warthog9: Warthog9 (Default)
[personal profile] warthog9
So a friend of mine got to chatting about cable television again, this is a topic we re-dig up every 6 to 12 months, take a quick gander around the Internet to see what's happened / changed and to see if the media companies have come to grips with letting people use the content they are paying for the way they want.  I mean there's already very LITTLE of that content I actually want, taking a quick glance at my steady and reliable MythTV box I have 12 distinct shows that will be recorded in the next week.  This can't be encouraging for the Cable companies who are providing me with thousands of options a day.

The Cable companies are also just annoying, first we had analog, everything could talk to it, DVR/PVR's, VHS recorders, Beta recorders, my TV, heck I'm sure there's a toaster out there that could read the signal.  Now the Cable companies want digital.  Ok I'm cool with that, less RF spectrum, higher quality, etc.  However now I need a magic converter box to go from digital to the analog everything talks.  Ok that's fine, this still mostly works, it's just a pain to setup and get running again since things aren't quite as simple as before.  Now I'm not harping on this, it sucks to have converter boxes, but the picture quality has gotten a lot better.  For instance black is now actually black - who knew!

Now there's a standard out there for doing digital only from end to end, this would eliminate my analog loop, rid me of the IR blasters and generally my picture quality should go up, and then I can participate in this new fangled High Definition video stuff.  This common standard is called cable card [or is it m-card this week, this seems to change pretty often], and even many TVs ship with support for this.  So I'm looking around at what's available outside of a TV, mostly speculatively, for magic-card based TV tuners so that I might be able to simplify my setup, remove the weird analog loop and generally just have a cleaner setup.

They won't let me however.

ATI came out with a cable-card ready tv-tuner.  Used USB, exported itself as a network device and only works on Windows because of DRM.  Ok I look at the Silicon Dust folks, makers of the HDHomeRun.  They have had an exceptional track record of supporting not windows, and even show MythTV as supported on their website for their original product.  This is awesome!  Then look at the Prime, their m-card based digital product, Windows 7 only.  Again more DRM that's happening and completely shutting out anything that's not willing to play with them.  Finally I found a newcomer to the whole mess the Ceton Corp's infiniTV 4, a 4 tuner, single m-card based pci-e card for your media center.  Ok this is starting to sound too good to be true, it's just about perfect - ohhh there's the gotcha and the catch - Windows 7 again.

*SIGH* ok so the media companies, well Cable companies anyway, basically hate me as a customer and are pretty much doing their best to tell me to go away, they don't want my money.  Then I look at things like Hulu, and the other online versions of the "cable company".  I can watch what I want when I want, both generally this isn't always true, and I can give them money for better quality or more access.  This isn't quite my DVR but it's starting to sound more like what I want.

I've had a saying for a few years about format wars, we are at the point where the Internet will win.
  • Blue-ray vs. HD-DVD - Internet will win
  • Cable vs. Dish - Internet will win
  • Analog vs. Digital - Digital on the Internet will win
I wish companies would stop trying to create unusable walled gardens, I don't mind paying for content that I deem is worth it, but please let me use that content for my own personal use the way I see fit.  The music industry has realized this, why can't the visual space catch up and get with the program?  If not, the Internet will win - and I'm kinda ok with that.
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