The Moxi Media Center claims to deliver the ultimate home entertainment experience for cable customers. A number of significant announcements made at the National Show of the American cable industry in New Orleans suggest that this will be a platform to watch.

Moxi includes a dual-tuner high definition compatible digital video recorder and has provision for an integrated DVD player and access to on-demand and pay-per-view content.

Moxi PowerKEY Media Center

Previously available for Motorola digital networks, Digeo has announced a new version that will enable an identical user experience on Scientific Atlanta cable systems. This PowerKey version is scheduled for release in the Autumn.

Significantly, by creating versions of the Moxi Media Center that are compatible with the conditional access systems of both leading cable hardware providers, Digeo aims to establish a common cable platform for home media center services, effectively doubling the potential deployment market for the Moxi platform, enabling operational economies of scale.

Originally shown at the 2002 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the first commercial launch of the Motorola version of Moxi was recently deployed in Minnesota following a successful trial. With other trails announced, Digeo now has a foothold in three of the nation’s five largest cable operators. Although between them they are currently committed to deploying less than 200,000 units, a fraction of the total cable population, analysts believe that the company could become a front runner as cable companies line up to offer digital video recorders of the type pioneered by Tivo.

The company also unveiled applications including an interactive information ticker, a jukebox providing access to digital music, a photo album, integrated DVD player, suite of games, and home networking option to enable access to digital content such as photos and music over a wired or wireless home network.

Also announced at the show was the Moxi Mate that provides consumers with full access to media center features and content on a second television in another room using existing co-axial cable. The device will be sold directly to cable operators, but Diego is disclosing the price $79, a breakthrough price-point that it hopes will dispel the impression that the Moxi Media Center is an expensive solution. Also planned is an external expansion box, the Moxi Plus with up to 360 Gbytes of additional storage.

Digeo also revealed that they have licensed support for OCAP, the Open Cable Application Platform from MHP software specialists Osmosys. The DVB-MHP specification constitutes a substantial part of the underlying OCAP technology. The first OCAP applications for the Moxi Media Center are expected to be available in early 2005.

Digeo, the company behind Moxi, was founded and is primarily backed by Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates.

Digeo already offers interactive services to over one million subscribers, making it the most widely deployed interactive television service on cable in North America. The Digeo iTV service runs on OpenTV’s ProSync platform and is available to Charter digital cable homes in over twenty markets under the brand name Charter iTV.

The Moxi Media Center is currently based on a 733 MHz processor running Linux with 128-2546 MB RAM. However, Digeo also revealed a new X-Stream chip-set that it claims will combine the functions of more than two dozen components in existing set-top box designs into a revolutionary architecture that reduces the cost of a media center up to 40%. The chip-set integrates all functions required to implement up to four tuners, providing cable operators with media centres capable of supporting full media center functionality to multiple television sets. Taking advantage of the rapid evolution of processor and high-performance 3D graphics technologies in the PC market that have previously been unavailable in mainstream set-top boxes, the new chip set is scheduled to power the next generation of Moxi devices.

Digeo claims these capabilities will produce a next-generation media center with ten times the processing performance and graphics performance hundred times that of a conventional cable digital video recorder. As a result, Moxi technology will enable cable operators to deliver a level of interactivity and user appeal for presenting services and content that was previously only available on personal computers.

The Moxi Media Center has been widely praised, but has been singled out for criticism by industry watcher Philip Swann who says: “The receiver is stuffed with so many features that it will only create more confusion and fear in the average household. Viewers will perceive Moxi as a jumble of technologies that don’t really address a specific need or desire.”

Digeo COO Bert Kolde claims that the full suite of Moxi applications will enable multiple service operators to deepen their relationship with their subscribers, adding “The power, headroom and flexibility of the Media Center gives MSOs a superior platform to compete against, and beat, satellite.”