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Breathing New Life Into the CableCARD?

3:40 PM -- The long-term future of the CableCARD as the cable industry's go-to technology for separable security appears to be in doubt as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) begins to poke around the issue again, but, based on some word ahead of this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the much maligned security module may still have some legs left, particularly when it comes to feeding cable's protected digital video content to the PC. (See Whither the CableCARD?)

The biggest news of the bunch may come from the mouth of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Steve Ballmer as he delivers his CES keynote Wednesday night. According to the Zatz Not Funny blog, Ballmer will take the opportunity to introduce a PCI Express "Quad-Tuner" from Ceton Corp. According to ZNF, the accessory, which will cost $399 and start shipping in the first quarter, will be capable of tuning four live channels of digital cable on one multistream CableCARD.

We'll be on the lookout for more details on that product and how it splices into Microsoft's strategy when Ballmer takes the stage in Vegas.

ZNF also reports that SiliconDust USA Inc. will use CES to launch a version of its HDHomeRun product with a CableCARD slot.

Short of any support for tru2way (hey, anything's possible), it's likely that these new PC-TV products will require a separate tuning adapter to obtain any channels offered in an MSO's "switched" tier, as their introductions are coming about four months after Microsoft announced its support for SDV in Windows Media Center for Windows 7. (See Microsoft, Cable Get Cuddlier , Microsoft's Media Center Gets SDV Support, and CableLabs Stamps SDV Tuning Adapters .)

At the time, Microsoft also announced that the coming of Windows 7 would increase the number of TV tuners that can be connected to the PC from two to four per tuner type.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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