Android based STB


Last Updated:

  1. rpateric

    rpateric Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello,
    Can anyone provide me any info about Set Top Boxes with Android powered ? Are they available now ? and why we should go for this instead pf Linux ?
     

    Advertisement
  2. mrthundercleese

    mrthundercleese Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2009
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    2
    Does not exist.
     
  3. vikingisson

    vikingisson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    856
    Likes Received:
    24
    Because Android *is* linux? don't know about that but it might be interesting. Might make sense if you wanted a full multimedia UI on the STB but there are many many sources so that might get tedious. However most STBs that I've played with are already linux so it is an established market. And you'd need the tuner drivers (assuming you mean sat/cable/DT), have you checked the android site for that kind of functionality?
    What I'd rather see is a tiny multimedia client (or even a server) built on android with the ability to have direct input from (multiple) STBs and fast accurate channel changing. With android underneath it might be easier to write direct clients for for server apps such as SageTV etc. The current crop is limited in that regard and I'd like to see better boxes. Running many input sources into one server is the way to go so I'd like to see android at the server or client side and just use the hundreds of STBs as they are.
     
  4. rpateric

    rpateric Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, we need a full multimedia UI on our IPTV-STB, we are tired of stuffs like flash, GTK/X11 based UIs or even browsers like Mozilla or Firefox.
    As you said, Linux is estabilished and i heard sigma is trying out something in this direction,
    IPTV news - Sigma Designs commits to Android support
    My basic doubt was , what is prompting them to go for android then ?
    But if Android *is* linux, the same drivers for linux can be made to work with Android also right ?
    Can we make a small multimedia client based on android and which works on existing linux platform, but can be used for better experience in multiroom and fast channel change ( FCC ) ? Does android has this superior capability over linux specifically for FCC ?
    Or You mean to say that at the server side ( VOD,App Serv etc ) also should be android powered, and not just the STBs ? or just at the server side will be enough ?
     
  5. vikingisson

    vikingisson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    856
    Likes Received:
    24
    Why Android vs generic linux? I don't know except perhaps for the brand PR or maybe more technical reasons with the radio work that google has put in it. Or to finally get rid of X for the UI.

    The reason I say on the server side is because of the multitude of STBs out there and the difficulty with getting them to run something else even though they tend to be linux. Can you imagine trying to talk to Scientific Atlanta about their Bell branded STB and how we want to put our own firmware on it? ain't gonna easily happen. And those Chinese companies producing dozens of FTA unit types are also a pain to deal with. It could happen but what about the next STB.. Getting the pay providers to let us decrypt their signal with our own hardware won't easily happen. If we could capture the video (up to HD) and control the unit that would be more generic.

    I also don't know enough about the Android environment to know if one could do normal linux hacking to build your own but is worth looking into. I'd prefer to see a client side unit that works with a server based media centre (I personally use SageTV). A complete media centre server would be ideal but that's a big job.

    The current client hardware unit for SageTV is an HD-200, you connect to the network and your tv/monitor and optionally to local disk storage to act stand alone. The real power of that device comes with the unit using the power of the backend server where you have access to all the STBs, tuners, music library, online content, and whatever else the server is setup to deliver. I don't actually have an HD-200 as I can't justify the expense (~C$200+) when I only have a single TV monitor. I connect my monitor directly to the server. Occasionally I use the software client on my laptop and that too is another thing that Android might be suitable for. I know of of folks that would love to see a sagetv client on their android phones.

    The other issue I have with PVRs is video capture. All of the providers seem to hate that we might want to use a server instead of their brain dead proprietary units so the current method is to capture component analog. I don't like to use the term "the analog hole", that implies that I'm stealing or otherwise doing something against the TOS. No, I only want better control of my media and the option to use a variety of low cost and free sources instead of the all in one services that for me are not suitable and cost way too much. The current video capture device of choice is the Hauppauge HD-PVR that captures component video and feeds it to the media centre over USB. If we could build a unit to do the same thing but more reliably it would be a very popular device.

    FCC, the bane of all PVR systems. The HD-PVR uses IR blaster and is horribly unreliable and slow. To fix that people buy the USB-UIRT which is a USB based IR receiver/blaster unit. Much better than simple IR blasting but again is not simple to setup especially if you need to control multiple units. The fastest method that works with a few STBs is over firewire. But that seems like such a waste using firewire only for channel changing because the providers refuse to let us use it for actual video. HDMI capture would also be nice but again the providers cripple functionality because of perceived DRM issues. hmmm, an android STB is sounding better all the time.....

    So my dream setup would be a complete Android based media centre server/client with small low power android client units that can be spread around the network. I'd settle for a digital tuner, video capture with FCC, or other units that can better feed content to the server or deliver it to the user. And while we're at it we could drop in a cell radio and use it to distribute cell phone voice/data over the local network...
     
  6. rpateric

    rpateric Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Vikingisson for this wonderful post. I summarize my thoughts as follows
    I think even now people use SDL, Flash etc for UI stuff, so X is anyhow going to be replaced.
    The thing is the new Android STB, should equally co-exist with the existing STBs and the new Android STB should be capable of what existing STBs do in a better way. So, I think it is still possible.
    Hauppauge HD-PVR is used for local storage of video, right ? But I think now most content providers can selectively disable this option, in order to prevent illegal storage.
    We use retransmission strategy to implement fast channel change, but if android has something to offer in this arena, it will be a big leap indeed. But this thing needs to be confirmed, as android *is based* on generic linux.
     
  7. vikingisson

    vikingisson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    856
    Likes Received:
    24
    thank you. Yes we even have discussions that are on topic in this forum (sorry, made reference to other topics around here).

    One thing to clarify, the HD-PVR doesn't have any local storage itself despite the name. It feeds content over USB to your server or pc where it is saved alongside any other content that server is setup for. So when I browse my video files I see the HD-PVR content, content from the over the air tuner, saved from online video etc.

    The irrational laws is what is keeping us back from building this. That is why the HD-PVR is nearly the only method of capturing HD content independent of the provider supplied hardware. We don't want our servers to be controlled by the providers, i.e. cable companies, sat companies, movie studios, or even Tivo. I want to mix any or all of this into one place of my choosing. That is the only way there is enough content worth watching much less pay for.

    With the radio work that Android has done I am interested in seeing what it can do in this area. It should have something to offer. Tuners, streaming capture, and control should be within android's abilities.
     
  8. rpateric

    rpateric Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think, If we increase the transmission of I pictures, even in linux, we can get better experience in channel change. It is independend of the platform, be it Android or Linux.
     
  9. momoceio

    momoceio Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,235
    Likes Received:
    149
  10. vikingisson

    vikingisson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    856
    Likes Received:
    24
    schweet. With HD capabilities and the tuner drivers I had no doubt that we'd see droidish STBs.

    However nice that might be compared to the slow and crappy UIs of existing STBs that still leaves me with the same problem. I don't want to view my content via an STB at all. I want the STB to deliver content to a server because I might want several STBs and other content sources delivered all to one place. Then I want an Android based box to deliver HD to the monitor. That shouldn't be too hard if an STB can be built. Now if that Android STB could output HD without DRM nonsense directly to my media server without a silly analog capture device in the middle I'd be very happy. Of course we need to control that STB in a better fashion than we now do.

    We have firewire, HDMI, and fast enough USB but we can't use them for capture. We have to capture via component via less than ideal middle man boxes. That's the problem along with klunky channel changing tricks. We need digital delivery and control all around with analog only coming into play at the last mile, the monitor. Or digital all the way but this analog "loop hole" is what needs fixing.
     
  11. rpateric

    rpateric Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0

Share This Page

Loading...