Last night, Microsoft held a very brief press event focused on Microsoft Media Center at CEDIA. The focus was certainly on CableCard with SDV capability, relaxed DRM restrictions and removal of the OEM requirement. One thing they didn’t talk about though is something I picked up in the Microsoft Press Release – The new Ceton multi-channel Cable TV Card will get a tech preview this week at CEDIA and it looks like a sure-fire hit for MediaCenter fans. I was curious so I checked in with the Ceton rep and he shared all of the details on the new CableCard tuners – yes there are 3 different versions!
CETON Multi-Tuner CableCard Being Previewed at CEDIA
Microsoft will be doing a “technology preview” of the Ceton multi-channel CableCard tuner with MediaCenter. This product was first announced at CES earlier this year, but we hadn’t heard much about it since. Now that SDV has been figured out it and the CableCard restrictions have been relaxed this product appears to be coming soon to MediaCenter!
The Ceton Multi-Channel Cable TV Card will be the first-of-its-kind solution for enabling advanced cable TV services natively on Media Center (i.e. first multi-tuner CableCard tuner) It supports playing or recording up to 6 HD cable TV channels simultaneously, including premium channels, without the need for any cable set-top boxes. It also enables secure distribution of all TV programming, including live and recorded shows as well as premium and encrypted channels, to additional TV sets in the home via Media Center extenders.
Below is a diagram showing how the CETON tuners would work in a MediaCenter environment
The Ceton Multi-Channel Cable TV Card enables Media Center PCs to play or record up to six live channels of HDTV at once and stream live HD channels or recordings to multiple HDTVs throughout the home, all from a single cable connection. With Ceton you finally have a solution to transform your Media Center PC into a complete entertainment platform for all your media - even encrypted cable TV - with terabytes of storage.
Facts About the Ceton Multi-Channel Cable TV Card
- Works with any U.S. cable provider.
- Supports all standard- and high-definition cable channels including premium and encrypted channels.
- Play and/or record up to six live HD channels simultaneously from centralized storage.
- Stream live and recorded HD programming securely to several HDTV sets in the home at once.
- Watch and record from all TVs without needing multiple DVRs or any set-top boxes. Pause a show in one room and pick it up in another.
- Supports all Media Center Extenders including the Xbox 360.
- Eliminate monthly set-top box rental fees — a single Media Center PC can support all the TVs in most homes.
Updates Since the Ceton Card Was Announced at CES
- Ceton has completed development and Windows 7 testing on the Ceton Multi-Channel CableCard
- The Ceton card will natively support SDV on Windows 7 PCs via a Tuning Adapter
- Since it’s CES debut, the card has been adapted to a smaller PCI low profile form factor to better accommodate slim HTPCs
- There will be 2-tuner, 4-tuner and 6-tuner versions of the card
- The 4-tuner version of the Ceton Multi-Channel CableCard will be entering CableLabs Certification process shortly – this certification is the final step before making it available commercially
- The 4-tuner version will be available first, with the 2-tuner version for consumers and the 6-tuner version for pre-configured OEM PC’s available later.
- The Ceton Multi-Channel CableCard will be available as a standalone retail offering as well as bundled in new PCs from OEM partners Ceton plans to announce in the future. The 6-tuner version will only be available to OEM’s due to the maximum # of tuners limit that Microsoft puts on Windows 7. OEM’s can expand the number of tuners supported in Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate to 6 tuners thanks to the AEP (advanced entertainment pack) support added in Windows 7.
- The new Ceton Multi-Channel CableCard is expected to be available by the 1st Quarter of 2010
Ceton Multi-Channel CableCard System Requirements (subject to change):
- Windows 7
- Minimum Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400 Processor
- 4 Gigabits of RAM
- HDPC compliant graphics card
- HDMI Out or DVI out with sound card
I’m pretty sure this will be a huge hit for Media Center fans – at least the ones who have access to Cable. Expected pricing wasn’t available yet so that will play into it’s popularity as well.