TiVo unveils portable transfer service

TiVo has announced its long-awaited service feature called TiVoToGo — a new option that will give its customers their first taste of TiVo untethered.

No longer confined to TiVo digital video recorders in the living room or bedroom, subscribers will be able to transfer their recorded shows to PCs or laptops and take them on the road. That is as long as the shows are not specially tagged with copy restrictions — which may be the case for pay-per-view or on-demand movies, and some premium paid programming.

Eventually, TiVo users also will be able to copy shows onto a DVD. The mobile feature is a key step in TiVo’s long-term vision of giving consumers more freedom with how and where they enjoy their favorite TV.

As part of the effort, TiVo announced an arrangement with Microsoft that will allow owners of recent-vintage TiVo boxes to transfer programs to a Windows XP PC, from which the programs can in turn be shuttled to Microsoft-powered portable devices, such as Portable Media Center and Smartphone mobile phones.

TiVoToGo will be an automatic, free service upgrade for subscribers who own stand-alone Series2 TiVo DVRs. It will not work for subscribers owning DIRECV-TiVo satellite boxes. Also, the technology will work only with computers based on Microsoft’s Windows XP or 2000 operating systems, although a version for Apple Macintosh computers is planned.

The recorded shows are transferred to PCs or laptops via a home computer network. Users would have to download free desktop software from the TiVo Web site onto their computers. A media access code and password is assigned to each user's account, essentially restricting the transferring and playback of shows to household members with the same access code.

TiVo officials said they have tried to strike a balance between what they consider consumers’ rights and Hollywood’s copyright concerns. They emphasize the video files being transferred are encrypted and need the corresponding media access code for playback.

If users try to e-mail the files to others or send the files over the Internet, their accounts could be revoked.

For more information, visit www.tivo.com.

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