Interactive television, digital video recording (DVR) and home
networking were all the rage at the NCTA National Show in San Francisco last
week. Here is a look at some of the top announcements:
New and improved DVR functionality continues to be a trend, with
Gemstar-TV Guide rolling out a feature that will let users who also have the
Gemstar-TV Guide's i-Guide interactive programming guide to program their DVR
via cellphone. They'll also be able to check schedules and even download
TV-related ring tones, wallpaper and video sneak peeks of shows.
Digeo took the wraps off Moxi Mini, a low-cost digital set-top box
designed for use on secondary TV sets. It ties into the larger, more expensive
DVR box and enables sets in other rooms to access DVR-stored content, VOD and
Samsung is also getting into the DVR market, signing a deal to help
build next-generation Digeo boxes, giving Digeo big-time manufacturing
capability to compete with companies like Scientific-Atlanta and Motorola.
Speaking of Scientific-Atlanta, the company rolled out the MCP-100, a
box that combines multi-tuner HD DVR functions and multi-room connectivity with
DVD burning (at standard-definition resolution).
Pace also gave attendees a look at a next-generation box, the Tahoe HD
DVR, which will incorporate Sonic Solutions' DVD-burning technology (Sonic is
the leading provider of DVD-burning software).
Seagate, which makes DVR hard drives that sit inside the boxes,
unveiled add-on DVR storage units with a capacity up to 400GB. Such add-ons,
which will make it possible for subscribers to offload content for long-term
storage, hold the promise of becoming a huge market.
Gaming also made its share of news at the show. Later this quarter,
Time Warner Cable will make a subscription-based games channel available to
customers (first up is Columbia, S.C., before nationwide roll-out). It will
mark the U.S. debut for interactive-game publisher Visiware and include eight
games rotated regularly, with new games added each month.
If you don't have room for a pool table, Buzztime Entertainment
brings you Buzztime Billiards, a digital-cable application that allows
subscribers to play against other subscribers in real-time. Look for
demonstrations at your local bar.
And Cablevision, whose iO system has led the way in gaming, rolled out
a new model for Tetris and
Asteroids addicts: letting subscribers pay
$1.95 for 24 hours of unlimited play. Other games will be added soon by Pixel
Play, a new company that is a partner in the initiative.