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Next-Generation HD Cable Boxes Premiere

5/17/2004 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Cable boxes integrating high-definition digital video recorders and video-on-demand (VOD) capability highlighted new product announcements at the recent National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) show here.

Cable giants Motorola and Scientific Atlanta squared off with announcements of next-generation HDTV cable boxes with built-in DVR recording.

Scientific-Atlanta unveiled its Explorer 8300 multi-room cable DVR.

The system allows cable subscribers to view standard- and high-definition content on up to three additional TVs (clients) equipped with non-DVR Explorer set-tops in the home.

The set-top delivers encrypted content through existing in-home wiring — providing pause, rewind, fast-forward, slow motion and frame advance/rewind commands on playback from all set-tops.

Additionally, the client set-tops still deliver such other functions as an interactive program guide (IPG) and access to VOD and pay-per-view (PPV) content.

New Explorer DVR 1.1 software enhancements include all-episode-recording enhancements, improved file-management options, copy to VCR archiving capabilities, and recording space used indicators.

The company also unveiled the Explorer 8000HD dual-tuner high-definition on-demand HD DVR with nCube's HD-VOD application delivering high-definition on-demand capability.

For voice-over-IP systems, SA announced the WebSTAR DPX2203, which is based on DOCSIS 2.0 and is PacketCable 1.0-certified for cable Voice over IP.

Digeo, the Kirkland, Wash.-based developer of interactive set-top box hardware and software for multi-channel television providers, unveiled a range of expanded capabilities for its Moxi Media Center products, including what the company calls "the lowest-cost multi-room solution for cable television."

Digeo introduced an expansion to its Moxi Media Center products providing digital video recording (DVR); video-on-demand (VOD); pay-per-view (PPV); and playback of DVDs, various digital music files and digital photos on a second TV in the home.

Digeo said it was able to cut cost on the device by 40 percent by using a new X-Stream chip for Moxi Media Centers. The company plans to sell the chip to other set-top box and consumer electronics makers. The chip combines functions of more than two dozen components.

Digeo also unveiled the Moxi Plus — a plug-and-play device for the Moxi Media Center. The add-on box combines additional hard-drive capacity to accommodate high-definition TV recordings, DVD/CD playback to enhance movie watching and music listening, and a multi-format memory card reader for digital cameras to simplify viewing photos on TVs.

In other announcements, Digeo said it is working on a Scientific-Atlanta "PowerKey" version of its set-top box that will feature the ability to run software from the OpenCable Applications Platform.

As a result, Charter Communications ordered 70,000 units of Digeo's Moxi Media Center for Scientific-Atlanta's PowerKey platform. Digeo expects to fill the order in the fall.

A week earlier, Comcast announced it had ordered 40,000 Motorola Broadband Media Centers (BMC) versions of the Moxi Media Center..