Two reports last week indicated LG Electronics will be the first company to supply DirecTV with new set-top boxes designed to handle MPEG-4 HDTV satellite broadcasts. DirecTV plans to use MPEG-4 compression technology, which is not compatible with current MPEG-2 DirecTV boxes, to offer local broadcast channels in HD over satellite in major markets this fall. The company plans to offer more than 1,500 local broadcast channels and more than 150 national channels in HD by 2007. If DirecTV isn't offering all the HDTV stations or multicast programs available off-air, do not despair as the LG set-top box reportedly will include an off-air ATSC tuner using the latest Zenith/LG fifth generation VSB chip set.
I've written about the Zenith/LG fifth generation chip set before and you may have read the CRC laboratory test results. The "fifth generation" advanced, wide range adaptive equalizer allows DTV reception in multipath environments where older set-top boxes failed.
The new box, which will be sold under the DirecTV brand name, uses a Broadcom chip to handle MPEG decoding. It features HDMI/HDCP outputs, simultaneous component/composite outputs, a USB port and "a general purpose Linux operating system."
For more information, see the Digital Media Asia article LG Electronics launches production of HDTV set-top boxes for DirecTV and the www.linuxelectrons.com article DirecTV's New Set-Top Box Powered by Linux.
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