Comcast, TWC, DirecTV And Samsung Enter Unholy Partnership Inside Your TV

Hate your cable set-top box? So does Samsung, apparently. They’ve cut deals with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV to offer various features that will allow you to watch TV either without a box, or access your cable subscription through an app on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The Comcast partnership focuses on the Galaxy Tab, basically turning it into an epic remote control of doom.

While you’ll still need a set-top box for this one, it’s still reasonably cool. Comcast is developing an app for both the Galaxy Tab and the iPad that will allow you to access some features of your cable subscription on those devices. It’ll act as a “virtual TV guide” and a mobile video player. You’ll be able to watch on demand streaming content, pause it, and continue watching on your TV (or vice versa.) If you have a Samsung smart TV, you’ll be able to use the tablet as a remote control with the ability to change channels and program your DVR.

Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable customers can actually watch live TV on their Galaxy Tabs, and have been freed from the constrains of the set-top box, provided they have a Samsung smart TV. The smart TV will be able to access content recorded on a DVR elsewhere in the home (without the need for a box), and a Samsung rep at CES told Consumerist that having such a TV will eliminate the need for an installation visit — provided, of course, that your home is already wired for Time Warner Cable.

DirecTV’s deal is the fanciest. It involves a “server” that will control all the TVs in your home. Samsung is embedding a technology called “RVU” in their TVs that will allow full DVR control from a central server hooked up to the TV of your choosing. A rep from RVU told Consumerist that a single DirecTV server box can power up to 4 TVs at once with full DVR control and HD video. The box will have 200 hours worth of shared storage, picture-in-picture capabilities and the power to record up to five shows at once

For your current TVs, there will be small “Apple TV sized” adapters that you can plug into the HDMI input.

The RVU enabled Samsung TVs will go on sale in February or March of this year, with the service from DirecTV going live sometime this summer.

Does this sort of thing decrease the likelihood that you’ll cut the cable cord? Does it at least make you want a Galaxy Tab?

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Samsung and Comcast Partner to Transform TV Viewing on Smart Televisions and Tablets [Samsung]




Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    There too much proprietary devices at play here. This is a great idea as a 3rd party software platform that is compatable across multiple devices. But not so much as a program that works only for specific company’s devices.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      This is why I would prefer a third company step in to adapt interfaces for each company. If I own my TV for six years, I might move in that time and change cable companies. My new TiVo box streams Netflix. We’ll see how that goes, but if it’s great, it’ll be just a tiny bit more convenient than streaming from the PS3.

  2. FuzzyWillow says:


    I want cable card. I don’t want to pay a monthly fee to “rent” equipment, when I already have the technology to do everything I want except unscramble their stupid channels.

    I control my XBMC with an android app – have been for years.

    • White Scorpion says:

      As yet, I don’t have an LCD tv. One reason is I do not want to be required to rent a box from the cable company. My sister who has an LCD said the cable company told her she had to have it to get digital signals. Is that true even if I buy an LCD that has all the bells and whistles? I would like to record shows and movies which I can do by purchasing my own player/recorder. Why do I need a box?

      • ChuckECheese says:

        My answer is somewhat simplistic, but it’s a good start: You need a box to unscramble channels. Which channels (some, all) are scrambled depends on your provider. Premium content like HBO is always scrambled. Some areas scramble everything; other areas scramble some channels but not others (for instance, maybe analog cable is unscrambled and digital cable scrambled). If you have cable internet, you can test to see if the tee-vees are blocked by plugging your cable into your TV, using whatever combination of cables, adaptors and rf modulators appropriate for your setup. For instance, my local cable company doesn’t scramble any basic/expanded basic cable channels in my apartment building, and many channels are available in both SD and HD. However, the channel sequence doesn’t follow the published channel guide, and occasionally, a given network will switch from one to another channel. The only reason you need a box is for premium channels. Even if the cable channels you purchase aren’t scrambled, I’ll betcha that the cable company insists you rent a box from them.

        • White Scorpion says:

          Thanks for the info. I’ll be sure to connect the cable to the tv and check out the channels. Since I already have expanded basic and don’t want (can’t afford) any premium channels I may not have to contact the cable company at all.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        We have a HDTV and get analog cable. It depends on your cable company. A lot of them won’t advertise analog anymore, but if you look at the channel lineup, it’s usually divided by what is basic and what is premium. The basic channels are usually offered in both SD and HD, and if all you want is the SD feed you could probably ask them about analog. I believe most companies can still offer it, even if they don’t advertise it.

    • tooluser says:

      And in this case they will be charging you to rent your own equipment…

    • CookiePuss says:

      I know my local cable company charges the same monthly lease fee for a cable card as they do for a box, it’s ridiculous.

      I just don’t understand how satellite charges $200-300 upfront for the HD DVR, a monthly “lease fee” on each box, and then a monthly DVR and HD fee for the privilege of actually recording programming I already purchased. If I want to watch the recorded programming on another TV its yet another monthly fee. I can stream movies from my computer to my PS3 absolutely free, yet some companies feel they need to charge 8 more bucks per month for doing absolutely nothing on their end. Bleh I say, BLEH!

    • Gstump says:

      To be fair, not that comcast is, I’d 100% rather use my cablecard setup then comcast shitty DVR. I have a Ceton quad tuner and 3 xbox 360s in my house the two wired ones i can get a good pic on the HD channels and HD recordings i have one wireless one and can only get standard def on that. sure Media center isnt perfect but is a ton better than anything else available

  3. FuzzyWillow says:

    I wonder if the streaming content from Comcast, TWC counts towards your bandwidth cap on your Comcat/TWC internet.

    As opposed to streaming from NetFlix or Amazon VOD?

    Net not neutrality?

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I’m not looking to buy a TV for any of these features, especially since changing cable companies likely means the features are rendered useless.

    It might be hard to get tech support when something does fail because there are so many companies involved. One of the things I hate doing the most is dealing with the he said/she said of companies casting blame on the other when something goes wrong.

  5. YokoOhNo says:

    I like the fact that comcast can, to the second, determine what people rewind and/or pause to watch again.

    knowing this can give a corporation an enormous amount of information on what stimuli effect people in what way. it is as bad as google knowing your thoughts (by what you’re seeking from the search engine)

  6. PunditGuy says:

    How about some cable tuner standards? We didn’t need custom antennas for every city in the U.S., and I shouldn’t need a custom box for every cable system. Plug in the coax, the TV registers on the cable network via IP, and I get programming. Standardize the data set for the OSD as well, and Cisco can start making ASICs for TVs instead of crappy Scientific Atlanta STBs. PDQ!

    • FuzzyWillow says:

      Not exactly a standarized OSD, but can get you tv listings. There are all sorts of applications that digest and display this data.

      Having a computer attached to your TV can open up all sorts of free, open source, standardized options for sharing content across the house, media center, scheduling data, etc. One STB to rule them all.

      • PunditGuy says:

        I’ve had a self-built MythTV box using Schedules Direct hooked up to my TV for about four years now. It’s definitely a good way to go, if you don’t care about recording flagged stuff. Even that setup would benefit from a standardized way of getting programming and data, though — you wouldn’t be left hanging on to QAM as you watch your cable system change over to some evil SDV scheme, for example, and your custom STB could record any programming that the cable headend determines you’re allowed to watch.

        On second thought, that’s way too open a system. Cable companies wouldn’t be able to force you to rent their crappy boxes and remotes.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          There are too many acronyms flying around in this conversation. My layman head is spinning!

  7. Michael Belisle says:

    Does anybody recognize the model of the “Main TV”? I like the minimal border.

  8. Primarylupine says:

    Bah. My 27″ RCA from 1987 and the Jerrold 400 box works fine for me. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. ;)

    • FuzzyWillow says:

      Are you paying a monthly fee for that “Jerrold?”

      • Primarylupine says:

        Actually, no. I think the provider that I had back in Michigan (OmniCom) discontinued them when they were bought out by TWC or ComCrapst in the ’90s. I don’t know why I took the box when I moved to LA… Still use the old RCA TV though. Using the S-Video input looks just fine when running Hulu or “distributed acquisition” TV shows.

  9. Im Just Saying says:

    The comcast Ipad app may put me over the top on buying and ipad. I have netflix, and my parents have comcast so the ipad could be all I ever need ever again.

  10. absherlock says:

    If I can access my DVR with my smartphone, why can’t I access the media stored on it with my smartphone? That’s all I want to do – record something with my FIOS DVR and then watch it on my phone while I’m waiting to pick my kid up at the bus stop.

  11. KyBash says:

    If it was anyone but Samsung, I might be interested.

  12. Red Cat Linux says:

    Once upon a time I ran my cable directly into my TV. It was awesome. I thumbed my nose at Comcast.

    Then I couldn’t do that any more. I had to get boxes. I had the boxes with Dish network too. Now, I have gotten rid of them and I run my HD antenna into the TV again.

    Life is good.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      We’re still running on analog cable. What’s silly is that we get fewer channels and pay more for analog than we would with the promotions and deals that our cable company would offer us for digital, so to save money and get more bang for our buck, we’re upgrading.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      “Once upon a time I ran my cable directly into my TV. It was awesome.”
      ..and you could run the cable to as many TV sets as you wanted. Now EACH TV needs it’s own box. And you pay for it. Thanks, Pay TV! Just one more reason I dumped you for FREE Antenna TV.

  13. MamaBug says:

    I’m not gonna get a new TV for it, but having kids, this would probably be worth the money. Except I don’t have TWC (which I still always read in my mind as “The Weather Channel”) and a dish is improbably considering where we’re located.

  14. yaos says:

    How is this different than Slingbox and CableCARD?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m guessing they want to eliminate the box altogether, and at the same time is trying to worm its way into TiVo’s market for DVR.

  15. TuxRug says:

    How about a TV with a built-in DirecTV receiver? Just plug the dish’s coaxial cable into the antenna port on the back and put in the access card!

  16. PupJet says:

    How about we force all those bastards to split into smaller companies so that way we can get some real competition going on with pricing on cable?

    I for one am sick of satellite (I have Dish), but yet for the 120+ channels I have, at LEAST 80 of them are either: Religious, Music, or Spamvertisements (aka-late night infomercials). Seriously, do I need to spell out that not only are they getting money out of me for channels they ultimately CANNOT provide, but from ad revenue as well.

    But I digress, if given the option, I would rather just spend the $400+ for a PS3/Wii and stream netflix.

  17. gman863 says:

    If the tight fisted bastards controlling the cable, satellite and media content empires weren’t so f-cking anal retentive about copy protection this could be done in a much easier fashion.

    Offer a choice of either an Atom-powered mini-PC “server” with a built-in decoder or as an upgrade card for existing PCs. This would allow a user to watch content from both televisions and PCs throughout the house. For those of us with (gasp!) a one year old set, a “Roku”-type box would be available for converting and playing back both live and recorded content from the main server.

    All cable, satellite and TiVo DVRs use complex secret file formats to record and store programs. Other than real-time analog copying to a DVD recorder, files cannot be backed up if the DVR drive crashes or transferred to a newer DVR from the same provider.

    Although HDMI is loaded with copy protection booby traps, It’ll be interesting to see if this new system will be easier to (ahem…) back up files from.

  18. Thorzdad says:

    Just hang a decoder box at the wall and let my umpeen-channel-capable tv tune things itself. I’m pretty sick of “solutions” equating to more technology piled on-top of technology. Simplify this shit.

  19. okcspike says:

    Comcast and Tivo definitely don’t play well together. Bestbuy and Comcast have been blaming each other for my problems with TV for 18 months. Bestbuy never has gotten the Tivo box installed correctly-They keep wanting to leave the Comcast box ($17 per month) when it isn’t needed.

    They also “forgot” the cable card after Bestbuy “installed” the tivo. (Later Bestbuy geek came out and wanted to charge $109 for coming out when “nothing was wrong” even though Tivo said the box was installed wrong!

    Waiting for Uverse.

  20. guspaz says:

    Don’t care bout the comcast stuff since I’m Canadian, but I’m absolutely loving that super thin Samsung bezel… Where can I get more info on the TVs they’re showing off here?

  21. valen says:

    I have always wanted a MythTV setup where the “channels” are all unencrypted IP multicast video streams carried over a generic Internet fiber optic link. Unfortunately, due to the greed of the media companies and their insistence on “copy protection”, that future does not appear to be coming any time soon. Instead, we get weird “walled garden” partnerships like these. My optimism towards the future of television has just been deflated (yet again).