OCUR Gets Low Marks
"I haven't witnessed a product rollout botched this badly since Microsoft introduced the Zune," wrote Michael Brown in his review of the ATI Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ATYT; Toronto: ATY) OCUR implementation on a PC running Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Vista.
OCUR allows PCs, including Microsoft Media Center PCs running the new OS, to receive and display premium cable video fare -- including high-definition television (HDTV) programming. OCUR-enabled PCs are authorized for those services with a CableCARD, a removable module that contains the keys to unlock the cable operator's conditional access system. In addition to Microsoft, CableLabs has also approved the RealNetworks Inc. (Nasdaq: RNWK) Helix digital rights management system for OCUR.
Presently, OCUR can handle only one-way, unidirectional digital cable services, meaning no cable video-on-demand (VOD). The cable industry is working on a two-way version, however. (See Cable Developing Two-Way PCTV Play .)
The bulk of the review describes an exercise in futility trying to get the system installed, configured, and running. It's coupled in part with a play-by-play of a Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) technician discussing the situation with his OCUR contact at Microsoft. Multiple attempts over two days do not produce a TV picture. The reviewer has since sent the PCs back to their manufacturers but plans to try again when Velocity Micro sends its back for another attempt.
Brown's conclusion: "I'll report on those results in a future blog. But for now, I wouldn’t recommend buying a PC with an OCUR card until Microsoft, AMD (ATI), and the cable companies get their collective acts together."
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News