Thursday, June 02, 2005

Motorola DCT6412 HD DVR Cable Box

cable box
My new hi-def cable box-cum-DVR from Comcast is a Motorola DCT6412. It has a 120 GB hard disk drive capable of holding some 15 hours of hi-def material or 60 hours of lo-def. It uses a fairly nice "TV Guide" program locator — though TiVo's much-vaunted interface has a more elaborate capability for setting up "wishlists" and such. (I understand Comcast will be switching to TiVo in 2006.)

A pair of internal tuners let me watch/record two channels at once. And I've just discovered that the DVI output actually works!

Digital Video Interface is a digital alternative to a wideband component video (YPbPr) connection, which is analog. Using YPbPr, the cable box has to convert the incoming digital channel into three analog components. After receiving those three components, my Samsung 61" DLP TV has to re-convert them to digital. But with DVI — transmitted via a pricey special cable — the intermediate digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital conversions are bypassed. The result with an all-digital signal path from source to screen seems to be a slightly cleaner picture.

I must admit I'm a bit surprised Comcast's box supports DVI. Although DVI is digitally copy-protected, there's always the possibility someone will crack the protection and allow perfect digital bitstreams of the latest and greatest movies to BitTorrent their way around the Internet.

And wouldn't it be nice to be able to record those hi-def digi-goodies on, say, D-VHS tape? Not possible, alas, with DVI.

Still, the picture across the DVI interface is out of this world.

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