Archives For CableCARD

ZNF ‘Round The Web

Dave Zatz —  February 14, 2009 — 1 Comment

Leaving comments across the blogosphere…

Roku’s next steps: Hulu, then Yahoo TV Widgets
I do love my Roku box. I have an Xbox, I have some TiVos, but the small, silent form and quick nav make it my first choice for Netflix streaming. And if they land Amazon VOD in HD before TiVo, I’ll gladly pick up a second unit for the living room.

But how would they Yahoo TV Widgets overlay live TV, without a source of live TV? Which is what I believe makes this a unique experience. So it’d just be standalone widgets on a stand alone box. Although, I heard from Intel that they are working with box manufacturers and I heard from Yahoo that Comcast (!) is an initial partner as well. Manufacturers like Roku may still have to negotiate/license content directly. From my discussions with Yahoo at CES, different manufacturers are working out different dealios. Some will have exclusive content, and others will be limited by their hardware platform, etc. Yahoo doesn’t control widget availability, the manufacturer does.

Third Time’s the Charm for NBC Direct?
I’ll always take downloads over streaming. Quality will (theoretically) be higher and video will be uninterrupted. Downloading from NBC is probably less work than offloading from a DVR and transcoding. I commuted by subway for 6 years (and have frequently traveled by plane for work). Went through all sorts of compact laptops, a 12″ ThinkPad, a 7″ Sharp import from Japan, etc. And a lot of what I did was via Windows Mobile PDAs. Which came in handy when the days or times I couldn’t get a seat.

Apple’s Not So Quiet Rally And Why It Will Continue

Better still, from Munster: “With its iTunes ecosystem, Apple could develop a unique TV without any set-top-boxes or devices attached. With the use of a CableCARD for digital HD TV signal, Apple could effectively replace the home entertainment system (including a music stereo, cable box, Blu-ray/DVD player, and gaming console) with an all-in-one Apple television. Such a device would command a premium among a competitive field of budget TVs.” In other words, innovation is alive and well at Apple and the company is laying the groundwork for what could become the next major revenue streams.

I don’t get the logic here… You cite an analyst who is purely speculating, no inside info, and even hedges by using the word “could” – and you claim this is evidence that Apple is innovating?

If we’re just making crap up, let me go out on a limb and say we’re moving away from cable television services and more towards Internet delivered services. Where Apple is already set up. Why steal revenue from their iTunes video collection? Further, CableCARD is a cluster. It’s not so simple as just slapping a receptacle in there, with licensing and certification at play. The bigger issue is the consumer confusion around this and rapidly evolving technology. The initial for-retail single stream CableCARDs are not capable of handling switched digital video. Enter tru2way – and those specs have not been finalized or provided for retail DVR type devices. Also, along with tru2way comes the cable-co interface in some cases. You see Apple displaying that crap? Further, for an analyst I’d expect the guy to reiterate that folks are more likely to buy add-on boxes, like a DVD player, than the replace an entire television. Making an integrated TV play somewhat risky.

On Amazon’s Kindle 2, or, It’s Apple Circa 1999, Mr. Bezos, Not an iPhone 3G
Three thoughts…
1. e-ink is different than a typical mobile device’s screen. This is both good and bad – good for reading in light, good for battery life. But it’s bad for low light situations, and obviously color is currently out of the question.
2. Jobs said a year or so ago that he wouldn’t get into ebooks, that folks don’t read. Then again, he also said there’d be no color or flash-based iPods…
3. Lastly, Amazon told the NY Times a few days ago that they’ll be bringing Kindle books to mobile phones. I assume the iPhone will be one of those devices. So it may not matter what Apple’s iBook intentions are at this point.

Palm Pre Bits for the Week
I agree, OTA updates would be huge. I don’t know exactly why, but it seems like it should be the efficient and modern way to get it done. Then again, the size of an upgrade over a carrier’s bandwidth and the size of the swap space may be barriers. I think you’re right, incremental updates are the way to go. (Like the Samsung Instinct on Sprint.)

Regarding the tethering, the big wild card is “how much?” I can’t imagine it’d be free. Then again bundling it within the $99/mo all-in plan from a carrier bleeding customers might be a nice incentive. Especially since it feels like my AT&T EDGE data connectivity has deteriorated. No probs with voice, though. It could be hard to give up my iPhone and Premiere AT&T account though. We’ll see.

What We Didn’t See At CES

Dave Zatz —  January 15, 2009 — 7 Comments

Not only did we witness a temporary cease fire in the “World’s Largest” flat panel CES showdown (pic above from 2007), a few other technologies played it low-key in Vegas…

After a buzz-worthy showing in 2008, I didn’t see or hear much regarding tru2way-enabled hardware in 2009. At least on the retail front. While the CableLabs initiative, which creates a platform for two-way cable-co access/communication, and industry memorandum of understanding (MOU) sound promising on paper, implementation has been slow going. As far as we know, tru2way is only available to retail devices within Comcast’s Denver and Chicago markets. Which is a pretty small segment of the population for manufacturers to invest in. Making matters worse, both the NCTA and Digeo’s CEO have confirmed to me that retail, third-party tru2way DVR specs have not even been finalized or porvided. TiVo couldn’t even build a tru2way Series4 DVR today if they wanted to. Intentional or not, the cable industry continues to retain a pretty firm grip on the hardware riding their networks. Which may end up biting them as folks leapfrog to Internet video. Perhaps things will look somewhat brighter this summer when broad tru2way support is expected from the MSOs. If they hit their target.

Mobile television services also seemed to have lost some steam this year. Some of the announcements, and acquired spectrum, we heard about in 2008 have either fizzled or kept a fairly low profile. Two car-based exceptions were the AT&T Cruisecast satellite TV service I was briefed on at ShowStoppers (Orbitcast coverage) and Audiovox’s MediaFLO offering available in select metros (Orbitcast coverage).

For the most part, it also seems as if the connected GPS category went into hibernation. No Nuvifone, no Magellan, no Dash. However, the TomTom Go 740 Live did make it’s US debut and Internet radio may be coming to our cars. But, going forward, I wonder the bulk of these connected services will be accessed directly via our smartphones. And perhaps this tech still ahead of its time and the mainstream isn’t ready.

Digeo Takes on TiVo with Moxi

Dave Zatz —  January 14, 2009 — 22 Comments

Although units began shipping in mid-December (with little fanfare), Digeo CEO Greg Gudorf officially unveiled their long delayed and re-imagined retail Moxi HD DVR ($800) at CES… to take on TiVo.

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Digeo Unveils New Moxi HD DVR

Dave Zatz —  December 11, 2008 — 19 Comments

11 months after blowing up their previous destined-for-retail DVR(s), Digeo’s web site (and Amazon) have spilled the beans on the for-real model that’ll be available for sale… shortly?

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We’re about half way through Q4, and have yet to see the Moxi 3012 DVR – a CableCARD box utilizing Digeo’s own hardware platform (rather than the previous Motorola STBs) and intended for MSOs. Charter was supposedly scheduled to take delivery last quarter. But given Digeo’s prior shenanigans and missed targets, this latest set back isn’t entirely surprising. Adding fuel to the fire, a Charter employee speculates that the 3012 is still being tested and Moxi’s days are numbered:

However here we are, with systems announcing year end lock downs etc and still no official hint of the 3012. As such I’m pretty much guessing it’s never left internal beta in St. Louis. Furthermore comments made from management recently here (SC/NC/VA group) indicate Moxi *WILL* be eventually phased out. That being said, my “insider’s guess” at what’s going to happen next – I predict no NEW MSO based Moxi boxes, but I also predict that Moxi will remain availible for at least 2 more years. Hopefully DIGEO will get on the ball with the CableCard enabled boxes for retail, because from what I’ve seen, it seems like Charter was the last major MSO to hang on…

(Picture courtesy of Ben Drawbaugh, EngadgetHD)