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Two AMD TV Wonder DCTs (upper right) give the Velocity Micro CineMagix the first PCs with CableCARD support
The first batch of CableCARD-ready, high-end Media Center PCs is ready

Earlier this week Velocity Micro spread word that the company was approaching the final stages in readying the CableCARD-ready CineMagix Grand Theater and CineMagix Pro Cinema systems. 

At the Consumer Electronics Show last January, AMD took the veil off its Open Cable Unidirectional Receiver -- the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner.   The TV Wonder DCT is the first of its kind, giving PCs the ability to tune NTSC, ATSC over-the-air, QAM encrypted ATSC and CableCARD support.

Velocity Micro will be the first PC vendor to bring the new TV Wonder DCT to the masses. The company is in the final stages of production and is already taking orders.

Unlike the original batches of ATI TV Wonder 650, Velocity claims the AMD TV Wonder DCT is stable and ready to go.  "The card itself seems to be a really solid product," said Velocity Micro Director of Product Development Chris Morley.  "The drivers are all inside Vista ... You can configure it as an over the air HD tuner; it will do analog, standard def."

Microsoft has already made it abundantly clear that CableCARD support is only for OEMs and system builders -- do not expect AMD OCUR cards to show up on eBay in the near future. Even with the hardware, systems require BIOS-level support and authentication; CableCARD PCs constantly ping CableLabs for authentication.

Drawing support from manufactures, Microsoft and AMD/ATI is no easy task either. Dell and HP demonstrated AMD TV Wonder Digital Cable PCs earlier this year, but corporate representatives from both companies stated these will likely be Q3 2007 products.

"Some of the traditional players in this space are looking to us to OEM these systems for them," said Morley. 

The focal point of the new CineMagix systems is the digital cable tuners, though the systems will also boast features not found on any other systems yet.  Blu-ray support for CineMagix systems is already available, but Velocity Micro is also the first system builder to include support for Vista's MCE plug-in support for PowerDVD.

Velocity's site claims its Intel-based Grand Theater systems will ship before mid-April followed shortly thereafter by the AMD-based Grand Theater systems.  AMD systems start at $1,795 and Intel systems start at $2,195.



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Stop gap
By Frazzle on 3/21/2007 11:57:52 AM , Rating: 2
This is all interim anyway. A lot of cable providers are moving to switched cable broadcasting in the next few years so this technology as it stands now will eventually be obsolete for a lot of consumers, at least until cablecard 2.0 comes out, which wil require new hardware and probably implement an updated protection scheme.

btw, as far as Cable Labs, keep in mind that their customers are not us, the consumer, but the cable companies and content providers. CL is taking their needs and desires into consideration and those needs are protecting their content and delivery systems. I don't blame CL or the cable companies for this crap. I blame the yahoos that illegally torrent HD programming. If Fair Use was actually being used fairly by all consumers then we wouldn't be burdened by all this DRM garbage in the first place. Sure, I understand it's only a small percentage who pirate, but that small percentage is royally screwing the rest of us over. The cable companies and content providers aren't spending these boatloads of money on DRM protection schemes purely for their health or to get their jollies.




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