Quick Poll: Will the Set-Top Box Eventually be an HTPC Killer?


future tv graphicJust wondering… What are the chances that cable and satellite set-top boxes take over the HTPC market — in particular Microsoft’s MCE platform — like they’ve done with TiVo and the DVR market? I’m sure your gut feeling tells you NO WAY, but what do you make of Comcast’s advancements lately: refined DVR offering, VOD services, spotlight channels with custom content, Sprint remote recording and video streaming, not to mention its longtime HDTV support. All they really need to do is to add an Internet browser, DVD player, and UPnP functionality (for network content streaming) and you have a device that gives MCE a run for the money without the need for buying a seperate HTPC for your TV. Plus, Microsoft TV is already developing its IPTV Edition and Foundation Edition platforms that will combine all these features for service providers. Note: Polls are open to the public – VOTE NOW.





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  • ronenmiz

    It is well known that software based solutions are typically more complex and less reliable than a dedicated box. These days, taking into account the hardships involved in maintaining a “healthy” computer, it is more true than ever. The history provides some lessons about a somewhat similar battle. Way back when Checkpoint started with their software based firewall, they were leading the pack with more than 50% of the market. In the long run the leadership was lost to manufacturers of hardware firewalls such as Cisco (even though they were not necessarily cheaper) and research done on this topic indicated that simplicity and reliability were the drivers of this drastic change (I think checkpoint has today less than 15% of the market). The fact that the software was more advanced did not matter since the boxes eventually caught up and won the market. Now, I know this is a totally different market segment, but let me ask you if IT departments chose simplicity and reliability over funcitonality, what will the average consumer do?

    Having said all that, the box does not have to be provided by the cable operator, I think the Tivo concept has a chance (although Tivo itself might not :( ). An ultra friendly and simple to use, free box that can record and deliver content paired with a premium content service (backed by a monthly fee) seems to be the formula. Who will provide this service is yet unknown, maybe it will be google… :D

  • http://www.alexandergrundner.com Alexander Grundner

    Google is overrated. I’m starting to look forward to the day they get dethroned. (Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone ;))

    I’m also a little irked that Google may soon be piggy backing on Debian to a release desktop OS. It’s a rumor at this point, but they are attending the Southern California Linux Expo on Nov. 20th with Debian, KDE, MythTV, and others. I hate companies that take open-source projects and rebrand them for their benefit and pawn them off as the next big thing. Yes, I know there are many Linux distros that are based on Debian, but a big player like Google getting in on the action just rubs me the wrong way.

  • jimrin

    Originally, I might have said “no way!” but dedicated boxes do provide their function and usually for a reasonable price.

    I am still configuring my HTPC. I just don’t have time to get around to it.

    I finally hooked up my Hauppauge PVR-250 card to my PC, but this in order to stream the video from the front door camera to any PC. Let’s see. I’ve had my PVR-250 card for about a couple of years now…? Anyway, I knew I would find some good use for it! But in the meantime, I’ve been using my ReplayTV for years now… And ReplayTV provides better performance than I would have gotten out of my PVR-250 card. ReplayTV is always recording when you are watching (and records up to the available space on your drive). Actually I am sure there is some limit. I noticed the buffer recently saying 24 hours when I believe I have more free space than that. Anyway, if someone makes a good set top box, then other manufacturers will follow suit, and it will really eliminate the need for the general public to set up HTPCs themselves.

  • Ouwerkerk

    I think Telco’s / Cableco’s will offer as soon as possible a tripple play (TV, VOIP, BB) service. Those who can catch fast a large part of the market will keep that for a long time becasue customers want simplicity. (see the adoption curve in the GSM market)
    It is not the main goal for Telco’s/ Cableco’s to offer a better Settop Box than a Windows Media Center PC.
    I think Telco’s must offer an application which consumers can download and run on their Media Center PC’s, so they can watch the IP-TV/VOD content of the Telco for a litle monthly fee. In this way Telco’s/Cableco’s doesn’t have to invest heavy in a STB/ home connection; which can cost up-to € 500,- per customer!
    The hardware isn’t intresting its the customer with it’s monthly fee.
    But other consumer electronic manufactures can make a DVD-RW/Harddisk recorder with a Browser & Windows MediaPlayer for a sharp price. Such an product will be interesting for customers to buy in comparison with an compex Media Center PC.

  • melvin

    Ouwerkerk said: I think Telco’s / Cableco’s will offer as soon as possible a tripple play (TV, VOIP, BB) service.

    Here in Houston, Time Warner cable has been offering triple play for about a year, as well as home security.