As we reported yesterday, TiVo Desktop 2.3 has been released for Windows with a few new tricks up it's sleeve. Enhancements include scheduled series downloads and MPEG-4 to MPEG-2 video transcoding for a variety of portable devices. While we've been using unsupported methods for massaging video onto the iPod and PSP, official support is now provided at a cost of $24.95. TiVo's going with the soft sell and won't be issuing a press release, so we hit up Vice President of Product Marketing Jim Denney for the details.
We'd prefer TiVo didn't charge for the new conversion features, but recognize MPEG codecs don't come cheap. For example even Apple will sell you (partially-working) MPEG-2 playback in QuickTime for $19.99 and Microsoft offers zippy MPEG-2 decoding, free or otherwise. When asked about TiVo Desktop's $24.95 price point, Mr. Denney responded that they have attempted to find a sweet spot -- balancing TiVo's "real costs" including software development, "royalties for technology," and support with providing "value to the end user."
Mr. Denney clued us in to the "proactive steps" TiVo has taken to prevent piracy. In addition to the already existing (and easily bypassed) PC .tivo file encryption, Denney confirmed the unencrypted converted video includes a watermark "embedded in the file" (you can't see it) that references a subscriber's account. Additionally, TiVo feels by limiting transcoded files to a low resolution of 320 x 240, they further protect the rights of content owners while providing appropriately sized video for portable devices.