My TiVo, My Mac, and My Tunes

I have turned into quite the TiVo fan since we bought one about nine months ago. It seems that I’m not alone based on all of the blogs and discussion boards focusing on everything TiVo.

We had used DVRs from our cable companies in the past, but the TiVo is so much more than just a DVR. When you hook your TiVo into our home network, it opens the door to all sorts of Internet-based content and becomes a bridge to the photos and music on your computer. The ability to listen to Internet radio is really nice especially when the TiVo is connected to a home entertainment system. You can also subscribe to audio podcasts if you’re into that type of thing. I have also taken advantage of TiVo’s partnership with Amazon to download movies directly to the TiVo. The movies look and sound great, and you don’t have to drive to the store or wait for a DVD to arrive in your mailbox.

My favorite feature of the TiVo is the ability to play the music that is stored on my Mac through the TiVo. This is very similar to the Apple TV although the TiVo cannot play music bought through the iTunes Store. There is another downside to all of this insanely cool functionality. The TiVo can only natively play files in MP3 format, and I have a mixed iTunes library of MP3 and AAC files.

This weekend, I finally decided to do some research to see if there was anything I could do about this shortcoming. Surely, other people are in the same boat as me. I am happy to report that there is an undocumented feature in the TiVo software for the Mac that provides the ability to translate AAC files to MP3 files on the fly. Apparently, the functionality has been there for a couple years, and I’m kind of mad at myself for not reading about this earlier. The TiVo software has code that calls a program called LAME. LAME is an open source MP3 encoder and is freely available. All I had to do was install LAME, and the TiVo software recognized it immediately. At last, all of my non-iTunes Store tracks could be seen and played through the TiVo. I was so excited that I had music playing all day yesterday.

I am still annoyed that Apple and TiVo have not gotten together to allow iTunes Store tracks to play on the TiVo. It would just be considered another computer that would need to be authorized. Of course, now that Apple has the Apple TV, I don’t really see them licensing other companies to basically do the same thing, but it sure would be nice.