"There's been a little complication with my complication."
A couple of tidbits this time...
OK, so pretty much everyone knows Shades and I have owned a Tivo for a while now and consider it one of the most valuable pieces of home electronics we own. So people sometimes say, why go to the hassle of buying/setting up a Tivo box that's seperate from my cable/satellite box, paying Tivo for the serice on top of my cable/satellite bill when the cable company will rent me one of their PVRs for a low monthly rate that does almost everything that Tivo does?
1. Well, for one thing, as far as I know nobody's PVR has Tivo beat for its user interface.
2. The standard Tivo box can be used with cable (analog or with a digital box), satellite, or even old fashioned over the air TV.
3. The Tivo box isn't controlled by your cable/satellite company. Why does this matter? When the content provider controls the whole widget, so to speak, they can restrict its use any way they want to. This is the whole idea behind the upcoming broadcast flag that will be, as of June 1, mandatory on all consumer video gear that does digital TV. [Update: it will apply to computers as well so get those capture cards while ye can!] For a good explanation on what this means, check out this article on it.
So back to the cable companies and their DVRs. In theory, Comcast can, at will restrict what shows you can save to the unit, how long a show can be kept, and even whether or not you can fast-forward through commercials. OK, you're thinking, "oh they'd never do that! People wouldn't stand for it." Would they? It looks like we may find out. According to reports like this, Comcast may already be testing something like this. A number of Comcast DVR users have reported not being able to fast-forward through ads on the shows American Idol and 24.
I've been very glad to be slowly ridding myself of the VHS tape format, but if this kind of crap becomes common, I'll go back to tape so fast it'll make your head spin...or get away from TV all together.
And now something else:
Remember that DVD format called EZ-D? You know, the DVD that self-destructed after 48 hours once the seal was broken on the package? Well, Disney was test-marketing it and they ended the test without any announcement of further promotion/roll-out. Apparently it didn't do so well...gee, I'm shocked! Wired.com has a story on it here. It seems to me that if people want something like this, some kind of video on-demand (already in use on some cable systems and coming soon to satellite) system would be better, cheaper, and without the side-effect of all the used EZ-Ds piling up in landfills.
Finally, Shades and I went to the Lyle Lovett/John Hiatt/Joe Ely/Guy Clark concert last night and it was one of the best non-classical concerts I've been to in a long time, maybe ever. For some good details on the concert, check out her entry here.