Manage TiVo Content From Your HP MediaSmart Server

by Alex Kuretz on March 9, 2010 · 39 comments

in News

Today HP is announcing the the availability of a new Windows Home Server Add-In that allows TiVo owners to manage video content from their HP MediaSmart Server or DataVault. With the free HP MediaSmart Expander for TiVo, customers can transfer shows from TiVo to their server and back to the Tivo, view TiVo recordings stored on a HP MediaSmart Server, and watch TiVo recordings that are stored on the HP MediaSmart Server from any PC in the home using Windows Media Player.

The Add-In is based on the TiVo Desktop Software which handles the Digital Rights Management (DRM), and is a free download which you’ll need to install on your PCs in order to transfer and play content that you store on your MediaSmart Server. For Macs there is the Roxio Toast software, however this costs $79. I understand that there are alternative free solutions for playback on the Mac, but TiVo does not officially support them.

The HP MediaSmart Expander for TiVo functions in a “pull” model, this means that in order to store content on your server you must launch the Home Server Console, browse for your content, and select Transfer to “pull” the content onto the server for storage. For playback you need to visit the TiVo menu on your TV, browse for your Home Server, find the content you wish to transfer, and then “pull” it onto the TiVo for playback. The content is stored in a TiVo subdirectory of the Recorded TV share on the Home Server. There are no automatic file deletions so your content will reside on the MediaSmart Server until you delete it or transfer it to a TiVo device.

HP MediaSmart Expander For TiVo Server View

HP MediaSmart Expander For TiVo DVR View

This is all an entirely manual process at this time. I did ask HP about the possibility of automating these transfers, and while no commitment could be made HP did acknowledge that automatic transfers is a desirable feature that would be considered for a possible future release.

When transferring files for playback, HP said that Standard Definition (SD) shows could begin playback immediately, while High Definition (HD) shows will be limited by the transfer speed of the TiVo device. The TiVo technology does allow the simultaneous playback of files as they are transferring to the TiVo, however a 30-60 second buffer period is usually required for HD content.

I am not a TiVo owner, and even though the transfer process is all manual I do like the concept of centralizing storage and allowing users to keep more of their TV shows without worrying about the DVR filling up. The Home Server is a perfect fit in this situation, and I can only hope that other entertainment providers such as the cable and satellite providers recognize this and deliver ways to allow their users to store more content on the Home Server. I also have to commend HP for making this a free software addition, this further increases the breadth of features they offer beyond any other Home Server OEM as well as shows their dedication to the Home Server market.

The Add-In should be available now from the HP Add Software page which you can also access from the Server Console of your MediaSmart Server. The full news release is below, if you’re a TiVo owner be sure to let us know what you think of the new HP MediaSmart Expander for TiVo.

UPDATE:
Thanks to “Fred” and “Jerry is a Genius” for pointing out a hidden Easter Egg in the new Tivo Expander Add-In. A “Team Info” tab is displayed when you double right-click on the “TiVo DVRs Found” text in the Server Console, as shown below.

Consumers Can Now Manage TiVo Content from HP MediaSmart Servers

PALO ALTO, Calif., March 10, 2010 – HP today made available HP MediaSmart Expander for TiVo®, a new software application that lets TiVo DVR(1) owners manage video content from an HP MediaSmart Server.(2)

With a high-definition (HD) DVR from TiVo, consumers can record and pause live TV, and access the world’s largest on-demand video store to watch hit movies, TV shows, music videos and cool web videos.

With the new software application, which is offered at no charge to MediaSmart server owners, TiVo customers can:

  • transfer shows from TiVo to a HP MediaSmart Server and back to TiVo
  • view TiVo recordings stored on a HP MediaSmart Server
  • watch TiVo recordings that are stored on the HP MediaSmart Server on any PC in the home using Windows Media Player

Based on the Microsoft Windows® Home Server platform, the HP MediaSmart Server is a central repository for automatically backing up and accessing digital music, videos, photos and documents from multiple computers on a home network.(3)

The HP MediaSmart Server automatically organizes files across all Windows and Mac computers, streams media across a home network and the Internet,(4) and publishes photos to popular social networking and photo sharing sites.

“The HP MediaSmart Server is the ideal companion to TiVo. With the HP MediaSmart Expander for TiVo, consumers don’t have to worry about running out of high-definition storage space since they can save their movies and shows on the HP MediaSmart Server and watch them on any computer in the home,” said Jason Zajac, vice president of Attach, HP Personal Systems Group. “Plus, consumers will benefit from all of the additional features the HP MediaSmart Server provides, such as backing up all Windows and Mac computers.”

Pricing and availability
The free HP MediaSmart Expander for TiVo application can be accessed through the Windows Home Server Console of the HP MediaSmart Server EX90/EX495 and HP Data Vault.

Manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the HP MediaSmart Server EX490 with 1 terabyte of hard disk storage is $549, while the HP MediaSmart Server EX495 with 1.5 terabytes is $699.(5)

More information is available at www.hp.com/go/mediasmartserver.

About HP
HP creates new possibilities for technology to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, governments and society. The world’s largest technology company, HP brings together a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure to solve customer problems. More information about HP (NYSE: HPQ) is available at http://www.hp.com.

(1) Requires TiVo DVR Series II, Series III, TiVo Premier and TiVo desktop software.
(2) Compatible with HP MediaSmart Servers EX490/EX495. HP MediaSmart Server, PCs and TiVo DVR must be on the same network.
(3) Wired or wireless home network required.
(4) Internet access required and sold separately.
(5) Estimated U.S. retail prices. Actual prices may vary.





Article by

I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of MediaSmartServer.net. I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


{ 38 comments }

Fred March 9, 2010 at 10:22 pm

I heard there was a secret hidden in this one!

Alex Kuretz March 9, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Care to elaborate?

Jerry is a Genius March 9, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Yeah, I heard that if you double right-click right where it says “Tivo DVRs Found” that something neato happens! I also heard that it might work even if you don’t have a Tivo at home.

Alex Kuretz March 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Thanks for the tip, I’ve updated the original post. And knowing most of the loons on the team, those likes and dislikes make sense. :)

Alexander Kent March 10, 2010 at 12:50 am

Unfortunately my cable provider (Time Warner) appears to lock everything even basic SD content with heavy DRM. I do get a green dot for non HD content but attempting to transfer yields “the requested transfer cannot be completed because the show is copy protected”.

cskenney March 10, 2010 at 5:42 am

Do you know if this add-in will work on the EX485? I also think not allowing the TIVO to push the content to the server is poor planning. In the scenario listed I have to have my TIVO on, the server on plus a desktop computer to open the console. Why not eliminate the need for the desktop computer by allowing the TIVO to push the content to the server?

Alex Kuretz March 10, 2010 at 8:33 am

@cskenney – The HP MediaSmart Expander for TiVo Add-In is only supported on the EX49x and DataVault servers, however I believe the installer is software limited to the 3.0 platform so you should be able to install if you’ve performed that upgrade.

DavidM March 10, 2010 at 7:53 am

I wonder whether it included some of the ‘Desktop Plus’ features such as support for sending other file formats to the TiVo (.wmv, .mov .mp4, .m4v, .avi, .divx, etc.).

Also I wonder whether the HP Video Converter will be able to read the MAK and then convert the .tivo files into other formats for iPod, PSP, etc.

Alex Kuretz March 10, 2010 at 8:34 am

@DavidM – Right, the Add-In is only designed to store and transfer the TiVo recordings between the server and the TiVo box.

DavidM March 10, 2010 at 8:11 am

I installed the add-in and it looks like the answers to the above are No and No.

The HP Video Converter does not see the .tivo file, and if I rename it to .mpg, the conversion fails with The File Format Cannot be Used

I’m not near my TiVo to see if it supports the other file formats, but I found this in the help file:

Is it possible to manually copy TiVo shows to the server?

It is possible for to offload a show using the TiVo Desktop Software and then to copy it to the \\server\Recorded TV\tivo share. If you do this, the file name must end in .tivo or it will not be seen in the Windows Home Server Console by the Add-in.

Nevertheless, it seems like a good companion to the TiVo publisher for WHS add-in which does not pull video off of TiVos.

http://durfee.net/software/TiVoPublisherFAQ.htm

Matt March 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

@cskenney:

The “pull” model is what Tivo supports, it was not HP’s design decision. If you use their software, or any other software designed to pull shows from a Tivo, they all work the same way.

Alex's Bike Crash Video March 10, 2010 at 8:44 am

I heard that in that Easter Egg, if you hover over the color, it will show you the name, so that you can have the same favorite color as your favorite developer. I think Eric’s color is the tastiest.

McServer March 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

Can anyone confirm that it works on a 485/487 with the 3.0 MSS upgrade installed?

If 3rd party tivo plugins work perfectly with the 485/487, why wouldn’t this? They did so well at offering 3.0 to “older” models (The 48x’s are still sold retail), then botch it by dropping 485/487 support?? WHY?

Ryan March 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm

The new Tivo Premiere box that was recently announced supports all sorts of streaming from other devices. I wonder if that one will be able to just stream the .tivo files from the MSS without having to transfer to the Tivo first?

Alex Kuretz March 10, 2010 at 12:41 pm

@Ryan – My understanding from HP is that all models of TiVo would behave the same, with only the Transfer option to playback content.

Jmpage2 March 10, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I’ve installed this and it’s pretty nifty, but as others have said it would be nice to see HP take it to the next level by doing the following;

1. Allow automatic transfers based on the name of a program or season pass. While I don’t use this feature it’s a big deal to a lot of people.

2. Allow the TiVo programs to be transferred into file formats for playback on other machines, iPhone, PSP, etc. TiVo already does this with their TiVo desktop software.

3. Allow the HP MSS to push other files to the TiVo such as other video files, pictures, etc, through a common interface.

Now that TiVo Premiere is coming with a much more programmer friendly interface I am hoping we start to see further acceleration of TiVo as a media extender to do a variety of things.

cskenney March 10, 2010 at 1:58 pm

@Matt
There is an older application for Tivo called Galleon. It has the ability to push recordings to a computer (or server) using it’s GOTO app. It could also pull the recordings back to the Tivo using GOBACK app. My comment was simply related to someone figure out how to do this years ago.

Another interesting Tivo application is pyTivo. I believe it has the ability now to push recordings back to the Tivo.

If I am going to use my Tivo and store recordings on the server, why shouldn’t I be able to make that decision in the Tivo interface?

Chris Miller March 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

After playing with the Expander, I noticed a few things. It appears to be faster than TiVo’s TiVo Desktop client software. I have 2 TiVo boxes and I like it lists all of the recordings from each TiVo in one list. TiVo Desktop makes you select each TiVo and has to refresh the recordings list each time. I like how it integrates with the rest of the HP supplied add-ins, very clean look and feel.

It would be nice if the HP Video Converter would transcode .tivo files to other formats. TiVo Desktop Plus has this capability now, I imagine this is a licensing issue as opposed to a technical issue.

KwadGuy March 11, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Once you pull the content to your MediaSmartServer, is there freeware to convert the .tivo files to a standard video format? Having additional Tivo storage is, for me, kind of a snore. But if I can transcode that video to use it on my portable media player or whatever, then it gets more interesting…

Ryan March 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm

@KwadGuy

Not a chance. Unless (until) someone writes a hack that removes the DRM. The whole point of the .tivo file format is for the DRM as this is copyrighted content. It’s probably a basic video format at its core. I just wouldn’t expect there to ever be an officially supported way to transcode out of the DRM format.

cskenney March 12, 2010 at 12:41 am

@Ryan; @KwadGuy
Commercially you can use VideoRedo on Tivo files to remove commercials (for your own use). They are simply MPEG2 files inside a container with the DRM. VideoRedo isn’t free, but there are alternatives available if you look around.

However, I believe someone mentioned that the Add-in only works with .TIVO extensions (I have not verified that claim).

Chris Miller March 12, 2010 at 6:25 am

@Ryan, @KwadGuy

There some commercial available apps for converting the .tivo files. I tried the trial version of Pavtube Video Converter and it transcoded a .tivo file from my server to a format suitable for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

TiVo Desktop Plus can also transcode files, so TiVo is officially supporting the transcode of their file format to portable device formats. It would be nice if TiVo would document how to use their DirectShow filter so that other apps could access the MPEG-2 stream in the .tivo container.

Jmpage2 March 12, 2010 at 9:43 am

@Ryan, @KwadGuy

I wouldn’t say “not a chance” seeing as TiVo already sells software that converts .tivo files for consumption on mobile devices, etc.

It’s just a question of whether there is enough demand to do it on the HP MSS, I personally would be happy to shell out $20 or so for the convenience of having this all done in one place with minimal user side configuration.

KwadGuy March 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm

@Jmpage2:

A plugin that automatically takes the Tivo files and transcodes them for a desired device (and that does it properly–not sync issues with the output)?
Yup, that would be $20 well spent for me, too…

David March 12, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Presumably, this will be worthless for the very large number of Tivo Series3 / HD users where the cable company blocks transfers (google CCI byte) on nearly every channel.

KwadGuy March 15, 2010 at 9:54 am

Yeah, the CCI byte issue is a real gotcha for those using Series 3 Tivos. In fact, for most, I’d guess that this add-in for the MediaSmartServer is really only going to be particularly useful for Series 2 machines. I could live with that, if I could set things up to automatically suck content down and transcode it for another device. (I still have several series 2 machines around, although most are off line now because my cable provider–RCN–encrypts all their content now, so I need to pay a box rental fee to use any of them…So I stick with my Series 3 machines with their dual tuners and cable cards).

Jmpage2 March 15, 2010 at 9:58 am

CCI byte issue is not an issue for most TiVo owners unless they are on Time Warner Cable.

Comcast, for example does not mark the byte for any regular shows (only a few movies, etc) and Comcast is the largest provider in the US.

KwadGuy March 15, 2010 at 10:28 am

I guess it’s true that not all cable providers are marking the byte right now. But most of them are under pressure to change that, and it seems more likely that will happen than that it won’t…

Jtwurth July 14, 2010 at 9:50 am

I was excited when I first heard about the Tivo Expander being offered by HP. I would like more storage space for my shows but refuse to pay for the expensive WD Tivo harddrive. I know there are hacks out there to use any external drive but hoped the Expander would solve my problem.

As a customer of Insight Cable, however, this software is almost completely useless as 90% of my recording are locked down and not eligible for transfer. Disappointing.

Rockett0 August 27, 2010 at 9:31 pm

KMTTG is the tool I use to move files from Tivo to my WHS. Easily converts from .Tivo to almost anything.

Kevin October 10, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I can’t figure out how to get the Tivo add-on to the \\hpserver\software\add-on file. Doesn’t come up with a url, can’t find a path in explorer. If anyone is still reading this post and can help it would be most apprecaited.

Thanks,

Kevin

cskenney October 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Kevin,
Do you have the connector installed on your client computer? You should also be able to get there with the URL replacing hpserver with your server name. Or use the IP address of the server.

Kevin October 10, 2010 at 6:23 pm

I can get to the server through the connector, or through the ip address. I can’t figure out how to copy the tivo add-on to the server though.

Thank you,

Kevin

cskenney October 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Kevin,
Right click on the connector icon in your system tray. You should see Shared Folders come up on the menu. Select Shared folders and you should see a folder called software. Open the software folder and you will see Add-ins. Open the Add-Ins folder and place the Tivo add-in you downloaded into this folder. After a brief period of time, the server will inform you that there is a new add-in to install. Go in through the Console to install the add-in.

If you still need help I would suggest the forums here on Mediasmartserver.net or the forums at Homeservershow.com as either one of these communities could help you.

Kevin October 11, 2010 at 9:23 am

Thanks so much. I’ll try this when I get home.

R Easton October 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Extender is also available for EX470 / EX475 MS Servers. Requires an upgrade of the HP MediaSmart operating system from 1.3+ to 3.0, which you can do easily at http://www.hp.com > support > drivers & software etc > pick the first option for the CD/DVDs.

Wilson May 2, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Well, not sure what’s going on but with the EX490 up and running with the Tivo Extender, my Tivo Premiere will crash while watching any recorded content. This started happening after I had put in a 2TB drive in the Tivo as well as doing a factory restore with a new 2TB drive in the EX490. Took me a while to finally pinpoint the problem between the Tivo and the EX490. No clue what’s going on.

Rhinoevans February 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Too answer some of the questions above. I have 3 TIVO’s Priemeirs, even the new elite. Verry nice with four tuners in the one box.

Anyway, I installed the TIVO DESKTOP on the server, and set up AUTO-TRANSFER to move stuff from the TIVO HD’s to the server. I also have a program that was free that will convert to MPG and they work great and very fast. You have to manually select the files to convert but you can load as many as you want and it will also auto delete the .TIVO files when itis done converting. That good if you want to watch them with a media streaming device. If the server is just extra storage for the TIVO, then DONOT convert to MPG, because the TIVO will only recognize TIVO files. It will play the TIVO files from the server. The MPG files I watch from the server with a PCH and a WD TV Live Hub. If anyone need the program to convert TIVO to MPG, just email me @ zee06@cox.net.

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