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Digeo superbox to go head-to-head with TiVo in 2007?

Digeo superbox to go head-to-head with TiVo in 2007?

Digeo may be readying a do-it-all set-top box for 2007. According to industry publication TWICE magazine--as highlighted by company is planning to sell boxes with its user-friendly Moxi interface that "will link cable TV (or possibly IPTV telco TV services) with digital multimedia playback, as well as broadband Internet connectivity that ... will add streaming and downloadable video and music choices to consumers' TV sets." The report goes on to say that "[t]he boxes will also have some sort of optical disc drive for packaged media discs, and may ultimately include either a Blu-ray Disc or HD-DVD drive." The article also highlights the fact that Digeo offers "thin client" receivers that enable programs stored on the main DVR to be streamed to other rooms in the house, with full pause/rewind/playback abilities. (HD video is downconverted to standard-def for multiroom playback.)

Color us skeptical--if only because we've been hearing that Moxi will be the savior of TV viewing for almost half a decade now. Digeo has owned the Moxi technology since the companies merged in 2002, just months after Moxi's much-hyped debut at the Consumer Electronics Show. But the Digeo/Moxi products have remained a niche technology, largely because they've never been available to the public. Instead, they're available only to a comparatively small number of Charter, BendBroadband, and Sunflower cable operators scattered throughout the country. (That's the same reason that CNET's never done a hands-on review of the Digeo/Moxi hardware.)

What's different now is CableCard technology. As TiVo has demonstrated with its new Series3 Digital Media Recorder, it is possible to nationally market a cable box replacement to the consumer. And, unlike the TiVo, the Digeo product is said to accept the next-generation multistream/two-way CableCards, which should also enable access to video-on-demand, pay-per-view, and other two-way services that are unavailable on the TiVo.

To be sure, there looks to be a lot to like about the Moxi system (demos and videos are available on the company's Web site.) But with CableCard set-top boxes such as the TiVo Series3 still the rare exception rather than the rule, we'll believe Digeo's a serious option when we see it on the shelf at the local Best Buy. That's not expected until fall 2007, when it will cost you a cool $1,000. In the meantime, don't be surprised if your local cable company begins offering set-top boxes from more established competitors such as Scientific Atlanta and Motorola that boast similar multiroom features and DVD options.