Motorola launches MPEG-4 DVR boxes for HD cable

Vendors are seeding the market with HD consumers devices of various sorts. But if you get an MPEG-4 set-top box, for example, when will there be enough HD cable content around for you to manage?

Despite the many technical challenges still facing widespread adoption of high-definition video, more and more consumer device makers are now hopping aboard the HD bandwagon, including Motorola, a vendor that today introduced its first MPEG-4 set-top DVR (digital video recorder) boxes for cable TV.

Slated for display at next week's CES show, Motorola's DCX series of DVRs are designed to serve as hubs on home networks for consumers who want to manage HD content received over cable.


The boxes will support high-def video through use of the still emerging MPEG (Motion Pictures Expert Group)-4 industry protocol for advanced video compression.

Specific capabilities will include recording; time shifting of TV shows; surround sound audio; storage of consumer-created multimedia content; and content sharing among other compatible devices over home networks. Motorola will be competing directly with TiVo in this space, and TiVo already has secured a deal with Comcast to use its software in certain markets.

Meanwhile, vendors have been busily flooding the market for HD video with other types of HD devices, too, including flat panel displays, TV sets, and DVD players, for instance.

Yet as some analysts see it, HD cable programming can't really come to full fruition until operators are able to figure out how much HD content will really fit within cable's bandwidth.

Meanwhile, cable operators will also need to determine how to efficiently transcode older MPEG-2 content such as movies and reruns so that it can take advantage of MPEG-4's more sophisticated compression technologies.

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