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camper
Premium
join:2010-03-21
Bethel, CT
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Who Killed the Open Set-Top-Box?

»freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/sjs/w···top-box/

A few years ago, I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. With my trusty Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150 I enjoyed the ability to watch and record Comcast TV on my desktop computer — and even to occasionally edit and re-upload it to YouTube along with fair use critical commentary. When I moved across the river to Boston, Comcast required me to pay for a set-top box that would tune channels on my television. However, when I plugged my PVR-150 into the cable connection, it got almost no channels at all. As it turns out, the Comcast system in Boston had been migrated to use mostly digital signals, but my tuner card worked only with analog cable signals. Fair enough, I thought, I’ll buy a digital cable tuner. As it turned out, that wouldn’t help much. The cable companies had implemented encryption to fight “service theft” of most channels that subscribers had not paid for. As a result, I lost the ability to view channels I had paid for on a device of my choosing.

The FCC saw this problem on the horizon all the way back in 1996, when it included requirements for compatibility of consumer-provided “navigation devices” in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The FCC ultimately settled on a solution ....



DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15

said by camper:

The FCC ultimately settled on a solution ....

The FCC created the Digital Cable Tuner (DCR) standard which was starting to be adopted. Then the CEA tried to start a DCR+ spec, while cable was pushing OpenCable which became Tru2way, for a full 2-way cable spec. During the battle most consumer electronics companies bailed on supporting the DCR spec and it hasn't recovered since even though Tru2way won.

Tivo and Centon are really the only 3rd party makers that still support the FCC DCR spec, but neither support Tru2way.
--
If it's important, back it up... twice. Even 99.999% availability isn't enough sometimes.

GTFan

join:2004-12-03

SiliconDust and Hauppauge also have Cablecard adapters for WMC, and it's Ceton not Centon. Ceton is supposed to be releasing a WMC embedded 6-tuner DVR and their own extenders later this year.

Tru2way is dead for retail, but Cablecard tuners are not; therefore, 'open' STBs are not dead either. The problem is that money is hard to make in this space when most people are happy with their provider's craptacular DVR offerings.

The real answer for this should have been AllVid or some other standard IP-based tech for STBs, but that has gone nowhere at the FCC.


Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL

I think smart TVs could be a way forward for 2 way services. Imagine an xfinity app that your tv downloads and then you can access all of the content from the xfinity tv site. Then all the tv would need is a way to be allowed to decrypt the channels regular. Either cablecard or a new standard that they could come up with.

I've had a chance to play with a relatives Samsung Smart TV and found the Hulu app very easy to use.

Btw, why can't/don't current retail cablecard services support 2 way communication? The rented boxes use cablecards and they support it fine.



DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15

said by Zoder:

why can't/don't current retail cablecard services support 2 way communication? The rented boxes use cablecards and they support it fine.

The CableCARD has always supported 2-way. It's the devices they plug into which need RF transmitters and the proper software to support 2-way.

The rented boxes have the needed RF transmitters and software to enable the 2-way.
--
If it's important, back it up... twice. Even 99.999% availability isn't enough sometimes.

Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL

Thanks. So why hasn't any retail device included the transmitters? Lack of interest by the manufacturers or roadblocks by Cablelabs?



DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15

said by Zoder:

Thanks. So why hasn't any retail device included the transmitters? Lack of interest by the manufacturers or roadblocks by Cablelabs?

Lack of interest by the makers/consumers along with high fees due to Cablelabs testing and software creation/support.

Makers didn't get enough interest in 1-way CableCard gear, so most dropped that years ago and just went with QAM tuners.

A bunch of manufactures signed on to support tru2way (2-way CableCard access) several years ago but after a couple years nothing from the consumer manufacturer side came of it besides 1 Panasonic TV. Then the FCC announced the creation of AllVid, which hasn't gone anywhere.
--
If it's important, back it up... twice. Even 99.999% availability isn't enough sometimes.

Russ6

join:2011-03-17
Houston, TX
kudos:1
reply to Zoder

said by Zoder:

Thanks. So why hasn't any retail device included the transmitters? Lack of interest by the manufacturers or roadblocks by Cablelabs?

The following excerpt from an old article on the Open Cable web site explains why.
quote:
. . .

From the very early specifications and draft standards, the CableCARD module has been a two-way device. That is, it included the functionality to enable two-way communication on the cable plant. This two-way communication is necessary for a variety of advanced cable services including video on demand (VOD), switched digital video (SDV), interactive services and applications.

The media has frequently reported that first-generation CableCARD 1.0 modules are one-way devices. This is simply not true. CableLabs had always intended to develop the CableCARD module and host receiver standards with two-way capability. However the manufacturers of digital TVs requested that a host standard be developed that only had one-way capability. This one-way cable-ready receiver was defined by the FCC's Plug & Play order and by the Joint Test Suite (JTS). It is the definition of this one-way receiver that lacks the ability for two-way functionality, not the CableCARD module. While the FCC defined the elements of the one-way cable-ready receiver, CableLabs continued to define specifications for two-way receivers.

When a CableCARD 1.0 module is used with a two-way receiver (e.g., Samsung HLR5067C) that card supports all the necessary two-way functionality for VOD, SDV, and other interactive services.

. . .

»www.opencable.com/primer/cableca···mer.html
--
SA 8300 HD DVRs with Patched S25 Guide
Links:
'S25 Guide Blog' 'Schedule' 'Info' 'Patch Thread'


telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:7
reply to GTFan

said by GTFan:

SiliconDust and Hauppauge also have Cablecard adapters for WMC, and it's Ceton not Centon. Ceton is supposed to be releasing a WMC embedded 6-tuner DVR and their own extenders later this year.

BTW - The latest news from Ceton on their Q DVR and Echo Windows Media Center Extender:

Ceton Echo Delayed, Q Still Being Evaluated
By Josh Pollard, The Digital Media Zone - October 2, 2012
»thedigitalmediazone.com/2012/10/···aluated/

GTFan

join:2004-12-03

Really sad news, Tivo badly needs the competition - their UI is still incomplete, buggy, and slow. Ceton gave a lot of folks hope that there would be a decent alternative and now that's pretty much gone.

It doesn't bode well for Cablecard's future, and there's no IP-based standard coming down the pipe to replace it. Sad.



halfband
Premium
join:2002-06-01
Huntsville, AL
reply to camper

Microsoft downsized the media center development team to a skeleton crew a number of years ago. There really is little ongoing development of what is the only serious cable card compatible software. Very few companies have the resources to deal with cable labs, the cable companies and media content industries. Microsoft just did not see enough interest to keep pouring resources into product development and no one else has stepped into the void. The small hardware vendors are persistent but viewed by the cable industry as pesky, they will never have an easy time of it. The cable labs certification process alone is such a significant barrier to entry that the void between what customers want and what they are able to purchase is likely to remain very wide. From the aspect of creating a fair market for the consumer the FCC has been a catastrophic failure (actually in all fairness, they do not view it to be part of their mandate to deal with such issues). The service providers have found it very profitable to maintain the status quo.
--
Registered Bandwidth Offender #40812



DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15
reply to GTFan

said by GTFan:

It doesn't bode well for Cablecard's future, and there's no IP-based standard coming down the pipe to replace it. Sad.

The FCC killd the future of the CableCARD with the announcement of the DOA AllVid.

The IP-based method all the major players (Comcast, TWC, Cox, DirecTV, HBO, NBC, ESPN, Disney, Adobe, etc) are using is "TV Everywhere", even Tivo has announced upcoming products for it:
»www.engadget.com/2012/05/30/tivo···-everyw/
TVeverywhere covers distribution, content protection, authorization, and billing. There are clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Xbox, various TV OSs, and many other products.
--
If it's important, back it up... twice. Even 99.999% availability isn't enough sometimes.

GTFan

join:2004-12-03

"TV Everywhere" is going nowhere on 3rd party DVRs so far.



DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15

The 1 active maker of them has started working on it


Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL
reply to GTFan

blame the cable co who made more by renting 3-4+ year old cable boxes at high rates.

We need to be like Canadian systems where you can buy the cable box with rent / outlet or mirroring fees.



DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15

said by Joe12345678:

blame the cable co who made more by renting 3-4+ year old cable boxes at high rates.

We need to be like Canadian systems where you can buy the cable box with rent / outlet or mirroring fees.

Wow in Canada you can buy those 3-4+ year old boxes with the horrible guides... big deal. It's just the cable company boxes being resold through retailers, many you can't even use in other systems in Canada. You're stuck trying to resell a box when you move.

Then you can't even use a Ceton, Tivo, Moxi, or anything that uses a CableCARD. You're stuck using a Tivo DT2 or earlier, hanging off a cable box of course to get the encrypted channels.

Great system to want... the Canadian system.
--
If it's important, back it up... twice. Even 99.999% availability isn't enough sometimes.

Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

they have good stuff like this.

Shaw Gateway Experience

»www.shaw.ca/Gateway/

in the usa you can get the same boxes at insane rent prices.


Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL
reply to DrDrew

but you are not paying $8-$15 per tv in fees.



halfband
Premium
join:2002-06-01
Huntsville, AL

But if the US had the canadian "buy a box" system we would just have $15 outlet mirror fees. You can't win.
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Registered Bandwidth Offender #40812



signmeuptoo
Bless you Howie
Premium
join:2001-11-22
NanoParticle
kudos:5
reply to camper

A lot being discussed here is shooting over the top of my head. May I pop in and ask? I am a comcast customer, can I build a PC and get a cable card and tuner and get content just like the cable HD box? From what I gather from all your comments is that I cannot?
--
Join Teams Helix and Discovery. Rest in Peace, Leonard David Smith, my best friend, you are missed badly! Rest in peace, Pop, glad our last years were good. Please pray for Colin, he has ependymoma, a brain cancer, donate to a children's Hospital.



DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15
reply to Joe12345678

said by Joe12345678:

they have good stuff like this.

Shaw Gateway Experience

»www.shaw.ca/Gateway/

in the usa you can get the same boxes at insane rent prices.

That's the re-badged Moxi gear.... wonder if it works if you move out of a Shaw area...

In the US you can get the Tivo, old Moxi, Ceton gear.

Either way you pay for the boxes.

The cable companies aren't stopping 3rd parties from selling boxes. There just aren't very many selling in the US. If there was more of a demand there would be more companies selling them and making quarterly profits doing it. Tivo may be behind why there are fewer companies interested in making them, at least DVRs...
--
If it's important, back it up... twice. Even 99.999% availability isn't enough sometimes.

GTFan

join:2004-12-03
reply to signmeuptoo

said by signmeuptoo:

A lot being discussed here is shooting over the top of my head. May I pop in and ask? I am a comcast customer, can I build a PC and get a cable card and tuner and get content just like the cable HD box? From what I gather from all your comments is that I cannot?

You can, using Windows 7 and a cablecard tuner from Ceton, SiliconDust, or Hauppauge. You can also use the Xbox360 as an extender (STB) on secondary TVs.

»www.thegreenbutton.tv is a great place to start for this.

GTFan

join:2004-12-03
reply to DrDrew

You can no longer buy the Moxi.



DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15

said by GTFan:

You can no longer buy the Moxi.

You can buy them used.


telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:7

1 edit

said by DrDrew:

said by GTFan:

You can no longer buy the Moxi.

You can buy them used.

If not from eBay, Amazon also shows some used ones for sale: »www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001GQ8MT8

EDIT: As far as support for the old Moxi DVRs, there had been a note on the company's home page for a while that indicated tech support and guide data would come to an end at the end of 2013 (»Re: [STB] Moxi ), but then it was removed, and now it says (»www.moxi.com/us ):
A few weeks ago we incorrectly posted a notice regarding discontinuation of our Moxi program guide data. We currently have no plans to discontinue service. Thank you for your support.

GTFan

join:2004-12-03

Yep, Moxi is a dead man walking. Stay away, far away.



telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:7
reply to GTFan

FYI - Today's news on Ceton's Echo Windows Media Center Extender:

Ceton's $179 Echo Windows Media Center Extender is ready to go on sale 'around Thanksgiving'
By Richard Lawler, Engadget - October 11, 2012
»www.engadget.com/2012/10/11/ceto···ing-179/



halfband
Premium
join:2002-06-01
Huntsville, AL
reply to signmeuptoo

With the exception of VOD the answer is, you can.
Ceton makes a PC tuner card that uses a cable card. Silicon Dust makes a network based cable card tuner (I have one, works great.) Hauppauge makes a usb based cable card tuner (that is based on the silcondust technology). Combined with a win7 pc's media center you can make a very capable DVR that provides an excellent user experience. It will even stream to an xbox as media center extender.
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Registered Bandwidth Offender #40812


GTFan

join:2004-12-03
reply to telcodad

said by telcodad:

FYI - Today's news on Ceton's Echo Windows Media Center Extender:

Ceton's $179 Echo Windows Media Center Extender is ready to go on sale 'around Thanksgiving'
By Richard Lawler, Engadget - October 11, 2012
»www.engadget.com/2012/10/11/ceto···ing-179/

Yep, and at the price (and with the limited feature set/tech specs) they're offering, it's about $79 too high. Which is too bad, because we need alternatives to the Xbox.

For $179 I expect it to be a damn good extender, which it should be, but also be able to play damn near everything I can throw at it, which it won't. At least not going by the specs Ceton has posted for it so far.

And with WMC being all but abandoned by MS, I'm guessing the already slim market for the Echo will be even smaller.


telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:7

1 edit
reply to halfband

said by halfband:

But if the US had the canadian "buy a box" system we would just have $15 outlet mirror fees. You can't win.

Looks like someone is trying to get that system here:

Former judge sues Cox for forcing subscribers to lease set-tops
Stanley Feldman asks U.S. District Court to make Cox disgorge profits from set-top business

By Steve Donohue, FierceCable - October 25, 2012
»www.fiercecable.com/story/former···12-10-25

From the article:
The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Tucson, alleges that Cox is violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by tying set-top rentals to pay TV subscriptions. In addition to asking the court to require Cox to give subscribers the option to buy set-tops instead of renting the boxes, it wants Cox to disgorge profits generated from renting set-tops.
Also, from Light Reading Cable today (»www.lightreading.com/document.as···d=226367 ):
Cox Communications Inc. is under fire for charging set-top box rental fees to customers wanting TV services beyond the basic tier. Stanley Feldman, a former state Supreme Court judge, is asking a district court in Tucson to ban Cox from forcing customers to pay the monthly US$6.99 fee. He wants an option to buy the equipment from third parties. The case started as a national class-action lawsuit against Cox, but a federal judge in Oklahoma rejected it, ruling that customers can file individual complaints in their home states, reports the Arizona Daily Star. Cable has pursued the retail angle with tru2way, but the common middleware/headend platform failed to spur a retail market for cable set-tops. (See Tru2way: Epic Fail at Retail: »www.lightreading.com/document.as···d=202538 )