Archives For CableCARD


As promised back at CES, Time Warner Cable’s newest set-top box is a Roku… and the free “Channel”, comprised of up to 300 channels, is now available to all currently shipping Roku devices – which start a mere $50. As you might expect, access to TWC on Roku requires a traditional cable subscription – and supposedly only works in regions served by TWC. However, unlike Comcast Xfinity  or Verizon FiOS TV on the Xbox 360, a TWC broadband account is not required.

Don Wegeng took a look at TWC TV on Roku, and while his initial reaction was disappointment due the lack of On Demand content (compared to the iOS app), he seems pleased overall with the speed of navigating the available live channels and the quality of HD content – once the higher res stream snaps in after a few seconds. However, as you can see from his video walk-thru (below), SD content is rendered with both letterboxing and pillarboxing. Yuck. But, all in all, not a bad first cut. And surely better than every other cable company’s non-existant Roku offering. Continue Reading…

In a recent filing, TiVo has once again has petitioned the FCC for an analog waiver. Unlike their prior request, which paved the way for the digital cable-only TiVo Premiere Elite/XL4/Q, this time around the company intends to restore over-the-air capabilities to at least one new DVR:

This petition requests an extension of that waiver to several new all-digital cable only devices and a slight extension of that waiver to cover devices that permit reception of digital broadcast (“DTV”) signals. One model of TiVo’ s new all-digital DVRs would include ATSC over-the-air reception capability; this model, therefore, requires waiver of both the DCR Rules and Section 15.117(b)’s dual analog/digital tuner requirement.

Seems like a sure bet to me the FCC will get behind this amended extension as logic sometimes does indeed apply and TiVo does a nice job of defending their position after hearing from less than 0.2% of confused buyers. Further,

consumer use of analog video signals continues to decline rapidly and the Commission has set a hard deadline of September 1, 2015 for the termination of all remaining analog television broadcast transmissions. Meanwhile, the price and power consumption of analog tuners in TiVo DVRs continues to raise costs for consumers without providing any discernible benefit.

Unfortunately, there’s no real intel on what we might expect and we’re primarily left with the assumption that TiVo’s working on a new platform and chipset. Which was already a no brainer given the age of the existing Premiere platform. We’d hope any major refresh would integrate Stream-like capabilities and TiVo could use a significantly more robust OTT app platform. While the tea leaves don’t indicate any significant updates during the first half of the year, 2013’s back stretch remains out of focus…

(Thanks brennok!)


First shown about a year ago, Verizon formally pulled the wraps off their upcoming FiOS TV media server here at CES. The “VMS” hardware, produced by Motorola, sports 6 tuners and 1 terabyte of storage, and is effectively Verizon’s third generation platform – evolving into a true whole-home DVR hub and client model, as we’re seeing across the industry. Despite seriously beefed up specs, including the ability to run native HTML5 apps like a new leanback YouTube, the set-top is actually more compact than existing FiOS TV Cisco and Motorola DVRs.

Beyond the VMS1100 media server, Verizon also showed off their companion client boxes (IPC1100). These units, which communicate over MoCA, run about the size of a paperback and are being submitted for Energy Star certification. And it sounds like anything you can do on the primary media server, you can accomplish via the client box. Further, unlike the TiVo Mini’s two unit cap, Verizon supports five clients sprinkled about the home simultaneously accessing video content. Oh yeah, it’s got a clock too.


The Media Server represents the foundation of the FiOS TV platform going forward and will continue to see enhancements over time. Phase 1 is obviously getting the hardware out the door. But Phase 2 is where it gets interesting with local transcoding as Verizon relocates the content cloud from Internet-accessed resources into our homes, reducing network variables (and content licensing issues?) for a better customer experience. So, for example, it’s conceivable that the video we now enjoy on the Xbox and iPad would be piped directly from the VMS. Verizon tells me we don’t have long to wait, saying units will arrive “very soon, within a couple months.” And while they’re not quite ready to reveal pricing, they assure me it’ll be competitive and comparable to similar products in the marketplace. As a FiOS TV customer, I guess my only question is… Will it hit before TiVo’s comparable offering and at better rates?


As the (DVR) world turns…Given the flux at Microsoft,” Ceton has thrown in the towel on their 6 tuner CableCARD DVR – at least as originally conceived, running on Windows Embedded with Media Center. And we’ll have to wait until 2013 to learn if the Ceton Q will reemerge. Meanwhile, The Verge has received intel on the D-Link Boxee Box successor (that I’ve been searching for). Gone is the radical form factor (along with the QWERTY remote and optical audio), but in its place is potentially more desirable DVR capabilities – and at least one ATSC tuner as far I can tell. No word yet on storage capacities or if they’ll go the Simple.TV route in which you bring your own drive.


TiVo Premiere owners in Western Washington and Minnesota woke up to Xfinity On Demand this morning, as Comcast’s TiVo roll out continues. If you recall, this technology tie up allows any retail TiVo Premiere DVR to receive cable operator’s previously out-of-reach library of on demand programming — both freebies and pay per view. Deployment began this past spring in San Francisco, but has quickly accelerated as you can see from the chart below… with two happy customers reaching out today. Kevin near Bellvue, WA has been impressed with the responsiveness of both the app and shifting through content – saying TiVo bests Comcast’s own set-top box. As a non-Comcast customer and given TiVo burying the hatchet (in Verizon’s back), I sure hope we FiOS TV customers might one day receive similar on demand functionality. Make it so?


(Thanks Kevin H & Dan J!)

Charter Drops TiVo… For TiVo

Dave Zatz —  September 5, 2012


Wondering what happened to Charter’s stalled rollout of TiVo? Charter (CHTR) has updated their TiVo page with new details.

You want a better TV experience – loaded with better browsing capabilities, personalized recommendations, and integration with smart phones and tablets. And we’re dedicated to bringing it to you, just not through the launch of TiVo Premiere from Charter. Instead, we’re doing something even better. We’re pursuing software solutions that will integrate into our next-generation video platform, ultimately delivering even more capabilities to the Charter TV experience.

And from TiVo’s recent quarterly call:

In terms of our relationship with Charter Communications, both TiVo and Charter are focused on driving TiVo software to future set-top box platforms and potentially to already-deployed Charter set-top boxes. Obviously, deployment there has been slowed by the fact that Charter is now looking to utilize TiVo on a next-generation platform that is still being determined. So we don’t have as much visibility in the timing there as we’d like.

So it’s safe to say Charter’s goal of deploying TiVo across their footprint in 2012 is off the table. As to what comes next, guess we’ll have to wait and see. And, speaking of cable deals missing in action, neither TiVo nor Cox have had much to say about the partnership they inked in 2010. Yet, having moved one million Virgin Media TiVo boxes in the UK, perhaps Cox and Charter aren’t so relevant to TiVo these days.

(Thanks Sam!)

75 Minutes To Verizon FiOS

Dave Zatz —  August 28, 2012


As the owner of a brand spanking new home, we had the unique opportunity to decide which provider would run cable into our humble abode. After weighing the pros and cons, we selected Verizon FiOS over Comcast Xfinity for both television and Internet services. And, from start to finish, it was the least painful process we’ve experienced in this realm. No hiccups… even the CableCARD pairing went smoothly. Also, at a mere 75 minutes, it was very efficient — handily beating our prior six hour FiOS retrofit.

What follows is the tweet archive of our install: