Thursday, November 18, 2004

Firewire TV Signal Input in MCE 2005?

A cool article by timmyDOTcom on the TGB forums.

With any kind of PC card that can receive Premium Cable Digital & Analog or Cable HDTV signals WAYYYY down the road... and with most new Digital Cable/HDTV/Satellite Set Top Boxes (which BTW already do all the hardware encoding/decoding) containing an active Firewire port, I've found it extremely disheartening that I haven't found any major support from this board or others to demand Microsoft includes Firewire TV Signal Input in MCE 2005.
I've heard every excuse from everyone as to why they (MS) wouldn't add Firewire TV Input, but no excuses seem to be significant....

Excuse: Why do we need Firewire, when cards already exist that get Over The Air (OTA) HDTV and they'll probably be supported in MCE 2005?
Response: Common, how much HDTV content currently exists OTA? And those cards don't address supporting Premium Standard Definition or Digital Cable/Satellite channels. Sounds like a pretty expensive band-aid to me.

Excuse: Why do we even need an STB or Firewire? Why don't we just ask for PC cards that do it all, then we won't have to pay to rent an STB.
Response: Let's get real. PC cards that do everything including unencrypting digital cable/satellite or premiums are so far in the future we can't even see them on the horizon. And even if cards do come out, we'll still have to pay the Cable Co's for a CableCARD. Firewire exists now, and it does everything at no additional cost, assuming you have an STB and Firewire port.

Excuse: If MCE accepted Firewire signal the decoding would have to be done on the PC with software and slow down the system.
Response: Not true, current STB's already do all the encode/decode onboard. It basically hands through Firewire a clean BEAUTIFUL mpeg stream. All MCE has to do is wrap it with it's metadata and save it to disk.

Excuse: What about 5C, the encryption method used to encrypt premiums through Firewire. How will MCE encrypt those?
Response: MCE will eventually use broadcast flags of some sort for current TV capture anyway. It may already in the next version, to address content providers concerns about recording content to DVD. It's no different. I'd rather have a show with beautiful Picture Quality (PQ) recorded to my hard drive ONCE and not be able to record to DVD or view from other computers, than have to watch shows with crappy PQ.

Excuse: If an STB was still used, we still have to deal with an IR blaster, which errors a small percentage of the time. With PC cards the tuner is onboard.
Response: Completely false. The Firewire implementation on most Cable STBs allow for control of channel changing. It's already being done on the AVS forum. How hard would it be for MS to implement this?

Excuse: Whats all the big fuss about HDTV support anyways? There are only about 30 channels, and I watch 80% Standard Def. programming.
Response: For anyone who currently owns MCE and watches SD, trust me on this one. You haven't watched TV with your PC until you've captured a PURE MPEG stream from your STB though Firewire and viewed it with your PC. It's the difference between watching Live/Recorded TV through MCE and a Standard Definition DVD through MCE.

With all of the functionality MS will add in this next version, how hard would it be to include Firewire Input for improved TV support? It's certainly more promising than any other options currently available.

I'm really disappointed this board hasn't offered much support in this area.

Honestly, I think we should mobilize a huge effort to demand MS includes this important feature for the sake of an improved TV experience.

CALL TO ACTION: All anyone interested has to do is goto Microsoft's MCE Feature Request Form here:
...and request that MS implements Firewire TV Input (from Set Top Box) into MCE.

For Your Reference:

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