DirecTiVo


DirecTiVo

"DirecTiVo" is an informal term for the implemented combination of DirecTV satellite television programming service and the TiVo digital video recorder service. The full name, more properly using all the trademarked terms and phrases which belong to the two companies, is "DirecTV DVR with TiVo".

Summary

DirecTV is a direct-broadcast satellite TV programming provider operating in the United States. It uses smallish, externally building-mounted dishes and proprietary receivers (with cryptographic access cards to enforce payment for programming) to supply TV programs to millions of customers in the U.S. TiVo is a separate company which developed consumer-friendly DVRs, which normally receive an input signal from any analog audio/video source that would ordinarily be sent directly to the television monitor, e.g., analog cable TV service, or the output of a cable tuner/descrambler box supplied by a local cable TV provider. It's perfectly possible to send the output of a traditional DirecTV satellite receiver to a traditional TiVo recorder, in which case the TiVo controls the tuning of the DirecTV unit via an infrared "blaster" (remote control-simulating transmitter) or serial port connection, but there is otherwise no real integration between the two units. But DirecTV has partnered with TiVo to produce, in one consumer product, the functional combination of the two units. It integrates the satellite tuner (actually, in recent units, two independent tuners), the on-screen programming guide, and the hard drive and recording/playback technology. This has distinct technical advantages for the consumer, as well as some disadvantages.

Advantages

#The video stream is delivered as a compressed digital stream by DirecTV for all their customers. Instead of the satellite receiver decompressing the stream to a raw analog video output, and then having it immediately re-compressed by a separate box, the DirecTiVo directly records the compressed digital stream on the hard drive. This means that there is no quality loss from a re-compression step, so watching recorded programs looks exactly the same as watching it live from DirecTV. There is no need to choose a trade-off between storage capacity and desired playback quality, as with the traditional TiVo and traditional tape-based VCRs.
#Only one device on the shelf. Simplified cabling; integrated user interface; only one remote control; only one modem needs a telephone jack to call into a data service.
#Only one bill for services. Traditional TiVo boxes may be billed a monthly fee by the TiVo company separately from any programming fed into them; the DirecTiVo combination is billed as an added line item on the DirecTV bill, and the customer doesn't really interact with the TiVo company at all.Dual tuners. If a dual-tuner DirecTiVo is provided with two inputs from the satellite dish (easy in most cases, since the dish usually has dual outputs, so it's just a matter of running two parallel coax cables to the same place), then it can decode two programs independently at the same time. It has sufficient processing power, buffering RAM, and hard drive performance to record two programs on two channels at the same time (in case the customer wishes to record two programs which the TV networks have scheduled at the same time), or to record one program while watching another program live, or even to record two programs while playing back a third already-recorded program from the hard drive.

Disadvantages

#Only one device; if some component of the DirecTiVo fails, and it must be repaired, the customer is without both the recording and the TV programming services.
#Lack of choice in DVRs: DirecTV has chosen TiVo for this integrated service. If the customer would prefer ReplayTV, MythTV, or any other commercial or home-grown DVR service, he or she must use the traditional analog cabling method. This, however, is set to change with the introduction of Microsoft's 'Fiji' update for Windows Media Center, which will coincide with a hardware device allowing for a DirecTV satellite to be plugged into a PC.
#Lack of choice and parity in TiVo software with the regular TiVo product. The DirecTiVo product uses a special, custom version of the TiVo software, and (barring various hacks which are beyond the technical ability or desire of most at-home consumers) the software is under the control of DirecTV. Recently TiVo has released new software for their standalone units which adds new free and paid home IP networking features over Ethernet or wireless networking. Customers can view TiVo-recorded programs on other TiVo units in the same house, control their upcoming recording schedules from a computer in the house or from a Web portal anywhere on the Internet, etc. But DirecTiVo units do not have these features, and customers can only politely complain to DirecTV to request their implementation.
#No analog input jack. The DirecTiVo unit records and plays back only DirecTV programming. Since it records the already-compressed satellite signal, it needs (and has) no analog input stage, so it cannot record any other material (for instance, local off-the-air TV programs, basic cable, or home movies). If the customer discontinues buying the DirecTV programming service, the recording functionality is useless. However, the high-definition DirecTiVo has the ability to record off-the-air HDTV channels, though not NTSC.
#Must have a land-line connected for PPV calls and service upgrades.
#No Support for HMO TiVo Protocol which is used to deliver Streaming Music and Photos among other things from Desktops running TiVo Desktop.

ee also

* TiVo (the product in general)
* TiVo DVRs (model descriptions and hardware specifications)

External links

* [http://www.directv.com DirecTV's official Web site]
* [http://pvr.digitalinsurrection.com/tivo_intro.php Digital Insurrection Tivo Information]


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