The embargoed lifted this morning on a device I’ve been waiting since I discovered HD about 4 years ago — well almost. As long as I can remember, we’ve had RF modulators to make our lives simple, I remember my original Atari had one, you just plugged it inline with your coax going into your TV and you were off enjoying games. Of course NTSC RF-modulators have pretty bad picture quality and most game consoles today don’t use them, but they are still very useful for sending TV around your house on the existing coax. The problem is that if you think SD quality of RF-modulators is bad in the SD world, don’t even try to compare it to HD.
But finally the first consumer QAM RF-modulator is coming. Why is this so cool? Well lets say you want to watch your HD TiVo in every room of your house, but don’t want to buy another TiVo or pay the monthly fee. You could connect a device like this — but with component inputs — to your TiVo and then in any room of the house tune to channel 3 and now you’ll have HD with AC3 sound. You could even watch it on every TV in the house at the same time.
But lets take it to the next level, you could have a few of these and put all your gear in same room and then use the existing coax in the house to watch whatever you want on any TV you want. Blu-ray is on channel 3, HD TiVo on 4, VMC on 5 etc. Sure you can do this now, but it requires you to run expensive cables to each TV in the house and have devices to receive the signal at each TV. Not to mention have an expensive matrix switch and remotes to control it.
The biggest problem with the Zv now is that it only accepts VGA input and works with QAM instead of ATSC. Although many TVs have QAM tuners, the number isn’t nearly as many as those that have ATSC — it’s required by law after all. But the lack of component input and the lack of audio inputs other than USB is the real kicker. This makes the box unable to do exactly what I want it to do, but I’m sure what I’m after wont’ be far behind.