TV To Go, Revisited

For those of you who saw my post on TV On The Go and then followed or participated in the comments, here’s the latest.ADHERER

For years, I have been pulling recorded TV manually (because of a bug in DVArchive that doesn’t allow it to run reliably forever, at least on my PC) from my ReplayTV to a PC and then running a semi-complex series of scripts to convert the quasi-proprietary MPEG-2 streams to divx so that I can take the shows on the road on my Archos 504.

I decided to try a piece of software called iPodifier.  This is a nifty piece of software, or rather it would be if it worked as advertised.  It needs some repair, I have found.  Basically, iPodifier watches folders for new content and then re-encodes that content for an iPod.  It will even add it to iTunes for you automatically, except for people like me who run iTunes on a Mac (where it belongs… far more stable than on a PC).  But iPodifier has some other nifty ways to get the content to iTunes for those in my situation.  For instance, it will set up the shows as video podcasts.  Man, what an awesome idea!  If it worked.  Perhaps I have configured it wrong (a distinct possibility, since iPodifier isn’t very intuitive to use, I find); it will set up the XML, but the pointers are all wrong, so iTunes cannot find the episodes to download them.  Plus you have to have a web server running to even attempt to make it work.

Perhaps this is all because I am running iPodifier on Vista.  Who knows?

In any case, the best solution I have found seems to also be the easiest: TiVo.  The TiVo-to-go service allows you to pull shows off of your TiVo via their free software to watch on your PC.  Pretty slick.  But it gets better.

For $24.95, you can upgrade your TiVo Desktop software to be able to automatically convert whatever shows it downloads.  Perfect!

But wait!  It gets better.

I have it convert to MPEG-4 (possibilities are iPod, PSP, Treo, Nokia, MPEG-4, or H.264) because that way I can put shows on either my iPod or my Archos.  I prefer the Archos for a few reasons.  First, bigger screen.  Second, I can actually delete items from my Archos, unlike the iPod where you have to delete them on your PC and then sync to remove items.  But that’s not such a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

I had decided to only use my Archos for video, but for fun I set up a watch folder on my Mac Mini that would take videos dropped in it and add them to iTunes.  Obviously, my Mac programming skillz aren’t all that mad because it somehow adds the videos twice.  And it also doesn’t start up automatically all the time.  And it also usually leaves videos behind without adding them to iTunes.

But here’s the kicker.  The TiVo Desktop software places tags in the MPEG-4 streams that iTunes recognizes!  As a general rule, all of that information is lost once it’s pulled from the player.  For instance, DVArchive will create an XML file with the show’s information, but unless I somehow grab that information and place it in the divx stream, it is lost.  But with the TiVo Desktop system, now the genre and the show description and the show title are all preserved.  I added an episode of Battlestar Galactica and assumed I would find it in the free-for-all “Movies” area of iTunes.  No luck.  I started to panic; did iTunes throw it away?

Then I checked the “TV” section and there it was (twice, of course… gotta debug that process), right alongside my ITMS-purchased episodes of BSG!  iTunes had identified the show as “Battlestar Galactica” and had categorized the title of the episode as well as the description of it.  It did the same for every show I added, and kept the genre of “TV Show”.  I want to try recording a movie to see how that does… perhaps this weekend.

So there it is, folks.  The most perfect TV-to-Portable-Viewer solution I have yet found.  The only problem so far has been that my DirecTV receiver keeps losing its mind.  But if you can get the TV into your TiVo, then this is the best way to get it on the road with you.

Oh, one more hiccup.  If you use WPA on your WiFi LAN at home, don’t get the TiVo WiFi USB adapter.  TiVo will only use WEP, apparently.  So I went with the Linksys USB200M EtherFast USB Network Adapter… works like a charm.


Filed under Battlestar Galactica, Gadget, Software, TiVo, TV

8 Comments on TV To Go, Revisited

  1. Jason says:

    In the last paragraph about using WPA with TiVo, you actually have it backwards. The TiVo Wireless G USB Network Adapter is the only adapter that will support WPA on TiVo and is the only wireless adapter compatible with all TiVo Series2, Series2 DT, and Series3 HD DVRs. It also seems that it is the only wireless adapter compatible with the Series3. It has been reported by many people that speed is actually better with the TiVo Wireless Adapter than with Ethernet adapters such as your Linksys adapter. This is because the TiVo Wireless Adapter offloads some of the network processing from the TiVo CPU.

    See this page:
    http://customersupport.tivo.com/LaunchContent.aspx?CID=1faa0420-0e05-4b2e-9a42-253346b15256

  2. Michael Swanberg says:

    Well, I will certainly check it out again, but I was categorically unable to get it to connect to my LAN. I cannot remember exactly what the screen (error message) said that made me believe that it just couldn’t use WPA, but that was my conclusion at the time.

    I will give it another try.

    One other point to think about, though. Very frequently, in an apartment complex (such as mine), it is difficult to keep a good WiFi connection, what with 30-40 of them competing for the frequency space. So I prefer wired where possible.

    -Mike

  3. Jeff says:

    One thing to note is that the tivo software will only convert newly transferred programs. I cannot find any way to get it to convert files that I transferred to my pc before installing the plus update.

  4. Rose says:

    ok So I have Tivo to go and want to buy this Archos 695 Wi Fi portable device which will be out on 9/1. I know I will need to buy plus but when I googled to find out more about plus I found out that there is a free program called auto pilot that does the same thing at the plus as long as you have the Tivo To Go. Not to sure about it or if it will work on my Vista but I think I’ll just buy the plus to be safe.

    When you go to Tivo’s website and Tivo to go and it talks about portable devices Archos isn’t listed. But as long as I convert to Mpeg4 it will play on my player right? Tivo said that it says and other compatible devices and you said you watch yours on Archos so I am assuming it will work for me.. I know this post is a few months old but I did a search on Archos and Tivo to go and this came up. Rose

  5. Michael Swanberg says:

    I gave you a longer answer in the other blog, but I just wanted to reiterate.

    Archos players will play MP4 video out of the box, no plugin required. But the caveat is the audio. If the audio portion of the file is AAC, then you will need the “podcast” plugin. But if it’s MP3 (which is pretty common for standard MP4 files) then you’re golden!

    -Mike

  6. Rose says:

    I just read the other post. I get it now thanks for your help. Just to be safe I will probably end up getting all plugins for the player but the browser one will be 1st.

    I own a 20 gig Dell DJ music player and am dying for a video player and don’t want the i-pod. I read great reviews on the Archos except for having to buy extra plugins. But if my Tivo show will play on there and I don’t have to drag my laptop with me at times that will be awesome. I have an AVI movie to I downloaded I think Archos said AVI plays out of the box too am not sure. Do you have all the plugins for yours? I’ll play around with it and see what I need. I didn’t know about the audio that you were telling me about I learned something new. Thanks, Rose

  7. Michael Swanberg says:

    Note, AVI isn’t a video or audio format. AVI stands for (I believe) Audio-Video Interleave. All it is is a file that contains both audio and video, which can be in nearly any format.

    There are some standard codecs for most AVIs, such as Indeo and Intel and several others. But a file just being an AVI doesn’t tell you right off what’s in it. Sometimes you can right-click it, select properties, and then one of the tabs will tell you what’s in it.

    I used to have a pretty Rube Goldberg setup for getting video on my Archos from the TV. I won’t go into how, but it created divx files, with MP3 audio, and placed them into AVI files, which work perfectly on my Archos.

    I believe that Archos will handle most common codecs in AVIs. If not, you’ll usually get only the sound, only the video, or neither. You may need to find a way to re-encode it. I know it sux, but the Windows Moviemaker can accept most any file type (as long as you have the codec installed for it… basically, if you can play it in Windows Media Player, then you have the codec) and will write out WMV files, which the Archos can play most versions of (I think it has problems either with WMV7 or WMV9, I forget which).

    Good luck. Let me know how it goes.

    -Mike

  8. Rose says:

    I have WMP 11 and someone told me if it plays on WMP I can choose the Archos as being a Windows Media device and that WMP will convert it and I can add it to Archos something like that. I am not sure. I didn’t know that about AVI. I undertsand now. But if it doesn’t play then I will convert. I have music videos also in different formats. So Windows Movie Maker will convert programs for me?

    I have 2 DVD players in my house. My living room one is so old it doesn’t do anything. My bedroom one I have to do a search for the model on line but I don’t know if it plays DIVX or not. I don’t care about watching a downloaded movie on my home DVD players. If I donwload a movie I’ll watch it on my computer WMP or put it on my Archos that is the main thing I want to do is watch movies and Tivo shows on my Archos.

    I am not into burning neither never done it before. If I did have a foavrite movie I bought on DVD and it could be converted and put on Archos then I may try it but I think I read people do that not sure if it can even be done. But Tivo shows and an occasional movie from my pc is most important to me. I still need to read up on what Direct Show Dump does it’s free. I wont pay for video redo even though everyone says it’s great cause it may not work for me neither like Roxio don’t. I’ll play around with Windows Movie Maker I think I have it on here.

    Thanks Rose


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