Archives For CableCARD

EngadgetHD has the latest scoop on SiliconDust’s upcoming networked CableCARD device along with a shot of the prototype. Ben Drawbaugh reports that this HDHomeRun will actually contain three CableCARD tuners  - one more than previously reported. The other interesting news is that SiliconDust hopes to have the device ready for the holidays as long as CableLabs certification happens in a timely fashion. The beta signup period has come and gone, so SiliconDust should be shortly notifying the handful of beta testers they’ve chosen.

Check out more of Brent’s reflections on tech, gadgets, software and media at Brent Evans Geek Tonic.

While those of us in the know were aware RCN has been deploying customized TiVo Premiere units to all-comers in the DC area the last few weeks, a press release and updated landing page now make it official. Unlike the retail TiVo Premiere ($299), RCN’s rendition is currently limited to the the original TiVo interface. But what you gain in functionality and support is pretty substantial.

For only a few bucks more over the monthly cost of the generic RCN DVR, TiVo renters end up with a much better experience. More storage, more features, better UI. Compared to a retail TiVo, the RCN includes over 10,000 hours of On Demand content – transparently utilizing SeaChange technology and RCN broadband to get it done. While features like YouTube and TiVoToGo are enabled, and something not seen in prior relationships like DirecTV, someone has made the decision to prohibit access to Netflix and Amazon VOD. Yet it’s not a unilateral blockage of third party VOD service, as Blockbuster On Demand is available. Go figure. (Given their respective catalogs, for competitive reasons, it’d make more sense to block AMZN and BBI while allowing Netflix.)

In the long run, it’s possible a RCN-provided TiVo (max: $20/mo) could cost more than it’s retail counterpart. But official cable-co support is priceless. They will figure out any CableCARD problems. They will replace defective units. And if a better retail TiVo comes along, cancel the rental and grab it. Other than the loss of Netflix, I’m having a hard time seeing any downside.

Despite my aggravation at the FCC’s video stream earlier this week, it’s important to note that the government agency did cover several issues of weight during Thursday’s open meeting. Well, they didn’t so much cover them as agree to investigate them further.

Among the FCC’s agenda items was a proposal to create a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on how to handle the frustration of the CableCARD and create a new gateway that would connect to any type of media box or TV in the home. The idea? Open up cable services so that the TiVos and Boxee boxes of the world can compete. End game: create more choice and better quality for us, the consumers.

The FCC voted yes to the NOI, which means that now lots of folks will weigh in with their opinions and technology recommendations. I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about the gateway concept (temporarily named AllVid), if only because the CableCARD initiative proved so disastrous. But certainly the idea is on the right track. As I said over on the Motorola blog, the devil is in the details.

For in-depth coverage on this week’s meeting, not to mention insightful analysis, check out these stories by Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOM, Jeff Baumgartner at Light Reading Cable, and Karl Bode at Broadband Reports.

rcn-tivo-vod

Last week, cypherstream tipped us off to all sorts of details on the RCN-branded TiVo Premiere, posted by a company rep and beta testers on DSLReports.

Come Summer, RCN will offer TiVo Premiere hardware “rentals” in lieu of the generic DVR. ($20/mo?) As such, one would hope a cable-co issued and supported box would result in fewer CableCARD annoyances. At the very least, this will be the first TiVo to feature video on demand services direct from a cable provider (powered by SeaChange)… provided one also subscribes to RCN Internet services. Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?) RCN’s offering will launch with the original 10 year old TiVo UI.

We are launching on the classic UI, this was done for a couple of reasons, Time to market and stability. The new HDUI is wonderful but we based all development to start early against the classic UI. The goal is to roll out the HDUI by end of Q3 across all markets.

It certainly appears that this has much more momentum than the moribund Comcast-TiVo initiative. However, in light of the HD UI’s current state and given TiVo’s historical development pace (slow), I wouldn’t bank on that Q3 target.

I’ve never had great luck accessing the FCC’s video streams of its open meetings, but I was hoping for a better experience this time around. No dice. After a great deal of stuttering and regular disconnects, I lost the stream of today’s meeting entirely about an hour in. It’s not my individual connection that’s at fault either. Some notable tweeps are reporting similar problems.

As a reminder, the FCC is holding its open meeting today to discuss a number of broadband reform plans, including how to bring broadband to unserved areas, how to spur innovation in the video device market, and what the heck to do about the CableCARD fiasco.

Somehow it doesn’t bode well for the national broadband plan if the FCC can’t even figure out how to get its own Internet video stream to work. Is it irony? Or just sadly predictable?

UPDATE: Stream is live again! But still stuttering.