still overheating at this point about once every day or two, and that when that happened, the TiVo would continue to stream and record media, but that the channel could not be changed anymore and the menus could not be accessed. I would guess that it was probably less advanced and more crash-prone at CES, which (I would also guess) is why people were granted such a limited look at it during the show.


Shortly after that, after a few questions about the de-interlacer technology in the device and some MPEG related questions, none of which I can elaborate upon at this time (mostly at TiVo's request), my tour finished.


Since then, I have asked my buddy a few more questions that have come to me post-visit. Most of those questions were/are specific to what kinds of features the end-product will have given my experience to see it at the point that I did. Most of the time, he tells me that the device is still early in development, and that it will take time to get to the finished product. I can only go on what I have heard for rumors in that department: it is hoped that the product will be released very late this year. The time frame is also dependent on TiVo's partners and when they choose to release their products.


Apparently though, there might be a newer, sexier chipset than what the model I was looking at had (as you may recall, it was just a normal Hughes TiVo like you already own with different software and a few extra outputs). That's all up for speculation at this point though. We may all be excited, but we should all relax and just hope that it will be the same quality product that most of us find in our TiVo today... just that it will output HD and come, perhaps, with some of the additional features mentioned above.


I can't comment on models other than those related to DirecTV broadcast receivers, because I don't know anything about them or even if they are currently being developed/produced. I can say that the device I looked at could still take two inputs and record two different channels at the same time, and that it could output something else that had been pre-recorded while still recording on the two inputs with no apparent problems to me. However, I have been cautioned to inform you that though the dual-tuner was there in what I saw, it may not come out in the finished product. According to my friend, TiVo designs the reference models beginning with "everything" and then pulls things out if necessary (for reasons of cost, stability, etc) on the road to the finished product. Also, TiVo's partners (Sony, Philips, Hughes, etc) get a chance to look at the designs, throw in their two cents, and customize to some extent.


So that's all folks. Hope many of you have enjoyed the read and found it worth your time. If so, then spending my Friday evening writing this instead of playing Earth and Beyond or watching a movie will have been worth my time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
570 Posts
Thanks for all the info. If you buddy hooks you up with anything else, we would love to hear about it.


Never thought I would be a 2 TiVo kind of guy... but there it is,

RDaneel
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
32 Posts
Thanks for the info, definitely worth the read. I was just thinking about it tonight. I was watching HBO HD and had to hold off going to the bathroom cause I didn't want to miss the movie. Ahh if only I had a HD Tivo. ;) I'll be interested to see how much space these things need.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
570 Posts
I read in the TiVo forums that HDTV is 9 - count it - 9GB an hour. I don't even know if that included DD5.1 audio or not.


So... for a 60 hour unit, you would need 540GB! Ha! Even with a couple of 200gig drives you are looking at 40 hours or so.


Honestly, I could live with a smaller HDTV capacity, as it would still be a minority of my viewing. However, it would really start to complicate the scheduling. Now when my TiVo is topped up (20 hour upgraded to 86), it doesn't want to schedule things, or promise to keep shows, because it worries I won't clear it out fast enough. Too bad that it can't predict better my rate of viewing, or show some other kind of timeline (actually, that would be great - TiVo - call me, we'll talk ;-) that shows the deletion and recording of shows when the unit is nearly full.


A reasonable size would be 120 gb or so. Then you would have a normal 60 or 80 hours capacity, and 4 or 6 hours of HD recording as well.


Looking forward to the inevitable purchase...

RD
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
32,172 Posts
HDTV is 9GB an hour, that's correct. I'd be surprised if the shipping product had a drive of just 120GB.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
570 Posts
I agree... I just think that I won't need that much. Probably I will end up using a few HDTV hours, and having 200+ hours of SD capacity left over.


I figure that if the unit is released for the x-mas season, then 200gb drives will have come down in price enough that we will see 200 and 400 gb models. That is some serious capacity!


RDaneel
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
KlarScreen,


Thanks for taking the time to post this. I appreciate the info.


While it sounds like the HD Tivo feature set is still not completely defined, it's nice to get some indication of where the device is at right now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
32,172 Posts
The way I use my Tivo and the number of shows I watch (or at least record for possible viewing) that are in HD would allow me to make good use of 500-600GB without batting an eyelash.


Mark
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,080 Posts
What rogo said works for me too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,254 Posts
I hope they're working on an OTA only HD version of Tivo (if they're smart they'll add firewire for connection to HD cable boxes). Forcing people to use satellite will leave a lot of money on the table.


-phil
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
713 Posts
I agree with Phil. I don't have a satellite and never will.

I use HD cable and OTA only. I'll have to look elsewhere if they support satellite only.


Jeff


Please allow for firewire also!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,394 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by KlarScreen
It was displaying some HD material from Showtime, in a 4:3 display mode (though the material was wider-aspect than that), with gray bars on the side (to even the burn-in) as part of a TiVo display feature.
I don't understand. All programming on Showtime HD is 16:9. Oftentimes it's just 4:3 SD upconverted with black bars on the sides, but it's always 16:9. If you viewed this on a 16:9 screen, it would always fill the whole screen. If you viewed this on a 4:3 screen without stretching, you would have gray or black bars at the top and bottom. No matter what type of display you used you should never have gray bars on the sides unless Showtime HD put them in there. Can you explain this?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm not rightly sure why there were gray bars on the side when viewing Showtime. Seems that like many of the 16:9 TV's out there, the demo that I viewed allowed for the option to select your display's aspect ratio, and that when that aspect ratio was selected, one could pick black or gray bars.


Now that you mention it, I do recall that the developer was showing me said feature-set when I saw the gray bars.


I don't get HD Showtime, so I had not been aware of their broadcast standards. Had I known at the time, I might have posed a point similar to the one you're making.


I could make guesses as to why the material still showed in a 4:3 window (though scoped with black bars on top and bottom) with gray bars outside that window, but so could anyone else...


As I intimated in my original post, my review time was nothing formal, nor by any means intended to be exhaustive...
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top