By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Sony will venture to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) show this week to unveil a new generation of HD capable set-top boxes, while evangelizing its new Passage technology designed to open cable systems to equipment based on multiple conditional access technologies.
Greg Gudorf, Sony digital platforms division senior VP, said his company made "tremendous progress" in getting licensees to sign on with the Passage system, and he expects to be announcing a number of agreements with set-top box makers and others that have signed on with Passage.
Passage, which was formally announced late last year, was presented as "an opening of the closed cable duopoly," which to date has forced all cable equipment to comply with either Scientific Atlanta or Motorola conditional access systems.
Passage was designed to allow cable operators to continue using the SA or Motorola conditional access systems they currently have and at the same time introduce another conditional access system that may be more robust and supported by more innovative and flexible set-top box equipment and brands.
"The second conditional access system is the key to unlocking the power of the many cable manufacturers that have been sidelined," Gudorf said. "As a cable operator embraces Passage, it is also embracing the ability to bring in a whole multitude of set-top box manufacturers, which will drive competition not only from a price standpoint, but from a features and innovation standpoint."
For its part, Sony will introduce three Passage-enabled set-top boxes capable of presenting standard definition and high-definition digital cable programming. At the same time, Sony is looking to license Passage technology to other manufacturers.
For its part, Sony will introduce three Passage-enabled set-top boxes capable of presenting standard definition and high-definition digital cable programming. At the same time, Sony is looking to license Passage technology to manufacturers of forthcoming digital cable-ready DTV sets.
Sony's new set-tops include a "value" oriented HD set-top box called the DHG 25, which employs the Pasasge system and outputs standard and Hi-def signals. The step-up HDTV cable box will be available both with and without an integrated digital video recorder (DVR). The boxes (DHG55 HiDef and DHG55/DVR HiDef) incorporate DOCSIS cable modem.
The model 55 boxes will include "extremely interactive" on-screen program guides and have the option of 1394-DTCP and DVI-HDCP capability. The DVR-enhanced models will have a variety of hard drive size options.
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