Sunday, April 17, 2005

Beyond TV

Back in my Marketing days with AT&T, I remember watching customer focus groups and categorizing people by their age and the likelihood that they would like a new service that we were potentially offering.


Folks who jumped on the bandwagon immediately and had to have the latest and greatest of EVERYTHING were called "Early Adopters". We almost fit that mold. We want the newest and coolest stuff as soon as we see it, but we are a little more practical about it. We wait for a bit until some of the bugs are worked out, until we see some reviews from those hard-core early adopters, and until we feel it's financially responsible of us to make a purchase.


Yeah. And sometime we throw that right out the window and buy buy buy! Yeeha!


I have the coolest new toy.


We have been doing research for a while now on some of the latest Tivo type devices. Sure, VCRs are swell, but I knew there were some cool features we were missing out on. So John picked himself up a DVR (digital video recorder) with a huge amount of internal storage and a DVD-R drive so he can save what he records onto DVDs if he wants to. He can also plug our digital video camera right into the DVR and use built in editing features to make DVDs of our home movies.


I wanted something even better than a souped up VCR. I wanted to use my PC and be able to watch stuff at my desk...maybe send shows to my friends...stuff like that. I got sooooo much more.


I have a new USB Tuner, USB hard drive to store my shows, and BeyondTV to monitor my TV listings and program my shows to record.


What can I do with this stuff? Hee hee! It's too much fun!


* I can watch cable TV at my desk.
* I can pause a show, go potty, come back and resume watching without missing anything.
* I can record a show every time it's on, no matter what time of day or night...that way I capture every episode of my favorite shows.
* I can watch TV or anything I have recorded on any computer in the house...including my wireless laptop. I'm looking forward to taking my laptop into the bedroom and folding laundry while watching last nights recording of Tru Calling.
* For those forehead slapping moments when I realize I forgot to program something to record, I can use my cell phone to communicate with my home PC to set up a show to record.
* I can use file sharing and send that episode of Survivor that my friend missed to her so she can watch it on her PC.
*Tyler can watch his shows on the TV and I can watch something else here at my desk.
*I can take snapshots of live TV or movies. (The image here is a standard screen capture with a TV still inserted into the middle because a screen cap doesn't show the TV broadcast and a snapshot still doesn't show the TV software around the edges.)
*I love that I can turn off that huge TV and just watch a show here at my desk while I blog and surf. I think it's a power/money saver.
*The TV tuner is also an FM receiver so I can listen to the radio.
*Once we get an additional tuner card installed, I'll be able to record up to 3 shows at the SAME TIME!
*I can use SmartSkip to bypass the commercials.


I've been having fun figuring out how everything works. On the negative side, we had a couple funky problems getting everything set up. There was a minor conflict with the USB hard drive (the PC wasn't seeing it). There was a funky problem with my LCD monitor where it would blank out. It took a while to work out all the bugs, but now everything seems to be working GREAT!


Well...time for a potty break. Shall I pause my show or just take the laptop with me and keep watching?


SnapStream: Beyond TV - Transform your PC into the Ultimate TV Recording Machine.


Hauppauge Computer Works: WinTV-PVR-USB2


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