Archives For CableCARD
After about a 6 month hiatus, Comcast and TiVo are once again expanding Xfinity On Demand services into new regions – Arkansas and Kentucky, to be specific. While we’re not entirely clear on the nature of the pause and had assumed the pair were evaluating perhaps a more efficiently implemented over-the-top app, as seen via Xbox and iPad, it sounds as if the original tech is still play. (Not to mention it’s Comcast’s ongoing partnership with TiVo that has spared them a DVR patent infringement lawsuit and licensing arrangement.) Irrespective of the back story and infrastructure, On Demand services are a big win for joint subscribers of the companies. And one that Cox customers may soon also enjoy.
As we inch closer to a 10/23 release of the $150 Samsung Smart Cable Box, a rumored 10,000 units are en route to the US and its user guide has appeared online. Via the aforementioned literature, the combo cable+Internet box is confirmed to sport Netflix as a tent pole app. So, while Netflix and the US cable industry continue to gnash their teeth, consumers will have another option, beyond TiVo, to roll their own best of breed video platform. Beyond that compelling nugget of intel, manual visuals appear quite similar to what we observed at the Cable Show — a unidirectional CableCARD powers its pay TV capabilities, augmented by a Samsung-provided guide, joined by a variety of over-the-top apps, plus local media playback. Further, Samsung Android devices, sporting Samsung’s AllCast app, will be capable of TV-based screen mirroring. And no mention of recurring fees for guide date. Continue Reading…
Verizon is sending customers links and literature covering updated FiOS TV fees. And, sadly, TiVo owners will be paying the price. Already the most costly provider when it comes to CableCARD rentals, Verizon has jacked up the price, once again, to $4.99/month. By comparison, a DTA set-top box runs a single dollar more at $5.99/month.
Unfortunately, the differential doesn’t logically scale as the cost to replace a damaged or misplaced CableCARD runs $100 whereas the DTA is $175…. leading me to believe this supersized fee for a mere PCMCIA card is both punitive, designed to encourage folks to utilize Verizon’s own equipment, and intended to offset whatever additional support costs Verizon incurs due to (their) activation/pairing issues and the like. Of course, as all who follow this space know, CableCARDs are under attack … by the very same industry that put forth this imperfect technology and, yet, without a viable replacement.
Thanks to a recently uncovered Amazon listing, we now have a bit more detail on Samsung’s upcoming hybrid set-top box that mates digital cable, via CableCARD, with over-the-top Internet apps like Netflix. Sorta like a TiVo. Without a hard drive or DVR capabilities…
The curious Samsung solution, first uncovered via FCC filings and later filmed in action at the Cable Show, looks primed to launch early November at $200 as a “Smart Cable Box” that includes WiFi. I suppose it might make a decent enough den or kitchen TV accessory, but given ongoing CableCARD complexity (and rental fee) it might be simplest to augment an operator’s basic cable box with an inexpensive Roku for similar results.
We have a love-hate relationship with the CableCARD. -Tom Rogers, TiVo CEO
Samsung is speeding along toward the launch of a new retail CableCard device thanks to a waiver granted last week by the FCC. As Dave reported back in May, Samsung is planning to bring its Smart Media Player to market in time for the holiday shopping season. However, the company needed a waiver to avoid having to include an analog tuner in the device. Samsung got its wish with this notice from the FCC:
Specifically, we waive the requirement in Section 15.118(b) of the Commission’s rules that Samsung’s Smart Media Player include tuners that are capable of receiving analog cable channels. We conclude that the waiver is in the public interest because it will reduce the cost and power consumption of the Smart Media Player and provide consumers with a retail set-top box option that can better compete with devices leased by cable operators, thus enhancing competition in the retail set-top box market.
The FCC waiver helps ensure Samsung’s box will actually make to retail shelves, but it’s not the most interesting angle to this story. First of all, the hybrid cable+OTT set-top comes along at a time when retail CableCARD devices were all but presumed dead. Second, while the new set-top doesn’t include a hardware-based digital video recorder, Samsung could conceivably pair the device with Boxee cloud DVR service. Samsung picked up Boxee earlier this summer with plans to include the company’s technology in future “smart” television products. The new Smart Media Player certainly sounds like it qualifies.