I’ve never used a Tivo, but I hear good things, especially with respect to its on-screen guide. I have subscribed to Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, and I can tell you that their on-screen guides are basic at best, junk at worst. There’s more than 1,000 channels, and the best you can do is break that into “Sports” and “Entertainment and Music”? Gee, thanks. I bring all of this up because Macrovision (of all people) has said, “You know what, yeah, those on-screen guides could use a new coat of paint, and then some. There has to be more you can do than merely diving those 1,000 channels into “News and Information” and “Movies.” So let’s make a new, better guide, tap into the Internet, and call it a day. Oh, and let’s also change our name to Rovi.” And it did.
Yes, as of today, Macrovision has changed its name to Rovi. The change coincides with a big re-think of what the company is, and what it wants to be. I spoke to a few of the guys (well, one guy) the other day, and he laid it out for me: whereas Macrovision had become synonymous with preventing people from copying media (I had to use an old, pre-Macrovision VCR to rip a scene from a Simpsons DVD in high school), Rovi is more focused on organizing your thousand-channel TV listings, or making sense of Internet-derived audio/video content. Or, simply, it’s focused on building a better guide, for you. The guide’s codename is Liquid.
And now some screens to show what I’m talking about.
There’s your main TV listings. Rather than what DirecTV does, of showing the next several hours all on a flat plane with no distinguishing characteristics, what’s airing right now is given preferential treatment, with later time blacks fading away from the eye. That you can actually see the show, or at least a screenshot, you’re hovering over is a nice touch.
And here’s a more photo-oriented guide. It has a very Plex look about it, which just goes to show you how professional such homebrew applications have become.
And here’s a show close-up. From here, you’ll be able to branch out to find other, similar TV shows or movies, or, say, find all TV shows or movies starring a particular actor. So you’re watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on one channel, and wouldn’t you know it, Glory is airing two hours from now on another channel.
So it all looks very nice, yes.
And another thing I’d like to highlight: friend recommendations. Surely you have several online “friends” (from something like Flixster) whose movie tastes sync with your own. Well, the idea here is that you’d anoint a few of them with the ability to recommend you TV shows and movies. You’re a fan of Seinfeld but never gave Arrested Development a try? Surely a friend will point you in that direction.
Now, when is all this coming out? Not for a little while yet, sometime early next year. The idea is to partner up with TV manufacturers so that Liquid, or whatever the final name ends up being, comes pre-installed.