TELUS TV has taken a major step forward with their new PVR box, introduced today in selected markets. The service/hardware, called “PVR Anywhere”, allows users to have a central PVR box distribute content throughout their house or apartment. At the demo I saw yesterday, we were shown instances where you could stop a movie in one room, call it up in the next, and watch it from where you left off. As a downtown Vancouver condo-dweller with a single television, this isn’t a feature I’ll use, but anyone in a suburban home with multiple televisions and/or children will appreciate this feature. Users can also record three different video streams at the same time, and since the TV service is technically on the same pipe as ADSL, the data is dynamically managed to improve picture quality and (at long last) provide instant switching between channels.
On the technical side, TELUS is running Microsoft’s Media Centre software, which has been quietly honed for years into one of Redmond’s best products. The navigation is fairly intuitive, but the interesting (and thus far, mostly untapped) aspect of Media Centre is the ability for third party developers to add widgets and services to the client on an ongoing basis. Twitter, Facebook and other services could and eventually will be added to the system.
The PVR box can record up to 120 hours of HD programming or up to 300 hours of standard definition fare. The HD PVR is free with a three year term, or for $250 you can buy the box and have no term.
I currently run Novus for my internet service, with bare bones SD cable and an HDTV that functions as a monitor for my Xbox. No service has had the right mix of price and features for me, and even though I’m one of those annoying jerks who “doesn’t watch TV”, I have to say I’m tempted by what I saw.