Months ago, some Backstage entries noted how excited we were about TiVo’s upcoming TiVo to Go service for the iPod – a way to turn TiVo-recorded videos into iPod-viewable content. Today, TiVo released the free TiVo Desktop 2.3, a Windows XP/2000 version of its TiVo-to-PC transfer software, and also TiVo Desktop 2.3 Plus ($25), an optional unlock code for iPod video conversion. Initial impressions are as follows: “W.T.F.”
After installation of the software, which took little time and required four other things – a PC, the Media Unlock Code from my TiVo DVR, the serial number from the $25 TiVo software upgrade, and oh yes, the unexpected $25 for an iPod video converter a number of people are now offering for free – my Series 2 TiVo box is presently in the midst of a 41 minute process to transfer a 36 minute TV show to my PC. The show is a single episode of Wonder Showzen, which I have been storing on my TiVo along with 40 or so other programs, just waiting to convert into iPod format.
Don’t get me started on the fact that TiVo hasn’t released a Mac-ready version of this software yet, and I won’t dive too deeply into the fact that I’m using the company’s official Wireless G Adapter, which is supposed to guarantee that such transfers are as fast as possible. I tried not to wince when I saw that TiVo’s official page referred to “leav[ing] your PC running overnight” for a new feature – automatic transfers to the PC – but it looks like my PC’s about to spend a lot of nights left on, converting videos, given that I have 39 more programs left to convert.
Now, it’s unclear at this point whether the 41 minutes includes or excludes the process of converting the video to iPod format, and also unclear as to whether conversion to MPEG-4 format will result in an iPod-ready file. TiVo Desktop 2.3 Plus lets you choose between MPEG-4 and H.264 formats, but only specifically annotates H.264 as iPod compatible. We’ll have to see, but if MPEG-4 files don’t work on the iPod – I suspect they will – the omission would be idiotic, and doom iPod users to using an even more insanely slow compression scheme. I’ll have an additional report on the software’s performance as soon as I’ve had the chance to fully convert and transfer a file or two, but so far, I’m not convinced that this is a better solution than TVHarmony’s free AutoPilot for Windows, described in the earlier TiVo entry.