Electronic Design

TiVo Success Story: Not A Hit With Everyone

Dear Editor: Thanks for the interesting article on TiVo \["The TiVo Box Redefines Television Viewing," Feb. 3, p. 41\]. As you say, it is a consumer electronics success story, but let me tell you the two big reasons I won't ever have one of these things in my house. Incidentally, you touch on these very points in the article.

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TiVo could have built a handy little VCR-type box that allows you to record and playback TV, at will, forever after you buy it. Instead, TiVo linked its box to a kind of proprietary network that requires a monthly subscription fee to use the box. This is certainly a clever marketing plan. But do you really want to choose between having these guys in your pocket for the rest of your life or owning a worthless doorstop when you decide to stop paying the monthly fees?

Besides the cost, the other downside to the subscription is the ability of TiVo to monitor one's viewing. Now, I am not paranoid enough to care that this company monitors what I specifically watch on my TV. But I strongly object to paying a monthly fee for a service that seems specifically tailored to give the provider an opportunity to make more money from my statistics than it probably does on selling the box in the first place.

This sort of thing, while it is clever exploitation of technology, human nature, and the existing media "system," is just another example of the misuse of our technological skill for meaningless fluff at a time when the problems of our country and the world at large could use a bit more attention from our technical elite. Think of what could be accomplished if the energy and skill that went into TiVo, Aibo, and custom ring tones for cell phones (all of which, in my opinion, are useless fluff, pandering to a society hellbent on self-gratification at any cost) were spent on renewable energy, high-mileage autos, and equalizing opportunity for the lesser developed nations and peoples of the world. But then, I guess there is no quick profit and big IPO involved in solving those problems.

MARCONI DID NOT INVENT RADIO
Dear Editor: I just read your article on TiVo. I couldn't help but notice the line that reads, "Marconi, who invented radio." I am quite surprised that one of your Technology Editors would write this. Marconi is credited with the first transatlantic transmission of a radio signal. He did not invent it. This is similar to something I heard recently when someone credited Henry Ford with the invention of the automobile.

Roger Allan, Electronic Design: You're absolutely right. I'm guilty of repeating what has been incorrectly stated by numerous media sources.

MULTIPHASE CONVERTERS
Dear Editor: I take exception to a statement in David Morrison's Industry First, "Power Solution Takes On Next-Generation CPUs" \[Jan. 20, p. 37\]. That statement is: "Existing solutions for implementing multiphase converters accommodate two to four phases, yet they present difficulties when employing more phases. This limitation will become an issue in powering future generations of microprocessors, which may require synchronous buck converters with six or more phases to generate the CPU's core voltage."

This is simply not true. With its PolyPhase family, Linear Technology has been supplying its customers with up to 12-phase solutions since the late 1990s. These are not merely lab experiments for esoteric applications, but are fully functional designs that have gone into mass production.

There is a recognized growing demand for multiphase converters in today's marketplace. I contend that the existing multiphase controllers offered by Linear Technology, with their integrated MOSFET drivers, adequately meet these needs.

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