Sooner or later, cable companies had to update their boxes and their archaic programming guides, right? OK, it's 2010, so we're closer to later than sooner, but Cox is making a big splash today with its announcement about its new Plus Package, which responds to the innovations coming from companies like AT&T, DirecTV, and Verizon.
On the hardware side, Cox is rolling out 500GB DVRs that can deliver programming to multiple rooms. Specifically, a single Cox Whole Home DVR can serve different programs to three different sets simultaneously. It's also providing new HD receivers that can pick up additional high-def channels that are broadcast over the 860MHz spectrum.
But most of all, Cox is emphasizing its new UI for its programming guide, for which it turned to Frog Design (which worked on HP's TouchSmart PCs and the Roku streaming video player) for assistance. Dubbed Trio, the interface is different than the conventional grid you may be used to if you're a cable subscriber, though the three-paned approach (see below) is used by other pay-TV providers and gives more real estate to the description of the selected program. You also get the choice of other viewsincluding the traditional grid viewas well as the ability to search content, whether on live TV, On Demand titles, or DVR recordings.
Yes, TiVo users might wonder what the big deal is when they had these features for years, but remember the glacial speed at which progress sometimes moves with cable companies. Of course, the Plus Package, which will start rolling out in the second quarter and be available to all customers by the end of 2010, is available to subscribers to its Advanced TV service "for a small monthly fee." How small would that "small" fee have to be in order for you to pony up for this new package? $5 per month? $10? $20?