XBox as a DVR

Eric Pobirs passed this information along to the Chaos Manor Advisors, and we thought you might be interested. – Editor

Microsoft announced today during their Gamescom presentation their intent to offer DVR capability on the Xbox One.

500px-Xbox_logo_2012_cropped.svg If this would let me retire my TiVo and its monthly service fee I’d apply the savings to a very high capacity external drive. I currently have a 3 TB drive set aside for the purpose but the additional load from storing video would merit some added TBs. Initially this will be for the USB OTA antennas offered for the Xbox One in Europe and the US. (Which are completely useless in my location due to the amount of geology between here and Mt. Wilson.

Unless Microsoft is planning an external CableCard box, I’d expect that this would use a cable/satellite box connected to the HDMI In and encode the stream to a saved file. (I know the AMD designed APU has some encoding hardware functionality but I’ve seen far less info than on the Intel QuickSync tech.) This may mean a somewhat lesser quality than on a modern DVR that records the compressed stream straight from the cable. Still, hard to beat for free if you already own an Xbox One.

The Amazon Prime service is on-demand, 24/7/365. You can watch anything you want when you want. Because this is a rapidly growing method for accessing video entertainment, scheduled broadcasting is starting to feel some pain. I believe that most of it will be gone within 20 years, possibly much sooner.  Thus the DVR itself is product category with a shrinking future. TiVo is working to reposition itself as the center of video access for the home, which puts them up against game consoles in a way they hadn’t needed to deal with previously.

One example is the Season Pass feature. It will now enlist any streaming service you subscribe to, and have told the TiVo how to login, in order to gather up all the episodes requested sooner than later. It a nice innovation if you have the subscription but really only applicable if you’re watching a current season. A completed season on the streaming service would simply be accessed entirely from there.

So TiVo is in an existential struggle because console makers will always have games as the primary function but the hardware has enough spare horsepower that encoding video isn’t the major task it once was. Microsoft, and potentially Sony, can just add this as a software feature rather than rely on it as their core product.

What was announce for release next year is solely for use with an OTA antenna but it has been hinted by MS execs that it won’t end there.

There are alternatives available right now.

This page is somewhat dated since Windows Media Center is dead as far as ongoing development goes. (It is not supported in Windows 10 at all.) Storing recordings on a shared volume that is presented by a DLNA works fine for networked DVR. A CableCard from Time Warner to decode their feed is $2.50 a month on my bill. is another player in this area.

Gadgetry abounds but I think you’ll find you could spend vast amounts of time just exploring the library Amazon Prime gives you, with the added virtue of it being already paid for as part of your Prime subscription.

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