In a post a Zatz Not Funny, Dave Zatz has the scoop on some Digeo Moxi news. First of all, they’re recruiting beta testers for the Moxi Home Cinema HD DMR. This was originally slated to ship this year, but it has been delayed into 2008. I’ve commented on this product in the past, not too favorably. This is a ‘high end’ product, according to Digeo, yet it doesn’t support CableCARD. It only works with antenna (NTSC/ATSC) or clear cable (analog or clear QAM). With analog cable a shrinking market, and the antenna market being pretty small itself, I just don’t understand the concept behind this box. Sure, it has a built-in optical drive for CD and DVD, and it is designed to be an ‘all in one’ box to store photos, digital music, etc – but it can’t be ‘all in one’ if it can’t handle cable or satellite, which is what most people have for a source. It is basically an AMD Live! PC running Linux and the Moxi interface. If it had CableCARD support I think it would have real potential, but without it I just don’t see it selling well.
Also, it is fairly limited as an A/V receiver – you can’t connect other devices! From the specifications, these are the only A/V inputs listed:
# Stereo L/R Input (For future use.)
# S/PDIF Optical and Coaxial Input (For future use.)
So, someday, you may be able to connect some other audio device as input. But it isn’t going to handle your gaming console, or your Blu-ray or HD DVD player, or your old VCR, or anything else. So you’d still need another receiver if you have need for any device other than the Moxi.
I think most people who would consider a Moxi product would end up looking at the Moxi Multi-Room HD DMR, which will support CableCARD. It also havs a built-in CD/DVD drive, and shares the same network media playback features. Though it lacks antenna support entirely, and doesn’t have a built-in receiver. Actually, I think the best thing Digeo could’ve done was to slam these two boxes together and produce one box with CableCARD *and* Antenna support (like the TiVo Series3 and TiVo HD), the optical drive, all the media features, and forget the built in receiver/amp stuff – or just have two models, one with, and one without. Instead users are going to have to choose between a box with full digital cable support, but no antenna or receiver features, and a box without full digital cable support, but with antenna and a built-in receiver. I’m not really sure that the optical drive is going to be a big deal. TiVo went down that road with the DVD burner models, and they weren’t huge sellers, ending up discontinued. And the Moxi isn’t a burner, just a CD/DVD player.
The ‘Multi-Room’ model will work with the Moxi Mate in other rooms – the Home Cinema model apparently doesn’t. The Moxi Mate is one of the things Digeo has that I would love to see TiVo add to their lineup. Instead of needing a full TiVo in each room, a thin client would be a nice addition.
Not that the Moxi Multi-Room HD DMR doesn’t seem to have issues itself. According to the requirements, you’ll need an M-Card for CableCARD. While availability of M-Cards is increasing, in many areas cable operators are still limited to S-Cards. And I believe FiOS does not support M-Card at all at this time. That could still be an issue when it hits the market in 2008.
But we’ve already heard about these two units a number of times. The real news is that they’re also recruiting beta testers for Moxi TV for PC. What’s that? Pretty much what it sounds like – Moxi is jumping into the increasingly PC-based DVR software market. This seems to be a trend for DVR vendors. First ReplayTV jumped out of the hardware market and into the PC software market – with apparently very little success. Then TiVo announced they will be entering the PC software market with partner Nero, likely in 2008. And now Digeo has unveiled Moxi software for the PC.
It does look like an interesting application. More than just a DVR application, it is a multi-media playback system for DVD, CD, and digital content on the PC, all with a Moxi interface. It does seem to have some major limitations – according to the features audio is only unencrypted MP3, video is only MPEG2, and photos are only JPEG. It also only runs on Windows XP – no Vista. And it only supports analog cable and analog antenna signals. That’s pretty limited by today’s standards. I really hope they expand those features to include digital sources (at least ATSC & Clear QAM, if not CableCARD) and more media formats (AAC, WMA, DivX/Xvid, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, WMV9/VC-1, GIF, PNG, etc.). Otherwise, I’d expect them to be as successful as ReplayTV’s PC software. I expect even TiVo to struggle in the PC crowded PC market, and they have major brand recognition working for them.
The other major feature I was looking for but did not fine is any mention of interoperability with their standalone hardware products – video transfers, etc. That oversight was a major blow for ReplayTV, I would hope that Moxi (and TiVo) would not make the same mistake.
With all that said, I’m a geek and I’d love to get my hands on these, so I did sign up for the betas – but I really don’t expect them to include me given the fairly harsh things I’ve said. I think competition is good, and I’d say Digeo is easily the company in the best position to give TiVo some competition in the 3rd party DVR market, but I just don’t think the currently planned products are the right designs for the market. I think the Multi-Room HD DMR is the strongest of the lineup, but it has a few issues I think they should correct before launch, and they should use the delay to do so. The Home Cinema HD DMR – I just don’t get. The Moxi TV for PC could be a good product if it doesn’t ship with the limitations currently indicated on the website.
I’m looking forward to a little Q&A with Digeo in their booth at CES next month.