Here is my latest gadget gripe. Back in the growing Bleyleben nest we've done our best to increase our efficiency of TV viewing by installing a Tivo clone. Since Tivo is not supported in the UK, and the next best thing -- the Sky+ box -- is a bit pricey and comes with loads of channels we don't want, the only alternative was a no-name PVR + Freeview connection. In our case, that's the Humax 9200T.
First of all, we love this box. For £160 or so you get the full PVR functionality, a 160GB hard drive, and a Freeview tuner. It's a cinch to set up & configure (eg, plug in and it does the rest), and the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) is (nearly) idiot-proof. I can't remember the last time we watched something when it actually aired. Time-shifting rocks.
Great, so three months later we have a hard drive full of great documentaries (Planet Earth!), investigative reports (Panorama), comedy shows (Extras) and even reality TV worth saving (Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares). Some of these we'd like to give to relatives as (easy) Christmas gifts. But how the devil do we get them out of the Humax?!?
In fact, the Humax is quite progressive in that it comes with a USB 2.0 port, through which you can transfer digital images from your PC to the box, and (notionally) MPEG video files from the box to the PC. There is no support for the Mac, but I've found some hardy techies who have managed to work around this here, but were stymied again here. (For Tivo owners, here is How to View Tivo Recordings on your iPod. Thanks to Jeff Nolan for referencing this in a recent post.)
Now, I like to tinker with my gadgets as much as the next guy, but I can't see Mrs B letting me spend a whole weekend on this particular project...
I'm sure there is plenty of pressure on the PVR vendors not to make it too easy for consumers to move recorded video onto their PC, video iPod or DVDs. But this feels like desperate swimming against the tide. If home media convergence is to become a reality and products like Windows Media Centre PCs to sell, this needs to become seamless. I hope it doesn't take too long, because my Humax hard drive is filling up!