Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Exclusive: Windows Vista Digital Cable Tuners

Last year at CES, Microsoft announced that with Vista Media Center, home users would be able to record high-definition television. Through OpenCable Receivers (OCURs) sold through system OEMs, you’d be able to plug a CableCARD into a box attached to your computer and record pristine digital cable, even in HD. AnandTech had a great article on them, even posting some pictures of an early prototype.

Well, I’ve been able to experience this system first-hand over the last six months, and this is one of the many Vista-related technologies that I’m really excited about. The OCUR name is gone, in favor of “Digital Cable Tuners”, or DCTs. The reason for the change was to bring the terminology in line with the existing analog products on the market for the last decade.

A couple weeks ago, Microsoft finally sent me two production units to play with. The hardware is final, and the firmware is undergoing certification as we speak. Microsoft has agreed to let me start talking about them, which I intend to do a LOT of. So, I meticulously documented the unboxing experience, and have posted a ton of pictures in the “Media Center” gallery (a couple of which are below).

In the next few days, I’ll be giving you a rundown of how DCTs work from a practical standpoint, and giving you a peek into the experience. As a part of my CES coverage, I hope to sit down with ATI and talk about the guts of this technology, and explain its limitations with respect to the parties involved (Microsoft, cable companies, and content providers).

Without further ado... the Digital Cable Tuner. (Click any pic to enlarge)