Archives For CableCARD

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  November 12, 2007

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

Towards the end of last week, two very interesting pieces of news came out of the cable industry…

First, I noticed over on TiVo Lovers that CableLabs has approved a new content protection system using traditional IP networking (in addition to the existing Firewire standard). Megazone speculates that TiVo knew this standard was under consideration (heck, they probably helped push for it), thus setting the stage for them to deliver on their Series3/HD TiVoToGo and Multi-room Viewing promises later this year.

Next up… SDV is spreading rapidly, but as many who invested in a high definition TiVo can tell you, this isn’t necessarily a good thing: switched channels free up bandwidth for cable providers, but folks using commercially available CableCARD devices get nada. We’ve heard for months that industry is working on a solution and, via Slashdot, Multichannel News reports:

The NCTA said cable has worked with individual consumer-electronics makers – it cited TiVo – to develop a solution that can provide two-way switched digital video channels to unidirectional digital cable products. This tuning resolver option requires a firmware update and a Universal Serial Bus 2.0 device.

This is potentially very good news and I’m impressed that it’s been proposed without the FCC dropping the hammer. Of course, it remains to be seen how quick something like this can make it to market (both hardware and software) and at what price. From where I’m sitting, the cable companies should underwrite the hardware and provide boxes to any customer in need.

SDV Keeps On Rollin’

Dave Zatz —  August 24, 2007

In the next month, Cox will deploy SDV in neighboring Fairfax (VA) county. Multichannel News writes:

In Northern Virginia, where Cox has about 240,000 subscribers, the SDV system will go live systemwide in about 30 days, according to Kelso. Later this year, Cox plans to roll out the system in its Phoenix and Orange County, Calif., systems. Cox is the third major cable operator to publicly acknowledge using BigBand’s SDV.

Obviously the concern for many TiVo customers, and others with commercially available CableCARD set-top boxes or televisions, is that switched channels can’t be viewed. Supposedly folks are at work on this issue, which will only become more prominent as both CableCARD  and SDV penetration increases. I hope a solution can be worked out in a timely manner without the FCC stepping in, but I’m not feeling optimistic…

(Thanks, Alexi!)


Building the perfect DVR/video-entertainment device is hard, which is why cable or telco TV plus a Netflix or Blockbuster + Movielink service is probably your best bet right now. But lest ye be sitting in your living room bemoaning the state of your set-top set-up, let me offer up a bit of context on why building the perfect box is so hard.

There’s the leased set-top model used by cable operators. In an effort to make those set-tops as cheap and efficient as possible, a lot of constraints are applied. There can’t be too much storage or processing power, too many added features or too much open access for modification that could muck up the service for everyone. Not an ideal situation, but on the other hand, these operators bring DVR to the masses.

There’s the retail model, which is owned by TiVo. People who have TiVo tend to love TiVo, but relatively few people have it because of the price. Plus, there’s the issue of plugging TiVo into your cable or telco network. Either you need a separate set-top from your service provider or you need a CableCARD. CableCARD certification is a serious technical challenge (more than I think most people realize) and it still doesn’t provide access to two-way services like video-on-demand and switched digital video.

Finally there’s the Internet model. All those media extenders that made big news early in the year, and P2P services like Joost (the box here being your computer). Here the problem is both content and bandwidth. Not enough appealing, timely content to keep people happy, and/or not enough bandwidth to keep content flowing efficiently.

So what’s on the horizon? Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  July 30, 2007

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs.


It’s that time of year again. We’re more than halfway to the holiday shopping season and CES 2008, which means CE companies are starting to panic about what they can get on to store shelves or at least out of production in time to take advantage of the year’s biggest buying season and biggest PR event respectively. Without doing any in-depth research yet, here’s my list of what we might see around Black Friday time:

Retail Moxi DVR – Dave’s already covered this extensively, and I can’t wait to see how Digeo brings its two models to market. What are the price points? Who will sell them? Has Digeo had any problems with CableCARD certification?

Touchscreen iPod/Nano iPhone – The rumor is some iPod/Nano mash-up will come out later this year. I don’t think it will make my X’mas wish list. A touchscreen on a device smaller than the existing iPhone? I’d need tinier thumbs.

Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  July 6, 2007

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs.