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TiVo Amazon Unbox service goes live
I was just checking the TiVo.com website for something else when I noticed the homepage now touts Amazon Unbox and says Now Available! TiVo and Amazon.com offer Amazon Unbox Video Downloads on TiVo service. Learn more. Now Available? It looks like the service is going live today - very likely timed to coincide with the end-of-quarter-and-year financial conference call in the afternoon. Here's a bonus - if you register for the service by April 30, 2007 you get $15 in free movies and TV shows. So you can try it without any risk. Very nice, TiVo and Amazon, good move.

TiVo has the product page, an overview, a 'Get Ready' page, a FAQ, and a troubleshooting guide. Likewise, Amazon has an Amazon Unbox on TiVo page on their site with more information. They also have a complete list of videos currently available for TiVo download and a support page with a FAQ.

It looks like the service is launching with a slightly limited list of titles, but Amazon says they will continue to expand the list of titles. I expect that's due to the conversion process, it takes time to convert videos into a TiVo-compatible format, so they're just not going to have thousands of videos ready to go on day one, even if they've been converting things for weeks. But it looks like a good start, and I believe Amazon will continue to convert additional content to grow the list.

It is very easy to use. You simply register for the service, which ties your Amazon and TiVo accounts together. Then you can shop for videos via your web browser, and have them downloaded directly to your TiVo. Right now it is not possible to shop for videos directly from the TiVo itself, but I believe we'll see that added down the road. It would even be possible for a 3rd party to write an HME application that allowed you to browse the Unbox site and then order videos, all with the TiVo remote. (Anyone want to get started on that? ;-) )

I'd love to hear some feedback from people. How easy (or hard) did you find it to use? How do you like the service overall? What do you think of the quality of the videos?

Digg this post!

Current Location: 42.308929N 71.795328W
Current Mood: excited excited
Current Music: quiet

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doreenfornow From: doreenfornow Date: March 7th, 2007 10:03 am (UTC) (Permalink)
Hiya. I saw your post and checked out the list at Amazon. We've been wanting to see the Illusionist - so I went ahead and gave it a go! It was a snap to link my TiVo account to Amazon's Unbox!

I then went to the list of movies/shows again and selected a movie (rental) and this time there was a new box on the left that had my TiVos listed in a dropdown list (download to: ) and a Buy Episode button.

I was curious as to how they'd handle a rental. As per the instructions - it will download to my Series 2 or Series 3 where it can remain up to 30 days. Once the movie is selected and PLAY is pressed - it must be viewed within 24 hours.

Hmmm... not too hip on that. Blockbuster lets you rent for a few days at a minimum - not just 24 hours. This also means you have to be careful if you have click-happy kids. I wasn't sure how they'd handle rentals, but this is interesting.

It's been downloading now for probably close to an hour and it's just nearing 50%. I suspect it will take as long to download as the movie is long. That's what happens when I copy off my Series 2 to my PC also.

In any event - the whole process was VERY easy. I'll update again once I actually complete the download so I can see how it looks on my TiVo.

I never did see anything about $$, though. I got the $15 credit I suppose? Hmmm - just happened to realize that. (It was supposed to be $3.99)
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: March 7th, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC) (Permalink)
The 24-hour limitation on rentals is, unfortunately, standard for the industry. Amazon Unbox has that limit for all rentals, not just via TiVo. Movielink, and the other download services have the same limitation.
doreenfornow From: doreenfornow Date: March 7th, 2007 10:12 am (UTC) (Permalink)
Oh COOL! I just went back (had to check it out more) and saw they have the entire CSI season! When we had our channel duplication/wrong channel changing issue back in November (resolved with newest TiVo update for S3) - we missed a pivotal episode of CSI when Grissom LEFT for his sabbatical! I FOUND it! I'm so jazzed.

So I went to download this one (bought it for $1.99) just like the previous movie, and I get the message that it's in queue behind 1 other download. Sweet! It also gives me the option to move it to the top of the queue, or a link to manage my media library. Of course I had to check THAT out.

The media library leaves something to be desired. It shows a cover picture of whatever I have selected for each TiVo (or ALL), but it's not clear if any of the items are still downloading or what has/hasn't completed. You can also display your items in a list, which gives you more info (better) - but it still doesn't indicate if it's actually ON the TiVo or not or if it's currently downloading or in queue or whatever. So this needs some work. (I have the image of the old Napster days when you see the progress bar of downloads in your queue and another window of all your songs in your library already downloaded)

I didn't expect that option at all though, so it was a LITTLE neat. The functionality just didn't meet my expectations, though.

So far... it's easy to use - but some areas still need work.
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doreenfornow From: doreenfornow Date: March 7th, 2007 10:22 am (UTC) (Permalink)
One last thing (sorry!) ... there are a LOT more titles available. I didn't realize the first time. This link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=amb_link_3311752_5/102-6961359-5857704?ie=UTF8&node=16261631&field-keywords=tivo shows me over 1,300 results. I'm perusing now. :)
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doreenfornow From: doreenfornow Date: March 7th, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC) (Permalink)
Do you have a Series 2 on a network? I'm going to try downloading a 'bought' title and transfer it to my PC to burn to DVD.

Lord I'm such a geek!
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 7th, 2007 05:58 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

just the beginning?

Great post and point on HME. I'd love this to be just the tip of the iceberg. Blogged more over at NextBlitz:

zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: March 7th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

Re: just the beginning?

gregtrotter From: gregtrotter Date: March 7th, 2007 06:14 pm (UTC) (Permalink)


So, I linked the accounts. But I screwed up -- I linked the wrong account (I linked the one that my short-lived S3 was on, and I was never clear why it was on a different email address).

So, Amazon says that there's no DVRs associated with the account. Duh, I realize my mistake. I click the delink option. It doesn't actually do anything. So, I call Amazon.

They are able to reproduce the problem, but they can't figure out how to fix it. They then suggest that I ask TiVo to change my account information to match the bad information in their database.

I ask them if I had provided a wrong mailing address, would they ask me to move?

Finally, they decided that it wasn't their fault, it was TiVos. Which I find very unlikely, since the link information was provided to an Amazon page. And my suspicion was right; TiVo says this is all on Amazon's end. I called back and got the same story from Amazon again.

I know that it's the first day, and part of it was my goof, but it's pretty clear to me that this product is not ready for prime-time yet if the partners just point fingers at each other and nobody wants to fix anything.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 7th, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

Re: Aargh

Hi gregtrotter,

What do you mean when you say "I click the delink option. It doesn't actually do anything." ... I just tried several times and it worked for me [smile] I must be lucky.

Be sure to be signed in on Amazon with your "S3" account when you attempt to unlink your Amazon/TiVo accounts.
Go to this page http://www.amazon.com/gp/video/tivo/ and you should see if this account is still linked or not.

If you see the "Register Now" button then you're unlinked, in this case go down to my LINK STEP.

If you see the message saying that you're registered (I don't have it in mind but it must be something along the line that you don't have any DVR on file) then click on "Did you register with the wrong TiVo account? Cancel and re-register".

Once done, the page should show the "Register Now" button, then that means you've successfully unlinked your Amazon "S3" account from your TiVo account. But at that point you're still signed in on amazon with your "S3" account. Follow to LINK STEP below.

on Amazon.com, sign-in with your "real" Amazon account and go to the page http://www.amazon.com/gp/video/tivo/ page and do "Register Now".

I hope this helps, I also made the mistake this morning as I was signed in on my wife's account, so I unlinked/switched amazon accounts and relinked and it worked well.

Please post back on your status
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zeigen From: zeigen Date: March 7th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC) (Permalink)
gregtrotter, sorry to hear about the issue. Please e-mail me (estephen@tivo.com) with your contact info and we'll both fix it and make sure the agents are re-trained on the concept that they are NOT to refer you back and forth to each other.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 7th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

$15 credit

I just setup (linked) my TiVo and Amazon accounts and selected "The Illussionist" as my first rental, but no where does it seem to have applied the $15 credit. Is there a code or something I need to enter? As far as I can tell it just charged my credit card. thanks... zebtron@gmail.com
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: March 7th, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

Re: $15 credit

Unfortunately, the Unbox service isn't setup to display credits. Check your invoice, others report that they get a credit for the cost of the movie, so the total billed is $0.00.
dbldbl From: dbldbl Date: March 8th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC) (Permalink)

TV show purchased, SDTV and S2 boxes here...

I had to redeem the free 1.99 credit after buying a physical dvd, so lo & behold the advertisement for Amazon + TiVo Unbox on the Amazon page. I installed the Unbox program on a PC before linking the TiVo account, wasn't sure if I had to redeem the first offer in order to get the $15 credit.

After downloading the TV show (NUMB3RS) to the PC, I checked for a TiVo logo on the show page so I could get a copy to my box. Although there wasn't one, the drop-down box showed my boxes available to transfer the show. I guess some shows will have the TiVo logo compatibility eventually; I'm sure there's some catching up and updating to do.

The DT S2 box I transferred the show to did not take long to initiate the transferring; it showed on queue after selecting my TiVo box on the Amazon site, but checking the Now Playing screen it seemed like it transferred as if I was selecting a TiVo-to-TiVo transfer. It was really fast. I guess something triggers a purchase instantaneously on the Amazon site to bring up the download right away. I'm comparing this to the online scheduling option; if one needs to program within an hour window, I'm curious if Amazon Unbox purchases are priority versus updated schedules.

The quality looks really good, on par to the downloaded content from TiVo, like the insider TiVo shows that get automatically downloaded to our boxes. I wasn't able to view the entire episode as I was interested in reading the INFO on the downloaded program. More soon...

I'm very impressed so far with this Unbox program!
From: ext_36178 Date: March 8th, 2007 07:02 am (UTC) (Permalink)

registration fine, downloading is not.

Registration and linking the accounts went fine. Ordered a series and a movie.

Since then, clicked download to my TiVo a couple of times. It stays in the download buffer for a while and then disappears. There seems to be no extra traffic towards the TiVo.

I really wish they provided feedback on both sides of the fence what happens.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: March 8th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC) (Permalink)

Re: registration fine, downloading is not.

Is there anything in your recording history about the downloads?
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 8th, 2007 02:58 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

Unbox Rocks

I am a poor soul who still owns a 4:3 analog television. I have the opinion, that the quality of the TV show I downloaded was DVD quality. I do not have an HDTV to see the artifacts, someone might see in HD. I was very pleased with this service. Only took 10-15 minutes to download a 23 minute episode.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 9th, 2007 05:37 am (UTC) (Permalink)

How To Save Rented Videos

Sometimes, you start (but cant finish) a movie in 24 hours... how can you save it for later???

I transferred a rented movie to my PC using TyTool, but the .ty file cant be opened with TyStudio. I normally can play .TY files directly from Windows Media Player or VLC, but the Amazon rented downloads wont play! I also tried streaming it (TivoWebPlus), but it doesnt play either.

Anyone try this with a purchased unbox title (i.e. not rented)?

zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: March 9th, 2007 06:41 am (UTC) (Permalink)

Re: How To Save Rented Videos

The idea is that you're not supposed to be able to open them. They're encrypted.

Purchases don't expire and you can re-download them if deleted.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 14th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

this unbox doesnt work for me

i've got an 80hr tivo series 2 sony with a fast wireless connect...

amazon says the dvr is linked, i can buy/rent the program.. it goes into the cue then disappears. if i redownload it the same happens, but it never ends up on my tivo list.

i've called tivo and amazon cust service and the only answer i get is that i have too many season passes-- thats crazy i only have 10-15 season passes, tivo constantly deletes stuff as it records new stuff, can this really be the problem?
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: March 15th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC) (Permalink)

Re: this unbox doesnt work for me

Check your recording history to see if it is having an error when downloading.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 26th, 2007 12:49 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

how do you find downloading recording history?

how do you find downloading recording history?

zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: April 26th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

Re: how do you find downloading recording history?

On the TiVo under the To Do List, the first entry is View Recording History.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 6th, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC) (Permalink)

questions about stuff

will it to possible to convert video to this .ty format... and leave it stored on your computer.... then play it from any tv in the house that has a tivo box?
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: May 7th, 2007 02:46 am (UTC) (Permalink)

Re: questions about stuff

With TiVoToGo you don't have to do anything with .ty files. You transfer content to a PC as .tivo files, and you can play them on the PC or transfer to another TiVo.

Unbox content cannot be transferred at all - but purchases (not rentals) can be re-downloaded multiple times to different TiVos or PCs.
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