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Evolution of PVR
Record everything. On all channels. All day. Never miss a show.
With compression allowing us to store about a month's worth of video on a 300Gb disk today, we're getting very close to the point where it will be feasible for a DVR to record every channel all the time, with a sliding window going back as far as you can afford to buy disk space for. Do this for every
channel that you are allowed to receive, and you no longer need to schedule recordings ahead - you just look back to see when it was last shown and view it from the memory. No more hassles with sports shows running over time, forgetting to set the DVR, not knowing about a show until someone mentioned it at work the next day, etc.
With current technology you'd need several CPUs to handle the processing load (even with hardware support for the video compression) and a separate tuner for each channel you want to record, but with machines getting faster and having more cores, the first impediment ought to disappear on a predictable timescale, and the second may be solved by creating the TV equivalent of "soft radio" which is a technology that is almost upon us. My guess is we could prototype this today with a rack the size of a large fridge, and it could be in a consumer-sized box with within 5 years.
(although compression is getting better and with hardware support can be done in real time or less, with disk drives growing faster than compression is improving, it may be easier to throw a petabyte of disk at the problem in a few years rather than excessive hardware support for tight compression)
By the way the difficulty in building one of these today clearly comes from the large number of channels available for cable or satellite TV. However if you just record terrestrial broadcast TV - or limit yourself to a small number of preferred channels, such as 4 - we could implement this today with current technology in a single box.
Baked on cable
(1 month to a 300 Gbyte disk) Sub Mbit/sec video is pretty crumby, even at SD resolution, probably significantly worse than VHS. [AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jan 10 2006]
||This would be a good idea in theory, however, not very profitable for advertisers or network executives. The spontaneity and anticipation of television is what makes it so addictive and so popular. When you only wanted to watch one TV show you usually find yourself in the same chair 4 hours later without really knowing why. There are so many horrible TV shows that owe their success to being run behind some of the best TV shows. If you recorded a week's worth of 85 channels you would be less inclined to watch the excess garbage on TV that makes it so profitable.
||Sorry but I do this already. I use up to 3 PC TV cards to record DVB signals and then transcode them from MPEG2 into XVID (MPEG4) and make them available on an Intranet over a wirless LAN.
||So + for the notion but - because it's not a new idea.