We generally think of Personal Video Recorders as fancy hard drives which sit under the television, but myTVR is an online service that lets Australians schedule digital television recordings and then stream the video to their computer or a mobile device such as an iPhone, iPod touch or high-end Nokia. Everything is handled in the cloud and then streamed to you when you're ready to watch.
myTVR initially launched in Melbourne, with plans to roll out in Sydney this year - although I don't see what's stopping you using it anywhere in the country as long as you're happy to watch Melbourne television.
The whole concept sounds too good to be true, especially in Australia, but I've tested myTVR and it seems to deliver on its promises - working on my iPhone 3G over mobile broadband as well as wifi. The resolution on the iPhone obviously isn't as sharp as content downloaded from the iTunes store, but it's still very watchable.
Considering a 30 minute recording chews through 40 MB, it's feasible for commuters to watch TV on the train a few days a week if they've got a generous data allowance. You'd obviously want to check these figures for yourself, rather than just take their word for it.
|The MyTVR program guide: record then watch without a set top box
What you get with the free trial version
The free trial version only lets you store 30 minutes worth of recordings, but the $5.85 p/m Silver plan holds three hours worth of recordings and the $7.85 p/m Gold plan holds 12 hours. This might not sound like much, but a service like myTVR is designed for time-shifting rather than archiving. For example, three hours is enough to record a few of your favourite shows each week, watch them the next day and then delete them to make space for another recording. Recorded shows are automatically deleted after 14 days.
Season Pass, post-padding features
The perfect use for myTVR would be to automatically record the The Big Bang Theory each week, but unfortunately a Season Pass option is still a work in progress. I had a chat to developer Michael Carew and he said Season Pass features are coming in the next month or so and will be available to Silver and Gold customers.
Meanwhile myTVR has just introduced a post-padding feature that adds 15 minutes to the end of each recording, 15 minutes which isn't count towards your storage limit. Such a feature is essential in Australia considering the networks refuse to start shows on time.
Streaming TV, downloading to your phon, unmetered data
myTVR has big plans for 2010, including streaming live television broadcasts and the ability to download recordings to your computer or phone. Carew is even hoping to strike unmetered deals with ISPs, including mobile broadband providers, so your myTVR downloads don't count towards your monthly limit.
Hopefully he's put aside some money for lawyers as well, because the networks are unlikely to be impressed. Carew was the founder of VoIP provider Freshtel, so he's certainly got form when it comes to confronting old world giants with game-changing technologies.
If you want to keep a PVR in your pocket, myTVR is certainly one to watch.
Also in this series, Picking the Perfect Home Entertainment Box:
Part 16: Apple's iPad - the perfect coffee table computer?
Part 15: HandBrake abandons DivX for ripping DVDs, should you?
Part 14: Is LG's BD390 Network Blu-ray player the ultimate streaming media box?
Part 13: Logitech's Harmony 900 universal remote puts you a little less in control
Part 12: TiVo's upgraded Video on Demand is a kick in the guts for Foxtel iQ2
Part 11: Not all universal remotes are created equal
Part 10: Hulu blocks international access via Witopia
Part 9: What does Windows 7 offer in the lounge room?
Part 8: forget scratched DVDs, build a video jukebox instead
Part 7: Is Foxtel Download worth getting excited about?
Part 6: Is interference destroying your digital lounge room?
Part 5: Do you need a Freeview sticker?
Part 4: What's the best way to record your favourite shows?
Part 3: Networking your TV, PVR, console, set top box
Part 2: Creating a P2P season pass
Part 1: Internet video on the PS3
Buying a TV? Also see our series How to Pick a Great Flat Screen TV, And Not Get Sucked In By Marketing Hype