By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Digeo is readying the launch of its Moxi digital media receivers (DMR) for what is expected to be a pre-holiday launch through select retailers across the country.
Michael Fidler, Digeo CEO, attended the recent CEDIA Expo, here, to give installers and A/V specialists a glimpse of his company's forthcoming Moxi set-top boxes, which now include the addition of home automation control using ControlPoint technology from partner 4HomeMedia.
The combination will add control of lighting, room climate, home security and other systems through a link in the Moxi graphical user interface.
Moxi boxes are designed to receive digital cable TV content as well as content and services available through as-yet-unnamed IP content services partners which Digeo will integrate into its program listings. The graphical user interface included in each box integrates live cable programming, DVR recordings, jukebox music recordings, digital images, available IP-delivered content, video-on-demand and pay-per-view programming.
All of Moxi's retail-focused boxes will include a CableCARD slot that will accept multi-stream CableCARDs supplied by local operators.
Using the system, viewers will not only be able to find, play and record digital entertainment media, but control A/V devices, lighting and security cameras throughout the home using a remote control and easy-to-navigate onscreen menu system, Fidler said.
"Our strategy is really looking at the consumer," he said, "understanding what the consumers' issues and concerns are and developing solutions that work best in that TV environment. We do a lot of complex things in the product … but we want to make sure the experience is always intuitive, easy to use and user friendly."
Digeo showed its Moxi Multiroom HD DMR, which will be able to add optional thin-client boxes to access content stored on the main unit from other rooms in the house. The thin-client boxes attach to the central box through IEEE-1394 via coaxial connections. Up to two separate programs can be tuned from the main DMR at a time, although up to four recorded programs can be streamed at a time enabling the use of four multi-room client boxes, Fidler said.
Digeo also makes similar boxes and services for cable operator partners, but the Moxi-branded retail versions will have a wider range of features and capabilities, Fidler said.
The retail-focused main box in the Multiroom HD DMR includes a built-in DVD player, DVR (hard drive size will be announced later), media jukebox, digital photo viewer, selection of video games, PC Link to stream content from a connected PC and a new 16:9 HD interface.
The expanded graphical user interface provides more room for additional information and clarity, Fidler said.
The interface uses a bi-axial design with the selection of media provided on a vertical bar, and media options on an intersecting horizontal bar.
To simplify content selection, the Moxi DMR offers a number of filters to group channels or files by type or location. A favorites filter using metadata automatically monitors what viewers watch most and groups together the 15 most-watched programs.
An HD filter groups all HD programs together, listing titles that are further filtered by color coding to determine whether programs are recorded to a hard drive or available live through the cable or IP service partner.
Similar filters are offered for sports, news, movies, etc. The program listings guide extends to 14 days at a time, Fidler said.
Brad Kayton, 4HomeMedia COO, said his company launched its platform at International CES in January and delivered some of its first products in May.
"We talked to a lot of the set-top box manufacturers in the industry and came to a pretty firm conclusion that the Moxi set-top box design was really the best in the business," Kayton said. "That was intriguing for us, because we wanted to launch with a partner that was really best of breed."
The 4HomeMedia COO said the two companies shared "a lot of product philosophies," and the two systems use a lot of the same underlying technologies, which help the two systems "mesh very well," to produce a seamless transition from the Moxi control system to the 4HomeMedia system.
Both systems also stress the use of a rich, intuitive graphical user interface, as "integral to the whole user experience. You really have to get that right," he said. The 4HomeMedia interface uses the same bi-axial design as the Moxi interface.
Virtually any device in the environment of the entertainment center can be controlled through the system, which supports Z-Wave and Echelon power-line home automation technologies. Devices to be controlled plug into special power-jack adapters.
The 4HomeMedia system also builds in control of other A/V components in a home entertainment system using IR and wired connections, turning the Moxi box into a universal remote controller.
Using attached IP security cameras, the DMR will enable users to monitor various areas of the home through a television screen.
"This represents a very disruptive force within the marketplace," said Kayton. "What other CEDIA vendors offer for $10,000, $20,000, $50,000 or more, you will be able to get for a fraction of that price point. So it is opening up a whole new slot in the marketplace."
Fidler said Digeo will formally announce pricing and distribution plans for the Moxi products "in a couple of months."
To bring its message to consumers, Digeo will be using extensive training of both retailers and cable system operators, Fidler said.
Digeo will be looking to partner with A/V retailers that offer "an assisted selling environment in order to communicate all of the capabilities the product delivers," he said.
"We have very modest goals for the product," said Fidler. "We think it is establishing a new category. We know that TiVo has been out there with their product starting that, and this is a great new opportunity for retailers, who really haven't participated in the cable industry at all, until the availability of a national umbrella [CableCARD] that allows this product to be sold in any retailer in the country [or] to any operator in the country."
Digeo will look to build the Moxi brand mostly through online vehicles, Fidler said, although details of the launch campaign will be disclosed later.
Digeo will also supply a more basic box to be sold through retailers, Fidler said.
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