Dell XPS 410 with CableCARD and Blu-ray (p)reviewed

Ryan Block
R. Block|03.16.07

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Ryan Block
March 16th, 2007
In this article: cablecard, cablelabs, dell, xps 410, Xps410
Dell XPS 410 with CableCARD and Blu-ray (p)reviewed

Doth our eyes deceive us? Have we finally happened upon a real life computer with real life CableCARD after all these years? It looks like PC Mag's finally got that early review up of the Dell XPS 410 with ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner (and Blu-ray, to boot!), which we've come to find out is, unfortunately, still just a working prototype (read: not hitting the market just yet). That didn't stop them and their dual CableCARD tuners from jacking into some serious HD cable though. Interesting notes:
  • Dell claims that the sales rep who takes the order for your CableCARD-equipped Dell box will also schedule an appointment with your local cable company to have the CableCARDs delivered and installed the same day your system comes. (Really? We're skeptical.)
  • The initial CableCARD install apparently took three friggin hours to drop in, provision, and get running; one of the two tuners continually didn't work for PC Mag, which caused lingering issues. Both the cable company and Dell eventually had to reflash the tuner and CableCARDs.
  • HD (and some SD) video had problems: "stuttering and video artifact issues". Bummer.
  • Dell said "the company went with Blu-ray instead of HD-DVD [sic] simply because BD-RE is a writable drive now" -- does that mean when writable HD DVD drives are more commonplace Dell will offer both?
  • Streaming live and recorded TV to your Xbox 360 works flawlessly, as expected.
  • Blu-ray playback worked well with 3rd party apps, but like HD DVD, it can't yet be done in Media Center (yay DRM)
  • The system hit some performance limits when playing back Blu-ray flicks and streaming or recording media. More power!
  • We don't agree with PC Mag's assessment that "TV on Vista's MCE interface is still a niche product". Perhaps because many millions of Media Center PCs have been shipped -- but let's not split hairs.
There, are you as stoked as we are for this? Problems and crappy CableLABS DRM and CableCARD issues and all?

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