Category: Broadcast-LAN setups

Mohu offers a traditional indoor broadcast-LAN TV aerial for more than just cord-cutters

Articles

Mohu AirWave broadcast-LAN indoor TV antenna - press picture courtesy of Mohu

Mohu AirWave broadcast-LAN indoor TV antenna – first of these for the US market

Mohu’s wireless AirWave antenna makes cord-cutting simple | Engadget

Attention cordcutters: Mohu AirWave bundles your local TV channels into handy app form | CNET

From the horse’s mouth

Mohu

Press Release

Product Page – AirWave

My Comments

The Winter CES 2017 in Las Vegas has shown up one of the first “broadcast-to-LAN” indoor TV antennas for the North American ATSC-based over-the-air TV landscape.

Mohu are pitching this device at the current generation of “cord-cutters”, who are an increasing number of American households that are dumping traditional cable or satellite TV services for classic over-the-air TV and Internet-provided “over-the-top” video services.

But unlike Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other countries where a healthy traditional free-to-air TV service is regularly received and just about every building maintains an outdoor TV aerial (antenna) or “master antenna TV system” for larger buildings, most of urban USA have headed towards a “cable-only” approach since the 1980s with buildings not having these TV aerials. What is now happening is that most American households who want to dump cable TV are connecting their TVs to indoor TV aerials to receive the local TV channels.

Mohu are offering a range of improved “flat-plane” indoor TV antennas that are able to provide better reception than the traditional “rabbit’s ears” or spiral-shaped indoor TV antenna that typically was used to do this job. Here, they have built this design from a radio-antenna design for military vehicles that they worked on where the antenna for the vehicle’s radio equipment is part of its mudflaps.

The AirWave device is infact a broadcast-LAN server which can stream over-the-air TV in to one’s existing Wi-Fi network so it can be viewed on a laptop, tablet or smartphone thanks to a Mohu-designed app. The native app for the supported mobile and TV platforms or the Website provides an aggregated view of the content offered by the local free-to-air stations and the over-the-top TV services.

There still are some questions to be raised about the Mohu AirWave as a broadcast-LAN device. One of this is whether it uses more than one front-end tuner. If it does, it could be feasible to watch or record multiple broadcasts concurrently. Another question that would be raised is whether the Mohu AirWave can expose the local TV channels in an open-frame manner like SAT-IP or DLNA. This can allow other companies to develop their own software or exploit existing software to view or record TV content rather than relying on Mohu’s front-end app or Webpage.  Similarly, it may be worth wondering whether this device uses an Ethernet connection to allow for reliable network connectivity when you use it with an Ethernet or HomePlug powerline network segment.

It may be feasible to think of this broadcast-LAN antenna device as being just fit for “cord-cutting” but it can do more than that. Even if this device isn’t its own Wi-Fi access point, you can have it work with a Mi-Fi router to become part of a mobile Wi-Fi network. For example, using it with a tablet or laptop computer could make it serve as a temporary TV-viewing setup for doing something like keeping tabs on that sports fixture or news event at the office or job site during the lunch break.

Mohu could also court the European/Australian/New-Zealand market with the AirWave broadcast-LAN TV antenna by offering a DVB-T/DVB-T2 variant that can receive the free-to-air broadcast stations offered in these territories using this standard.

What is being shown here is that the concept of a broadcast-LAN tuner setup which exposes TV broadcasts to a home or other small network is being extended to traditional broadcast TV through a device that is more than just “rabbit’s ears”.

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Plex moves towards PVR functionality

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Thecus N5810PRO Small Business NAS press photo courtesy of Thecus

Plex gets closer to turning a NAS in to a PVR once coupled with a HDHomeRun broadcast-LAN device

IFA 2016: Plex live TV recording comes to Australia | Sydney Morning Herald

From the horse’s mouth

Plex

Product Page

My Comments

Previously I had covered the idea of a NAS being a PVR that records your favourite TV shows. This is whether it works alongside a dedicated USB or broadcast-LAN tuner device or a fully-fledged set-top device.

Recently, Plex was pushed as a “polished” media server for computers or NAS devices. This meant that it could show supplementary information about the movies or music you have on your PC-based media server or NAS if you used client-side apps on your TV or video peripheral.

But this software’s functionality has been extended to include PVR where it can record TV shows off the air and on to your media server or NAS. At the moment, it only works with the HDHomeRun broadcast-LAN TV tuners as its signal source and uses Gracenote as its source for the electronic programme guide. This means that the functionality is offered as part of the PlexPASS subscription program.

It seems to me that this feature could be destined for the servers that run the desktop operating systems but a good question to raise is if the DVR functionality will come about for NAS units because these would appeal more to those of us who run them as a media server. But personally, I would prefer that all of the platforms that Plex Media Server is written for have the upgrade for DVR recording.

To the same extent, it could also be about using a NAS as a “gateway” for a broadcast-LAN device when it comes to viewing live TV content on a tablet, laptop or similar computing device.

At least it is a different approach towards using a NAS and a broadcast-LAN device to perform PVR duties using your home network.

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Sat-IP makes the single-piece broadcast-LAN satellite dish possible

Articles – From the horse’s mouth

SES-Astra

SELFSAT>IP, The World’s First SAT>IP Antenna, Gives Mobile Reception Devices Full Accessibility To Satellite Broadcasts – News release

SelfSat

Self-Sat IP range

Product Page

Snipe Air, Snipe Dome Air, Snipe Wing Air

Product Page

My Comments

A Korean company had launched a new direction for satellite antennas where they aren’t a dish with the LNB antenna in front but a multiple-layered plate which masks a horn-based waveguide to the LNB antenna in the back. It is very similar to how a horn-style tweeter on some PA and hi-fi speakers works, allowing for efficient handling of very high frequencies.

This company, SelfSat, has allowed for this to materialise as a highly-compact satellite antenna that can be installed by just about anyone even in situations were the traditional satellite dish can be perceived to be ugly and subject to all sorts or regulations and rigmarole. As well, these antennas also are pitched at cheaper multiple-tenancy housing which isn’t equipped with a SMATV (common satellite dish) setup for satellite-TV reception.

But they took this further by offering a range of single-piece antennas that have integrated SAT-IP broadcast-LAN support with its own Ethernet connection. This allows he SelfSat>IP antennas to each serve up to eight SAT-IP reception devices with content concurrently.

There is also  2 LNB outputs on this satellite antenna so you can connect a multi-tuner PVR sat-box or multiple set-top “display-only” sat-boxes.

SelfSat even took this further with their Snipe Air lineup of mobile SAT-IP broadcast-LAN antennas which have their own 802.11ac Wi-Fi access point to distribute satellite TV to 8 concurrent Wi-Fi-equipped computer devices. I am not sure whether these only function as access points in that they create their own network or whether they can be part of an existing Wi-Fi network, contributing satellite broadcasts to that network.

The best application example that comes to mind for the Snipe Air SAT-IP antennas is the Tour De France where one or more of the “camping-cars” (motorhomes) that line the route of the cycle race use this antenna to pull in any of France Télévision’s coverage signals that the Astra satellite yields, serving one or more iPads or convertible laptops with vision of where the peleton is currently at. This allows for a judgement call about whether to run out to the roadside to see it pass or not.

The advantage that SelfSat pitches about Snipe Air compact satellite antennas is that they can be stored easily in a small car’s boot with room to spare or that, in the case of some models, they have the same roof profile on a caravan, campervan or motorhome as the typical roof-mount RV air conditioner.

What do I see of SelfSat’s SAT-IP efforts? I see them as a way to reduce the fuss associated with deploying the equipment necessary to receive satellite TV service. This could open up paths for many-endpoint mobile applications like the “Tour De France caravan parks”  familiar to anyone who watches that cycle race, or the road coaches that offer competitive road transport service across European borders.

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SiliconDust has the idea of the NAS-based PVR for real

Article

WD MyCloud EX2 dual-disk NAS

WD MyCloud EX2 NAS – could be used as part of a network-based DVR

HDHomeRun Kickstarter wants to build the perfect DVR for you | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

HDHomeRun

HDHomeRun DVR Kickstarter campaign

My Comments

Previously, I touched on the idea of the network-attached-storage becoming a DVR (digital video recorder) or PVR (personal video recorder) device courtesy of various apps being offered to some of these platforms. This is in contrast to set-top PVR devices of the TiVo or Foxtel IQ ilk which are based around their own tuners and hard-disk space.

Now SIliconDust, who make the HDHomeRun broadcast-LAN devices are developing a NAS-based DVR platform based around these devices. They got this idea up off the ground thanks to a highly-publicised Kickstarter crowdfund effort to get the idea up and off the ground.

What the goal is for the HDHomeRun effort is to create a flexible network-centric DVR setup which supports a regular computer or a NAS as the recording device. One of the key advantages is that you can add extra HDHomeRun broadcast-LAN boxes to record an increasing number of shows concurrently. This will earn its keep during the ratings season where the networks run all the good shows at once.

The system will be dependent on a computer, smartphone, tablet, TV or set-top box having a control app to book shows for recording and to play shows that you have recorded, along with a recording app integrated in the server computer or NAS that is doing all of the recording. All the client devices see multiple NAS units with this software as one source rather than as separate sources. It even has the ability to reserve one tuner to handle the common situation where one channel is running good shows one after another during the evening, while properly accommodating padding-out of recordings to deal with channels who overrun their shows to insert more commercials.

Personally, I would like to see this support the functionality associated with VIDIPATH such as having RVU user interfaces along with DLNA playback support, which could also earn its keep with smart TVs. But I see this as a way to bring forward the idea of the ultra-flexible DVR system for the home network.

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Another satellite operator to benefit from SAT>IP technology

Article Print

SES teams up with rival Hispasat to launch SAT>IP industry alliance | VideoNet TV

My Comments

SAT>IP concept diagram

What SAT>IP is about with satellite TV

Previously, SES Astra have launched a standard for broadcast-LAN transmission of satellite-TV signals around a home or similar computer network. This standard, known as SAT>IP or can be known as SAT-IP, is based on UPnP technology but with the ability to transmit broadcast selection and satellite selection information to the server devices.

This was initially setup for the SES Astra satellite infrastructure that was common in Europe but SES have partnered with Hispasat who are a Spanish TV satellite operator competing with them to push SAT>IP across the whole of the European TV satellite space.

Devolo dLAN TV SAT Multituner SAT>IP server press picture courtesy of Devolo

Devolo dLAN TV SAT Multituner SAT>IP server

This is because an increasing number of companies are manufacturing equipment designed for this infrastructure, including Panasonic who are fielding a range of Smart TVs with client functionality. For that matter, some of their “lounge-room” TVs are offering the server functionality so they can work with the existing satellite-TV infrastructure yet pass this on to SAT>IP clients.

SES are also stepping back from promoting this standard and are putting the mantle of promotion on to the supporters and adopters who are developing the equipment. This is to encourage an operator-neutral attitude towards implementing the broadcast-LAN technology for satellite TV.

It is also worth noting that a network can have multiple SAT>IP servers on it which can also cater to multiple-dish setups where there is a goal to receive content from multiple satellite platforms, something that may be of importance in Germany especially. Who knows what this could lead to with a level playing field offered by SAT>IP.

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VIDIPATH has now been launched for Pay-TV

Introduction

VIDIPATH logo courtesy of DLNADLNA have worked out the final set of CVP-2 Guidelines and have started a testing regime for video equipment that fits the bill. This is to provide the ability for a level playing field when it comes to distributing premium subscription-TV (Pay-TV) content around a customer’s home network to devices that the customer owns.

A current pay-TV setup with each TV having a set-top box

A current pay-TV setup with each TV having a set-top box

They have also decided to market the new concept under a consumer-friendly brand which is “VIDIPATH”. This is following on from how a distinct brand make it easier for customers to remember what to look for when buying in to a technological improvement, such as with the successful Dolby noise-reduction system for the cassette tape.

The reason to progress with VIDIPATH has been based on the strong circulation of DLNA-capable media-server and media-endpoint equipment to distribute audio, image and video material over the home network. For that matter, it is a feature that is so important to me when I choose network-capable AV equipment or NAS units.

A VIDIPATH-enabled pay-TV setup where each VIDIPATH-capable TV, video peripheral or computer can view pay-TV

A VIDIPATH-enabled pay-TV setup where each VIDIPATH-capable TV, video peripheral or computer can view pay-TV

They launched the certification program for service-provider and consumer equipment on Sept. 11 and VIDIPATH-certified equipment is expected to be available by December, in time for this Christmas’ shopping season.

What does it offer

VIDIPATH offers DLNA compliance plus features essential to the delivery of premium subscription-TV content around the home to the display device.

Media contents in Dropbox folder available on DLNA-capable Samsung smart TV

VIDIPATH enables a compatible smart TV to view pay-TV content without the need for a set-top box

It uses DTCP-IP link-layer protection and device authentication to assure a secure signal path to the display device. This is important for content providers who want to be sure where the content is actually ending up.

Foxtel IQ2 pay-TV PVR

A PVR-type set-top box can serve as the hub of a VIDIPATH pay-TV setup

Also it uses HTML5-based remote user interface to allow the customer to have the full user experience associated with the pay-TV service at the TV or on the mobile device without the need for a set-top box or “TV-Everywhere” app on each viewing device. This allows for access to PVR services, pay-per-view / video-on-demand content, the pay-TV provider’s storefront and other services associated with the pay-TV service. The HTML5 interface would be able to adjust itself for useability on smartphones or small tablets which have the smaller actual screen sizes even though a lot of newer devices are implementing increased screen pixel densities.

Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray Disc Player

VIDIPATH-capable Blu-Ray players can bring pay-TV to the secondary bedroom TV

Another feature is to provide the exchange of necessary data across the home network to allow the gateway device to enter low-power modes when the display client devices aren’t making use of it. This also works alongside the ability to provide remote diagnostics on any of the display client devices when the customer calls the pay-TV service provider to rectify faults with their viewing experience.

It even supports “adaptive delivery” to allow the VIDIPATH-capable Pay-TV system to provide a best-case signal that is dependent on the viewing device and on the bandwidth available to the home and within the home network. This is based around the open-frame MPEG-DASH adaptive-streaming technology so that implementations aren’t necessarily bound to particular vendor ecosystems.

How will VIDIPATH be implemented in the home network?

Sony PS3 games console

Consoles like these could be able to pick up pay TV from a VIDIPATH gateway device

A pay-TV service like Sky, DirecTV or Foxtel would supply a VIDIPATH-certified gateway device to the customer. This device would be connected to the satellite dish, cable-TV infrastructure or dedicated IP service connection like DSL and to the home network. It may be in one of two form factors: a “headless” device that has no video output for an attached display device, or a full PVR set-top box of the same ilk as a Foxtel iQ2, Sky Plus box or one of the cable-TV PVR boxes, which is typically connected to the main living-room TV set.

The customer would view their content on a display device that would be a VIDIPATH-capable Smart TV or be a TV set connected to a DVD player, network media player or other video-peripheral device that is VIDIPATH-certified. They could also run a VIDIPATH-certified media-client program on their regular computer, smartphone or tablet to view the TV content on the device.

How will it benefit

Customers

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10" tablet - Press Photo courtesy of Samsung

With the appropriate app, this tablet can pull in pay-TV using VIDIPATH

They can concentrate on their own TV or video peripheral device and the device’s remote control being the navigation device for their pay-TV content, rather than juggling different remote controls for changing channels on the pay-TV box and adjusting the sound on the TV or home-theatre. This is a real bonus with smart TV’s or home-theatre systems that have access to network-hosted AV content.

If I move location, I would only need to worry about returning one piece of hardware to the pay-TV provider as part of the move-out process if they don’t operate in my new location. Similarly, for those of you who live in pay-TV markets where different providers compete, the process of selecting the best offer is simplified because you only deal with one piece of hardware to connect to the provider’s infrastructure. An example of this is most US markets where DirecTV and / or DISH provide a satellite TV service that can compete with what the local cable-TV firm offers.

Pay-TV providers

They are in a good position because they can rationalise the pay-TV customer-premises hardware they need to have on hand at all times. This is more so with having to deal with providing and managing set-top boxes for customers who want pay-TV in other rooms. Rather they can be in a better position to provide highly-capable gateway devices and manage one of these per subscribing household or business.

They still don’t lose the ability to provide the distinctly-branded user experience because this can be conveyed across all of the customer’s VIDIPATH-capable display devices. Rather they can even enrich the branded service and effectively take it further in a “write once, run anywhere” manner.

What do we need to do?

.... as can a smartphone like this

…. as can a smartphone like this

As customers, when the opportunity comes to buy network-capable video equipment, we need to keep our eyes peeled for the VIDIPATH logo on the equipment. As well, when we subscribe to pay-TV, we can use our pay-TV provider’s feedback mechanism to suggest implementing VIDIPATH as a service feature.

As pay-TV providers, we should look towards identifying whether the pay-TV equipment that is in current circulation at our subscribers’ homes can support VIDIPATH after a firmware upgrade. Similarly, implementing VIDIPATH in next-generation customer-facing equipment like gateways or set-top boxes can be a valid step for evolving the pay-TV service. This also will be about training the staff who deal with our subscriber base such as sales staff, customer-service staff and installation technicians to understand the VIDIPATH system and how it can make the job easier. It may also involve effectively “dumping” the revenue stream that is realised from renting multiple set-top boxes to customers who have multiple TVs.

Conclusion

I would expect DLNA VIDIPATH to simplify the pay-TV experience and integrate it with an increasing number of customer-owned display devices, whether be Smart TVs, games consoles or tablets.

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