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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Asking too much?

I am (as I have previously admitted) a geek. A tech junkie. A gadget lover. But I am starting to be willing (at least on "home" electronics) to trade all of it in, if I could just have devices that would work together.

Case in point, my beloved Tivo. I love my Tivo, but it has some shortcomings. Not because of the Tivo corporation, but because of the evil DirecTV implementation of it, which crippled many of the uber cool features. TivoToGo? Nope not for me. Linking in with my network or actually using the USB ports on the back of my Series 2 box? No can do. The to be released this fall "Tivo Kid Zone", will probably be out after the agreement between Tivo and DirecTV expires.

Now, I could (and would be willing) in theory get a Tivo box directly from Tivo. But that would mean not being able to use it properly either since I will not be able to change channels with it because of the Sattelite receiver. This harkens back to the stupid days of when I had Comcast Cable, and if I wanted to record (on ugh, VHS), the cable box had to be preset to the channel of the show I wished to record). I do not want to go back to such an archane system, and doing so would only serve to make me again not be able to use some of the features of my Tivo.

Now Comcast is supposed to be partnering up with Tivo, but you are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming to go back to cable. Besides, I feel quite confident that Comcast will also choose to dumb down the Tivo box in an effort to suck every last drop of blood nickel out of each and every customer as is their standard practice. Plus, with the exception of my dumbed down Tivo, DirecTV has exceeded my expectations so far, and I do not miss paying so much for so much less from Comcast. DirecTV has been so good to me, I am always surprised when I remember that the company is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

I have strayed a bit here, let's see. Oh yes, while I am at it, is there any reason that Tivo (or anybody else) can't integrate a web browser into a package like this (allowing me to use my Wireless Network and not a phone line like that stupid MSN TV or Web TV [is Web TV even still in business?] piece of junk), so I could get on the web from my television if I so wanted to? I'd like to be able to click a link when it appears during a show or commercial as well, but I am probably getting ahead of myself here. So, I will settle for a browser that if I see something, and I want more information, I could just go immediately and go see it.

Sure, again, I know I could buy a Media Center PC, but again, it does not integrate with my Tivo OR my Sattelite system, so I would be picking and choosing and muddling through getting a little of what I want here, but forfeiting the really cool things about the technologies, because they can't work together. Plus of course as an added bonus, Microsoft is already planning on canning "Media Center" when Vista is released later this year.

Microsoft with the XBox 360 and Sony with the eventual PS3 are fighting tooth and nail, both wanting to be the "center" of the new digital living room. Why? It is just another device that doesn't integrate with the others. And I won't even get started with the whole High Density DVD war which looks like it is shaping up into another Betamax/VHS war. Pick the wrong format, and you are going to have a machine that is destined for the recycling bin (or sale on eBay at a steep loss to your investment) far sooner than you would care for it to be.

I am so tired of having to spend an hour and a half whenever I need to tell someone (including my wife, but fortunately not LatteGirl), how to use our setup. "Well if you want to watch a DVD you need to push this, change that, set the stereo to this and then just watch. However if you want to watch the sattelite then push that, turn off this, switch over this but don't forget to change the stereo to..." and so on.

Is is really so hard for these companies to componentize this? Or do they simply choose not to, because they work on an "All or None" strategy, figuring once they hook you, then they have got you for the long haul (you've seen how well that has worked for Apple Computers over the years haven't you?). Just make it like a stereo. Let each company make the parts it does best, and allow them to work together. Please.

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