Comcast Testing Set-Top Box for Internet TV
Not content to let Apple and Google have all the fun with Internet TV and set-top media boxes, cable provider Comcast is reportedly testing its own set-top box.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the box and accompanying service are codenamed Spectrum and Xcalibur, and are currently undergoing tests with Comcast customers in Augusta, Georgia.
The Comcast box will operate similarly to Google TV and Apple TV in that it will allow users to watch both TV and Internet video content, record content for later viewing, and search all of it. The Comcast box apparently even accesses social networking sites. Unlike Google TV, the Comcast box can't browse the Web.
Comcast's decision to make its own Internet TV box may be an effort to retain customers who would be enticed by Google and Apple products that can access many shows Comcast offers. Cable and network providers have been restricting content from these services; Google TV has been especially affected by networks refusing to allow access to content. By making a box, Comcast is likely trying to keep customers from giving up their cable subscriptions but still be able to get Internet TV content.
Comcast hasn't said when, or even if, it will launch the set-top box, but consumer testing indicates it is pretty far along in the development process and might not be far from release if the tests go well.