Motorola DVR Sees Double

Motorola Inc.’s cable equipment unit will debut its long-awaited dual-tuner, HDTV-capable DCT 6412 digital video recorder set-top at this week’s National Show, with availability scheduled by the end of the second quarter.

The vendor also will feature a voice-recognition product for its core line of digital set-tops that will allow cable subscribers to speak into their remotes and receive specific programming information on their TVs.

The DCT 6412 is a dual tuner, watch-and-record HD DVR that sports a 120-Gigabit hard drive, according to Carl McGrath, the corporate vice president and general manager of digital core gateway products. It has HD outputs, universal serial bus and Ethernet ports, IEEE-1394 Firewire ports, an integrated Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification modem and 500 millions of instructions per second of processing power.

The second tuner allows watching one channel live while recording on another channel.

The other big cable set-top vendor, Scientific-Atlanta Inc., said it has shipped 1 million units of its two dual-tuner DVR set-tops — the Explorer 8000 and the Explorer 8000HD.

Time Warner Cable said last week it has 458,000 DVR subscribers, all with S-A boxes, and has been averaging 100,000 new DVR installations for the past three quarters. Charter Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp., among others, have also introduced S-A DVR set-tops.

By contrast, Motorola has shipped 100,000 of the single-tuner DCT 6208 DVR boxes to Mediacom Communications Corp., Insight Communications Co., Comcast Corp., Armstrong Cable, Cable One Inc. and RCN Corp.

Motorola said it has shipped 1 million HDTV set-tops.

Motorola will showcase the 6412 with Gemstar-TV Guide, Pioneer and Motorola guide products, he said.

Although there are no official orders yet, “there is pent up demand from all the Motorola systems,” McGrath said.

McGrath believes most affiliates will migrate to the dual-tuner DVR. “There is a cost difference” of about $30 to $50 “but it’s not huge,” he said. Some have already said publicly they planned to go slow with Motorola DVRs, awaiting dual tuners.

The voice-recognition demonstration will feature Agile TV software.

“It’s voice recognition to navigate through the on screen guide product,” McGrath said. In two-way homes, a consumer would be able to speak into the remote and ask, say: What’s on ESPN2?

“The voice gets digitized, goes to the headend, the ESPN2 database gets pinged, then the information is presented on the screen,” McGrath said.