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Talking about Windows Vista Digital Cable Tuners

January 9, 2007

 In addition to the information that Ian Dixon and Robert McLaws posted on the renaming of the OCUR cable card boxes to Digital Cable Tuners, I got some information on availability of CableCard on PCs other than Niveus at the Vista Consumer Launch in talking to Dell at their CES booth:

 

  • At a minimum both Dell and HP will have CableCard PCs available for purchase at the Vista launch. Note that HP’s floor reps did not provide this information and didn’t really know what CableCard was. The information came from the Dell technology officer who provided information both on the Dell lineup and noted that HP had a CableCard PC on the show floor.
  • Dell’s initial CableCard offerings will initially be available only as part of a larger package, although our conversation was a little unclear on this point.
  • By the end of Q1 2007 Dell thought they would be in a position to offer less expensive "a la carte" cablecard enabled media center PCs. By "a la carte" I believe he meant without speakers, monitor, etc., rather than the cablecard tuner without the PC.
  • Cablecard PCs will require video cards with protected HDMI out connections. The lack of such cards is one reason why there isn’t more selection in CableCard PCs at the Vists launch.
  • The BIOS in the PCs that will run with CableCard tuners check to make sure there is an HDMI video card that is part of the PC.
  • In talking to another manufacturer at the show (actually their Intel rep), they indicated that Niveus was the only "non-billion dollar manufacturer" to offer CableCard at the Vista launch.

All in all, I think this is pretty good news. This is the first confirmation I had seen that anyone other than Niveus would be offering CableCard at the Vista launch. These PCs should be relatively affordable by the end of Q1. While I’d prefer more affordable units at launch. Another two months doesn’t seem like it is too long to wait, especially because any remaining kinks in CableCard may get worked out over those two months.

I also came away from my discussion thinking much better of Dell than I had in while…

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