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Forced subscriptions, part II

According to this news story, ReplayTV has embraced the TiVo business model (for better or for worse) by selling its hardware inexpensively but then charging a subscription fee.,4149,1425292,00.asp

But *whoops*... it forgot to tell its new customers about this little detail.  Lots of customers bought ReplayTV sets for $149, and the product pacakaging promised three years of free service.  Now its new customers are being told to pony up the subscription fee or have service canceled.  Replay is trying to shift the blame to retailers like BestBuy. 

What a public relations and customer service disaster....

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, January 1, 2004

Aren't they required to honor it or be accused of false advertising?

On a related note, TiVos now work without a subscription, but you only get 3 days of programming information and some features are disabled (like season passes).

Perhaps ReplayTV could get out of this by doing the same thing -- they could claim the offer was for 3 years of "limited" service.

Nate Silva
Friday, January 2, 2004



TiVO without the TiVO
Friday, January 2, 2004

I got a Radeon 9600 AIW Pro for christmas, only to find out that I need at least a 4x AGP slot.


Now I have to get a new Motherboard/CPU/RAM :)

No, really I'm happy it's about time that I get something more powerful than a PIII/500MHz for my media pc.

I found a good deal on a combo with an Asus Mobo/Athlon XP 2K+ Retail/512MB PC3200 DDR for $211 including shipping which hopefully will show up at my door soon.

Friday, January 2, 2004

Those Shuttle cases do look cool.  The only disadvantage is that once you've paid for the case, CPU, RAM, Radeon AIW, etc., you're probably about the cost of a TiVo + lifetime subscription.  (If not higher.)  Still, it'd be a fun toy to have.

In addition to the Radeon AIW boards, there are also various less expansive boards from other companies that capture/record/display a TV signal.  However you have to have a separate video card (on-board video might suffice), and I don't know how good the software is.

Robert Jacobson
Friday, January 2, 2004

Definitely higher, from my perspective (sorry, I'm a TiVo cheerleader).

DirecTiVo can be had for $99, and has a $4.99 monthly fee (and even then, if you have the top tier DirecTV subscription, the TiVo fee is waived). You'd have to own it many, many years before you approached the ~ $700-800 price tag of a media PC.

Worse, the PC has sub-standard features as far as the TV recording goes (show me a version that'll record two streams while playing a third simultaneously, with the power of TiVo's searching and season passes, and THEN I'll be a believer).

The only benefit would be to be able to run non-TV software on your TV, so you can do things like picture slideshows, play networked audio, play games, etc. If you're looking for all that, then yeah, a PC might be the best way to go.

Keep in mind that with that $800, you can buy a DirecTiVo ($99), a DVD player w/ MP3 and JPEG playback ($49), and an Xbox ($199), and you still have a huge chuck of money left over, and no single point of failure for everything.

Brad Wilson (
Saturday, January 3, 2004

How did we arrive at the $800 figure?

My total cost is $250 for Motherboard/Ram/CPU/Case.

I got a 120GB Disk and an ATI AIW 9600 Pro for christmas, but even if you wanted to add those in, that would be ($90 + $210 + $250) = $550.  Matter of fact, if I wanted to work the 'mail in rebate' angle, I could have gotten the hard drive for $60 from Best Buy, but it would have only had a 1 year warranty.

Anyway, I don't mind paying a little more in order to have complete control over what/how I record.  I can't wait to start programming my own media applications!

By the way, I've read on the ATI site that the "record two streams" and Picture in Picture tricks can be accomplished by adding more TV Tuners ($60 ATI TV Wonder VE should do it).

I might buy a Tivo with lifetime service for my girlfriend, as she will be taking most of the recording time for a device of this type anyway.  For me, I care less about watching TV and more about building this thing :)

Saturday, January 3, 2004

We were talking about the Shuttle XPCs, which generally cost ~ $300-350 for the case/motherboard. Sure, a traditional PC case is cheaper, but a lot less desireable to live in the home theater.

I don't think my argument is weakened by a $600 price tag vs. an $800 price tag. *shrug*

Brad Wilson (
Saturday, January 3, 2004

My point isn't the price tag, I just wanted to let you know how much I'm doing it for.  I would pay $800 to "do it myself".  It's the control factor...I want to be able to try out different software for games, etc.

I think this is the sentiment of most that take this path.

Also, my ugly vanilla PC is hidden from plain site, so there's no clashing with my nice looking entertainment center.  That's a nice advantage of the RF Remote instead of an IR Remote.

Saturday, January 3, 2004

FYI Brad,

I bought a Shuttle XPC at MicroTech this weekend for $189.  I then put in an Intel Celeron 2.6 for $107, a 56X drive for $20, and a 30 GB harddrive for $50 (all I needed).  The machine could be built even cheaper if you go with a low end AMD chip (which of course requires the AMD Shuttle XPC for the same price)

Oren Miller
Monday, January 5, 2004

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