Cable Without a Cable Box, and TV Shows Without a TV - New York Times: "Cable companies in the United States now have to separate the security functions that prevent you from watching channels you haven’t paid for from the TV tuner box most of us rent.
The practical result of the rule is that cable companies now have to supply set-top boxes that come with a removable CableCard. The cards, which look like the PC Cards used in notebook computers, contain the information necessary to unscramble digital cable channels like HBO.
But they could allow other equipment to become much more versatile. The cards are designed to be inserted into a host of other devices, including TVs, digital video recorders (DVRs) and computers. Companies like Toshiba, Panasonic, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have sought this breakthrough for years because it opens an array of features for CableCard-equipped devices. Cable companies have resisted the idea, which should surprise no one.
TiVo has just come out with a more affordable HD DVR with two CableCard slots and up to 20 hours of HD recording, for $300.
The TiVo-Amazon service offers cineastes thousands of movies to rent, compared with the scant mainstream-only offerings of cable’s pay-per-view services. TiVo boasts other features that keep it ahead of cable, including the ability to schedule a recording at home over the Internet from, say, your computer at work, or to record videos automatically from Web-based channels. Services like this are encouraging others to begin selling CableCard-ready set-top boxes.
Digeo, which already supplies set-top boxes to cable companies that in turn lease them to subscribers, says it plans to sell a new model in stores this fall. Digeo’s machine, the Moxi Multi-Room HD DMR, not only will include a TiVo-like DVR but also will let owners add more hard disk storage to expand the number of shows owners can record and store. Moxi owners will also be able to use the box to store music and pictures and watch recordings on TVs in other rooms. Prices for the CableCard-ready box have not yet been announced."