At CEDIA‘s (Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association) annual expo last week in Atlanta, CableLabs (a research consortium funded by the cable industry) announced that they would be opening up the use of CableCARDs to devices built “in the wild” – by small device manufactures and PC enthusiasts.
For those not familiar with the technology, a CableCARD is effectively a digital settop box on a card. It can be plugged into a slot available on many digital televisions and some DVR’s, allowing them to decode all of a premium channels available from the cable provider.
Prior to this announcement, only devices built by CableLabs’ certified manufactures were allowed to include a CableCARD slot. While not a problem when it came to television sets, the lack of cableCARD support was a very big deal to anyone looking to build a computer based DVR for themselves. No manufacturers were allow to sell cableCARD compatible cable tuners to individuals on an OEM basis, limiting this market only to those companies selling certified, completely bundled systems (most of which were relatively expensive and fairly limited in power and storage).
Good news, right?
Well – sorta. At this point, it seems the only systems this will work with will be those built around Microsoft’s Windows 7. While I think Microsoft’s latest version of Windows Media Center is really elegant, I would much prefer to building a solution around the open sourced MythTV instead:
The main reason I would go with MythTV is that it doesn’t included any form of content protection. It is an open sourced effort built by folks with no concerns about keeping any media interests happy as part of a larger business strategy. It’s a product where the user comes first. And that means you get the most flexibility on how you can use the content – record what you want, create archives of shows you want, and sync them with any portable devices you choose.
And when it come down to it, that’s the reason you’d want to build your own DVR in the first place.