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Coming Soon: Dial-a-DVR

Motorola Inc. this week will demonstrate a new technology that will allow consumers to transfer movies and TV programs from a digital video recorder to a cell phone.

The DVR-to-cell phone programming feature is a prototype of the company’s “Follow Me TV” media-networking strategy that includes sharing of video content between set-top boxes in a home network and other means of shipping programming anywhere a pay-television customer might want to view it.

MOTO-SPECIFIC

The technology, to be shown for the first time at the National Show in Atlanta, works only with Motorola recorders and Motorola Razr cell phones.

To make this possible, Motorola plans to debut new Razr cell phones later this year that will feature removable $100 4-Gigabyte storage disks, said Jeff Walker, senior director of marketing at Motorola. Viewers would use a standard universal serial bus (USB) connection to make the transfer.

Those new phones will be capable of displaying video at the rate of 30 frames a second, the same as regular television. The units also can display video compressed into the MPEG-4 (Moving Picture Experts Group) format. Since programming in MPEG-4 takes up half the space of MPEG-2 content, consumers would be able to store several TV programs on the 4-Gigabyte removable Razr storage devices.

Operators could also push movies trailers, music videos and other short form video, said Paul Alfieri, a spokesperson for Motorola Connected Home Solutions. But copyright and digital rights management issues relating to taking digital video recorder content and putting it on a cell phone will have to be worked out between cable operators and programmers, he said.

“New technologies generally require new contract negotiations,” said Galen Jones, chief strategy officer of Court TV.

Motorola said three of its set-top boxes, the DCT 3080, DCT 3412 and DCT 6412, can convert MPEG-2 video into MPEG-4 format.

The DCT 3080 is one of two new set-top boxes that Motorola is debuting at the show. The other, the DCC 100, is a low-cost, cable-modem-sized set-top box.

The DCT3080 is the company’s first standard-definition digital video recorder. The recorder includes two tuners as well as an 80-Gigabit hard drive and is priced in the $150 range, Walker said.

The unit can be used as a central digital video recorder in homes that don’t have high-definition TV sets, he said.

Pace Micro Technology plc introduced its own standard definition digital video recorder, the Vegas set-top, several weeks ago. It is compatible with Motorola headends.

An added benefit is that the DCT 3080 and the DCC 100 set-tops will be able to run OpenCable Applications Platform and Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) software, Walker said.

The DCC 100, which stands for “digital cable client,” provides more capabilities than Motorola’s other low-end set-top, the DCT 700, Walker said. Cable operators would be able to install these $100 set-tops on second and third TV sets in the home, and allow consumers to ship content from a central digital video recorder to these set-tops using Multimedia over Coax Alliance software and chipsets Motorola intends to include in the set-tops.

Motorola also plans to showcase channel bonding on its current BSR64000 cable-modem termination system. With channel bonding, cable operators “bond” four 6-Megahertz channels together, allowing them to offer speeds of 100 Megabits per second for transferring video or data.

“With channel bonding on our BSR 64000, you don’t need new line cards, just new software,” said Walker. “Operators can bond up to four channels in the downstream.”