By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
TiVo unveiled a suite of enhancements to its Series 2 and 3 digital video recorders that will allow users to send and receive personal and professional video files over the Internet.
Among the new features is a software enhancement that allows TiVo users to send home movies directly to the TV sets of friends and family using broadband connections.
TiVo also introduced new software that will enable users to playback commercially available videos downloaded over the Internet in MPEG-4, QuickTime and some versions of Windows Media Video .
This opens up users to the ability to play videos from such Web sites as Google Video and Revver, however the system will not support copy-protected content.
Current TiVo players accept MPEG-2 encoded content. But the new software, which is available from TiVo for $24.95, will load onto users' hard drives and allow them to connect their digital video recorders to their PCs via wired or wireless networks. The player will then be able to play back the videos encoded in the additional compression schemes on their TV screens.
Meanwhile, the home video feature lets TiVo users set-up a private channel online that they will use to send home videos directly to other TiVo subscriber's TVs, the company said.
The software and service that enables the function was developed in partnership with One True Media (www.onetruemedia.com), which runs an online service that lets people upload, edit and transfer their video and photos.
The service requires subscribers to upload their home movies to the One True Media service, where consumers will be able to edit videos online. There, they will receive a personal TiVo channel code that enables distributing content to other TiVo subscribers.
Users will be able to set up a Season Pass recording designation on their TiVo DVRs to receive all the current and future home movies from the video creator. In setting up a Season Pass, users input a code number from a sender.
Only people with the unique personal code assigned to the subscriber's channel can see the published channel. Content is not made available to the general public.
Videos will be displayed in the TiVo subscriber's Now Playing List — where all favorite television recordings are stored.
TiVo said the new service will be available in the first quarter of 2007, and will be free of charge to those who receive home movies. Users who create and send videos and slide shows using the service must sign up for an account with One True Media, which charges a $3.99 a month subscription fee.
"TiVo is once again delivering new service features that expand the universe of choices available to our subscribers," said Tom Rogers, TiVo CEO. "Video that stars the important people and events in a subscriber's life should be viewable on TV."
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