Is a Limited Comcast TiVo Box “Good Enough?” And What About the Perfect Machine?

In his comments section, Om Malik coins the term “TiVo lite” in describing what we could see as a potential offering from the combined TiVo/Comcast deal, but suggests that this is “good enough.” I like it.

Om is right. Something is better than nothing and as much as I hate to admit it, having a dual tuner, HDTV capable unit with adequate storage is really 90% of the equation. Advanced networking a la TiVo to Go, Home Media option, etc. are nice and would be ideal in a perfect world.

As much as I hate the fact that DirecTV has dumbed down my current quad tuner HDTV DirecTV TiVo, I still use it far more than my non-HDTV single tuner MCE machine despite the MCE’s much superior home media and networking capabilities.

I’d just like to see someone finally build the “perfect” box.

Alex Rowland, over at his Democracy in Media blog sparked an initial debate between whether or not the current deal is good for TiVo. Alex’s company Cozmomedia looks to be an interesting future television play and I look forward to learing more about it in the future. They look like they are working on interesting things.

So what does the “perfect box” look like? The perfect box needs to pair the integration of micro content COMBINED with a cable/satellite box. People need more than Akimbo. People need to be weaned off of cable and satellite and on to new internet content as you suggested in your email to me.

We should also think about the best niche content though to make them make the jump to buy this new multipurpose box.

My own thoughts are that initially this could focus on lots of interesting long tail stuff: amateur athletics (little league, high school sports, etc.), local government and community stuff (planning meetings, school plays, etc.), religious programming (large congregational service broadcasts) and youth oriented indie type stuff (well made but still home made skate punk type stuff or the like) and easily produced reality television.

If my grandson plays little league in San Diego and I live in Buffalo New York, this might be just the thing to get me to buy a combined satellite/cable/microcontent box.

Someone will need to produce a guide and hire a team of editors to review, catalog, organize and rank this new internet content.

The perfect box should have quad tuners (2 analog 2 HD), have expandable storage, have full networking capabilities, have a sophisticated home media option, have a released SDK to encourage outside plug ins and development, AND have a sophisticated and proprietary microcontent platform.

The more sophisticated HME option will do things like aggregate content from copyright free places like the internet archive and display it in an easy to navigate on screen fashion.

If I can get Jack Johnson concerts on the Internet Archive, someone should build a plug in to have Jack Johnson’s Internet Archive posted concerts come up under “my music” in the HME option automatically. Ideally (although perhaps to the chagrin of free media advocates due to the excess bandwidth issues – and we might need to find a better way to compensate folks like the Internet Archive for our bandwidth hogging) smart HME software should scrape and collect content from any site that I enter into it. I should be able to provide http:// locations and then have the smart software go out and pull all .mp3 files from a site, all photographs from a photobloging site, etc. (feel free to take my photographs from at any time). This would all be for personal home use of course.

This content would then be aggregated into my home media library for later consumption on my 43” plasma.

Combine all of this fantastic microcontent stuff with the perfect completely networked quad tuner cable and satellite HDTV box with easily expandable storage and that dog will hunt!

On the other hand, this is not what Comcast necessarily wants to see you do.

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