Tivo signals the official change

I already blogged the move by Tivo today to add advertisements within the fast forward interface, and I’ve also noted additional moves announced by Tivo to upgrade your box in the future to block recording and storage of certain programming like HBO and the NFL… HD is most likely seriously impacted by this as well if people actually pay for those boxes.

The sad part of all this is that there is seemingly anything that can be done to prevent the “inevitable suck.” I was reviewing a demonstration video for the Microsoft Foundation TV platform last night – the very same system being tested in Seattle at the moment and I have to say I was not really impressed by what I saw. Sure the features are there, DVR, (I think) 2 tuners, HD and VOD. The presentation was very flat though and I don’t just mean the movie which while educational was a real sleeper.

I use the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000HD DVR. Say what you want about the box – I’ve had my own issues as well including replacing the box twice. It’s FREE, only requires a $9.95/mo fee through Time Warner here in NYC and is able to display all known HD formats – though it really prefers straight 1080i. I can do digital optical audio out in addition to viewing an enhanced picture and for the most part I am very satisfied with the system…

So what’s the rub? Well for starters, I am completely locked out from using the material I record, whether its a PBS (free for anyone) program or something from HBO. The only way I can archive things is to first pass them through analog and then re-encode back to digital with a piece of equipment or system of sorts I’d have to purchase which would only get close to reproducing the original. There was previous mention of the Scientific Atlanta box with a DVD burner which would allow theoretical archival, but would most likely follow the strict broadcast flag restrictions and would have the same blocks soon to be imposed by Tivo.

I have no idea really why there are such intense restrictions placed on video vs audio content, but it’s pretty amazing when you really think about it. Archiving a DVD is possible, but is not a process a computer can do without the help of certain software tools not usually found on the average user’s machine. You cannot copy a commercial DVD without these same tools or converting to a lesser standard first.

The only future I see at the moment is one where we are forced to enjoy video content on somebody else’s rules.

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