Monday, February 2, 2009

BOCS Enables Whole-House Video over Existing Cable Infrastructure

BOCS Xtender can distribute up to six sources over the home's existing coax network. No settop box or adapter is required for remote TVs, and the intuitive user interface enables out-of-the-box operation.

Jan. 30, 2009 — by Julie Jacobson
BOCS puts a new twist on video modulation, enabling whole-house video distribution and control over the home's existing coax network.

The system works with cheap splitters that may already be in place, no settop box is required for the remote TVs, and there are no added fees for any content subscription services.

Most importantly, the solution comes fully configured for out-of-the box operation. Just plug the BOCS Xtender into the cable system, and connect up to three sources to it.

Everything is color-coded in the BOCS environment. The red, green and blue components correspond with the colored buttons on the RF universal remote, as well as the IR outputs on BOCS Xtender for controlling the sources.

Default channels for BOCS modulation are 14 (red), 96 (blue) and 98 (green) – which are typically avoided by cable systems – but the channels can be changed by an integrator.

Obviously, the customer need not remember the channel numbers to get to their TiVo boxes and surveillance cameras. They simply need to memorize the associated color. While in the bedroom, press the green button, for example, and you're in control of your PVR.

You won't get HD resolutions – content is distributed at 480i – but at least you'll have an easy way to access sources from secondary rooms in the home. BOCS is working on a solution for HD distribution.

The Xtender can be situated anywhere in the home that has a cable outlet. Integrators can stack two boxes to operate up to six sources.

How is BOCS Different from ZeeVee, MOCA, etc.?

Is BOCS any different from similar products on the market? For example, how is it different from decades-old video modulation schemes?

"We are on the third generation of in-home channel creation technology," says David Feller, chief marketing officer for BOCS. "Unlike other potential options, we require no new wiring and we do not require the consumer to give up any channels they currently enjoy. "

Feller points out that older modulator technology knocks out between two and 20 channels of analog/digital programming including HD.

"We've figured out a way to use FM frequencies that no one else has figured out," he says. "This is brand new to the industry."

Then there is the excellent video distribution protocol from the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MOCA), but you need an adapter at every TV location and a low-pass filter at the head-end. Plus, there is no established user interface for controlling the connected devices.

The user experience is a key BOCS innovation, the company says.

"There is nothing new to learn," says Feller. "Literally, you punch a BOCS button once and you already know how to use the system."

He adds that the BOCS solution works seamlessly with third-party control systems.

BOCS will face stiff competition from newcomer ZeeVee, which also offers a retrofittable solution for distributing video over the home's existing coax cables – no settop boxes required for the remote TV locations.

ZeeVee's ZvBox media streamer connects to the monitor output of a computer and turns it into an HDTV channel called Zv. From any TV in the house, users can watch Internet TV, video-on-demand and other Web-based content.

Sell it with a Media Center PC and the customer need not invest in Media Center Extenders for every TV. They have full access from the Zv channel. In fact, users can even access DVDs that are played on the connected PC – something that you can't do with Media Center Extenders.

BOCS's Feller isn't fazed.

"ZeeVee is very PC-centric," he says. "It extends the PC monitor to the rest of the house."

Retail cost for one BOCS hub and Super Combiner is $399 and a three-room kit retails for $599. BOCS is focused on the custom installation channel, so margins are respectable. Plus, you just might convince your customers to add TVs to new locations now that they can access all their sources.
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