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Power on: Intel's cable TV box could debut at CES

The chipmaker reportedly will use next week's electronics extravaganza in Las Vegas to reveal its cable set-top box and virtual TV service.

Intel may offer a peek at its rumored cable TV set-top box to people attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week.

An unnamed source inside Intel said that the first working version of the chipmaker's set-top box will be shown at Intel's CES event on January 7, according to tips received by TechCrunch. A video distribution industry source familiar with Intel's plans also told the blog site that the rollout of the new service will start "soon," but couldn't provide a specific date.

TechCrunch's source further said that Intel is very serious about grabbing a chunk of this market and has decided to go it alone after attempting to convince smart TV makers to join the effort. The source added that Intel was frustrated with "everyone doing a half-assed Google TV so it's going to do it themselves and do it right."

Rumors about Intel's TV service tuned up this past March following a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Competing with cable and satellite TV providers as well as phone companies, Intel would reportedly offer a set-top box combined with a virtual TV service, according to the Journal. Available through a broadband connection, the service would bundle certain TV channels and offer streaming content.

One rumored feature could cut the need for a dedicated DVR. The service might let people watch any program broadcast over the past month, avoiding the need to schedule shows to be watched at a later time.

Intel also plans to avoid the usual problems with license negotiations by deploying the service one city at a time rather than nationwide, TechCrunch added.

Such a rollout would give the chipmaker more flexibility in working out agreements with content providers, especially in areas where those providers don't already have tight deals with local cable companies.

Of course, most of this is still in the rumor stage. And Intel may not even demo anything at CES.

A source familiar with Intel's plans told CNET that it's unlikely the company will show anything public at CES related to this business. So any questions about the chipmaker's rumored entry into the TV market may continue to go unanswered.

An Intel representative told CNET that the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.

Update, January 1 at 5:45 a.m. PT: Adds response from Intel.