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SONICblue Hits the Auction Block

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the drowned-in-the-paper-sea dept.

Businesses 214

turkeywrap writes "Looks like there's no hope for SONICblue, makers of ReplayTV and Rio MP3 players. An agreement with D&M holdings (parent company of audio equipment makers Denon) fell through, so now a bankruptcy court will hold an auction for both of the main business units, ReplayTV and Rio, on April 15. Glad I bought my tivo."

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214 comments

Vive la France ! (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | about 11 years ago | (#5643672)

Ce premier poste est dédié à Ringo !

Re:Vive la France ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643687)

you dumb fuck. after bagdad gets a new asshole ripped for it ,we're coming after you faggot frogs. hang most of you fuckers by the balls from that ugly fucking tower you have.

Re:Vive la France ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643748)

after bagdad gets a new asshole ripped for it

So, when do you expect this to occur ? during the 4th or the 12th Iraq invasion ?

Or you maybe just meant you consider it gay to fragment-bomb unamerican civilians every few years ?

You have a strange relation with your Uncle Sam : the more he fscks you, the shallower you become.

ONE IN THREE FRENCH BACKS SADDAM (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643880)

Just to show you how fscked up the French are:
From The Times Online [timesonline.co.uk]

By Charles Bremner and Alan Hamilton

ILL-FEELING between Britain and France over the invasion of Iraq has plumbed new depths with the desecration of that most sacred of memorials, a war cemetery.
The defilement of Commonwealth war graves in northern France coincided with a poll for The Times which found that 54 per cent of Britons no longer regarded France as a close ally because of its opposition to the war.

Relations will be further rent by a second poll, in Le Monde, showing that only a third of the French felt that they were on the same side as the Americans and British, and that another third desired outright Iraqi victory over "les anglo-saxons".

Eleven thousand Allied soldiers lie buried in well-tended peace at Etaples, on the Channel coast near Le Touquet, victims of the struggle by Anglo-Saxons to liberate the French from the German invaders during the First World War.

Last week the obelisk raised in their memory was defiled by red-painted insults such as "Rosbeefs go home"; "May Saddam prevail and spill your blood"; and, in a reference to the long-dead casualties beneath the manicured turf, "They are soiling our land".

Local gendarmerie have launched an inquiry, but have so far found no clues. They say there had been no significant demonstrations against the war in that area of France.

The graffiti have been scrubbed off, but the incident has provoked outrage among British politicians, war graves staff and the few remaining relatives of those buried at Etaples. French politicians have joined the condemnation.

Bruce George, Labour chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said: "Remembering what sacrifice these men made for the liberation of France, I cannot believe any mature, sane person would be so stupid as that."

David Uffold, 63, a Shropshire farmer, is the only surviving relative of Rifleman Frederick Uffold of the London Regiment, who is buried at Etaples. "I find it sickening that anyone would vandalise the cemetery," he said. "It is the last place they should be protesting about Iraq. These fellows were drafted in to fight for France. I can't see any connection between the men buried at Etaples and the war in Iraq."

Peter Francis, of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said he was disgusted that a place remembering those who died defending freedom in world wars long ago should be dragged into a current political debate.

French politicians did their best to portray the desecration as an isolated act, but it nonetheless underlined anti-American and anti-British emotions running through France over what is seen there as a bungled invasion rapidly turning into a humanitarian disaster.

President Chirac's spokesman said: "We are indignant and shocked by the desecration of the graves of soldiers who fought for our liberty." Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the Prime Minister, said: "The Americans are not the enemy; just because we are against this war, it does not mean that we want the victory of dictatorship over democracy."

Yaay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643677)

First Man ever!

Tivo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643678)

Does Tivo now have any reason to compete? I see no reason to.

Re:Tivo (4, Informative)

Zathrus (232140) | about 11 years ago | (#5643709)

Does Tivo now have any reason to compete? I see no reason to.

Depends on if TiVo wants to continue existing or not.

Both Scientific American and Motorola are developing PVRs for cable set top box's. And these two companies have huge existing relationships with the cable companies (as in - they sell virtually everything the cable companies need to do business). If you have a cable STB right now take a look at it - it's almost certainly made by one of these two companies (General Instruments are OEM'd Motorola boxes).

AOL is also working on the Mystero box or whatever crappy name it has. Dish Network has their own PVR.

None of these are comparable to TiVo on a feature basis, and often they're missing really big features, but to a lot of people all that matters is price -- and all of them beat TiVo on that because the companies can afford to give the hardware away for free and charge an additional monthly service charge to pay it back as well as pay for providing service.

So yeah, TiVo does have reason to compete. Lots of them.

uuuhhhhh.... Micro Soft? (!!!) (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 11 years ago | (#5644028)

I thought Sonicblue was working with Microsoft to sell Replay TV.

WTF happened with that?

How could a company paired with the mighty Microsoft fail? (Where's my tinfoil hat?...)

Re:Tivo (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 11 years ago | (#5644164)

because the companies can afford to give the hardware away for free and charge an additional monthly service charge to pay it back as well as pay for providing service.


No the reason I don't have any of these PVR's is exactly this reason.

Someone release a Sonic Blue kind of device that works 100% without any damned service. I want to be able to enter a record time and a TEXT TAG FOR IT plus have the nice ethernet connection so I can add record events via the web or share the mpeg2 files to my other unit.

I do not want the tivo guide features. I want to be able to set the clock from the remote, set recording times/events from the remote and from the ethernet port.

and I want it to never EVER communicate to the mothercompany.

make this and I'll buy it for $1000.00

Re:Tivo (4, Informative)

petepac (194110) | about 11 years ago | (#5643725)

The major player in PVR land is DirectTV followed by EchoStar. These satellite providers bundle the PVR function into their receivers if you want. Makes great sense since there's a kluge with an IR Blaster you need to do with Tivo and ReplayTV to control the other box. Also cable companies like Comca$t have an "OnDemand" service with their digital cable service that also does PVR functions like Tivo.

Tivo really needs to compete since PVR functionality is being wrapped up in other services like satellite and digital cable. Why pay extra for Tivo when your media provider can just roll it up for you. They become another grease spot on the "Al Gore Memorial Information Super Highway".

Re:Tivo (3, Interesting)

diabloii (33174) | about 11 years ago | (#5643775)

Comcast On Demand doesn't do any recording at all. It functions more like a PVR that can only play, pause, rewind, and fast forward. So, I don't currently see any competition from Digital Cable providers at the moment. Your point is valid about DirectTV and EchoStar though.

Re:Tivo (3, Informative)

Zathrus (232140) | about 11 years ago | (#5644158)

The major player in PVR land is DirectTV followed by EchoStar

Actually you have it backwards. Echostar has far, far more 500-series receivers out there than there are DirecTiVo's.

Makes great sense since there's a kluge with an IR Blaster you need to do with Tivo

Not quite true. TiVo's have a serial port on them that can control DirecTV receivers (and some cable boxes - notably the Motorola DCT-2000 series) if the receiver has a "low speed data port".

Oh... and did you note the "DirecTiVo" bit above? Yup - the PVR capabilites for DirecTV are licensed from TiVo. At one point it the boxes were still controlled by TiVo, but it's flip flopped - all service and billing is now done directly through DirecTV and DTV pays TiVo a licensing fee for the hardware and software.

Re:Tivo (1)

eenglish_ca (662371) | about 11 years ago | (#5643859)

No because I would never by any of these products to begin with. On TV I simply watch what ever is on at the time then move to my computer for commercials thus eliminating the need for a PVR. I would also never by an mp3 player as the cards are far too expensive when I can by an mp3/cdrw player than can store over a hundred songs on a single disk. IMHO.

I wish... (1)

psxndc (105904) | about 11 years ago | (#5643688)

I wish this had been posted yesterday. I was thinking of getting a ReplayTV instead of Tivo (I just heard it had more features). I guess this makes the choice easier though. :-(

psxndc

Re:I wish... (4, Interesting)

Jaegar (518423) | about 11 years ago | (#5643793)

I wouldn't let this affect your descision too much. The Replay is still a quality piece of hardware that doesn't mess around with all the "user-friendly" features of a Tivo. Maybe I'm just of the mindset that if I want to record something, I will. I would rather not have the Tivo make an educated guess at my tastes.

There's a few companies that are looking into purchasing Replay, one being D&M. All my experiences with them has been fine, and SonicBlue's customer support has always been a black spot on the Replays. The only problem the new owner may run into is the pending lawsuits over Commercial Advance (an awesome feature when it's working), but even if that ability has to be disabled, there's still a 30 second skip button on all the recent models.

So, to make a long post, even longer. If I were you I'd take a hard look at both systems and figure out exactly what out of a PVR. Replay users are not going to lose service, and we tend to be a fanatical bunch. I have three myself.

Re:I wish... (1)

psxndc (105904) | about 11 years ago | (#5643831)

And it's people like you that made me lean towards Replay to begin with. Thanks for your comments.

psxndc

Re:I wish... (1)

Jaegar (518423) | about 11 years ago | (#5643852)

No problem. If you feel like it, check out www.planetrepay.com. Before their lawsuit it used to be a great place to get shows you missed, but there's still a forum to request whatever commercial broadcast you missed. The rest of the forum is a good place to ask questions and get some help.

Anti-TiVo FUD (4, Interesting)

Foosinho (87829) | about 11 years ago | (#5644219)

In interests of full disclosure, I own a DirecTV PVR (formerly called DirecTiVo).

The anti-suggestions bit is pure FUD. It's a zero-impact feature when on (ie, it _NEVER_ uses tuner or space that would otherwise be used by a program you specifically requested), and it can be turned off. I leave it on expressly because it's zero-impact, even tho I rarely watch suggested programs. Every once in a while I don't want to watch anything in the recorded list, and I'll find a gem in the suggestions (a movie I hadn't seen, or a syndicated rerun of Simpsons).

That said, I _love_ my TiVo. I considered a Replay, but the TiVo was a better choice for me, since I was also getting DirecTV at the same time. I like the Replay procuct, especially all the networking capabilities. It's a shame the company is struggling.

Re:I wish... (2, Informative)

spanky1 (635767) | about 11 years ago | (#5643887)

Maybe I'm just of the mindset that if I want to record something, I will. I would rather not have the Tivo make an educated guess at my tastes.

Weird. That's just what I do with my TiVos. It's an old troll to use this against TiVos. If you don't like suggestions, turn them off. But suggestions will *never* waste hard drive space or be recorded instead of something you *chose* to have recorded. Bah.

purchasing Replay, one being D&M ...

Did you not even read the article synopsis?

Re:I wish... (4, Informative)

deanj (519759) | about 11 years ago | (#5644042)

I've had a ReplayTV since the very beginning, and I love it. When news of this bankruptcy hit, I bought a TiVo that same day.

Unfortunately, the D&M deal fell through. It may be that D&M picks up the assets at auction later this month, but until the auction happens things are still up in the air. Until then, we just have the word of ReplayTV that the guides will last until the end of this month. After that, it's completely up in the air.

That is, if we just stick with their service. I haven't done a single bit of hacking on my Replay, but I would imagine we'd be able to get some code written to get SOME sort of guide working.... does anyone have any idea if a project like that is underway?

BTW, the 30 second skip feature has been there since the beginning. Love that feature. :-)

Regarding TiVO, a couple of things:

The TiVo only records on educated guesses using unused space on the device.

It has USB ports for ethernet (and other stuff, I would guess..haven't looked into that too much) so program guides can be set through the net. This was a great thing for me, because I have one of the original ReplayTVs and didn't have an mods for Ethernet.

The new 4.0 software upgrade will support wireless USB ethernet devices. The (cough) $99 HomeMedia option will allow streaming MP3s and pictures to be sent from your PC, and will allow sharing of programs between multiple TiVos in the house. The first upgrade costs $99, the upgrades for additional TiVos are $49 each.

Anyway to the original poster, bottom line, if you can wait, just wait until this Replay thing sorts itself out. It'll only be a couple of more weeks. If ReplayTV survives, find a friend with one and check it out. Find a friend with a TiVo and check that out too.

But whatever happens, get a PVR. These things are freakin' awesome.

Re:I wish... (1)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | about 11 years ago | (#5644079)

The new 4.0 software upgrade will support wireless USB ethernet devices. The (cough) $99 HomeMedia option will allow streaming MP3s and pictures to be sent from your PC, and will allow sharing of programs between multiple TiVos in the house. The first upgrade costs $99, the upgrades for additional TiVos are $49 each.

Doesn't the ReplayTV already do all that for free? Why do you have to pay $99 to upgrade a TiVo to support something as simple as playing mp3's from a PC? Let me guess, you need Windows software to stream it to the TiVo right? I'm glad I waited on the ReplayTV too! That just cements my decision to just build a Linux-based custom PVR, maybe using MythTV [mythtv.org]. Ahhh, Debian GNU/Linux in the living room. I just need to make it quiet enough and find a decent case so the wife doesn't kill me.

Re:I wish... (1)

deanj (519759) | about 11 years ago | (#5644175)

I have an older model ReplayTV, so I don't know for sure what they offer. And I agree with you about the $99 upgrade. I think it's something they should offer for free, but then again, I'm not sure how much I'd use it. I'd originally thought that the $99 fee was required to get the wireless networking to work properly, and even at that price it would be MORE than worth it for me... I wouldn't do it for just the MP3s and pictures though.

I'd be interested in hearing how people's experiences with building a Linux-based PVR, or using one of those PC-based PVR setups have gone. I've heard the quality just isn't as good, but don't have any first hand reports from people with both devices that can give a comparison.

If you build one of those things, there are bunch of silent PC sites out there that'll help you get the stuff to make it quiet enough. In my experience, getting everything quiet in a PC is pretty straight forward. For my PCs at home, the drives are the noisiest components, and I'm going to replace those with Barracuda drives (or something else, if someone can recommend something) soon.

Good luck with that project. :-)

Too bad... (0, Offtopic)

WestieDog (592175) | about 11 years ago | (#5643690)

We just bought a rio S10 (64 on board, up to 512M more on sd card) and my wife thinks it's the best mp3 player she's ever owned. I mean it's no Ipod but then again we only paid $100, and it's solid state.

What about the ReplayTV users? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643691)

Not being the U.S I have no idea, but does ReplayTV not operate on the same basis as Tivo E.g. you pay a subscription to recieve the programme data? If that's the case, what will happen to all the ReplayTV users? Would there be anyway to recieve data from an alternative source, or are they all S.O.L?

Re:What about the ReplayTV users? (5, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | about 11 years ago | (#5643727)

Well the Tivo can be hacked to use an alternate provider as the Tivo runs linux at its core. While the replay doesn't and is much harder to hack. So I would assume they are SOL, but I'd be willing to bet that the service part will be auctioned off, and someone will buy it, but possibly not.

Re:What about the ReplayTV users? (1)

stevew (4845) | about 11 years ago | (#5643770)

At the same time -there are external apps already available that let you get mpeg files off of your Intenet based replay (Model 4000 and up) and the Replay has the commercial autoskip which is the REAL advantage.

If Replay goes away - what happens to the TV guide provision? Great.....

Re:What about the ReplayTV users? (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 11 years ago | (#5643766)

There are a number of billing services (e.g., CableData) in the US who routinely prepare various flavors of program schedule downloads and attendant metadata for the purpose of populating cable TV on-screen displays, billing systems, etc. The DBS providers (DirecTV et.al.) do their own collation. I gotta think this is a great opportunity for one of these shops to expand subscriber base substantially without adding much work.

These companies have already whipped the toughest part -- establishing a regular system wherein the networks provide you with the info in a form you can manipulate -- so the rest should be gravy.

Re:What about the ReplayTV users? (1)

stevew (4845) | about 11 years ago | (#5643930)

Well - they would have to buy the rights from Replay I would imagine. The replay's are hardcoded to specific addresses/phone numbers to get this info - along with a specific format.

Re:What about the ReplayTV users? (1)

SubtleNuance (184325) | about 11 years ago | (#5644165)

The replay's are hardcoded to specific addresses/phone

You mean hardcoded in EEPROM? no one would be stupid enough to do that (i hope..)

Re:What about the ReplayTV users? (1)

Erasmus Darwin (183180) | about 11 years ago | (#5643905)

"Not being the U.S I have no idea, but does ReplayTV not operate on the same basis as Tivo E.g. you pay a subscription to recieve the programme data?"

With TiVo, you either pay after the fact -- either a monthly subscription fee ($10/month) or a larger one-time fee that covers the lifetime of the unit ($250).

With the ReplayTV units, the service is "free", but the retail price of the units are a few hundred dollars more expensive (or at least they were when I compared prices). So even though there's no explicit subscription fee, you're essentially paying for the same thing as a TiVo with lifetime service.

Re:What about the ReplayTV users? (2, Interesting)

splatter (39844) | about 11 years ago | (#5643954)

"With the ReplayTV units, the service is "free", but the retail price of the units are a few hundred dollars more expensive (or at least they were when I compared prices). So even though there's no explicit subscription fee, you're essentially paying for the same thing as a TiVo with lifetime service. "

Sorry your wrong...
Both have the same payment options. Either a one time lifetime fee, or a monthly payment.

Re:What about the ReplayTV users? (2, Informative)

deanj (519759) | about 11 years ago | (#5644066)

Original ReplayTVs, way back at the beginning, had a lifetime subscription built into the cost. Sometime after that, they went to a subscription model of about $10 (or so) a month, or you had the option to buy a "lifetime" subscription. What this did was allow them to lower the initial cost of the units to be more in-line with that TiVo did.

I don't know of any other way to receive program data, so I think we ReplayTV owners will be SOL for program guides. It'll still function as a VCR like device...I think. I'm not sure about that though. I've never let the program guide run out or be erased to check.

TiVo (4, Insightful)

mrpuffypants (444598) | about 11 years ago | (#5643692)

As much as people speculate that TiVo is going under (about as much as the rumors that Apple will fail as well) they seem to be a company with well-defined goals and a good marketing plan.

TiVo's now just as recognizable as "Xeroxing" a document, or buying some "Kleenex". Now that they've entered the lexicon for a large part of the world I think they will have tremendous staying power.

Also, they've treaded lightly in regard to their new "Home media option," which allows people to share TV shows across a home network, and play pictures and music on their TiVo's. A careful use of copyright protection has, so far, kept them out of the legal wranglings that SonicBlue had to face the minute that every major media company in the world sued them after the ReplayTV product announcement.

Re:TiVo (1, Informative)

banzai51 (140396) | about 11 years ago | (#5643716)

With Sonic Blue down, TIVO is next in the sights. Expect legal proceedings to begin within the next year.

9th of April approaching (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643731)

did anybody notice that today in a week is April 9th. Eric's birthday. And we all know what happened on Dylan's birthday...

Re:TiVo (4, Interesting)

Erasmus Darwin (183180) | about 11 years ago | (#5643850)

"With Sonic Blue down, TIVO is next in the sights."

I have to disagree. There's a fairly clear delination between the features that got Sonic Blue in trouble (automatic commercial skip; sharing shows with people over the internet) and the features that TiVo supports. Furthermore, TiVo's been fairly careful about both partnering with networks (through such features as the TiVo Showcase, which allows networks to advertise specific special shows) and limiting the ability of people to pull TV recordings off the device (as it's enough of a hassle that you're probably better off just using a separate TV capture card in your PC).

The most important thing is that what the TiVo does is generally no different (or even less powerful) than that of a VCR -- at least from the perspective of avoiding advertising and sharing shows. A VCR lets you timeshift programs and then fast-forward through the advertisements. Ditto for a TiVo. In contrast, ReplayTV let you make the commercials automatically disappear. A VCR lets you record a program and then pass that single copy on to friends. A TiVo doesn't even let you do that, though you can view that copy from anywhere in the house. In contrast, ReplayTV let you send out up to ~15(?) separate copies of the show while retaining the original.

So overall, I think you fears are unfounded. TiVo just doesn't have the risky exposure that Sonic Blue had with the Replay units. Even the suit against Sonic Blue was on shaky legal ground, so TiVo should be sitting high and dry.

(As a minor aside, I'd like to clarify my comparison between TiVo and a VCR above. Generally, when people refer to TiVo as a better version of a VCR, I have to correct them. TiVo is better than having a VCR, a couple dozen scrap tapes, a copy of TV Guide, and a trained monkey who knows how to change the tapes and record shows. It blows the entire VCR paradigm out of the water. However, with respect to the issues at hand -- avoiding commercials in television shows supported by advertising and the sharing shows with friends -- the VCR analogy is still fairly applicable.)

Napster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643780)

I got nothing.

Re:TiVo (3, Insightful)

sylvester (98418) | about 11 years ago | (#5643807)

TiVo's now just as recognizable as "Xeroxing" a document

Yeah, right. 'cause my parents have heard of a TiVo.

TiVo is absolutely nowhere *near* as recognizable as Xerox, which is probably still even less recognizable than Kleenex.

Maybe, concievably, amongst 18-25 yo middle & upper class males you have 50% recognition of that term. Amongst the same group I bet you have 80% for Xerox and 90% for Kleenex.

Admittedly I pulled those numbers out of the air, but you've got a twisted sense of reality if you think TiVo is as recognizable of a brand as Xerox and Kleenex.

-Rob

Re:TiVo (1)

NineNine (235196) | about 11 years ago | (#5644018)

I have to agree. The parent poster apparently doesn't associate much with non-geeks. The TIVO is still very unknown to the general public. What little marketing there has been hasn't been effective at all. I've even tried mentioning it to people, and they have no clue as to what I'm talking about.

Re:TiVo (2, Informative)

Eustace Tilley (23991) | about 11 years ago | (#5644159)

google hits on "Xerox": 2,980,000

google hits on "TiVo": 451,000

google hits on "Kleenex": 164,000

You lose

What if... (5, Interesting)

Quixote (154172) | about 11 years ago | (#5643694)

Glad I bought my TiVo

What if it was the other way around, and TiVO was going under? Obviously you wouldn't be too happy (of course), but the bigger question is: will SONICBlue release the specs of their service, so that others can now provide it ? Would TiVo release these specs if they were going under? Or will the bankruptcy court treat these as trade secrets, worth some monetary value to the creditors, and prevent the release?

I'm just wondering what the future holds for such fee-based services, where the fees are taken upfront. Will the people who forked over the $300 (or whatever) for "lifetime service" be considered creditors too? Shouldn't they be?

Re:What if... (1)

mrpuffypants (444598) | about 11 years ago | (#5643741)

The word from TiVo is that if they ever go bankrupt that they will send out a "unlock" signal to all of their boxes which will allow them to do DVR functions, obviously w/out service updates or guide info from TiVo.

You could do things like pausing and rewinding live TV and setting manual recordings, but nothing like "Season Passes" would be avaliable.

Re:What if... (1)

TopShelf (92521) | about 11 years ago | (#5643853)

The question however, is whether this is built into the service agreement with customers, or is just "their word." In bankruptcy court, the secured creditors would hardly let something of value like that simply slide out the door.

Re:What if... (4, Informative)

MarkGriz (520778) | about 11 years ago | (#5644106)

The TiVo hacking community would be quite capable of "unlocking" the box, or getting it to download alternate program guide information if it came to that. They have not so far because they have no desire to piss TiVo off, but would rather peacefully coexist. TiVo has been generally supportive of the hacking community and will probably continue to be, so long as no attempt is made to deprive them of their main source of revenue (subscriptions, not hardware). I'd venture to say that Tivo's support has probably gone a long way in helping promote their product.

The TiVo community forum [tivocommunity.com] is a great resource for all thing TiVo. Having just got a Directv Tivo box (which is awesome, by the way), I intend to be spending alot of time there, learning as much as possible.

Re:What if... (5, Insightful)

Zathrus (232140) | about 11 years ago | (#5643743)

the bigger question is: will SONICBlue release the specs of their service, so that others can now provide it ? Would TiVo release these specs if they were going under? Or will the bankruptcy court treat these as trade secrets, worth some monetary value to the creditors, and prevent the release?

TiVo stated once upon a time that they'd do this. Fat chance. A judge will certainly rule that this is information of value and prohibit any official release of information.

That said, there are TiVo hackers that have figured it all out already, at least for Series1 boxes. The S2 boxes are locked down more tightly (although it's being cracked very, very slowly), so dunno about that yet. DirecTiVo's aren't even under the perview of TiVo anymore, so unless DirecTV went tits up you'd still have service on them.

Will the people who forked over the $300 (or whatever) for "lifetime service" be considered creditors too? Shouldn't they be?

They are considered creditors. Of the lowest class (which is pretty much where creditors are anyway in bankruptcy court). Most creditors are lucky to see ten cents on the dollar after bankruptcy court, so it may be that you'd get a few more months or weeks of service and that'd be it. Depends on how the judge rules... with the obvious issue that pissing off your customers is not a good way to get out of bankruptcy. Based on that I'd be surprised if any judge would invalidate the lifetime service option.

Oh, you mean what happens if the company went really and truely bankrupt? And nobody bought the assets? Well, then you're still being treated like a creditor. And you're getting the same thing any other creditor in your situation would get - absolutely nothing. The various bits of IP may be sold off, but that doesn't mean you'll get access to any of it - including things like how to download scheduling data.

I suggest you look into what happened to any one of the failed "Internet PC" companies to see what would happen to your hardware. Unless you hack it, you're going to wind up with a large doorstop.

More legal info on this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643869)

here [outwar.com]

Re:What if... (4, Informative)

guacamolefoo (577448) | about 11 years ago | (#5644185)

Will the people who forked over the $300 (or whatever) for "lifetime service" be considered creditors too? Shouldn't they be?

They are considered creditors.

Correct so far.

Of the lowest class (which is pretty much where creditors are anyway in bankruptcy court).

Wrong. Creditors come ahead of the equity owners of the company. Unsecured creditors, which is what the customers essentially are, are in a poor position, but they do not have the last tit -- that is reserved for the lucky, lucky investors (i.e. the people whose money was just pissed away). You might know them as "shareholders" or "the rich" or "pension plans" or "your 401(k)" or "mutual funds".

Most creditors are lucky to see ten cents on the dollar after bankruptcy court,

Depends on the company and the type of creditor, but secured creditors can do quite well in bankruptcy. Sometimes, it is groups of creditors that force a company's hand and put a firm (or individual) through an involuntary bankruptcy. While you may feel thoroughly evil when you do such a thing (I did this once), it can really save a creditor's bacon to shut down a company rather than letting it flounder under a shitty business plan or under shitty management.

so it may be that you'd get a few more months or weeks of service and that'd be it.

Probably right. Two types of bankruptcy exist for businesses -- Chapter 11 (reorg) and Chapter 7 (liquidation). Chapter 7 is death city. Sell it all, pay creditors according to a plan that the bankruptcy trustee devises and that the bankrutcy judge approves. Chapter 11 lets the company convert debt into equity (usually) and it lets the company shitcan some contracts that it has, reaffirm others, and basically try to salvage the cashflow positive business segments while jettisoning the shit. This tends to help out customers, employees, and creditors. Some suppliers and customers and equity owners get killed, but the net disruptive effect to the economy is much reduced versus killing off the whole company in a liquidation.

Depends on how the judge rules...

And what the trustee's plan is. Ans what the creditor's committee comes up with.

with the obvious issue that pissing off your customers is not a good way to get out of bankruptcy.

Au contraire. If you can jettison certain contracts, including money-losing ones with customers (which means throwing some consumers overboard) you might actually save the rest of the business. This results in a more stable foundation for serving your other customers in profitable segments, and increasing their willingness to do business with you. Businesses don't want every customer, they only want profitable customers. My business fires clients all the time and I note significantly that we are nowhere near bankruptcy. Sonicblue can do that in bankruptcy and help themselves out tremendously. There may be some blowback, but it will fade. Plus, blowback beats the hell out of destroying the company to try to keep an unprofitable business segment afloat.

Based on that I'd be surprised if any judge would invalidate the lifetime service option.

It's really not up to the judge. It is up to the trustee. The "lifetime service option" is just a contract. Sonic Blue will be able to determine which contracts it wants to void and which it must honor. I bet they toss the replay tv business. Then, the "value" of those services becomes an unsecured debt that goes to the end of the creditor line. The judge will then rule on a plan for sonic blue that the trustee comes up with, subject to input from the creditors (and it is unlikely that the replay tv people will collectively or individually have much say). I doubt that the replay tv people will get much love under these circumstances.

Don't get your hopes up -- you are likely looking at an unpleasant screwing and you won't even get a reach around. I'm not being a troll here, it's just that you need to be realistic about what is going to happen. Bankruptcy is not a place for rose-colored glasses.

GF.

assets (IANAL) (2, Informative)

asv108 (141455) | about 11 years ago | (#5643796)

I think the company and the courts would realize that the service specs are by far the most valuable asset of the company. There is no release of an asset in to the public domain when a company is in bankruptcy, it doesn't make any sense. When a company hits chapter 7 (Chapter 7 not 11), they enter a state of liquidation, from my understanding of liquidation the idea is to distribute the proceeds from the sale of assets fairly amongst the creditors who are owed money. I'm sure those creditors are not interested in giving away assets to charity while they loose millions.

Re:assets (IANAL) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643925)

Please, 'Lose', not 'Lose', save us!

Re:What if... (1)

sneakcjj (191664) | about 11 years ago | (#5644091)

Will the people who forked over the $300 (or whatever) for "lifetime service" be considered creditors too? Shouldn't they be?
Lifetime is the life of the company or the life of the product line (which ever ends first), not YOUR lifetime.

What went wrong? (1)

iamchris (311218) | about 11 years ago | (#5643706)

What're your thoughts on why it REALLY went down? Price point for Replay? Difficult to hack? SONICblue's legal bills? People asking "What is a SONICblue??"

Re:What went wrong? (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 11 years ago | (#5643906)

Working for S3/Diamond back when they decided to change their name to SonicBlue, my first guess was a sound-related kind of depression. In hindsight, I wasn't all that far from the truth...

Re:What went wrong? (3, Interesting)

spanky1 (635767) | about 11 years ago | (#5643946)

The hackability of TiVo is certainly awesome, but I doubt that even 5% of TiVo users hack their system. The price between the two systems has always been comparable, so I doubt that was it either. It probably boils down to marketing and the legal battles.

I'm glad TiVo is playing it safe and not implementing features that piss off the networks (automatic commercial skip, sharing of recorded shows, etc). The ReplayTV had some great features that TiVo lacked, but it got the networks on their bad side.

In any case, I can already rip shows off of my TiVo and burn them easily to VCD or SVCD. The only real problem is my TiVo is WiFi-enabled so a 1 hour show takes like 3 hours to transfer. 100mbit would be better but I haven't run Cat5 all over the place.

Re:What went wrong? (1)

brophey (557320) | about 11 years ago | (#5644121)

'm glad TiVo is playing it safe and not implementing features that piss off the networks (automatic commercial skip, sharing of recorded shows, etc). The ReplayTV had some great features that TiVo lacked, but it got the networks on their bad side. Well, TiVo is just now implimenting their new set of features (Called HMO I think, Home Media Option) for their Series 2 players. Not only does it let you play mp3's and pictures on your TV, but it allows you to send shows to OTHER TiVos. But only inside your current household using some kind of encryption technique. In other words, they're being very careful about this feature.

Re:What went wrong? (3, Insightful)

deanj (519759) | about 11 years ago | (#5644126)

I've owned one from the beginning, and lived through the SonicBlue buyout of the original ReplayTV company. Their biggest problem was that they didn't go for a subscription for these things from the beginning. The "lifetime" subscription was built into the cost of the unit. This made the price point much higher than TiVo, and given the choice between the initial cost of a ReplayTV and a TiVo, people picked the TiVO. Nevermind that a lifetime subscription buyout for TiVo made it the same price as a ReplayTV... People didn't look at it that way.

After they fixed that, the biggest problem was that they never got "mind share" (did I really use that phrase....shoot me now!) for the product the way TiVo did. Tell anyone about a ReplayTV, and they're more than likely to say "Oh, like a TiVo".
I don't think I've ever seen a ReplayTV commercial in all the time I've owned one.

They had been trying to OEM these things to other companies that do set-top boxes, but I think in the end, the companies decided to do it for themselves, rather than partner with SonicBlue.

It's a great device....and fun while it lasted.

Which business units? (1)

KDan (90353) | about 11 years ago | (#5643713)

Which business units are affected? all? SonicBlue makes pretty good mp3 CD players (not to mention the rest), so it's a bit of a shame if that goes down... though now I've got my iRiver iMP400 I can hardly complain :-)))

Daniel

SONICblue Hits the Auction Block FIGHT ON! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643715)

and the fight is on SONICblue gets in another right hook and then a left and another right. Auction Block looks like its in trouble.... but wait Auction Block with a mean right with a sneaky elbow to the jaw. Now SONICblue is going nuts the ref is doing nothing !!! this is true open slaughter captialism foks. SONICblue with a left then a right, a mean upper cut left jab combo.. OH my did you see that!! SONICblue has just slam bam in the balls mam Auction Block. This is the end of fighting as we know it oh no will we ever see the likes of this again? tune in next time foks to find out, bye for now

Well, it's not like they've been busy... (4, Informative)

dschuetz (10924) | about 11 years ago | (#5643746)

I've got 5 Rio products -- 4 Rio Receivers and one Rio Riot. I love 'em all. They've still got the best features I've seen (the Riot's interface is still far beyond that of the iPod or any other HD portable I've seen). And the Receivers are finally selling at what I think is the ideal price point ($75-100, on eBay).

Unfortunately, SonicBlue never really supported any of these products. They bought a fantastic HD-based car MP3 player (empeg), and promptly killed it off -- even as major manufacturers were starting to integrate MP3 playback into cd players (and now, finally, cd-changers).

They started selling the Rio Receiver, but at too high a price point, and they never updated the software. And now, there are at least three other commercial MP3 receivers from "big companies" (onkyo, phillips, and motorola), but all of 'em are (get this) even MORE expensive than the Rio Reciever was. SonicBlue could have undercut the competition, released some software upgrades (there's a great open source movement on that front that they could have tapped into), and kicked major ass.

All in all, it's been a disappointing ride for customers like me. I'm really glad that the Receiver is so open (people have re-written just about every part of it except the HomePNA kernel module). At this point, I think the best thing that could happen would be for the original empeg/receiver engineers to buy the car and home receivers back and open-source the hardware. Get a flourescent screen, better CPU (for high-rate Ogg decoding), and even cooler open-source client/server software.

But probably some other company will buy the rights and bury them. :(

I remember when.. (2, Interesting)

rf0 (159958) | about 11 years ago | (#5643893)

I remeber buying for first Reo when it was made by Diamond Multimedia, along with the S3-Virge card. I loved it and still use it to this day. The interface was simple and worked well. Its sad to see the Reo story end like this

Rus

censorship (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643755)

CmdrTaco has been spreading misinformation. Yesterday he claimed (as an AC) that posting was allowed when browsing -1. He lies.

He allowed -1 posts for that one article only.

TacoBell is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Slashdot is trying to keep the trolls, who are the heart and soul of Slashdot, from speaking their mind.

FIGHT THE POWER!

Re:censorship (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5644222)

There was an easy work around for that (that DID NOT involve logging in); if you couldn't find it by yourself you probably shouldn't be here. Please go play somewhere else.

We need separate content from hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643758)

You propably won't care much if manufacturer of your VCR, TV or DVD-player will go under. If PVRs would be open and could fetch program information from multiple sources (like XMLTV) they would be much more attractive.

no networked dvd player (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643765)

so much for the networked dvd player.

http://www.sonicblue.com/shop/_templates/item_ma in .asp?model=168&cat=37

ReplayTVs are still selling on ebay right now (2, Informative)

techstar25 (556988) | about 11 years ago | (#5643794)

ReplayTVs with lifetime subscriptions are still selling on ebay right now for $200+. Should I feel sorry for the people who don't know the news?
Can ReplayTVs be programmed like a VCR to record like TIVO does? I guess it's not a total loss. On ebay however, they're being advertised as LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION!

Re:ReplayTVs are still selling on ebay right now (2, Informative)

Jaegar (518423) | about 11 years ago | (#5643838)

I seriously doubt that people with a lifetime service agreement are going to be left twisting in the wind. The new company that purchases the Replay line will pick up the lifetime service obligation for the sheer reason that it wouldn't want to alienate it's new user base. Plus, since SonicBlue allowed users to pay by the month with the release of the 45xx and 50xx series of Replays, there is a large percentage of the user base that is paying monthly. It's a decent revenue stream that is fairly steady for the new company.

With the Replay, you can manually record a show. Of course, every time I use it, I feel dirty. It's that same sort of dirty that comes from touching my VCRs.

Still April Fools? (-1, Troll)

MoeMoe (659154) | about 11 years ago | (#5643805)

I thought April Fools was over, who really wanted a ReplayTV in the first place? The Rio players weren't so bad but this was bound to happen because they didn't even seem to TRY to compete with TiVo...

Don't forget GoVideo (4, Informative)

aredubya74 (266988) | about 11 years ago | (#5643819)

With the pending bankruptcy, this product might have been vaporware used to stoke investor interest. But man, do I wanna buy one:

GoVideo® D2730 Networked DVD [sonicblue.com] - World's First Networked DVD Player!

"The GoVideo Networked DVD Player is a high end, slim-line Progressive Scan DVD player, and is the first player of its kind to be able to stream video files through a wireless network to a consumer electronics component. The Networked DVD Player works with either a wired PCMCIA Ethernet Adapter (included) or an optional PCMCIA 802.11b Wireless Network Card. The D2730 can also stream MP3 and WMA audio files and JPEG image files, as well as MPEG1 and MPEG2 video files."

Yes, I can roll my own (even stylishly, with a Shuttle XPC [shuttle.com]. Yes, I can do so with a cool Linux distro (can't remember the couple I've examined off the top of my head - anyone? Bueller?). But I sure as hell can't do it for $250, which was the SRP for this unit.

Wasn't Replay spyware of some sort? (1)

mrmeval (662166) | about 11 years ago | (#5643825)

I thought Replay was going to install some sort
of involutary Neilsen system in their units.

They also were an odd bunch as well.

Yet, somehow.... (3, Interesting)

David_Bloom (578245) | about 11 years ago | (#5643829)

Yet, somehow, they managed to get RedHerring's "Top 100 Companies Most Likely to Change the World" award [sonicblue.com] (see left column on that link).

They're just changing the world differently now, by their absense.

SonicBlue invented many nifty products, including, obviously, the MP3 player (invented under its former name, Diamond), the audio set top box (they made the chipset in DELL's box), and many other innovations. They'll be missed.

I just placed a bid on eBay!! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643833)

SonicBlue is going for $4.00 with a Buy it Now price of only $7.99!!!

SonicBlue Auction [ebay.com]

I'm not going to pass this deal up!

Re:I just placed a bid on eBay!! (1)

MoeMoe (659154) | about 11 years ago | (#5643844)

Small note: read a little more carefully next time around, it's for "instructions on getting any electronic free" and BTW the picture shows a Rio MP3 player...

Congratulate the MPAA (1)

Eccles (932) | about 11 years ago | (#5643843)

They sued Sonic Blue, and not too much later the company has to declare bankruptcy. Think expensive legal costs might have pushed them over the edge? Seems likely to me.

I say we all go smack Jack Valenti.

Don't move to Oregon, we lost another employer. (4, Funny)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | about 11 years ago | (#5643846)

Oregon is full. Demonstrating this: SONICblue, based out of the Portland-metro area city of Tigard, was a sizable employer here. If you're in Oregon and not born there, I'll take this opportunity to remind you that it's generally polite to leave when you're finished visiting out-of-state.

Re:Don't move to Oregon, we lost another employer. (1)

maxume (22995) | about 11 years ago | (#5644070)

I heard that it was good form to leave when you were born, unless your great great great great grandparents were born there, and then only if thier parents were part of the original Oregon Trail.

Maybe someone was talking out of thier ass?

Please hold out until December... (1)

alexhmit01 (104757) | about 11 years ago | (#5643855)

I want to replace my ReplayTV with an HD Tivo when they ship. I have one of the Panasonic Showstoppers. The thing that is a killer... with the hard drive update, my box would sell for $400 on eBay. However, if the service is discontinued... :( Oh well, price of technology... I don't know what I'll do if Replay cuts service before HD DirecTivo ships, I don't want to buy two DirecTivos... :(

Now if DirecTV committed to HMO, maybe I would, so I could move the DirecTivo Series 2 to the bedroom when HD Tivo ships...

A nervous customer...
Alex

suck my nutz (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643866)

Hey, this is an april fools joke! you're trying to fool us by running it on april 2nd!

Re:suck my nutz (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643886)

first reply!

Re:suck my nutz (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5643913)

first reply to first reply!

Propartory PVR's (1)

rf0 (159958) | about 11 years ago | (#5643867)

Its sad to see yet another company goto the wall. I recently got my first PVR in the form of Sky+ and it has changed my viewing habits. i.e. I watch what I want when I want. The difference is that I'm basically having to pay a reoccuring fee to the TV provider rather than a 3rd party.

This in itself does make me think that its the best solution as it does intergrate with Sky but I do pay for that privilige. For example TiVo's are no longer being solded in the UK so its a one horse race. What it does mean however that I don't think Sky will be disappearing any time soon.

As for the actual cost that is another argument totally

Rus

Too Bad (2, Informative)

ShishCoBob (516335) | about 11 years ago | (#5643885)

This is too bad. The Rio Volt is, IMO, by far the best mp3 cd player on the market. I bought one when they first came out and I still haven't seen one I like better. As far as I can remember it was the first one with a fair sized display on the front hat was back-lit. I can't remember any others at the time that did. It had the features that everything does now with ID3 tag display and so on. Since I bought mine they came out with the three different models of them. They were nicely constructed too. I've dropped mine down some stairs a time or two and not even a scratch. I still use it almost every day and works great.

ReplayTV not worthless (3, Insightful)

mik (10986) | about 11 years ago | (#5643914)

It is highly likely (IMHO) that Replay will end up being purchased by D&M or a competitor - after all, there is both a significant installed base of users and a non-trivial revenue stream from subscriptions in addition to the IP of the DVR hardware. Heck, maybe even TIVO will bid.

IANAL, but I would think that any purchaser of the replay business unit would be responsible for honoring existing service contracts, including those lifetime subscriptions. If the contracts are breached by replay (e.g. by the buyer or even by replay simply folding), then the owners of the abandoned subscriptions would be due damages and/or part of the auction proceeds.

If the service is abandoned for any reason, it is pretty clear that the replay hacker community will no longer need to restrain themselves - people have been *very* supportive of replay and have tended to come down pretty hard on anyone looking to steal services. If we owners are abandoned, we'll be moving into reverse engineering mode bigtime!

RioSport S35S (1)

chargen (90268) | about 11 years ago | (#5643943)

I just picked up one of these this past Saturday. It's the mp3 player with the best user rating out there. The only issue I might be faced with now is a replacement for the special USB cable that comes with the thing. It's got a funky (and I mean Funky!) connector on the Rio end which I've never seen before! If I ever lose this one or want a second, I might be SOL.

Well let's hope for the best for this innovative company...

-Pete

A good reason to buy Linux based appliances (2, Insightful)

smartin (942) | about 11 years ago | (#5644032)

I love my Tivo and am happy to pay the Tivo company for my listings and updates, but if they go out of business i'm not to worried because the Tivo is an open system. My investment is resonably safe because there is a development/hacking community built up around the box and it will continue to work and be supported by the community. This illustrates an important reason to buy Linux based products from a consumers point of view. Many of these new devices are great but aren't guaranteed to survive. If you buy a device based on a closed technology, it will probably be useless if the vendor goes out of business, if you buy one based on an open technology, you at least have a chance of it still being useful. Cases in point are the Audrey and Rio Receiver.

Re:A good reason to buy Linux based appliances (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | about 11 years ago | (#5644207)

The Audrey is quite hackable. You should check out this [linux-hacker.net] or this [audreyhacking.com]

Sad (1)

Okkenbom (263425) | about 11 years ago | (#5644082)

Well, I for one think this is very sad. I've had my Rio 500 since December '99 and it has served me very well. When it crashed due to a firmware error, they were very nice about it and sent me a new one cost free from the Netherlands all the way to Norway.

Greg Ballard Strikes Again (3, Interesting)

szquirrel (140575) | about 11 years ago | (#5644138)

Hey, what do you know. The same guy who piloted 3dfx down the toilet was at the helm when SonicBlue went tits up.

Look, I understand that CEO is not an easy job, but how much accountability is this guy held to when investors are left holding the bag of his failures?

Interesting... (3, Informative)

BigJimSlade (139096) | about 11 years ago | (#5644208)

CostCo just started carrying the ReplayTV a couple weeks ago, which requires a subscription to its service. Wonder how many shoppers are going to get screwed by this one?
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