Tuesday, November 15, 2005

No Tivo

In the USA in 1999, Tivo and ReplayTV where the first DVRs (Digital Video Recorders). Back then they called them PVRs (Personal Video Recoders). A couple of years ago they began adding writable DVDs for archiving shows.

The DVR has just come to Malaysia 6 years behind the USA but they do not call it a DVR. The way they are marketing it is a DVD player/recorder with hard-drive. DVRs had a difficult time gaining acceptance in the USA. The concept was so new and people had a hard-time understanding what they were and why they would want one.

Now Tivo is a verb like Xerox. It has finally become a household name. I'm surprised because I thought ReplayTV would win since Tivo was like the Mac of DVRs and ReplayTV was the Windows of DVRs. I clearly liked the Tivo better but it required a monthly subscription and ReplayTV didn't. But Tivo had a catchy name. Even with such popularity, nobody has heard of Tivo in Malaysia and probably most of Asia. The DVR has yet to hit it big in Asia.

I just find it funny how the USA markets it as a hard-drive with DVD and Malaysia markets it as a DVD with hard-drive.

The Malaysian approach to marketing makes sense to me. They avoid the market confusion caused by the first DVRs. Take a product everyone knows, the DVD player, and add onto it. The makes sense.

The first DVRs in Malaysia are lacking in features even when compared against the first DVRs in the USA. But once again, I think this is a good thing. Keep it simple to begin with. The first DVRs in the USA were jam packed with features and it overwhelmed the consumer. They did so many things it was scary.

Keep the new features small to begin with and the consumer will understand what it does. Then you can add features slowly over the years as the consumer becomes more comfortable and familiar with the product.

Keeping the number of features low also reduces the prices. Newer features can become selling points in the future.

Here is an example of the latest DVR available in Malaysia. It's the RDR-GX310 by Sony. Below is a list of features that DVRs in the USA have that it does not have.

  • Internet connection
  • Automatic Software upgrades
  • Automatically figures out the day, time and channel of the show you want to record
  • Automatically reschedules if a conflict with another show
  • TV Listings
  • Record multiple shows at the same time
  • Peer-to-Peer file sharing over Internet with other DVRs
  • Rate shows so it can record shows it thinks you will like
  • Ability to record types of shows like all Kevin Bacon movies or all ice-skating TV shows
  • 30 second skip-ahead to skip over commercials

The salesman had no brochure the details on the web are scarce so I don't know if it has these features.

  • Pause live TV
  • Ability to watch, pause, rewind, fast-forward a show while it is being recorded
  • Different quality settings

Here are features no DVR has that I'm aware of

  • Ability to order your shows in sub-directories
  • Ability to add more hard-drive space by purchasing external hard-drives
  • Ability to automatically cut out commercials
  • Ability to edit a recorder show and save part of a show or combine shows into one show or delete parts of shows
I’m surprised the Malaysian DVR comes with a 250 GB hard-drive. That’s quite large and increases the prices. Perhaps one of the biggest complaints about DVRs is the lack of hard-drive space. I personally would love to archive my favorite shows recorded in the highest quality. I would love to have all 110 episodes of Northern Exposure in a folder ordered by episode number so that I could finish my Northern Exposure web page someday.

Honestly I wouldn’t be happy unless I had at least 1 TB (Terra-Byte) of disk space (1000 GBs).

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