Archives For CableCARD

Moxi Guide 1

Some of us still mourn the days when Digeo could have launched a credible retail DVR product with its Moxi box, but at least the technology hasn’t gone away. After Arris’ acquisition of Digeo in late 2009, we finally saw the deal bear fruit earlier this year when the company rolled out its Moxi set-tops with Shaw in Canada and BendBroadband in Oregon. Now, product manager Paul Palermo says there’s more in store for the re-branded Moxi Whole Home Solution. Arris will soon make an SDK available so that cable operators can take advantage of the Moxi Gateway’s IP connectivity to deliver their own apps to the TV. In the near future, Palermo says that there will be web browser capabilities in the gateway as well, though whether operators choose to use them is another question entirely.

Lots of cable operators are creating their own apps these days, so it’s no real surprise that hardware suppliers are trying to facilitate the jump from tablets and smartphones to the TV. Initially, though, the cable operators using the Moxi solution are only marketing it as a whole-home DVR. That’s a relatively easy sell for subscribers, who now know what whole-home DVR is, and why they should want it.

Meanwhile, Arris also has the Moxi UI going for it. Cable companies can brand the guide at will, but the interface is recognizable from the Digeo days. Big cablecos will still build their own EPGs of course, but smaller ones are generally happy to let someone else do the heavy lifting. Check out the photos below (shot on site at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo) to see some shiny new updates to pics of the Moxi guide.

roku-hbogo-channel-store

A day or so before HBO GO was released to Roku devices I was tipped off that DirecTV and Comcast wouldn’t offer this service. At the time, I didn’t recognize the implication… but it’s become all too clear. Comcast and DirecTV are willfully preventing access to HBO GO on Roku devices, even though that very same content is offered to their subscribers via mobile devices and web browser.

In corresponding with Roku and HBO, I’m pretty sure this is neither a technical issue nor a licensing issue. So it’s not clear to me why Comcast or DirecTV would deny Roku owners access? My initial thought was that it boils down to fear of an over-the-top future… yet Comcast is bringing Xfinity to the Xbox and, generally speaking, HBO has done right by their partners and only offers HBO GO to HBO cable/satellite subscribers. I asked Comcast to help me understand, but their prepared non-response doesn’t shed any light on the situation.

Every day we’re working to make XfinityTV programming available to our customers in more ways including the Xbox, connected TVs, on websites like XfinityTV and HBOGo, on tablets and other devices.  Today, all HBO content is available on XfinityTV.com and through the XfinityTV app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  We will continue to work with our partners to deliver even more choices to our customers in more places.

For now the mystery remains unsolved, with the impotent HBO and Roku encouraging customers to contact their respective providers if they’re not being served. And this marks another day that I’m pleased to be a Verizon FiOS TV customer.


Click to enlarge.

While TiVo, Inc hasn’t yet had much to say regarding availability of their new quad tuning TiVo Premiere Elite DVR, reseller WeaKnees just put a stake in the ground for October 10. While shipping dates on their web page have fluctuated these last few weeks, given the email blast above that indicates units are “In Stock and Shipping 10/10″, I’d say Monday’s launch is now a done deal.

As we reported last month, the well-endowed 2 Terabyte TiVo DVR will be sold online, in addition to being offered by Best Buy’s Magnolia outposts and custom installers as a high-end solution for digital cable — The Premiere Elite merely requires a single CableCARD to simultaneously tune and record four channels. Having said that, my interest in a $500 DVR saddled with a $20 monthly fee is somewhat limited…. until (if?) TiVo sees fit to enable TiVo-to-TiVo streaming and brings the TiVo Preview multi-room extender to retail.

However, for those with more than a passing interest, WeaKnees will begin accepting pre-orders tomorrow and is running a $25 off promotion through 10/16 using the code 25ELITE at checkout. You in?

Update: TiVo Premiere Elite hardware is now available at Best Buy Magnolia outposts. Word on the street is that each store should have two units and those 10% off coupons many of us recently received should be valid on this purchase. I snapped a pic of what I assume to be shipping packaging, versus a hopefully more colorful retail skin within. (Nope, guess not.)

tivo-premiere-elite

Right on schedule, coinciding with the 2011 CEDIA Expo, TiVo has made the TiVo Premiere Elite official. The 2 terabyte, quad tuning digital cable DVR will hit Magnolia outposts, TiVo.com and custom installers by the end of the year… assuming the FCC grants TiVo an analog tuner waiver (which is highly likely). Once available, the Premiere Elite retails for $500, plus those traditional TiVo service fees – running $20 a month or $500 for a Lifetime. But it’s not clear if multi-unit or Lifetime upgrade discounts will be made available. And, with this many tuners, folks might just consolidate making the point moot.

Then again, TiVo’s PR team had no comment when queried yesterday regarding TiVo-to-TiVo streaming or potential availability of a retail TiVo Preview extender… despite this datasheet bullet:

• Enables a whole home solution by connecting with other TiVo DVRs

All in all the THX-certified TiVo Premiere Elite is coming together as a solid offering, given a lower price than I had anticipated for those four digital tuners and MoCA capabilities. But I’ll be waiting on a completed HDUI, with improved performance, an updated Netflix app, and that aforementioned streaming (to a low fee Preview) before partaking. You?

windows7-media-center-engadget

Despite limited uptake, Microsoft’s very fine and mostly free Media Center experience will live to fight another day within Windows 8.

How limited is usage? Well we don’t have complete stats, but based on this Windows 7 sampling, I’d say significant engagement is well under 1% of installs. Of course, 1% of bazillions could be a significant number. From Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky,

Our opt-in usage telemetry shows that in July, Windows Media Center was launched by 6% of Windows 7 users globally with the heaviest usage in Russia, Mexico, and Brazil (frequency and time). However, most people are just looking around; only one quarter (25% of 6%) of these people used it for more than 10 minutes per session (individual averages)

In fact, while Media Center won’t be retired, Sinofsky goes on to categorize it as “low profile” and states it won’t be available in early Windows 8 builds due to engineering and business decisions. With this kind of backing, it’s really no surprise the Ciscos and HPs of the industry haven’t stepped up with new hardware extenders. But I’m hopeful the audience is significant enough for smaller companies like Silicon Dust, Hauppauge, or Ceton to stake a claim.

(via Ed Bott)

echostar-de52-cable-dvr

EchoStar continues to pitch US cable providers with a higher end set-top box solution. The company, generally known for its satellite television technology, first unveiled a CableCARD-powered tru2way DVR with Slingbox capabilities back in 2009. Despite what appears to be limited interest and uptake, EchoStar presses on and announced the Aria initiative earlier this summer. Amongst other elements, the Aria ecosystem consists of three cable box options … and a variant (DE52) of the top tier unit (HC620DRS) may have just passed through the FCC. From the filing:

The Delta Cable box is an in home set top designed to be connected to a Tier 2 cable system and provide QAM, True 2-way, MoCa, Out of Band, and DOCSIS support. The set top box provides various A/V outputs along with Ethernet and USB I/O. The set top box is equipped with an internal hard drive for DVR functionality. It also has a daughter card built in which allows for content place shifting.

ZNF regular Chucky routinely proclaims that we live in the Golden Age of CableCARD. While I had my doubts in the FCC’s ability to enact reform, I stand corrected and believe that era has indeed arrived. Most large cable providers now provide CableCARDs with simplified pricing and without requiring a truck roll. Further, staff finally seems to understand what CableCARD is all about.

I’d break down the evolution of CableCARD into three distinct periods — after its rather lengthy gestation period. The first age featured a variety of single stream capable devices (’04 – ’06) including televisions from the likes of Samsung and a pair of retail Sony DVRs. Unfortunately, the manufacturers largely beat the cablecos, who were ill-prepared to support a product the vast majority of consumers knew nothing about.

Next was the period of great (retail) stagnation where TiVo and Windows Media Center were largely the only game in town. Although it was also during this second act that cablecos were forced to eat their dog food by utilizing CableCARDs within their own hardware – enabling the rank and file to actually begin learning something of the tech. Further, multistream M-Cards were introduced, to support  multiple simultaneous tuning, along with that awful SDV Tuning Adapter hack – to (partially) overcome a lack of two-way communications. Lastly, we also witnessed the birth and death of tru2way (as far as the retail marketplace is concerned).

And here we sit at the beginning of Act Three. As of 8/1, where acquiring and pairing a CableCARD is easy as pie. So the theory goes. And, in my experience this week, it truly was an efficient and painless process to pick up and successfully activate a new M-Card. I swung by the Verizon store in the mall, for a grand total of only 11 minutes, and registration at home was a mere 5 minute online procedure. No muss, no fuss. Unfortunately, there’s still a lack of consumer knowledge and, more importantly, a lack retail cable devices. Although some solid new offerings are arriving for Windows Media Center and the quad-tuning TiVo Premiere Elite is expected this fall. Yet, that’s really only two new platforms. I’m hopeful the CE manufacturers reevaluate their previous CableCARD abandonment in light of this new-found acquisition and activation ease. Yet that may require the realization of the AllVid home cable hub concept. Something I wouldn’t bank on. Surely no time soon. So this Golden Age of CableCARD may only be appreciated by a select few.

Ready to give those newly enacted, FCC mandated CableCARD self-install procedures a go? TiVo’s got a deal for you on refurbished Premiere DVR hardware. $50 gets you the hardware, $20 a month gets you the service. It’s not quite as good as their occasional $0 down promotions, but it doesn’t require that two year commitment. Something worth contemplating if you assume they’ve got Super Premiere hardware in the pipeline for 2012. Additionally, multi-room service discounts are in effect – dropping the monthly fee to $14.99 for existing subscribers.

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