Monday, July 03, 2006

Video iPod & TiVo Desktop Plus

I finally took the plunge and bought a Video iPod — there are several reasons why I did this, but the rumors about massive delays in the next gen touchscreen Video iPod, a bunch of long trips that I will be taking in the next few weeks, updated iTunes that handles videos more effectively, and an updated version of TiVoToGo that does conversion for the Video iPod were all the major contributing factors my taking the plunge.  My initial impressions of the device are very favorable and I can tell how cool this is going to be when there is a touchscreen version.  My iTunes is configured to download the album artwork (which I’ve yet to be able to appreciate because none of my existing iPods support that display function) and the presentation of the videos for view/transfer inside iTunes is pretty cool.

In order to make it super-easy to get my TiVo recordings onto my iPod, I plunked down the $24.95 for TiVo Desktop Plus; the “Plus” essentially means that the portable device conversion software is built into the TiVo Desktop.  My first attempt at downloading a program and converting it failed miserably as there was some sort of network error that caused the transfer to get interrupted; the TiVo Desktop did pick the transfer back up when the network problem resolved itself, but did not do the conversion.  Unfortunately, there is not a big button that says “Convert for Portable” in the software, so I has to download the recording again and it did successfully convert the second time.  Over the course of downloading a bunch of episodes of Entourage and some other stuff, I had the same issue happen to me again with the same result — essentially the software is not very fault tolerant if there is any sort of connectivity issue.  I’m sure that a lot of these network issues would be resolved if I was operating in a wired environment instead of a wireless environment (everything would probably happen more quickly as well).

I configured the TiVo Desktop to automatically delete the downloads from the TiVo once they had been converted to Video iPod format — TiVo encodes everything as MPEG2 in high quality mode, so a 30 minute program takes up an enormous amount of memory, especially when downloading the entire season of a program, versus the amount of memory taken up in the MPEG4 format that works on the iPod.

Currently I have not purchased any video content from the iTunes Music Store, but I probably will just to see what the experience is like.  I also saw that I can now get a “season pass” for TV programs through the iTunes Music Store at a volume discount (as compared to purchasing single episodes), so I may try that out to compare against doing the same thing with my TiVo Season Pass.

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