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.