Rovi announced that it would be heading to market in the first half of this year with a new HD and SD DTA guide for North American cable operators.

The Rovi DTA Guide, which was first announced at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in 2011, will provide more digital-like features in viewers’ living rooms.

Initially championed by Comcast, SD DTAs started out as low cost, one-way channel zappers for analog TVs before evolving into more complex devices, including HD and universal DTAs, that are now capable of working in various environments.

Converting analog channels to digital frees up bandwidth for faster data speeds, more HD channels and larger VOD libraries for cable operators. In addition to Comcast, Mediacom Communications, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications are in various stages of all digital conversion projects, although Charter isn’t using DTAs.

With the conversion from analog to digital, the first wave of SD DTAs allowed subscribers that had analog TVs to continue viewing their cable operator’s programming. With analog TVs virtually extinct in the United States, customers are now buying low-cost HDTV sets with HDMI inputs, which can work in tandem with HD DTAs.

The one-way DTAs work well as a low-cost option for second, third and fourth TVs in a home, and they also provide some operational efficiencies in terms of reducing truck rolls when a customer disconnects and reconnects a video service.

Cable operators can also use DTAs to provide a stripped-down HD offering that doesn’t include amenities such as pay-per-view or VOD. Lastly, DTAs can also be used to provide service to hotels that don’t want to invest in more expensive equipment or infrastructure,

Instead of a basic grid guide, the Rovi DTA Guide’s features include the ability to find out what’s on TV, tune channels directly from the program grid, set parental controls, and set language options for the guide and audio.

Rovi said it was working with DTA vendors, including Cisco, Evolution Digital and Pace, to test and pre-port Rovi DTA guides. In 2012, Evolution Digital was the first announced customer for Rovi’s new guide.  

“For many cable TV subscribers, the guide has been designated as ‘only for the advanced DVR.’ Now that it is available on lower-end devices in addition to the premium set top box, cable TV subscribers including Basic and Expanded Basic households, can enjoy a better experience on every TV in their home,” said Michael Buchheim, senior vice president of product management for Rovi. “The guide experience is no longer limited to the premium digital subscribers, and cable operators will be able to use it to show the added value that they bring to their customers.”

Rovi is showing its DTA guide at CES this week.