So how long do the transcodes/downloads?
As noted several times, transcodes take about 1:1... One hour show takes about one hour. Downloads take much, much less time.
Curious about how Nomad is overall as a place shifting solution, compared to getting an external Sling box, in terms of cost, convenience/time, reliability, quality.
Nomad is cheaper than HD sling (slightly more than SD sling), works when you have no internet connection on the remote end. Sling lets you watch 100% of your programming (Nomad doesn't). Sling requires no pre-preparation or downloading and can let you watch things that have aired since you left home. It needs an internet connection with decent bandwidth on both ends. (I have a Sling. It is amazing in most hotels I've been to.)
Or some cheaper packages like the Vulkano boxes.
Generally those are consider Sling-like, but most people prefer Slings. I say most because it's not true of all. The overpriced Sling clients are a lot of the reason; the reliability is another. There are some nice features on the more expensive Vulkanos. I'm not an expert on why you'd choose one; I trusted the sum total of a few reviews to know a Sling was a better bet for me.
Or transcoding downloaded content for your mobile device. For instance, I've played around with Air Video and Zumocast on the iPad, more transcoding and loading onto the iPad than streaming to it. Took a LONG time, movies would take more than real-time and some higher bitrate files would not play back well on iPad 1.
If you want to transcode DVR content, get a Nomad. It just does it. Very simple and effective, works on nearly all your content on the DVR (not VOD, for example). Life is too short to screw around replicating those functions. Nomad at $150 will just handle it.
Of course, all these are political restrictions because of the media companies, probably why these solutions are technical compromises at best -- for instance, why not be able to directly transfer files on your DVR over to your device, or maybe to a computer for doing the transcoding if necessary?
Well, direct DVR transfer to phones would result in lots of consumer unhappiness. Most people lack a lot of storage on their phones. The bitrate used for HD on most DVRs would mean very full phones very quickly. Bad in a consumer product. Transcoding is a necessary evil, I'm afraid. Now, yes, your PC is going to outdo Nomad. As for why they didn't do this, they'd have had to engineer the solution, bolt it down with DRM, and then support people's PCs.
With Nomad, the bolting down is easier, but more importantly, the support is easier. The closed-box approach meets the needs of more consumers than the more-flexible PC-based approach would. I'm not saying I like it that way, but it's why it is that way.
Now the MPAA is using scare tactics about how piracy is like terrorism while at the same time lobbying for Draconian laws. We consumers pay big money to get this content but they obviously want more. They don't want you to be able to place shift with the content you already paid for, they want you to buy a digital copy or a DVD/Blu-Ray if you also want to watch on a mobile device or while away from home.
They are giving away digital copies now with UltraViolet so I can't say I agree with the latter half of your tirade, there. But I can agree with your general sentiment that the MPAA is out of control.