Digital Media Bytes: The Cable Show Edition

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from The Cable Show:

Cox improves search and discovery with new program guide
Cable provider Cox Communications is rolling out a new program guide that will improve search and discovery of broadcast and on-demand TV content. The Trio guide was designed by Cox and Frog Design and implemented by NDS, and is aimed at making content discovery easier.

Comcast Xfinity iPad remote app changes channels and invites friends to watch RHONY
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hit the stage at The Cable Show and displayed the company’s prototype iPad app, the Xfinity Remote. It doesn’t appear to let you stream television programs directly to Apple’s media consumption device, but it does let you turn it into a TV guide browser and remote for your set-top box.

Echostar’s first cable set-top isn’t SlingLoaded
A deal with Unitymedia would mark the first cable deal for EchoStar, which is exhibiting its wares this week at The Cable Show in Los Angeles. The size of Unitymedia’s EchoStar box order isn’t clear, nor is the expected timing of its deployment in Germany.

New Motorola Set-Top with 500GB Storage, MoCA 1.1 & DOCSIS Modem
Today at The Cable Show, Motorola announced the new DCX3501-M, an HD multiroom-DVR set-top with 500GB of on-board storage. The new set-top supports tru2way, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4, and storage expansion via eSATA.

4 thoughts on “Digital Media Bytes: The Cable Show Edition”

  1. So the interesting thing to me (surprise surprise) about the iPad application is that I can apparently change the channel remotely using it (it communicates via IP to the headend) AND I can apparently launch VOD playback via this remote. Now understand that this remote doesn’t talk to the STB in my house–it sends its traffic over the internet to the Comcast head end equipment.

    Given that this exists, I wonder how close we are to enabling this work with a Tivo for access to VOD content. Now understand, it doesn’t have to be an iPad. Apparently you can do the same thing on a PC.

    So, I browse through Comcast’s VOD lineup on my iPad (just the subset that is on Xfinity?) and I pick something. I launch it, and it basically sends commands down the coax to tell the STB to tune to the new VOD channel it has assigned and the head end starts to play it back. I think the Tivo has the capability to receive these commands.

    Even ignoring the need for FF/REW and such (I can always backfill with my Tivo, albeit I have to wait for things to make it down the pipe first), we’re seemingly quite close to having a way to watch VOD on a Tivo STB.

    And if the Tivo can communicate via IP and mimick the app, couldn’t it change the channel as needed to an SDV channel without needing an external box/upstream modem?

  2. I’ll admit that there are some cooler than usual applications out there this year. But there is always some cool stuff out there. Every year. This stuff takes forever to see the light of day; and mostly, it never does. Maybe some small town in Maine will get a trial and there will be lots of press about how cool it is; but don’t hold you’re breath for that iPad application.

  3. With these extra applications EBIF or not – requiring instant data sent to the STB, is Comcast going to roll out DOCSIS Set top Gateway signaling anytime soon?

    That 2 mbps OOB pipe has to be really overused by now with guide data, firmware updates, caller ID notifications, etc… That’s shared across the OM-1000 / 2000’s broadcast reach too, not 2 mbps dedicated to each STB.

    Once we provision set tops over the very fast DOCSIS standard channels, we should see more improvement over response time of guide data. More two way data harvesting can be made real-time, such as downloading complex graphics, interacting socially with chat and real-time statistics applications, advanced media searching capabilities (think how web search engines work), advanced applications (interactive real estate and car shopping, Google maps, order takeout from your remote, and many many more).

    I’d like to see them start to roll this stuff out. All newly deployed set tops support DSG, and also have more memory and CPU cycles to boot. Right now it’s like having a 2 GHz PC running Windows 3.1 with no drivers installed. Once they upgrade the OS and drivers, we should see better graphics acceleration as well as the possibilities for sounds (blips and bloops), drivers to enable the Ethernet, usb and eSATA ports, and more.

    I hope they don’t forget about us. We’ve caught up with approx 96 HD channels now. Once all the providers have everything you want in HD, what’s the next thing you look for in a service provider, besides pricing? Maybe the user interface, features and ease of use? That’s gotta be more important in today’s world.

    As for the IPad, even though the wife say’s I can buy it if I want (she wants to play with it too), I think I’m waiting for the second generation. Gotta have that front facing camera for Skype video conferencing!

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