The Custom Integrator Show Installment 01D is live.  We do get a bit side tracked at the beginning discussing Ian’s newly acquired Zune HD.  Check out his initial impressions at http://thedigitallifestyle.com/cs/blogs/ian/archive/2009/09/22/first-impressions-of-the-zune-hd.aspx.  I look forward to his in-depth technical analysis, especially regarding some of the questions we brought up in previous installments looking at how it might fit into the rest of the Windows ecosystem.

[mp3]http://media.libsyn.com/media/iandixon/TDL_Custom_20090925_01d.mp3[/mp3]

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This installment wraps up the observations from my CEDIA trip.  Since we recorded this, Julie over at CEPro wrote two articles covering some of our findings when working with the new ATI Digital Cable Tuner (DCT) firmware and the way Verizon’s FiOS configures the Copy Control Information (CCI) bits (refer back to Installment 008 covering the DCT architecture at http://thedigitallifestyle.com/cs/blogs/custom/archive/2009/03/27/the-custom-integrator-show-installment-008.aspx for a definition of CCI).  Her articles, available at http://www.cepro.com/article/review_win_7_with_support_for_copy_freely/ and http://www.cepro.com/article/stream_hbo_over_the_internet_with_fios_and_windows_7, provide a pretty good summary of some of the Digital Rights Management (DRM) changes with the 1.19 release.  My understanding is that we will see “the official” release bundled as part of the standard Windows Update process sometime in October.  It also is supposed to be available for download from the AMD site at that time.  It sounds like a great opportunity to get back in front of your CableCARD-based clients to let them know about the changes and some of the new flexibility they provide.  Naturally, we also discuss other features (specific to Windows 7) like support for SDV.

One of the more intriguing Windows Media Center-related products I saw was S1Digital’s new Network TV add on. It is the first product I know of (other than the WMC Extender model) that lets you stream LIVE TV from a TV tuner connected to their Entertainment Server (a Windows Home Server machine) to a Windows Media Center-based Windows 7 PC on the network. The DCTs connect via USB to the server and appear as if they are local to the client PC. You can run through the standard TV setup in Windows Media Center and “assign” the tuners (from a list of all tuners in the pool) to that PC as if they were locally attached. Right now, the tuners become dedicated to the particular PC, but S1 is working on a way to have them act as a dynamic tuner pool. The Network TV add-on will be available sometime in October. It is a dealer only offering at this stage, although S1Digital is considering potentially opening that up at some point. The server side currently has to be one of their Entertainment Servers, but the client will work on any DCT capable PC – and with the relaxation of the OEM requirement recently announced by Microsoft, this opens it up to any qualified PC, notebook, or netbook. Recorded TV functions the same way it would if the tuner were attached locally (it is recorded to the local disk drive). Once a show is recorded, it behaves the same as any other recorded TV show (you only can stream unprotected recorded TV content to the other PCs).

And now for my favorite thing I discovered at CEDIA. It is the new DataComm HDTV Adjustable Distribution Center for coax infrastructures. While this type of product may not seem too exciting, it really is innovative in its design and the capabilities it delivers. Where it becomes important is that it fills one of the weakest links in the Digital TV delivery chain – an optimized cable infrastructure. With the pending release of broadcast 3-D material into the home, the additional requirements placed on the coax infrastructure may cause your RF plant to perform poorly or even fail. This device helps alleviate those problems in a simple and well-engineered way.

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We cover it in a lot more detail in the Podcast itself, but conceptually it solves the “Cliff Effect” problem with Digital TV delivery.  With analog, you could have a poorly tuned RF system and it still might “soft of work.”  With digital, it either works or it doesn’t.  With the ability to optimize the signal level for each length of coax run, you can ensure that you are delivering an appropriate signal to each endpoint – it even has built-in tilt compensation for each leg.  You also can cascade the units and adjust the output level for each leg of the chain using the simple LED-based signal strength “meter” built into the input side of the box (this same feature allows you to know if the signal coming into it from your provider is correct, too).  With the Return Path Amplifier, it allows you to hang a Cable Modem off of any one of the ports and still have it work.  DataComm unfortunately is in the process of redoing their web site, but I recommend keeping an eye out for this product at http://www.datacomm.com/index.htm.  It is supposed to be released for general availability around mid October.

I was disappointed that the vendors at CEDIA did not have much news on incorporating HDMI 1.4 into their products (other than using it for the 3-D prototype demonstrations).  However, we delve into HDMI and HDMI 1.4 as part of our next series of installments at The Custom Integrator Show on TheDigitalLifeStyle.com (http://thedigitallifestyle.com/cs/blogs/custom/default.aspx), so keep an ear out.

  =D-

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