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Sage TV Goes After TiVo, Media Center PC Markets

The huge success enjoyed by DVRs and the growing popularity of Media Center OS-equipped computers is encouraging Frey Technologies to increase its Sage TV offerings this spring.

Sage TV technology can give a home PC the ability to become a full-fledged DVR, said Michael Michado, Frey Technologies’ product manager. The company is marketing Sage TV on the case that it can deliver better home wide networking then a TiVo box and does not require the purchase of an entire PC like Media Center.

The company’s newest offering is the Sage TV software/set-top box combination. This uses Linux-based software that is downloaded onto a home’s PC, which in turn controls the set-top box running on a client server architecture.

The set-top box can connect all of a home’s TVs through an Ethernet network, allowing the stored programming to be shared. The onscreen programming guide, which is modeled on the Windows Media Center experience, is controlled through a remote control from each TV. Sage TV supplies, for free, the Tribune Company’s 14-day programming guide, which looks very similar to TiVo’s.

Machado expects the suggested retail price for the new item to run between $499 and $699, a price point he said was defendable since it did not include a recurring service charge like other DVR systems.

Frey has been selling its product under its own brand name, but will broaden itself through OEM deals, with the first probably coming to fruition in April, Machado said.

Two versions of Sage TV are now on the market and a third will ship next month. The first two are a separate software application selling for $79 as an electronic download direct from Frey. It is used with Windows XP and TV tuner card-equipped PCs. A bundle containing the software and Hauppauge TV Tuner card for $149 sells through retail. Each has been on the market since last year. Machado would not estimate the sell-through numbers for either product other than stating the number of electronic downloads for the software numbers is in the tens of thousands.