With all of the innovation-handcuffing going on these days with DRM (digital rights management), it’s great that the government is actually doing something to benefit the consumer. This year, cable companies will be forced to open their systems to outside parties. Just like you don’t need to buy/rent your phone from the phone company anymore, you will be able to buy TVs and other electronic devices that will work with your cable subscription WITHOUT a converter box. Yup, this also means you will be able to connect your computer directly to the cable and watch/record the signal! Sure you’ll need a special “cable card” to decode the data, but that’s no biggie.
Besides the cool techy things like easily running a video server at home, it also means newly designed TIVOs, TVs, XBOX 360s, etc. could use the cable system and do whatever they want. I’m expecting some crazy cool things over the coming years.
Let’s take a simple example. If you are recording HBO on your TIVO and want to watch the HD ballgame at the same time, you can’t. Your converter box can only be on one channel at a time. If your TIVO and TV had cable cards installed, they can independently be tuned to whatever channel you want!