This has been one of those strange weeks where nothing has gone as planned but has ended up in the right place. Through some strange alignment of the planets, I’ve ended up with the beta of Comcast’s myDVR, which lets you schedule recordings on the web (and a whole lot more) through Fancast on your Comcast DVR. Comcast has had an iPod app for a while, and updated the version yesterday to be more iPad friendly (yes, push now works for notifications). Most markets don’t have this rolled out yet. And no, this is not the app Brian Roberts showed off at the Cable Show this week for the iPad.
The current iPad/iPod app really made me sit up and take notice. It’s really slick. And it works as advertised. I had created a favorites list of channels that I record from all the time (movies mostly) and can easily access my favorites lineup and schedule recordings on either of my two Comcast DVRs, make changes, and everything syncs up quickly with the schedule on the physical boxes. Way to go, Comcast. (Microsoft, if only you could think a little more outside the box and offer this kind of functionality for Windows Media Center. You once had MSN Remote Record and blew your chance at evolving from that very early start. Yes, there are third party apps, like Remote Potato, but it doesn’t come close to the elegance of the Comcast app. And with what Brian Roberts demo’d, I’d say that Comcast has won the slingfest…)
The Comcast App does more than Video, it does email, voicemail, and on the iPad, this is quite usable for me. First, I went to http://www.fancast.com to activate the myDVR application. Since I’ve used the Fancast site before, I’d already specified my channel lineup.
To get to the schedule, just tap The Guide.
This isn’t a half bad experience. In fact, it mostly works. I can read word docs, excel files and pdfs on the server. And I get gorgeous displays of Power Point pptx files..
I can’t edit or create new files, and I’m hoping that, down the road, someone will figure out a way to create and edit MS Office apps on the iPad. I don’t think it likely that MS would create Microsoft Office for the iPad, but then you never know.
Here’s how remote access to WHS looks on my iPad:
While I’m an admitted Windows Enthusiast/Junkie/Evangelist/Microsoft MVP/Fanatic, I decided that the iPad is a must have gadget. I can’t effectively do much except “light” mail replying and minimalist web browsing and social networking and anything else that requires reading on my Blackberry 8330 because the screen is tiny and the thumbs based typing is tough with fingernails and my trifocals object after a few minutes to the size and form factor. I have to mention that my Verizon cell phone new every two won’t let me replace my phone until October and AT&T has zero coverage at my condo.
I’ve been taking a 10 inch beefed up netbook around with me, but I think the iPad is better suited for casual “always connected” activities where I’m not looking/working on spreadsheets/Word docs/PowerPoint presentations et al. And the iPad is a great entertainment device. I have to say that iTunes is a whole less finicky about editing meta data and album art than Windows Media Player on Windows 7.
Zune won’t let me copy or sync my DRM’d recorded TV shows and the Digital Copies supplied with some of my Blu Ray disks aren’t particularly Windows friendly.
Given the number of other “Window’s people” giving this device the thumbs up, it’s pretty clear I’m not alone. I’ll look at the Windows “slate” supposedly coming this year, but for now, the iPad is my device of choice for running around town and casual night table usage.
I’m definitely on the lookout for an RDP application to load on my new toy. If I can manage my server and a few other things from this “thin client”, it will be the frosting on the cake.
I also can’t wait to try out some of the games on my iPad. And read some e-books and news.