Gary came to our meeting with a bunch of tuners including what he calls "the kitchen sink" which is aptly named because it really does just about everything. Of course it is just for testing and won't come to market but it allows Ceton to test just about every configuration you can think of. As we talked about previously, the initial offering will be a quad tuner PCI-E device, but also on the table for the future is an external USB, a low profile PCI-E card with either the CableCARD or the RF input offloaded -- or even both if an OEM was trying to fit it into a small form-factor PC -- four tuners is a good place to start too because the main version of Windows 7 Media Center has a four tuner per type limit. Speaking of types, Gary tells us that it would be possible to offer an ATSC/CableCARD hybrid, if the demand was there -- although he admitted the current designs only had one RF input so something would have to change. Gary explained how Ceton was a technology company who was started about three years ago by some "really smart people" with some "really good ideas," and although the first quad tuner CableCARD tuner will be the initial offering, there are many other solutions currently in testing including one for hotels that will help them make the digital transition. So while AMD paved the way for other companies to produce a digital cable tuner, Ceton's implementation is its own.
No AMD to be found.
Speaking of AMD, we also had a meeting with them today where we asked why AMD seemed to be MIA from the show -- or at least from Microsoft's booth. You see while there is plenty of hardware from partners on display at Microsoft's booth, including Ceton
, and Avermedia
, there was no sign of AMD. Don't get us wrong, we can't wait until the new firmware update comes out and adds SDV support and relaxed DRM, but at this point we would be surprised if AMD was actually still making it -- although AMD said it was still in production. At this point it seems that after years and years of investing in the Media Center ecosystem, AMD has had enough and is taking the wait and see approach going forward. When we directly asked them about new tuners, the response was that the lack of OEM requirement news was just announced, and that it would take them some time to respond accordingly. This means it'll be some time though, because we all know that CableLabs certification isn't an overnight process.