reply to ViRGEdx
Re: Digital Transport Adapter Unboxing Photos From my understanding about these boxes, they are basically designed to be a cheap QAM tuner that will also apply the traditional channel map. (So instead of getting channel 113.2 you see channel 45 like every other box and traditional analog). They are not really designed and intended to replace the traditional cable box for digital cable, but to instead bridge the gap for old-school "cable ready" TV's as those cable ready analog signals are pulled and replaced by digital versions of the analog lineup. As just a QAM tuner designed to go replace the analog going straight into the back of a TV, don't really think the added output options are really that big a deal.
Some things to note.... No cablecard. because of the price point I do not expect these boxes to decrypt your currently encrypted QAM signals, so your premiums, digital classic, and other advanced teirs don't expect to get on this box. Likely they will just unencrypt the standard "expanded" lineup to allow these boxes to tune them. If they are really paranoid about pirating, I don't know if these boxes are capable of doing the simple "privacy mode" encryption that is currently done on the VOD streams... but that may also require a FCC waiver so it may or may not be activated.
The MAC address is probably there in part because most electronic devices, especcially those connecting to a network, have one these days. Beyond that, I wouldn't be surprised if there was at least some sort of simple way to authorize these boxes on the cable plant, ether thru a "keep alive" message or some other indirect way they can shut one down. Considering the number of stolen cable boxes you see on Ebay, It wouldn't be too much of a jump to assume when these things were designed they included a way to prevent a box from activating or working on a foreign system as a security measure and deterrent.
From what I've heard, the on screen display consists of just the channel number when flipping channels. Since there isn't a front LED display, and no guide, you just receive a simple channel number (and maybe channel call-letter short description deally) to let you know what channel you are on.
As for the shortages issues.... I wouldn't be surprised if that's another reason for the slow roll out so far. Not so much because they have a shortage now, but maybe so they can figure out what kind of demand they might expect in a live system so they can then properly ensure they have enough in stock once they get more agressive. "Let's see.... for every XX number of digital boxes, we had requests for XX number of DTAs. Therefor, we should make sure we have XXXXXX number in inventory and available before we yank these channels."
Theoretical forecasting is one thing.... having some hard data to work with can make that forcasting much more accurate.