Opening the POD Door
PIP AND OTHER PROBLEMS
With PIP, you should be able to watch any two TV programs at the same time; so that, for example, you could watch one channel while surfing the dial to see what else is on. But in practice, most people are stuck setting up PIP to work only with programs from different sources — such as one image from cable TV, and the other from a DVD or videocassette. Some installers will attempt to create a semblance of proper PIP by feeding the raw cable, with unscrambled basic analog channels only, into the second TV input. But at present, the only way to have true PIP — with all channels on both tuners — is to pay for two cable TV boxes. And even then, there are major complications arising from the fact that both cable TV boxes use the same remote control infrared signals. Without going to extraordinary measures to isolate the two cable boxes, a command from one remote control will trigger both boxes.
Then there's the problem of trying to make a recording when you're not home, either with a VCR or PVR such as TiVo or Replay. The best solution here has been the IR blaster that hangs in front of the cable box and mimics the commands of the remote control to change channels automatically. But it too has problems — if it gets dislocated, or if the cable box's power is turned off (which can happen randomly, whenever the cable company wants to reboot all the boxes), the system fails and the recording won't come out.
POD TO THE RESCUE
If POD becomes reality, as now appears likely, these problems will go away. You'll be able to plug the cable TV wire directly into the back of a TV set, without the cable box. The TV set's PIP function will work the way it was intended — watch any two cable TV channels, simultaneously. (Any two that are being paid for, that is!)