SDV USB Dongle Details Emerge

Dave Zatz —  November 30, 2007 — 18 Comments

dct700_bigview_1.jpg

Mari’s leveraged her Motorola connections and dug up some USB SDV “tuning resolver” details:

  • Working prototype produced in only four months
  • Committed to deployment by end of Q2, 2008
  • Boxes provided by MSO, pricing undetermined
  • Motorola’s form factor similar to small DCT700 cable box (shown above)
  • Initial implementation does not support VOD, but it could in the future

For more interesting reading, check out TiVo’s brief FCC filing which discusses both the SDV Tuning Resolver and proposed retail OCAP DVR.

18 responses to SDV USB Dongle Details Emerge

  1. I had the DCT700 in here for a few months. It’s a bit smaller than a hard cover book. And it does require AC power. That’s not to say the SDV dongle will need it, but it’s another point of reference.

  2. Dave,

    That’s somewhat larger than I was expecting. Also, I await you insights on the TiVo litigation.

  3. T-Man, I’m by no means a legal or patent expert. Not to mention I’m a TiVo customer employed by Sling Media, recently acquired by Echostar.

    I did see the USPTO validate those TiVo patents under review yesterday. However, I’m not sure if it will have any immediate bearing on the appeal being deliberated at the federal level. When I sat in on proceedings, Echo’s lawyer argued that they don’t debate the validity of TiVo patents. Rather, they do not believe they technically infringe and that the lower court got it wrong.

    In TiVo’s earning call the other day they indicated they were open to the idea of a settlement. Echo hasn’t said anything publicly about this.

  4. This is good news for Tivo owners who use cable, but what about a FiOS subscriber?

    Verizon’s plans for converting to IPTV aren’t immediate, but I’m thinking that a 3rd party device would be incompatible with their system eventually. Thoughts?

  5. Echo’s lawyer must have had a epiphany because I had heard that “EchoStar filed a request late last year with the USPTO to reexamine TiVo’s famous 1998 TiVo-secret-sauce patent (otherwise known as patent #6233389 for a “multimedia time warping system”) — almost two years into the case, not before — and apparently they’re now pressuring the judge presiding to stay judgment until word comes back from the patent office. (quoting Engadget)”

    In any event, I notice that your reply includes the qualifier “publicly.” You may be providing more insight than you realize.

  6. I never understood how TiVo got away with filing that patent, anyway, since ReplayTV should constitute prior art (in my completely un-law-schooled legal opinion). I guess it’s another example of how ReplayTV died.
    Back on topic, I’m glad they got this thing resolved, but does it have to be so big? This isn’t exactly a “dongle” now, is it?

  7. Sorry. Back on topic: That was my point. It’s too big.

  8. T-Man, During the appeals process Echo did allude to other legal things – not sure if these are in process or pending, and not sure who did/will initiate them. In this particular appeal they can’t argue that the patent is invalid even if they wanted to, they are *appealing the jury decision* that Dish infringes on TiVo ‘s patented technology. As to what Echo’s executives and legal team discuss privately, I have no idea. Though it’s probably safe to assume with any legal proceeding that all options and outcomes are continually being evaluated.

    The SDV box size doesn’t surprise me so much. I was sort of imagining something similar in size to my cable modem which is a bit smaller (and made by Sci-Atl). Also, keep in mind Motorola may just be saving costs here by re-purposing an existing casing. As I said before: I imagine coax/RF in, coax/RF out, USB for control, and AC on the back panel.

    Re: Mark’s comment below… Will there be a second generation? How much money and resources are going to be thrown at this problem? Probably just enough to economically take care of the small number of TiVo HD and Series 3 owners and keep the FCC off their backs. Could be a one shot deal unless TiVo suddenly acquires millions of stand-alone customers. More likely this is a stop-gap until TiVo (and others?) come out with something like that proposed two-way OCAP retail box. Yet to be seen if the upcoming retail Moxi box (or other potential retail DVRs) change the current landscape. I wonder how many people with CableCARD-capable televisions use CableCARDs? They’re another group who will be out of luck with SDV and no hope of having their existing sets upgraded to support the “dongle.”

  9. My guess is that the size is driven by the need for an already existing hardware design that can be tweaked in software alone. This is generation 1 and the short time to market criteria probably trumps all other consideration. Let’s hope there is a generation 2 that really does look like a dongle.

  10. Some TV sets do have USB ports as well as CableCARD slots – I suppose if the manufacturer wanted to badly enough, they *could* release an updated firmware that knows how to talk to the tuning resolver dongle. Of course, with manufacturers of TVs apparently ditching CableCARD support, they may just not care to. As long as my TiVo S3 does though, I’ll be a happy camper.

  11. A stopgap solution would also drive them towards use of an existing hardware design. You’re right, this is probably all there will ever be.

  12. Anyone have an idea of what this means for Tivo customers on Scientific Atlanta based systems?

  13. Can’t speak for anyone else, but the guys who came to do my CableCARD install had done lots of CableCARDs in TVs, but never one in a TiVo. There must be lots of TV-CableCARD owners out there.

  14. Razor – ReplayTV wasn’t prior art, TiVo shipped product before ReplayTV did. And they were developed simultaneously. TiVo got to the patent office first. Both TiVo and ReplayTV have fundamental DVR patents. They sued each other years ago, and settled out of court with patent cross-licensing.

  15. max04, CableLabs also put out a release this week with a few of the participants in the initiative – including Scientific Atlanta. It’s safe to assume others could produce the hardware based on the agreed specs.

    CableLabs® today announced that, along with TiVo, Motorola, Scientific-Atlanta, BigBand Networks and C-COR, it has developed a new solution that extends the functionality of certain Unidirectional Digital Cable Ready Products (UDCPs) that use CableCARDs™ to access switched digital services previously unavailable to such devices.

  16. Stupid question, but does anyone know if this will work with a dual tuner TiVo?

  17. Alex, SDV tuning issues are specific to TiVo’s CableCARD DVRs at the moment. Your Dual Tuner unit should continue to work as it does, either controlling a cable box or using direct analog cable (0-99).

  18. Noooo! Another set top box with yet another power connection!!! I am just about ready to dump all but basic analog cable and just get HD over the air. Now we will have to rent cable cards AND this new box too?! Oh and let me guess, the rental fee will be the same as renting the all-in-one Motorola 8400HD right!? Cable wins, consumers lose yet again…

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