The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Monday, November 18, 2002

More Praise for DVRs

Tivo: Revolution, Interrupted

"Three years after their introduction, the TiVo brand digital video recorder (DVR) and its rivals are in only about 1 percent of American homes, fewer than, a recent headline said, have outhouses...

Theories on what's taking so long will follow. But a hint comes from Syracuse's ever quotable Thompson: 'We're a society obsessed with new technology, but we're also a society that's completely unwilling to read an instruction book....'

I cannot imagine television life without one of these devices. People in the industry like to cite a survey in which users say they would rather give up their microwave ovens than their digital video recorders. I would throw in the toaster oven, both waffle makers and even, if pressed, my beloved surround-sound speaker system.

The essential attraction is that watching television becomes much more precise, much more efficient, much less inchoate. It's the end of channel surfing and its frustrations. With a DVR, you've got the things you think are good -- the latest 'Sopranos,' a 'Scrubs,' the steamy Animal Planet study of koala mating habits -- stored on the hard disk, ready to be summoned up. Give Bruce Springsteen a TiVo and his song about 57 channels becomes a celebration of them....

'The best summary of TiVo I've heard was from a young woman who said, `Oh, I really love it now, but it was in the box for most of the time' after being purchased,' says Thompson.

Then her boyfriend hooked it up.

'If TiVo in its current form is going to become the revolution, it's going to have to put a boyfriend in every box,' Thompson says....'

The second, and probably biggest, factor is price. Even if you can conjure up the benefits of better TV management, the cheapest early editions of the machines were $400 or $500 plus the monthly fee for the necessary listings service.

Now, Nikhil Balram, vice president of connected home products for SonicBlue, which makes ReplayTV, says hopefully, people say, ' 'OK, this is $249. I pay $9.95 monthly. What's the harm in trying it?' In the past, when it was $700, the consumer says, `I don't even want to like it because I can't afford it....' '

'The balance of power is shifting right now from networks and studio content providers and towards consumers. This probably does mean the most significant change in TV ever, and that can be both scary and inspiring.' " [Chicago Tribune (free registration required), via JD's New Media Musings]

As one of the DVR fanatics described in this article, I just want to note the price drops on ReplayTVs, augmented by a $50 rebate good for the two lower-end Replays if bought before January 1). The low end 40-hour version still needs to drop another $100 to gain some mainstream momentum, but it's currently at $300. The higher the model number, though, the bigger the price drop.

The 80-hour version is going for $400 (down from $550, plus you can get the $50 rebate bringing it to $500), the 160-hour version is at $600 (down from $1000), and in a pretty stunning freefall from earlier this year, the 320-hour version (with ethernet port and commercial skip) is just $999 (down from $1300 last month and down from $2000 when it was introduced a little over a year ago). And they are once again available through retail outlets like Best Buy. All of which would help if the economy was better.

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Gadgets Galore

Most of the presentations from this month's Internet Librarian conference are now available online, which means you can view my presentation with Barbara Fullerton about The Wacky World of Gadgets (note: it's a 2.5MB Powerpoint file). Warning: not all of them are library-related. Some are just plain fun.

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Funny Apple Parody for My New Canadian Friends

Switch to Canada

"On many occasions, I've heard someone say, 'If you don't love the United States of America, then get the hell out.'

I did....

My name is John, and I'm a Canadian." [via]

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Why NetFlix Continues to Succeed

I recently made some new additions to my NetFlix rental queue, and today I got the following email from them:

"We noticed that you recently added Enigma to your Rental Queue. We would like to alert you to a possible issue.

It has been brought to our attention by the DVD manufacturers that the Enigma  DVD is not viewable on most Toshiba DVD players.  If you have a Toshiba DVD player, you may want to select another title.

Review your Rental Queue:

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Your Friends at Netflix"

How cool is that? Kind of the anti-Universal BMG (the record company that plans to release ALL their CDs with copy protection now, even if it means they don't work in little things like PCs and car stereos). The entertainment industry could learn a lot from these folks - they're customer-centric, they're service-oriented, and they provide a valuable service (to me, at least) at a reasonable price with a minimum of hassle. That's why they got more of my money this year than the record companies.

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Librarian Barbie

This made the rounds of the library blogosphere last week, but in case you haven't seen it, Mattel is holding a vote to determine Barbie's next career and one of the choices is librarian. I went ahead and voted for my vocation because I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and hoping that they'll use the opportunity to extend Barbie beyond just "Barbie" for a new generation of kids.

For example, I'd love to see them evolve the Talk With Me Barbie concept to make Librarian Barbie an interactive guide for information literacy. Barbie could surf with kids and prompt them to think about the sites they are visiting. However, if Mattel fails to take advantage of this opening, I'd love to see a Smartee Librarian.

Right now, librarians are leading the vote with 47%.

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