Entelligence: Two DVR features I'm waiting for

Entelligence is a column by technology strategist and author Michael Gartenberg, a man whose desire for a delicious cup of coffee and a quality New York bagel is dwarfed only by his passion for tech. In these articles, he'll explore where our industry is and where it's going -- on both micro and macro levels -- with the unique wit and insight only he can provide.

I love DVRs. I have been using them for over a decade, and my original model is still in use. Whether it's a PC-based solution, something that comes from your cable provider or the granddaddy of all DVRs, TiVo, a DVR totally changes the way you watch TV, especially if you don't like watching a lot of TV but care a lot about the TV that you do watch.

Last week TiVo sent out word of an event coming in March with a mysterious tagline. Even as good as my current TiVo Series 3 is, it could even be better, and while we speculate about what TiVo will announce, there's two features I'd like to see.

First, I tend to use my DVR to discover new content -- perhaps shows that I've missed somewhere along the way or haven't bothered to watch -- and every so often, I decide to watch a show that I've never watched before, or re-visit something from my youth. The problem is that no DVR is really optimized for me to capture every episode of a series and sort them by season. Yes, I can record every episode of MASH, but that will simply capture every show broadcast on every cable station that's showing it. Likewise, I can record every episode on a given channel, but that assumes the stations is going to broadcast the episodes in order, which is rarely the case. In fact, it seems there are certain episodes of some syndicated shows broadcast over and over while other episodes never seen.

What I want is to be able to tell the DVR to record every episode of a given show and then to sort them, not on the day they were recorded on the DVR but on the day they were broadcast, properly sorted by season and airdate. The guide would be smart enough to fill in episodes as they are shown, no matter when they are shown or even on what channel they are shown. All this info is readily available. I can even see in most DVR guides the original broadcast date but can't sort on it or plan recordings on based on the metadata that's already there.

I also want a better way to take content off the DVR and get it on my laptop or iPhone or other portable screen. I know there are solutions to enable this today, but frankly, they all stink. The time it takes to transcode, transfer and sync content from point A to point B is just too slow and frustrating. I'd love to just plug my laptop directly into my DVR (or my iPod for that matter) and take the content I want with me when I'm ready to leave. It's not hard and it's totally something that's capable with today's class of devices. There's no reason for all the hassle it takes to get content from device to device when it could be done with just a little bit of thought and some software magic.

A friend of mine told me I should patent these ideas. Frankly, I'm a giver and I'm not interested in royalties -- I'm interested in a vendor implementing this and making a better product for me. Anyone out there want to take me up? I'm ready to buy.

Michael Gartenberg is vice president of strategy and analysis at Interpret, LLC. His weblog can be found at Contact him at gartenberg AT gmail DOT com. Views expressed here are his own.