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Moto Boxes Up Low-End Versatility

Jeff Baumgartner

8:00 AM -- Versatility and lower costs appear to be the goals when it comes to a new line of entry-level, high-def-capable cable boxes from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT).

Motorola, still the largest U.S. supplier of cable boxes, is adding two all-digital, high-def models to its DCX family: the DCX3300 and the DCX700. As for their nimbleness, they can do both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 encoding.

moto new box

And the more fully-featured 3300 can also provide DVR support, so long as the customer brings his or her own hard drive to the party. That box has an eSATA port that can connect to any off-the-shelf eSATA storage unit. Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) is optional if MSOs want to use the box in multi-room DVR set-ups. The box can also accommodate a CableCARD or use embedded security, depending on what the MSO wants. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) integrated security ban will likely mean most U.S. MSOs will opt for the CableCARD version. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)

Although considered more entry level, both boxes are tru2way capable and contain HDMI outputs.

IP capable… with an upgrade
Perhaps the most interesting facet is that these boxes support QAM-based video out of the chute, but can speak IP via the proverbial "software upgrade." But they can't do both at the same time, a capability that will grace Motorola's upcoming, higher horsepower line of "transport gateways." (See Gateway to (Video) Heaven?)

But Motorola sees these new units as a way for MSOs to start a "migration period" from QAM to IP video, says Buddy Snow, senior director for solutions marketing for Moto's Broadband Home Solutions unit. "It's a pretty nimble box that way," he says.

And it's supposed to give MSOs a lower-cost option for entry level boxes, though Moto's predictably not offering any pricing details.

And it's not even saying when these boxes will become commercially available, though I wouldn't expect these to start appearing on MSO networks until next year sometime. But they'll apparently be on display at this week's Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Cable-Tec Expo in Denver for some gawking and tire-kicking.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2009, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Orlando, Fla., November 10-12. For more information, or to register, click here.

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