Coming Soon from TiVo

Amid the mad dash for TV-to-computer-to-PDA, TiVo’s move this week allowing users to transfer recorded television shows to iPods or Sony PlayStations may prove something of a false start.

The new feature won’t be open to some 2.3 million subscribers from DirecTV, which plans on marketing its own video recorder soon. Of the 1.3 million stand-alone subscribers left, it’s possible only a few hundred thousand have Series2 recorders able to send programs to their home computers and on to PDAs. Pretty thin numbers — in the online universe, anyway (the company itself hasn’t released any figures).

Worse still, TiVo has yet to unveil the software needed to make any of this possible — for Series2 users or anyone else.

So why the fanfare now? Possibly because TiVo is facing heated competition from generic DVRs. A recent study that scoured online forums, discussion boards and chat rooms found the brand-name novelty of TiVo wearing off. At the same time, awareness of generics offering dual-tuner boxes and HD playback is growing, the study found. TiVo, which offers neither, has promised these and other features in the near future, too.