Updated Western Digital DVR Expander

For those of you with a cable or satellite DVR or TiVo, Western Digital has updated their My Book AV DVR Expander hard drives.  Among other things, is the addition of a USB port, to the already existing eSATA port.  That means the drives are now compatible with the Sony PS3 and other media devices such as camcorders.

This is TiVo’s one and only “official” method of hard drive expansion.

The capacity has not changed – it’s still 1TB, but I think we can expect that to be expanded on in the near future.  Although, 1TB is an awful lot of HDTV recording.  I never came close to filling the 500GB drive in my DirecTV HR23.

One thing to watch out for, at least for DirecTV users (and I have no idea if this applies to other DVR’s) is that this drive replaces the internal drive.  The good news is that it replaces, but doesn’t overwrite.  In other words unplug this drive and reboot to the original internal drive and all of your previous recordings are still there.  It would be nice if it added to, instead of replacing, but beggars can’t be choosers.  And, since most cable DVR’s have ridiculously small drives, this is a no-brainer of an upgrade.

So, what do you pay for this convenience?  It retails for $149.99, but Amazon already has it for $119.00.  This is what we should have from our TV providers to begin with, but, for now, we  have to pay extra for.  And this is, by far, the best extra you can add to your DVR.

GNC-2010-06-29 #588 Announce Show Support Initiative

I talk more about the studio upgrade initiative and hope that you will be inclined to support the podcast. The goals is to raise $10,000.00 in the next 30 days a hundred dollars or more at a time. This is to help finance the planned studio upgrades. Support is completely voluntary details on the Geek News Central Insider page. Congrats to Brian and Sam for winning our contest for the month of June. More details are in the show.

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Why Microsoft Needs to Make a DVR…NOW

All of the recent buzz around Google TV has overshadowed a major Microsoft announcement regarding Windows 7 Embedded.  And that’s a shame for several reasons.  First, Google TV, while useful, is little more than a glorified search.  Yes, it’s useful to be able to search for a show, not only through TV channels and on-demand, but also throughout the web.  Second, Windows 7 Media Center is much more powerful and flexible than any DVR on the market, including TiVo.

Yes, Microsoft went down this road before, but they were a different company back then.  They were under investigation by the Justice Department for monopolistic and anti-competitive behavior.  And, by all accounts, when Bill Gates approached the cable companies about putting Media Center on their DVR’s he scared them off by trying to strong-arm them.  This was in the days of XP also, and that took a lot of processor power and would have made the DVR’s cost-prohibitive.

But, now we have Windows 7, which is light enough to run on today’s low end netbooks.  The new embedded is also completely componetized, meaning manufacturers can use only the parts of it they want.  It has Netflix built in, as well as internet TV, pictures, music and a wealth of plug-ins available, including Hulu.  It supports multiple tuners – not just the 2 that cable and satellite providers seem to think is acceptable.  And those tuners work every bit as well at recoding your TV shows as any DVR on the market.

Yes, you can plug a computer into your home theater, as I do, but let’s face it – this is not something the average user is going to be able to handle.  It may not be especially difficult, but it’s not easy enough for my mom and dad either.  There’s tuners to install and setups to do.

So now; with Roku coming on strong (although it’s not a DVR), TiVo’s latest release receiving rather bad reviews, Google TV not yet out, rumors of a new Apple TV, and cable DVR’s being severely underpowered; is the time for Microsoft to build, or hire a third party to build, a DVR.  They need to approach those cable and satellite companies again and have less of an attitude this time around.  Most of all they need to advertise the heck out of it.  They need to show their interface everywhere and let people see just how much their current DVR doesn’t do.

They waited too long to release the Zune and they lost out.  If they want to win the battle for our living rooms, and they’ve made overtures about this for years, they need to act quickly and decisively.

LG HD Monitor

201006022058.jpg I was looking for a 23 inch monitor that was HD ready. I was able to pick up an LG monitor Model B233OH for a total of $257.00 including tax at the local Best Buy. I am using it as a media monitor. It was easy to put together, my husband simply snapped the base into the monitor and it was ready to set up.

The first thing I did was to use the HDMI input and connect that to my TiVo Series 3 DVR. I had I connected my Apple TV to the DVI input using a HDMI to DVI adapter I have. This is just a temporary set up until I can pick up an HDMI switcher. Right now I am not sure which one will give me the best value for its price. The next thing I did was to connect the TiVo to a Kenwood receiver I had. The receiver is about eight years old, so the only video connection it has are S Video, and composite video, because of this I decided to use it for audio only. I connected the TiVo to the DVD optical audio input. I used composite cables to connect the Apple TV to the Tape input on the receiver. I plan to pick up another optical audio cable, but for now the composite cables work fine. I then connected the speakers, two rear, two front and one center, with no subwoofer. Obviously, this is not an optimal setup, but it works and it was cheap.

After, having this set up for about three days I am happy with it for the most part. The picture is nice although during the daytime when the sun comes thru the blinds, there can be a problem with glare. This doesn’t last very long though and it depends on what angle you are watching from The sound is good. The biggest problem I have is getting Comcast HD to stay up, when it comes in its great, unfortunately I keep losing the signal. This unfortunately is a problem I can’t solve, other then that I am very happy with my set up. I do have a question for the readers, what HDMI switcher do you recommend and who should I purchase it from. I was looking at Buy.com, are they a good company to buy from? Any other recommendations?

Comcast DVR vs TiVo

I have both a Comcast DVR and a TiVo HD. I was having difficulty one day getting my Comcast DVR to do what I wanted it to do, so I decided to do a comparison between it and the TiVo, the result is the following chart. The one plus that Comcast has over TiVo at this point is cost. You have to buy a TiVo, which depending on the model can run anywhere from $149 up to $499. Comcast DVR comes with the service so is free other then the rental fee. To be honest though I am more then willing to pay for the TiVo, it is just an all around better user experience. What do you think, do you prefer TiVo or your cable or satellite company’s DVR, please let me know.

Comparison

Comcast DVR

TiVo

Price

$8.95 monthly for renting the box

$12.95, plus 3.50 for 2 cable cards monthly

Hard drive Size

90 hr SD or 20 HD

up to 150 hrs of HD on TiVo HD XL (1)

Netflix Streaming

No

Yes

Blockbuster

No

Yes

Web Video

No

Yes

Saving to a Computer

Possible, but extremely difficult (2)

Yes with TiVo Plus

Special Recording (3)

Records by Time

Records by Show

Recording a Series (4)

Confusing and Frustrating

Easy to setup and use

Scheduling recording

Can only schedule reminder on a computer

Can schedule or change recording from TiVo Web site

Wish list

No

Yes

1. TiVo Series 2 handles up to 80 hours of SD, TiVo HD 90 hours SD or 20 hours HD. They are both expandable with the addition of an external hard drive

2. It is possible to save to a computer using the analog hole or fire wire, but it takes so much time and effort that only the most dedicated person will do it. The results are often subpar.

3. TiVo records by show, so if a show for some reason appears at a different time then originally schedule, TiVo will make the adjustment. Comcast records by time and makes no adjustment if the show changes schedule

4. It is easy to record a series on TiVo simply choose if you want to record new, new and repeat, or all. If you choose new TiVo will record the show only once, no matter how many channels the show is played on. Comcast will record a show multiple times if it appears on multiple channels. A good example is Inside the NFL on Showtime. If you set up a series recording for it on TiVo it will record each show only once no matter how many Showtime channels it appears on. Comcast DVR will record it every time it appears on any channel, if its new to that channel

GNC-2009-10-27 #522 Back in Studio H!

Well my trip to silicon valley took a interesting turn and I am back in Hawaii after a down and back to Silicon Valley. Glad to be back in the studio here. Although a rather hot studio as the Tradewinds have dried up here in Hawaii for the past week or so.. Lot’s to catch up on and some great tech stories. Take our National Listener Survey Please see link below.

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Advertising trouble on TV

I got a tivo a few years back & have had a dvr of some kind ever since. I now have dish so I use theirs which is a good one but not quite as good as the tivo. The biggest plus is of course the time shifting factor. But the ability to skip past commercials is a close second. I keep wondering how the advertisers are going to spend their money in the future on ads. I very rarely even see an ad now but I still know more people without dvrs than I do people who do have them. So the ads are still being seen by a large percentage of people. But at some point the scales will tip and advertisers will no longer be able to justify the huge dollars they give to have their products displayed only to have them skipped over by the consumer. If 50% of people have dvrs then the value of advertising time is greatly diminished.

So what do companies do to avoid being fast forwarded into the red? Well they can place ads in sporting events which are more enjoyable if watched on time instead of the next day when you may have already found out the score. Also they could use the new media as a venue to put ads inside. Instead of paying for ad space during Lost (a popular show on ABC which I hate since they pretty much make up the story line as they go. If you are hooked on it, get out while you can!) a company could pick a popular blog or podcast that covers Lost to advertise with. Not only are people less likely to fast forward a podcast to avoid commercials, they are more likely a super fan of the tv show thus more apt to support a product that supports their show. Another thing I see happening is tv channels placing ads on top of the show in the corner like they do with their network logo (ex. NBC placed in the bottom right corner of all their shows). Or they could place “crawling text ads” 24 hours per day. However it comes about I do not know, I just know it change is on the way.