Portable Media Devices – where’s my content?

As a long-time lover of gadgets, music, movies, and all things in between, as well as being the proud owner of a TiVo, Media Center, and multiple PMD (portable media devices), I think the battle between consumers, artists, and production companies about copyrighted material and its distribution is very interesting.  My little brother recently got an iPod Video for his birthday and asked me a simple question: where do I get videos from? 

This article is somewhat specific to iPod Videos, but highlights some of the interesting problems that exist around the distribution and reception of digital media, especially given the popularity of PVR's in home media systems.


Comments (5)

  1. gregger says:

    The process isn’t really straighforward. After you work at it, it simply becomes time consuming. I’d like a 10′ Media Center interface for it all…

    Maybe the difficulty is intentional. I can almost painlessly get media from my Media Center on to my PSP now. But the learning curve is ugly.

    One of my first forays in transferring TiVo content to my Media Center was of a personal nature. My wife’s performance in Othello as Desdemona was filmed by the cable company and then captured by her parent’s TiVo. After I got them a wireless adapter for their TiVo, a wireless router, then installed the TiVo To Go software, her mom was able to get the .tivo file.

    But she was unable to burn it to a DVD successfully for some reason. XP and her DVD software kept burning coasters. So I spent 5 hours over Thanksgiving downloading the file to my laptop to see what I could do.

    I then did a dump of the .tivo file to an MPEG 2 file, which I was able to put on my Media Center, and make into a DVD.

    However, I couldn’t edit the file directly with any tools I had on hand due to codec incompatibilities (Windows Movie Maker, Windows Media Encoder, some freeware apps, etc.).

    I was able to convert it, unedited, to the PSP easily from the MPEG, but getting to that point wasn’t a good process, and the file didn’t really need to be as big as it turned out to be. If I could get it to a DVR-MS file or WMV file, I could edit it. That just didn’t seem possible without a lot of command line AVISynth stuff.

    My Mac friends tell me they have better built-in capabilities… maybe that’s true. Maybe XP should be more media aware. But Vista might help solve that. I should be able to take any format file I have a codec for, and export any other appropriate file format. I probably should be able to whack out commercials or trim the files manually with native OS tools.

    When I think of routinely converting the Daily Show for viewing on my PSP, I really have to work my patience up for it.

    In the meantime, you can find some public domain content for your iPod and PSP on:


    Mostly B&W stuff… Plan 9 From Outer Space is there!


  2. The balance is way out to my mind; if you can consume content in more places, will you consumer more content? ALmost certainly. If you can get it legally at a reasonable price will you do that rather than pirating it? Also almost certainly. Does making legal content expensive and hard to enjoy on other devices deter piracy? (Hollow laughter). Has the entertainment industry got its head aound the opportunities as well as the threats coming with that oncoming train? Almost certainly not.

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