- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — TiVo Inc. pioneered digital video recording as a new way of watching television — when you want it. Now it could be television where you want it, too.

The long-awaited service feature called TiVoToGo, set to begin today, will give users their first taste of TiVo untethered.

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

Users also will be able to copy shows onto a DVD soon after the service starts, company officials said.

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 programming. TiVo plans to extend TiVoToGo so it will work on other portable gadgets, as well.

The company, based in the southern San Francisco Bay community of Alviso, Calif., eventually hopes to expand its service so video can be accessed anywhere via the Internet.

“It lays the foundation of moving content out of the living room,” TiVo spokeswoman Kathryn Kelly said.

For now, the feature sets TiVo apart from its growing list of competitors, such as cable operators that are introducing digital video recording features into their set-top boxes.

“Right now, TiVo is trying to build a culture of letting consumers move their content around the home and beyond. And as long as they’re doing it within the copyright concerns, it’s a good idea,” said Vamsi Sistla, analyst with market researcher ABI Research.

DVRs let viewers record TV shows onto hard disks, fast-forward through commercials and pause live broadcasts. TiVo subscribers account for about a third of the estimated 6.5 million of the nation’s households that have DVRs.

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

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 the computers. A media access code and password are assigned to each user’s account, essentially restricting the transfer and playback of shows to household members with the same access code.

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

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