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TiVo to Make Customized Version for Comcast


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8 replies to this topic

#1 of 9 Dave Hahn

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Posted March 15 2005 - 04:39 AM

According to an AP story by ANICK JESDANUN running on Yahoo:
Quote:
TiVo Inc., the struggling pioneer of digital video recorders, will make a customized version for Comcast cable subscribers . . . The deal calls for TiVo to adapt its software to work on Comcast's existing DVR platform . . . Comcast Corp. expects to begin marketing the new DVRs, which will carry the TiVo brand, by mid- to late 2006.

I'm looking forward to this. I only hope that the Tivo unit will record HD and also maintain current features; like the ability to remove unwanted channels from the scolling guide, a list of favorites, full show descriptions, etc. None of these features are offered on the DVR I rent from Comcast here in New Haven.

The full story can be found here: http://news.yahoo.co....e/tivo_comcast
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#2 of 9 Ed Faver

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Posted March 21 2005 - 03:53 PM

I'm looking forward to this, too. I had a TiVo for about a week before the 6412 became available in my area. SO, the TiVo went back to Circuit City (where I experienced their great no-questions-asked return policy) and in went the 6412.

While I have no real gripes with Comcast's interface with their DVR, my short experience with TiVo convinced me of their superiority.

Ultimately, it's a minor thing in my house. My tech-Luddite wife was able to access programs off the DVR with very brief phone guidance from me.

I will welcome the TiVo, but I'll do fine until it gets here in '06.

#3 of 9 Moe Dickstein

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Posted April 05 2007 - 07:56 AM

From everything I've seen the software is ready, and the Motorola boxes should be all set to get the TiVo upgrade (after they mail you the new remote)

Anyone at all have this yet? I call my comcast reps at least once a month to find out if I can sign up but havent heard anything in nw suburban Chicago.
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#4 of 9 orestes

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Posted April 13 2007 - 03:12 AM

I called comcast in my area to find out about this TiVo thing which is all over the internet, but neither the rep nor tech persons at comcast over the phone knew anything about it or seemed to care. When I asked if the current DVR had the capability to download or stream video to my computer, I was told that not such a feature is available. This is something that Tivo 2 offers but not Tivo 3. So I told them I did not want to order anything. I do have comcast digital + hdtv, but unless comcast DVR come of age, I will not get the service at all.

#5 of 9 Moe Dickstein

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Posted April 14 2007 - 12:43 AM

Even the comcast tivo isnt goign to have the downloading to your computer feature.

HOWEVER I have seen guides to setting up the firewire port on the DVR to work with a pc. so if thats what you want you can do it now, Comcast just isn't going to tell you about it.
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#6 of 9 Jean D

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Posted April 21 2007 - 06:07 AM

The IEEE ports are active on the box's, but not fully supported by Comcast. meaning they wont troubleshoot any issues you have by using them.
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#7 of 9 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted April 21 2007 - 06:27 PM

The Motorola HD-DVR with TiVO software was demonstrated at CES this year and is fully functional as a basic DVR now. So far it only runs on the Motorola HD boxes, which means that former Adelphia customers with Scientific Atlanta DVRs will have to swap hardware. The Comcast box will not support home networking or file sharing - but neither does the HD TiVo-3, or any of the TiVO DirecTV DVRs. The SA boxes were capable of sharing shows, but Adelphia never implemented that feature in my area, so I'm not holding much hope out for Comcast in that regard. Still, as an ex-TiVo user I can hardly wait for these new DVRs to arrive.

When I checked on this a few months ago, the local Comcast office told me the roll-out was scheduled for July. In the same e-mail I had asked about additional HD channels and they said they had no information.

Here's the e-mail I got the other day in response to my latest query:

Quote:
According to information in our systems, we are currently in early
technical trials and additional launch plans (including markets and
pricing) have not been announced at this time. We will provide our
subscribers with additional information as it becomes available.


Of course, this is the same Comcast that cut over to a new channel line-up without any advanced notice apart from an advertisement in the local newspaper (to which I don't subscribe.) No inserts in bills, no e-mail, no announcement on their website. In fact, you coudn't even get a channel listing on their website. (Either of their websites, actually, since the channel change was the last phase of the transition from Adelphia to Comcast. But nobody had updated the Adelphia site in about 2 years, while they were in bankruptcy, and Adelphia customers couldn't even register to use the Comcast site until 3 months after the line-up change.)

On the other hand just, this weekend I discovered that they had quietly added Universal HD, National Geographic HD and A&E HD to my channel line-up, also with no notice whatsoever. So sometimes there are good surprises. Posted Image

Regards,

Joe


#8 of 9 Jean D

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Posted April 22 2007 - 12:43 AM

Quote:
which means that former Adelphia customers with Scientific Atlanta DVRs will have to swap hardware.
They can't. The network that Scientific Atlanta box's work on was built by SA. It's not compatible with Motorola hardware. The rumblings I've heard however is that an SA TiVo upgrade was going to be worked on at some point also. Keep in mind, Motorola is going to be deploying Cable Card set top box's for customer to purchase, then you can get a cable card. Much like the TiVo Series 3 (The M-card should be out fairly soon too for PIP/Dual Tuner capabilities). If Cable Card 2.0 was out, I think I would get a TiVo Series 3. For now I'll wait it out. I think Scientific Atlanta will also be rolling out Set Tops for sale also. because of the FCC ruling for July 07.

Comcast is slow in fixing the problems with the moto box's. I cant stand that after I delete a recording from a series Ive set up that it re-records because the guide doesn't say "repeat". This is why I cant wait for the TiVo upgrade also. Not only that, but if the Moto box craps out, Im screwed, no way to get my recordings back, plus the hard drives are too damn small for HD. please Comcast just activate the SATA ports on the back, so I can have my own reliable hard drive back up.

As far as HD channels Comcast has said that they plan on adding about 8-10 non sports hd channels (since those are what has been focused on lately) by years end. However, in the areas that are part of the Yankee's footprint. YES-HD will be added if not already to balance how the other parts of New England have NESN-HD. They plan on adding HD channels such as Food Network, A&E, HGTV next (keep in mind, those channels arnet 100% going to be added. But those were some examples Ive heard) Personally I hope they get F/X, Sci-Fi and the History Channel. (I need MHD like I need a hole in the head, the programming is so crappy). If you want specific channels added, you have to call them, and have them send in a channel request form. It goes to their marketing dept. huge demand for a channel gets them to look at getting the channel added and getting a contract to carry it in their regional markets.
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#9 of 9 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted April 22 2007 - 03:40 AM

Quote:
They can't. The network that Scientific Atlanta box's work on was built by SA. It's not compatible with Motorola hardware.

It isn't a matter of a "network", per se.

The crown jewels of a cable system are the conditional access (CA) system and the out-of-band (OOB) channel. And the crown jewelers are Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta. The messages carried on the OOB are proprietary, not standardized, and the conditional access entitlement messages are very, very proprietary. The headend equipment, supplied by either Motorola or Scientific-Atlanta, controls the technical details of the OOB channel and the CA messages. And up until now, Motorola and S-A have used that control to maintain marketplace control over set-top boxes, in spite of FCC regulations promoting retail sales of set-top boxes...

...Suppose you are a cable MSO with Motorola or S-A equipment installed, but you would like to add Sony set-top boxes to your inventory, and you would like to migrate away from the Motorola/S-A CA system. Until now, you would have to totally duplicate every encrypted video channel, carrying one stream using the Motorola/S-A system and a duplicate stream using the Sony system. You would need 100 percent duplication of the encrypted programming. - from "Attacking the crown jewels" By Jeffrey Krauss CedMagazine.com - February 01, 2003

So it is perfectly possible for a cable headend facility to have both SA and Motorola equipment installed and send both data-streams down the same cable to all its customers. Those who have SA boxes would be able to decode and play the SA stream, those with Motorola equipment would do the same with the Motorola stream.

The problem with this is bandwidth. For premium channels and other encrypted digital content the cable company would have to send two duplicate streams for every program. That's too much to sustain on an on-going basis - but a cable company might be able to do that to a discrete part of its customer base for a week or so, thus enabling old boxes to function even while new ones are being deployed.

At the time of that 2003 article Sony was working on a solution of its own (since it also makes STBs.)

The Sony theory is elegant. For digital premium channels carried as compressed MPEG packets, today, all the MPEG packets are encrypted. But Sony believes that encrypting all the packets is overkill. Only the most critical packets need to be encrypted to provide adequate security, because these critical packets contain the instructions for when and how to reconstruct the video from the rest of the packets. The critical packets are only 2 percent to 10 percent of all the MPEG packets, and in order to carry a duplicate stream, only these critical packets need to be duplicated and then encrypted.

I'm not sure if this has ever been implemented, but it does seem to offer a way for cable companies to transition from one STB to another with a relatively modest hardware investment and minimal service interruptions for users. (And Comcast does seem to want to completely assimilated all its acquired systems by standardizing channel line-ups and services, so why not reduce headaches by standardizing on hardware as well, so that its support staff only has to be ignorant about one brand of equipment? Posted Image)

Quote:
The rumblings I've heard however is that an SA TiVo upgrade was going to be worked on at some point also.

The TiVO reps discussed this at CES, and of course they are trying to port the software to SA (and other brands of STBs) and market it to other cable companies. TiVO's best shot at corporate survival is to take its strength - a brilliant user interface and terrific feature set - and marry it to the cable and satellite company hardware it can't otherwise compete with. Because the TiVO clones those companies have come up with suck really, really badly and at some point the service providers are going to realize that it doesn't make any sense to reinvent the wheel (and constantly have to maintain the wheel) when they can just license the design of a much better wheel - one that won't piss off its existing customer base. (I have relatives who hate the post-TiVO DirecTV box so much that they're seriously thinking about going back to cable when they're ready to upgrade to HD.)

Subscribers to Comcast and now Cox video services will eventually be able to choose the TiVo navigational system as the primary guide for their digital cable service, thanks to a TiVo/Cox deal etched in August.

Customers who choose TiVo over Cox's existing navigational system will be able to do so without a box swap, TiVo officials said. Cox's digital set-top footprint is about 50/50 Motorola and Scientific Atlanta; SA's boxes are expected to lead the deployment. Meanwhile, over at Comcast, which is about 90 percent Motorola, work continues to get the TiVo system ready for widespread deployment, probably sometime in '07. CEDonline.com October 1, 2006


So it probably isn't a matter of working out the OOD/CA headend issue and hardware details in porting to the SA boxes. The problem is that the TiVO software doesn't really replace the underlying cable company system like Comcast's OnDemand, it sits on top of it, providing a better interface, a bit like Windows 3.1 basically ran on top of DOS. (For those of you old enough to remember that. Posted Image) So they'd need to tweak the TiVO/SA version to run with the version of Comcast's system that is currently running on SA hardware. Since Comcast is currently 90 percent Motorola, you can see where they'd make Moto their top priority in this transition, and even why them might consider biting the bullet and scrapping SA entirely if they think that will simplify their lives in the long-run.

Quote:
Keep in mind, Motorola is going to be deploying Cable Card set top box's for customer to purchase, then you can get a cable card. Much like the TiVo Series 3 (The M-card should be out fairly soon too for PIP/Dual Tuner capabilities). If Cable Card 2.0 was out, I think I would get a TiVo Series 3.

Cable Card or no cable card, there is no way I can afford to drop $1400 on a pair of TiVO S-3s plus their monthly service fees and the cost of the Cable Cards in order to basically duplicate what I have now. If I can get a TiVO interface on a Moto or SA box with a true "Season Pass" and the other basic TiVO features I'll be very happy.

Regards,

Joe


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