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Digeo HD-DVR Enters Retail Waters

LAS VEGAS -- 2009 International CES -- Roughly a year after pulling back on two products that were destined for retail distribution, Digeo Inc. is revisiting that strategy with a 500-Gigabyte "Moxi" high-definition DVR that features the company's high-end navigation system, 1080p resolution, and a handful of partners that will deliver content via the box's high-speed IP connection. (See Digeo Bows Retail HD-DVR.)

Although the Moxi HD DVR, which sells for $799 with no additional monthly fees, will be offered at retail (initially at www.moxi.com and Amazon.com, Digeo's "exclusive launch retailer"), the device is not based on tru2way , a CableLabs -specified platform that aims to create uniform set-top software and headend components.

Moxi HD DVR

However, the Moxi HD DVR does support the CableCARD, so the device can be authorized to feed through a cable operator's linear broadcast lineup of digital video channels, including premium services like HBO, Showtime, and Starz. On the downside, it can't offer interactive cable services such as video-on-demand.

Later this year, Moxi's box will support a new breed of tuning adapter that will allow the DVR to access channels an MSO delivers using switched digital video (SDV) technology. (See NCTA Sees Solution to Switching Snag, Comcast Tunes Up SDV Tuning Adapters , and CableLabs Stamps SDV Tuning Adapters .)

At a press conference here Thursday, Digeo CEO Greg Gudorf said his company elected to start with a non-tru2way retail box because the company didn't want to sit on the retail sidelines while MSOs prepare to support tru2way on a wide scale.

Although the new box hardware is capable of supporting tru2way, "we don't intend for this [product] to upgrade to tru2way," Gudorf said. "The experience we want to bring to market can't be done with tru2way with the same richness today. Eventually, tru2way will… support all these capabilities."

Digeo is planning to add tru2way to its product arsenal, though. Last year, Digeo joined others in signing a tru2way memorandum of understanding that was originally negotiated by Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and the nation's top six incumbent cable MSOs. (See Revealed: The Tru2way MOU.)

Digeo is entering the retail realm in an effort to boost market share and expand product availability well beyond its current cable footprint of about 2.5 million homes passed. To date, Digeo has shipped about 500,000 of its previous-generation Moxi boxes directly to MSOs, with most of those going to corporate cousin Charter Communications Inc. .

Given its premium pricing and features, Digeo doesn't regard its new retail box as a "mass-market product," said Gudorf. However, the company is targeting consumers that want a box that's optimized for HD all the way down to its resident navigation system, and has set a sales volume target of 12 million to 15 million units.

Although some may balk at the $799 price tag, Gudorf believes Digeo can overcome that because it's not asking customers to pay an additional monthly service fee. "The timing is right for this," Gudorf proclaimed.

Last year, the company thought just the opposite. Just days after unveiling some ambitious retail plans at CES, Digeo laid off half its staff and killed two product models. (See Digeo Revs Up for Retail and Moxi Maker Digeo Slashes Staff, Product Line .) Now, though, Digeo is confident the new box's bells and whistles -- the device's IP connection, for example, feeds in sports and weather "widgets" as well as content from partners such as FineTune and Flickr -- will give it an advantage over standalone TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) DVRs and more generic DVRs offered by cable operators.

Later this year, Digeo expects to launch the MoxiMate, a companion box that enables another TV in the home to access shows and other digital content that's stored on the primary DVR. Storage on the main box can be expanded by up to 2 terabytes via external eSATA drives. Retail is the latest, but not the only, distribution strategy for Digeo. The company has also developed a new dual-tuner, CableCARD-based DVR for direct sale to MSOs. Gudorf said that product, dubbed the 3012 HD DVR, has started shipping to Charter and BendBroadband . (See Charter: We Still Dig Digeo .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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