IP-based broadcasting Archive

Pioneer joins the ranks of the slimline network-capable surround receivers

Article –From the horse’s mouth


New slim receiver from Pioneer: compact, powerful and feature-rich

My Comments

Pioneer VSX-S510 Slim Surround Receiver - Press picture courtesy of Pioneer

Pioneer VSX-S510 Slimline surround receiver with home-network abilities

A current-generation surround-sound receiver that is expected to reproduce a 5.1 channel soundmix through six passive loudspeakers would require the use of six power amplifiers. This has required the construction of very large units in order to cater for these power amplifiers as well as the signal-handling circuitry plus a broadcast-radio tuner and this requirement is underscored with power amplifiers that implement traditional design techniques.

The year before last, Marantz released a series of surround-sound receivers that are the same height as a CD player, tuner or other source component. Some of us would have thought of them as being stereo receivers but these are able to do the 5.1 channel surround-sound job through the use of Class-D amplification which can allow for a smaller cooler-running amplifier.

Now Pioneer has come to the fray with a pair of slimline surround-sound receivers that appear to be as big as a hi-fi tuner or CD player.One of these units, the VSX-S510 has network abilities including the new Spotify Connect feature that allows Spotify Premium subscribers to “push” playlists or similar content established on their smartphones to this receiver. There are of course the usual suspects like adding vTuner Internet radio to this receiver’s broadcast-radio abilities and working with DLNA or AirPlay network-media setups.

What I see of this is that it is a step in the right direction towards a neater surround-sound setup without the need to head towards an integrated home-theatre setup. Yet, this model is able to exist in a position for those of us who are moving up from an entry-level surround-sound receiver towards something more capable and able to the part of the home network.

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Sat-IP promotes satellite TV around the house using broadcast-LAN technology


Sat-IP: Sat-TV im ganzen Haus – AUDIO VIDEO FOTO BILD (Germany – German language)

From the horse’s mouth



Previous coverage on HomeNetworking01.info

Broadcast-LAN devices–how relevant are they to the home network

My Comments

SAT-IP will see this as a way to distribute satellite TV around the European home

SAT-IP will see this as a way to distribute satellite TV around the European home

Just lately, I had published an article on this site about the concept of broadcast-LAN devices like the Devolo dLAN SAT and the HDHomeRun devices. These use at least one integrated broadcast tuner to stream broadcast signals received via a regular antenna (aerial), cable-TV setup or satellite dish around a small network using the protocols associated with these networks. The content is picked up from the network using software installed on regular or mobile computers to be displayed using their screens and speakers.

Now, SES, BSkyB and Craftwork who are heavyweights in Europe’s satellite-TV industry have set up a branded standards group called SAT-IP. This group determines standards for setting up satellite-based broadcast-LAN devices and promotes the concept of satellite-based broadcast-LAN systems. This is very relevant with the European market where satellite TV is considered a preferred medium for delivering supplementary TV content such as free-to-air from other European countries or pay-TV content from one’s own country or one of many neighbouring countries.

Here, they had worked out a data standard which is effectively based on the UPnP AV standards and is to co-operate with that standard but allow for satellite-TV tuning. They even wrote in support for DVB-T/T2 terrestrial-TV setups primarily to cater for the MATV systems implemented in multiple-tenancy setups where the goal is to run a single coaxial cable to each unit and have the satellite TV and regular TV through the one cable. The reason I supported this idea is to allow for a broadcast-LAN setup working to SAT-IP standards to cater to most broadcast environments where content distributed via the satellites is different to content distributed via the regular TV infrastructure.

But the main benefit is that there is a step to a level playing field for satellite-based broadcast-LAN applications thus providing for competition and innovation in this application no matter the deployment type. It has opened up broadcast-LAN implementations like a Power-Over-Ethernet-powered LNB with integrated server which bolts on to the satellite dish and yields the broadcast streams to the home network from that dish; as well as a Grundig broadcast-LAN tuner with four front-ends and full DLNA capability.

The SAT-IP concept, along with the US goal for using broadcast-LAN to democratise the provision of cable TV is underscoring the reality of using the home network to distribute TV content around the home, whether this network uses Ethernet, Wi-Fi wireless or HomePlug AV powerline or a mix of the technologies. Here, this means no more chipping at delicate walls to run satellite cable around the home and you can view Sky on your iPad or Sony VAIO Duo 11.

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Mohu to develop a digital-TV set-top with on-demand video for the US market


Mohu Developing Streaming Set-Top Box With TV Tuner | Tom’s Guide

My Comments

The US market is heading towards the concept of “cord-cutting” where they abandon traditional cable or satellite pay-TV for regular broadcast TV augmented with online TV services. This combination of services would typically be provided through the use of the TV’s internal ATSC tuner connected to an antenna (aerial) and a video peripheral such as a Blu-Ray player, games console or network media adaptor that has access to the online services such as Hulu, Netflix or Amazon On Demand.

But if they wanted a “one-unit, one-remote” solution, they would need to purchase a smart TV which has the necessary front-ends for the online services. For those of us who keep an existing TV going, Mohu are intending to field to that market a digital-TV set-top box which connects to an antenna and the home network to gain access to local free-to-air TV and the online video services. Here, you can gain back the ability to watch TV using the one “clicker” and this set-top box can pass through HDTV signals to HDMI-equipped flatscreens or projectors from the free-to-air and online services.

I would like to be sure that this device also uses composite video connections so that it can work effectively with those legacy CRT TVs that haven’t been thrown out as well as being part of the DLNA Home Media Network, whether as a media player or controllable media renderer. This would be important if you do download content to your NAS and play this on your TV.

The concept can be expanded on with a DVR function so that TV shows can be recorded off-the-air and watched without ads or as a DVB-T-based variant for Europe, Australia and other countries that use this standard.

At least this helps the people who want to move away or keep away from cable TV still have the benefits of a set-top solution that integrates both free-to-air and online content.

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What are the realities concerning the NBN and Foxtel


NBN is good for business: Foxtel unpicks PM’s conspiracy theory | The Australian

My Comments

One of the comments that has been raised through this election campaign about the National Broadband Network was that it would hurt Foxtel’s traditional business model.

Foxtel, like Sky in the UK, are a pay-TV provider that has control over its own infrastructure, whether through access to satellites or the HFC-based cable network. This provides for “end-to-end” provisioning and management of the pay-TV service with a set-top box installed at each TV set serving as the service provider’s point-of-control in the customer’s home.

Compare this with the IPTV model that the NBN will facilitate and which is being encouraged with Google Fiber in Kansas City, USA, the French “triple-play” operators, and FetchTV and T-Box / BigPond Movies in Australia where these services are transmited using the same bandwidth and infrastructure as your Internet service.

Infact the Internet-driven model is becoming a reality for the pay-TV industry in may different ways.

For example, this model, coupled with the next-generation broadband services like the NBN could support the next-generation 4K ultra-high-definition TV technology which yields pictures that are sharper and more detailed than current-generation high-definition TV. In this case, it could come in handy with pay-TV’s “bread-and-butter” content which are the premium sports channels that carry live broadcasts of sporting events and a pay-TV provider could bring this content through to those of us who use 4K UHDTV technology without reinventing the wheel.

The IPTV model allows Foxtel, Comcast, Sky UK and others to compete in the crowded “content-on-demand” market when it comes to keeping their premium movie and TV-program services relevant. This is through offering a portable “content-on-demand” service with either streaming or downloading abilities and a large content library.

There is also the cost savings that the IPTV model could yield where the pay-TV provider doesn’t have to be sure they have access to cable and satellite infrastructure to distribute the pay-TV service. Similarly, they could benefit from the use of software as a point-of-control when “platform-based” devices like smart TVs, games consoles, tablets and the like are used or can implement the point of control in carrier-provided Internet-gateway devices. It also has opened up new directions for Foxtel such as the provision of the Play and Go IPTV services which are offered more cheaply than the traditional services that are based around a PVR set-top box associated with cable or satellite infrastructure.

To the same extent, it could also be more cost-effective to provision viewing endpoints with the pay-TV service through the use of the software which could open up the feasibility of including a household’s TVs and other devices in one subscription without the customer having to pay anything extra. In a similar way, a household doesn’t need extra infrastructure to gain access to pay-TV service because they use the existing Internet connection; as well as allowing some portability for pay-TV subscriptions.

What really has to happen is that pay-TV services have to evolve to the newer IP-based business models that NBN and other next-generation broadband services facilitate in order to keep themselves afloat. They can still offer their subscriptions and pay-per-view but use this technology to work a leaner, more capable and cost-effective service.

May the bull artists who seed doubt about the NBN harming Foxtel please cut the nonsense!

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Foxtel to launch Play IPTV very soon


Foxtel to kick-start Play tomorrow – Good Gear Guide by PC World Australia

My Comments

Foxtel is having to adapt their pay-TV setup to face the new connected reality. This is brought on with “cord-cutting” where people are less likely to continually subscribe to pay-TV; IPTV-based competing pay-TV services being offered by ISPs, telecommunications companies and other companies; as well as the younger market becoming more “flighty” and moving to different locations. It is in contrast to the traditional pay-TV view where the service is provided to the suburban household with a TV in the main viewing area connected to the pay-TV service via a cable connection or satellite dish using a set-top box and the service based on a long-term account.

Here, they are responding to this situation by offering the Foxtel Play IPTV service which is delivered without the need for a set-top box. This service works at the moment with the XBox 360 games console, the recent Samsung Smart TV as well as a Web-browser session for Windows and MacOS X regular-computer platforms.

The Foxtel Go “TV-Everywhere” package is offered as part of the equation, being able to run on iOS devices running iOS 5 onwards as well as Samsung Android devices running Android Jelly Bean 4.1 onwards.

The accounts will be offered “by the month” rather than a long-term contract to cater for a large range of situations. This encompasses situations such as “event-specific” viewing, occasionally-occupied houses and people with changing budgets and lifestyles.

At the moment, two accounts can gain access to the service at any one time with each account being able to be bound to three devices. But the system could be improved to cater for share-houses that have more than two people viewing concurrently.

The Foxtel Play platform would need to spread out beyond Samsung Smart TV to more smart-TV platforms especially Sony with their PS3 games console, It will also need to encompass the fact that some of the smart-TV platforms have this functionality on video peripherals like Blu-Ray players or network media players

Similarly, there could be provision to allow people who have a traditional set-top-box subscription to either create a “portable” IPTV account for viewing in other locations or convert to a “Play” IPTV account that mirrors their current package.

The services could be augmented by a collection of “on-demand” TV services that aren’t just a “catch-up” service. This could include hiring pay-per-view movies through the Foxtel Play infrastructure or simply subscribing to channels that primarily show content on an “on-demand” manner.

It is showing that the whole business model of pay-TV is not about an infrastructure-driven setup but about a service that is more “end-to-end” in an infrastructure-agnostic manner.

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Apple iRadio–another entrant to the crowded music-on-demand market


Why Apple’s iRadio could fly or flop | Business Spectator

My Comments

We have seen the likes of Pandora, Spotify and last.fm establish themselves in the new world of listener-driven music-on-demand “virtual-radio” services. These offer the ability for listeners to “pull up” and play songs on what is effectively a “worldwide jukebox”.

They also have a function to play content like what has been listened to previously as a “virtual radio station” with this factor based on what music you have searched for previously or, in the case of last.fm, content you have listened to from your own library.

Most of these services operate on a freemium model which provides free ad-supported listening on a regular computer or allows the user to listen to the content ad-free on more devices for a subscription of up to AUD$120 per year. As well, an increasing number of consumer electronics manufacturers are integrating access to the services as functions for their network-capable audio and AV equipment.

Now Apple has started to enter this crowded market with their iRadio service. This will be typically tied in to their MacOS X and iOS computing platforms through iTunes integration. They are playing on the people who use their computing platforms and offer the same kinds of service – a free ad-supported service or a premium subscription service.

They will have to compete against Pandora, Spotify & Co for both listeners’ ears and ad dollars when targeting this market. This is especially as these services can be listened to from the Apple platforms whether through a Web page or a platform-specific app. There will be the usual limitations of not being able to benefit from iRadio content on devices other than Apple devices.

Personally I would like to see Apple integrate the iRadio service with the iTunes Store in the way that a person could buy the content they listen to using the iTunes “download-to-buy” music store. This could be a way to work their iTunes platform harder and, in some cases, provide a new way of buying music – “buy as you listen”.

Similarly, could other computing-platform companies like Google or Microsoft jump on the bandwagon and license music through their own “virtual radio” services? As well, could a “download-to-own” online music store run a subscription “virtual radio” service of their own?

Another trend that is also surfacing is the creation of software like Tomahawk that integrates multiple subscription music services and your own music library to search for music content or run custom playlists. This capitalises on the fact that one could be subscribing to two or more of these services whether as a free ad-driven setup on one of them and a full paid service on anther in order to catch more of the music or use with more of the devices they have.

What I see of these services is them existing as a complementary service to one’s physical or digital music library and access to traditionally-programmed broadcast radio. Here, these services work as a way to track down elusive items of music to hear them again or to discover music similar to what you are listening to.

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An interesting view on TV’s new direction from the Independent


Netflix? Amazon? YouTube? A surfer’s guide to TV – Features – TV & Radio – The Independent

My Comments

This article is showing how the Internet-based on-demand TV service is gaining more traction as a way of distributing TV content.

For example, Netflix is effectively becoming the HBO or Canal+ of the online TV world. HBO and Canal+ had started out initially as premium pay-TV broadcasters in their own markets – the USA and France respectively. This was mainly based around buying movies and other top-shelf TV content from movie studios. Then they gradually built up a repertoire of original TV content that they could sell to other free-to-air and pay TV broadcasters. Examples of this include HBO’s “The Sopranos” and Canal+’s “Spiral / Engrenages” both being highly-engaging TV drama serials.

Netflix initially bought movies and other similar content from other studios to show through their on-demand service. Now they, like other online TV providers such as Amazon and Hulu, are building up a repertoire of original content.

Most of these online services offer subscription and content-management models that allow you to watch a series over a short term such as a “marathon viewing” over a weekend or over a long term like viewing an episode or two every week over a month or two.

This is affecting the traditional TV broadcasters who are having to face up to what these online content providers are offering to their viewers. One way that they are answering the trend is to invest more in their catch-up TV / on-demand services. This may include making more of their content catalogue including their back-catalogue material available through their on-demand services.

Similarly, an increased number of co-production deals are being struck between traditional broadcasters and online content providers concerning TV serials. Here, these shows would be given their first-run by the broadcaster in its home territory while being made concurrently available on-demand through the online content provider’s market. An example of this is the “Lilyhammer” TV serial about an American mafioso who turned State’s evidence and had to head to Norway under witness protection. This show, which I have cottoned on to when it was shown on SBS in Australia, is an example of this kind of co-production arrangement, this time by Norway’s public broadcaster and Netflix.

Of course, YouTube isn’t just standing by, letting this trend happen. Here they are relying less on those crazy-cat videos towards running paid channels with good original content courtesy of their Original Channel Initiative. This is in addition to having the likes of Vevo solicit professionaliy-produced content on to the YouTube catalogue.

It definitely shows us that TV isn’t just about loafing on the couch watching programmes according to the broadcaster’s schedule but more about chasing down the shows we want to see when we want to see them. This could also make terms like prime-time become so less relevant.

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Sports action movies in Australia to become a viable IPTV niche


Sports films to stream online – mUmBRELLA

Film streaming service kicks off on Coast | GoldCoast.com.au

From the horse’s mouth

Garage Entertainment


My Comments

The IPTV concept has provided a lower cost of entry for television-content niches than ever before and is something I have stood for with this site and the home network. A good example of this is the latest effort by Garage Entertainment to run a movies-on-demand service that focuses on the sports action movies that a lot of men like.

These are offered for view across all devices on a pay-per-view business model or a monthly subscription business model with the subscription under AUD$6 per month. As for the content, they are working across films, clips / shorts and similar material for even as far back as 15 years ago and having these available on-demand. At the moment, people who own an Internet-enabled Sony BRAVIA TV or Blu-Ray player such as the BDP-S390 that I reviewed on HomeNetworking01.info will have direct access to this service through the device’s menu. As well, Garage Entertainment are intending to provide direct access to this service on other “Smart-TV” platforms.

What I see of this is that the idea of running a niche-content IPTV service is being lifted “off the ground” and exposed to most people. Some of us may scoff at this idea because it opens the path for poor-quality content but once these services know how to solicit the content properly, this reputation could disappear. On the other hand, filmmakers who focus on particular niches may find that these IPTV services may give their works an airing beyond the film festivals and similar events.

An example of this idea with the growing popularity of the foreign-language film and TV content which could benefit from country groups like Alliance Française running their own channels or content-on-demand services to have more of that particular country’s output even though one or more “art-house” channels run this content on TV. Similarly, a Christian bookshop like Koorong could run a similar channel or content-on-demand service focusing on the wholesome Christian movies even though they are able to sell it as a DVD or Blu-Ray disc. In both examples, these services could extend the offering not just to pay-per-view / rental or subscription models but provide the option to sell the content on the “download-to-own” model.

As for the smart-TV platforms, there needs to be the ability to discover the channels and sign up to the paid content from your armchair. In the same light, the channels could be promoted across public events and other media so people are aware that they exist.

Who knows how this kind of content availability could pan out as the bandwidth increases for Internet TV applications and the number of Smart TVs and similar video peripherals in circulation increases.

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A tabletop Internet radio that doubles as an Internet TV

Articles – German language

19. Dezember – Albrecht DR870 HD-TV,7′ Internet Radio-TV Media Player zu gewinnen | GIZMODO DEGIZMODO DE

Product Page

Albrecht DR870

My Comments

Here is another Internet radio, pitched for use in the kitchen, that has the typical features of a set of its class. This set, known as the Albrecht DR870 and available in Germany, has the FM, Internet radio, local media playback via SD card and access to the DLNA Home Media Network. It would mean that it can play whatever is on the NAS or a Windows computer running Windows Media Player.

But it is also pitched as an auxiliary TV which can pull in DVB-T digital TV as well as various Internet TV services and show these on a 7” LCD screen. This class of compact AV product could earn its keep a fair bit more for “glancing” at news, sports or other events in the kitchen or similar location while you do other activities.

What I see of this is that it could raise the bar as far as a compact radio that is destined for the kitchen, office or small shop. Here, this can integrate TV reception as well as radio reception and media playback in that class of unit and shows what the direction is for a tabletop radio or similar device.

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Canal+ providing its own triple-play service to France

Article – French language

Canal+ prépare une offre triple play – DegroupNews.com (France)

My Comments

Canal+, France’s main pay-TV provider and known for the Engrenages (Spiral) crime drama, now is in on the Internet-service game.

This service will be primarily based around the SFR infrastructure, which means it will be available in areas that are “dégroupée” (fully unbundled) to SFR or have FTTH fibre-optic established by SFR. To understand this for anyone setting up in France, have a look at my feature article about what these terms and requirements are about in this highly-competitive market.

In this keenly-priced market, the prices range from €32.99 / month with 25Mb/s and the typical free landline calls to France and most destinations to €44.99 / month with the LeCube hardware. Expect this to have things like high-definition viewing, Wi-Fi home network and a personal-TV service as well as multi-screen and other features.

This shows that the competitive market can even allow for many service operators to exist using other providers’ infrastructure on a wholesale basis; and many of these operators could exist on such capabilities like content provision.

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