My TiVo2Go up and went!

When we first got TiVo2Go (which is too hard to type, so now I will call it t2g), it didn't work very well.

Most importantly, it is unusable without a $15.00 update to your PC operating system.

The reason for this is that Microsoft Windows XP does not ship with an MPEG2 playback license.

The royalty on this license is $2.50 and no way is Microsoft going to pay someone $2.50 on every copy of Windows they sell.

That's why on the Xbox you had to buy that remote before you could watch DVDs - you were basically paying the MPEG2 licensing fee for hardware, which used to be like $20.00 I think.

Windows Media Center PCs cost a little more and come with the MPEG2 license.

Frequently your video card would include the MPEG2 license so your machine might work. I had reinstalled Windows and my video card so often there was no MPEG2 playback software in sight. Eventually I found something on an old disc but was not reliable.

So, I paid the $15.00 to Sonic for their playback license.

Now I could watch TiVo on my PC, but not burn discs.

That cost more money for TiVo - you have to buy Sonic's burning software which I eventually got on sale for $40.00. It also comes with the MPEG2 playback license but since it was getting put on another machine that gave me two computers that could play back TiVo2Go.

So finally I decide to burn some discs. The Sonic software has a mode that will put your movie on your disc at a variable quality rate which is supposed to make it as good as it can be. Luckily I tried that and found it didn't play back right on an older (not that old) DVD player. Now I manually chose the highest bitrate that will fit on the disc and that looks good on both of our regular old DVD players.

The quality is okay but not great. The thing is, if you want a great looking DVD, you should buy it at the store! The prices are cheap, you get extras, and a box, and the best possible quality. If you are burning your own discs, it's probably stuff that you only want for the kids or where the visual quality doesn't matter that much, or that you can't get any other way.

If you burn your own discs of a movie from HBO, consider the following place you are in the food chain:

Movie comes out in theatres;
Movie comes out on DVD for sale or rental;
Movie comes out on pay-per-view;
Movie comes out on subscription TV;
Movie comes out on regular TV.

You are very near the bottom of the food chain - the movie has been out a long time. So that means you're willing to wait before getting the movie. Then, you finally record it on your TiVo, which compresses it. Then you recompress it, which takes hours, and burn a DVD, which is probably single layer, and so the bit rate isn't very high. If you want chapter stops, that takes extra time to choose.

Finally you have your DVD. It looks okay - kind of like VHS, but better, probably, depending on how much you had to compress it to fit.

So, my feeling is that nobody is losing out on DVD sales due to TiVo2Go.

The main things we recorded onto DVD were some kids shows we couldn't get (mostly Christmas specials and the most recent Clone Wars).

It's great for archiving TV shows, so if you wanted your own version of Lost on DVD without paying for the box set it would work.

Overall, I like it, but for really cool shows or movies, I suggest you buy the DVD rather than burn your own.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.