Sony's new set-top boxes

At the BroadbandPlus show, Sony introduced four new set-top boxes (STBs). All but the low-end model support DVR functionality (which can’t be good news for TiVo), and HDTV. They look interesting, but I won’t be buying until I know I can get to media I’ve recorded for personal use.

All four STBs incorporate Sony’s new “Passage” technology. Sony’s Passage site and whitepaper are shallow, but I believe that Passage is just Sony’s name for the OpenCable STB specifications. In other words, Sony is pulling an “i.Link” and co-opting a standard in order to confuse the press and consumers. The stories I’ve seen so far suggest that it’s working — the mainstream press thinks that Sony invented the standard, rather than just implemented it.

The OpenCable STB specifications mean that you can theoretically use STBs from any vendor on your digital cable system, meaning that you’re not stuck with the one that your cable provider offers. Why would cable companies want this? They don’t, probalby but the FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandates that they do. | Passage site | Passage whitepaper | CableLabs OpenCable STB specifications press release