Archives For CableCARD

cablecard

As the story goes, CableCARD support has deteriorated since the FCC inadvertently relaxed the requirement last year. Indeed, Tim Gibbons reached out this weekend regarding his inability to tune Fargo … and ignorance (at best) or deception (worst case) from Time Warner Cable’s first line phone support agent. What makes this especially ironic (or depressing) is Tim’s role in the cable television industry. If the producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm can’t keep his TiVo’s CableCARD going, what hope do the rest of us have?

Beyond public shaming, we currently have a rare and unique opportunity to influence the FCC as they evaluate Big Cable’s push to end CableCARD … without having identified a successor. But you better fire up those word processors post-haste as today, April 21st, is the deadline. Hit this FCC link, click Reply To Comments, and make sure you reference Proceeding Number 14-16. For comparative purposes, you can review previously submitted comments here.

Tim’s TWC transcription follows: Continue Reading…

RCN TiVo Update On The Way

Dave Zatz —  April 12, 2014 — 10 Comments

rcn-tivo

RCN TiVo rentals are poised to receive an iteration of the (glitchy) TiVo Spring Update. Whereas us retail owners have been receiving version 20.4, RCN TiVo hardware in DC and PA will be pushed 20.8 beginning next week – with their entire footprint expected to upgrade within a month. Both updates focus on under-the-hood improvements and more TiVo “back office” network fault tolerance, resolving open issues and setting the stage for follow-on enhancements expected later this year. Beyond the unseen, RCN customers will soon be able to simultaneously beam VOD content from a hub TiVo DVR to multiple satellite extenders (with a 6-tuner TiVo eventually being made available). Additional visible changes include a more detailed What To Watch Now discovery screen and slightly quicker TiVo Mini tuning. Of course, I still believe the best way to get TiVo is directly thru a cable company like RCN — they’re far more motivated to make sure the install goes smoothly and customers have far more flexibility to return, replace, or upgrade as needed.

TiVo visited with the FCC last week, lamenting the current state of CableCARD and Section 629. And, to reiterate their points, submitted the above letter. While we can’t speak to TiVo’s survey methodology, they report diminished CableCARD support with increased operator-implemented roadblocks – presumably intended to discourage third party set-top usage… such as TiVo and perhaps Samsung, should they stick with it. Some cited examples:

  • 36 percent of MSO agents surveyed in Dec. 2013 said that self-installation of CableCARDs was not allowed, up from 25 percent in Feb. 2013. (Note that self-installation of CableCARDs is required by 47 C.F.R. § 76.1205(b)(1).)
  • For those retail customers that self-install their CableCARDs, 24 percent would be charged a fee for self-installation, with fees increasing since EchoStar, including a fee as high as $39.95 imposed by two operators.
  • 36 percent of MSO agents surveyed in Dec. 2013 offer their own operator’s DVR on an unsolicited basis to customers requesting CableCARDs for retail devices,up from 26 percent in Feb. 2013

Beyond CableCARD, TiVo wants any successor “to assure the availability of bidirectional video signals to retail devices” put into play… Continue Reading…

comcastic

Charter had been looking to tie up the country’s second largest cable operator, but #1 Comcast has swooped in with a $45 billion agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable. The deal will be closely scrutinized by federal regulators, but at least one pundit expects minimal push back given their largely distinct areas of operation. However, that simplistic analysis overlooks Comcast’s identity as a media entity along with dramatically increased negotiating power when it comes to retransmission and licensing (in both directions). Further, Public Knowledge has concerns in relation to such a large percent of Americas relying on a single entity for their voice and data services. Having said all that, TWC isn’t a great cable company for TiVo owners and a Comcast infrastructure would be a significant improvement. Assuming we’re still using TiVo after the years required to close the deal, remove the punitive content restrictions, and retrofit those head-ends.

Fellow tech enthusiast and DC neighbor Joel Ward continues his role as a Features contributor here at Zatz Not Funny. Beyond ZNF, Joel can be found at Joel Explains It All and @joelsef on Twitter.

A few months back, we finally replaced our 2007-era Sony SXRD rear projection 1080p HDTV with a newer Samsung LCD/LED model. Not only do we find Sammy’s picture quality light years ahead of the Sony–even though it’s still “only” 1080p and not 4K—the new set shipped with all the bells and whistles of a modern “Smart TV.” In fact, it’s hard to find a large, high quality television nowadays that doesn’t have some sort of apps built-in. So whether you want them or not, you’re probably getting something.

Samsung’s Smart TV Hub is impressive, featuring one of the nicer TV UIs out there right now. While the LG WebOS TV unveiled at CES may be a contender, I’d say Samsung is probably the most sophisticated TV UI at the moment. It definitely has a lot of features and the Smart Hub is divvied up into five main screens: On TV (aka TV guide); Apps; Social; Photos, Video & Music (aka DLNA); and Movies & TV Shows.

SmartHub-Photo1-OnTV

Continue Reading…