With television on demand quickly establishing itself as one of the primary modes of watching TV, the idea of watching television live is becoming increasingly antiquated. While direct downloads are an option, it can still be difficult tracking down a lot of content, particularly locally produced programs. PVR’s offer some outstanding functionality, with most now utilising dual tuners allowing all shows to record on the fly (allowing you to pause & rewind live TV, utilising services like Tivo and IceTV that provide quality Electronic Program Guide information, and offering compatibility with downloadable content. As smart as all of that is, however, it does mean that your recorded content is usually only available when you’re at home to watch it. It was only a matter of time until a PVR went into the cloud. Enter MyTVR.
MyTVR is a web-based PVR-like service. Users log in, select shows off the EPG, and press the record button. After the show has gone to air, the user can log back in and watch the program recorded on the website. The service is exactly the same as using a PVR with your television, except its all done through the website and doesn’t use your telly. It’s actually pretty nifty.
Of course, with anything like this, there are positive and negative aspects of the service.
- All of the free to air channels in major metro cities are represented.
- The video quality is reasonably high. It’s certainly not as good as a digital TV broadcast, but it’s no worse than a lot of shows downloaded off a torrent site. Full screen functionality reveals the flaws further, but it is still quite good.
- Shows going to air live can be viewed as they record.
- Mobile recording and viewing by way of a smart phone has been enabled. It worked rather well on my iPhone and offers the chance to watch live TV on the go.
- The service is centralised in Melbourne, meaning interstate or regional viewers are unable to record local content like the news. Viewers can manipulate this to their advantage to watch Melbourne-specific programming like The Bounce (which airs interstate very late at night on Ch 7), but I’d see any show hosted by Peter Helliar as a negative.
- MyTVR is still prone to the exact same problems that most other PVR’s face, which is that one needs to account for show overruns. An attempt last night to record Buffy: The Vampire Slayer at 12:30am on Channel 10 gave me 15 minutes worth of interviews with Chris Rock and Sue Sylvester on Letterman. Buffy was still being held captive at the time of the end of the recording. A 15 minute overrun feature created an additional recording which thankfully caught the end of the episode, but the feature must be enabled and 15 mins is sometimes not enough for unpredictable late night TV schedules.
- The video recording on the iPhone was pretty low quality. It was serviceable, but not impressive.
- MyTVR shouldn’t be restricted by simply offering FTA broadcasters. It’d be interesting to see them offer streamed channels available only online in Australia, like Al Jazeera (English).
- The highest priced plan offers just 12 hours of recording.
In all, MyTVR is a fairly interesting service. It’s inexpensive with the most costly plan being just $7.85/month (a free 30 minute trial is available). The guys responsible for it have actually launched a good quality product, if perhaps flawed in some areas. The legality of a service like this is a little bit interesting, so I’m certainly curious to see how long the service will remain in operation for. Especially as Australia’s FTA broadcasters start moving toward more web-based video on demand offerings. While it’s not illegal to sell PVR’s, what about PVR-recorded content sitting on a corporate server?
I’d recommend checking the service out. It’s not going to be beneficial for everyone (I’m quite happy with my PVR at home and have little need for mobile access), but for those after a cloud PVR, this is certainly worth a look.