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Motorola Out With New Souped Up Set-Top Box

Motorola, Inc. is out with a new digital cable set-top box that combines high-definition television and personal video recording technology.

Motorola Broadband Communications Sector says its DCT6000 Series is the first box to integrate both HDTV and PVR functions. The new boxes add new features and "increased processing power, digital interfaces to digital television (DTV) and related consumer electronics, an integrated DOCSIS(TM)-compatible cable modem."

By bundling advanced television features with cable modem technology, Motorola is trying to present a new box to cable operators, whose capital spending on technology is in a prolonged slump. But there are signs of a rebound, on Tuesday Cox Communications said that it had signed up 76,808 digital cable subscribers in its latest quarter, bringing its total to 1.9 million, or 30 percent of all its subscribers.

Comcast has said it is putting more than $2 billion in capital spending in its ongoing digital upgrade of cable systems it acquired from AT&T . Motorola in its press release quotes Comcast as expressing interest in the product, but the statement does not name any cable operators, who have committed to ordering the next generation set-top boxes, which combine HDTV, PVR and cable modem technology.

Motorola says it has upgraded the internal processing power of this set-top by more than 150 percent with the inclusion of an 800 MIPS chip. The Motorola DCT6200 also has a direct digital connection to consumer audio and video devices via 1394-DTV and DVI interfaces.

The DCT6200 also has an MPEG encoder and an external 1394 hard disk drive for improved PVR storage. The new boxes have "a DOCSIS-compatible cable modem, a smart-card reader, Ethernet and Universal Serial Bus (USB) interfaces, Y-Pb-Pr video output, S/PDIF optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, and baseband and RF audio-video I/Os," according to Motorola.

The company said it expects to deploy the new generation of set-top boxes by this summer, and will include software from Concurrent Computer Corp. , Gemstar-TV Guide International , Liberate, Microsoft TV , Pioneer Digital Technologies , and SeaChange International .

Motorola says it has shipped more than 26 million digital set-tops and over 2,000 digital headends serving more than 75 million homes.

And Motorola is attempting to blend its core competencies, just last month the company introduced its new wireless cable modem gateway, the SBG1000. The wireless gateway includes a DOCSIS 1.0-certified cable modem, wireless networking access point, Ethernet router and switch, print server and advanced firewall technologies.

In Motorola's most recent financial results report on April 15, the company stated its plan to get its wireless and other cable modem products into the retail channel. "Motorola's SBG1000 wireless cable modem gateway has been approved by nearly every North American cable service provider and is now available through more than 1,000 consumer electronics retail outlets nationwide. Motorola's latest DOCSIS 2.0 certified SB5100 cable modem is also being shipped to retail outlets."