The set-top box: it's more than a channel changer, that's for sure

A number of forces are trying to push the conventional set-top box out of the cable subscriber's residence while just as many more are pushing from the outside to get in. The FCC is among those who think the set-top has seen better days. The Commission wants feedback on its goal to supplant the CableCARD (which was supposed to supplant the set-top) with an AllVid gateway that can deliver up to six different IP video streams to TVs, DVRs or "other equipment" (cable boxes) in the home. The Commission would like to know what others think and has opened up the response period until December 31.

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to raise the stakes in its battle with Sony's PlayStation. Sony signed up Major League Baseball as a content source for its game box; now Microsoft is toying with the idea of an entire TV subscription service that would run across its Xbox 360. According to Bloomberg, the channel would probably offer reruns and original shows as a way to get viewers to pay for Web-delivered content.

Finally, there's the resurgent TiVo which has DVRplayground asking, "Why are you still using your cable company's DVR?" the blog entry points out that "TiVo DVRs are significantly better" than cable's built-in DVRs. Of course they're also yet another set-top box but, as the blog concludes, "It offers a heck of a lot more bang for the buck over the cablecos' boxes and is easy enough to operate that the whole family can use it to its potential."

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