Does Anyone Have Any Experience With This TIVO Wannabe?

Roberto Carlo

Second Unit
Joined
Apr 14, 2002
Messages
445
I own a first generation TIVO and wouldn't think of watching TV without a PVR. My cable company, Cox of Fairfax (VA) made this announcement, which has me intrigued:

New Service Available to Cox Customers in Upgraded Areas
Beginning April 1

(Herndon, VA) - Cox Communications Northern Virginia announced today plans to launch its new Digital Video Recorder service. Beginning April 1, 2003, Cox customers living in upgraded areas across Northern Virginia will enjoy access to Cox's revolutionary new service . . .

The service offers more advanced recording and playback options than a VCR, greatly expanding customers' control over their TV viewing, including the ability to:

Pause and rewind live TV: Cox DVR customers can stop live action TV and pick it up later, at their convenience, without missing a scene.

Easily record programs any time: With up to 50 hours of capacity on the DVR hard disk, Cox DVR customers can record a week's worth of their favorite shows without having to worry about switching tapes, or recording over another program.

Watch a recorded program while simultaneously recording two live programs on different channels: With two tuners, customers can enjoy their favorite shows, even if they're on at the same time . . .

Watch two programs at the same time with Picture in Picture (PIP): Cox DVR gives customers PIP functionality, without having to buy an expensive new television set.

It's the ability to watch one while recording another that intrigues me. Anyone have any experience with this technology? If I understand correctly, it's gonna be built into the box.
 

Patrick Sun

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 30, 1999
Messages
39,354
It sounds like DirecTivo technology is filtering to the cable companies that offer MPEG streams for their content delivery. Because the A/V stream is digital, there is no need for the PVR to do any re-encoding of the source (unlike the normal Tivos or ReplayTVs, which do have to re-encode the A/V stream in order to record it since its source is typically analog via analog cable TV feeds), so it just records it as-is. Add another tuner into the mix, and you get the capability to record 2 different channels at the same time.
 

LDfan

Supporting Actor
Joined
Nov 30, 1998
Messages
724
Real Name
Jeffrey
Hi Roberto,

I just saw this info too since I live in the same area. Since Cox is using Scientific Atlanta stuff these days I looked on their website and it has info about their new PVR set-top box. Looks very interesting. As much as I love my Tivo when it comes time to get a new one I might have to skip it and just pay Cox an extra $10.00 a month.

http://www.sciatl.com/

Jeff
 

Stephen Tu

Screenwriter
Joined
Apr 26, 1999
Messages
1,572
It sounds like DirecTivo technology is filtering to the cable companies that offer MPEG streams for their content delivery. Because the A/V stream is digital, there is no need for the PVR to do any re-encoding of the source
True for the digital channels. Not true for the many analog channels that remain on most "digital cable" systems. The box still has MPEG encoders for those.

From what I have read reported, big plusses are:
- 2 tuners
- cost
minuses are:
- much less powerful scheduling than Tivo
- questionable reliability, at least with early software builds. (e.g. missed recordings, lost recorded programs)

I think it's definitely worth a try if you live in an area offering it. If you already have a Tivo I'd keep it as a backup until you are satisfied that they've gotten the bugs out.
 

Patrick Sun

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 30, 1999
Messages
39,354
These new boxes must have beefed up the CPU processing power if they also have to do the encoding of the analog cable channels (usually channel 100 and below), especially for a dual tuner setup. Perhaps the new digital cable systems are also providing digital streams for channels under 100 nowadays.
 

Stephen Tu

Screenwriter
Joined
Apr 26, 1999
Messages
1,572
You don't really need much CPU. These things use hardware encoding, not software. MPEG encoding is done with an ASIC. It probably has 2 of these, or one with dual-stream capability.

The number of cable companies going full digital is vanishingly small at this time. Still a lot of customers who prefer not to have a cable box.
 

Roberto Carlo

Second Unit
Joined
Apr 14, 2002
Messages
445
Thanks for the help. Like I said, I find the concept interesting to say the least. What I'm pondering is whether the ability to watch one thing while recording another is worth the trade off in a less powerful programming. I don't know. I'm tempted because it would solve the "Ed/John Doe" dilemma. Right now, I'm watching Ed on my bedroom television while recording John Doe. Of course, both are on the brink of cancellation so the issue may resolve itself if I wait a while. Decisions, decisions.
 

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