SanDisk has killed off the Fanfare video download service and its companion hardware, the TakeTV. A terse note on the Fanfare Web site indicates that the "Fanfare beta has come to a conclusion, and the Fanfare application will be disabled as of 5/15/08." As for the TakeTV hardware, a representative for SanDisk has confirmed to CNET that the TakeTV is no longer being sold. However, she went on to point out that existing users still will be able to use the product's drag-and-drop feature for watching a variety of (non-Fanfare) digital videos on their TV. In other words, unlike those stuck with oversized paperweights when the Akimbo and MovieBeam services shut down, the TakeTV, at least, is still a usable product.
With just a handful of content partners (CBS and Showtime were the only top-tier names), Fanfare always had the feel of a poor man's iTunes Store. But we felt the TakeTV hardware was better targeted at the BitTorrent crowd, anyway. It provided a quick, easy, and transportable way to watch DivX, Xvid, and MPEG4 videos on your TV. Yes, the technophile crowd sniffed in indignation--"we can already do this with our Xbox 360/PS3/MythTV/laptop-to-TV video output!"--but for anybody who's ever had to suffer through wireless network frustrations, the sneakernet solution is an attractive alternative.
To that end, if you're network averse and lamenting the loss of the TakeTV, look instead at a game console (Xbox 360 or PS3) or DVD player with DivX compatibility. Use a rewriteable DVD--or, if the unit has the jack, a USB flash drive--and you'll pretty much have a DIY TakeTV. It'll just be up to you to supply the content in a compatible digital video format.