VCR-like live TV control gets six-month trial

ReplayTV got a big boost this week when Time Warner Cable selected the company to do a test of its digital video recording technology in conjunction with TW’s cable TV service.

Time Warner Inc. is an investor in ReplayTV, while Time Warner parent America Online recently became the largest investor in Replay rival TiVo.

Time Warner Cable will hold its first trial of the Replay service in Southern California, where TW has more than 360,000 cable subscribers. The trial, which will begin in August, will last six months and involve 500 customers in the west San Fernando Valley.

Customers in the test will be given free Replay set-top boxes that will not only deliver basic features such as VCR-like control of live television but also a special ReplayZone area customized to offer highlights and promotional clips of programming available specifically to Time Warner Cable customers in 10 genres.

A spokesman for Time Warner Cable said the company was considering many options as to how the Replay system could be used with cable service, either as an integrated part of digital cable set-top boxes or as stand-alone devices.

With a digital hard drive capable of storing tens of hours of programming and connectivity through phone lines, satellite and digital cable systems, digital video recorders are also viewed as potential video-on-demand devices. Partnered with TiVo, Blockbuster and DirecTV plan to introduce such a service early next year.

Time Warner Cable is also holding video-on-demand trials in Honolulu; Austin, Texas; and Tampa, Fla.

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