Shenzhen Geniatech Co. Ltd presents some interesting Android Powered Set-top-boxes. These could be sold for around $100 like the Apple TV or Roku box, but they just run the full Android OS including support for lots of video codecs. While Android is not yet really optimized for use on a TV with a remote control, this type of device will support the Google TV software (in this case, without HDMI pass-through overlay features) pretty soon once Google releases that software source code. As you can see on androidauthority.com, it has an AmLogic ARM Cortex-A9 800Mhz processor. Same ARM cortex-A9 platform as used by InnoDigital for their next generation WebTube product.
Category: Google TV
This Android Set-top-box uses the Ziilab ARM Cortex-A8 processor platform with 1080p video playback.
I have it on very high authority from someone at Google (to remain anonymous) that an ARM Powered Google TV platform is coming soon.
The specifics of how Google TV on ARM allows for differentiation (also called fragmentation), if there is support for versions without the whole HDMI-passthrough/IR-blaster overlay features, if Google TV on ARM has 1080p@60fps requirements or if 720p@30fps can be enough, if there will be support for cheaper ARM11 platforms such as Korean Telechips based Android-ready boxes, all of that is yet to be confirmed. But a bloggers logic says that eventually all ARM platforms and setups should be compatible. But as with delay in providing official Google Marketplace on non-standard Android Tablets (in a world of Android makers wanting to compete with iPod Touch and iPad), Google has authority to also decide to block or delay official Marketplace or other official features of Google TV on non-standard and cheaper Set-top-box devices.
I have been rumoring this for many months here on ARMdevices.net (1, 2, 3, 4) that Google TV on ARM would be a certainty, it’s also been talked about by ARM President Tudor Brown back in November that “If Google TV is to be mainstream, it must be built on a lower power system, …on lower cost technology”.
Recently, an unofficial jailbreak on Google TV also confirmed my speculation that the main reason TV Networks can block Google TV is because of the Flash Plugin officially announcing itself in the browser to be of Google TV user agent. Jailbreaking thus allows to install a hacked Flash Plugin that cannot be detected by websites.
Just as since Computex in June 2010 (Bonux, Keenhigh mediatech), I filmed several interesting ARM Powered Android Set-top-boxes at CES 2011 such as the ARM Cortex-A9 Innodigital WebTube and two more Android WebTV solutions that I still have to upload, all of these ARM Powered Android Set-top-box solutions should be able to run a basic Google TV software just as well.
Consider that Google has to cater to not pre-announcing future products too early as to not cannibalize the sales of the existing Intel powered Google TV boxes such as the Logitech Revue, the stuff from Sony and the upcoming Google TV solutions from Vizio, Toshiba, Samsung, Sharp, LG and others (some of those may already be ARM Powered, who knows..). Thus expect the official announcements to happen closer to the date when the Google TV software on ARM is ready for mass marketing and closer to sales.
I still believe that a sub-$100 ARM Powered Google TV Set-top-box could be one of the most revolutionary things to happen to TV since it was introduced in the late 1920ies. The revolution is when an affordable sub-$100 box (that everyone can afford) provides easy UI and meaningful algorithms for one-click instant access to all the worlds legal or illegal VOD contents. Instant access for all to every video ever made. Any video maker can be instantly broadcast on an infrastructure to be seen everywhere according to an algorithm based on ratings to determine quality and originality. People watch an average of 5 hours of TV per day, it greatly aspires to be revolutionized.
Status of this ground breaking Google TV Powered smart TV solution made by Logitech. This video features some information on the software updates and developments happening on this platform.
- Logitech Revue hack brings Android Market, requires brute force (engadget.com)
- Hack the Logitech Revue, Google TV… with an Arduino (electronics-lab.com)
The New York Times reports Toshiba, LG, Sharp, Samsung and Vizio have Google TV projects going, that they may have been all planning to unveil those at CES but that Google may have asked them to delay their unveiling until next software update including full Google Marketplace support is ready. Samsung may still show a couple Google TV devices at CES, Toshiba has confirmed they won’t, Vizio might show some Google TV stuff but only privately and maybe not to be blogged about.
So Google faces challenges in getting American TV networks to agree to allow them to stream TV shows from the web on the Google TV platform. I have estimated that if Google and Adobe wanted, if the negociations with US TV networks wouldn’t lead to a solution, that they could unleash a software update to present both the browser and the flash plugin as “User Agent: Generic” making detection by US TV networks impossible and thus forcing them to either remove online TV streaming completely or just regard Google TV as same user terminal as any “normal” laptop or desktop computer.
So let’s assume Google TV will have only a limited showing at CES, perhaps Google is trying to coordinate a giant unveiling of second phase of Google TV at CeBIT in March, by that time, more of the major manufacturers could present boxes, Google would present not only Google Marketplace and smoother software integration, they could launch world wide Google TV support (not limited to US anymore), they could also, as suggested by Tudor Brown ARM President last month, present cheaper ARM Powered Google TV devices such as the concept of a $99 ARM Powered Google TV box.
The $99 ARM Powered Google TV set-top-box is an important target, as that makes it affordable enough that everyone will buy one, providing full performance for 1080p YouTube streaming and the HDMI pass-through and IR blaster features, it would provide for the perfect platform to revolutionize TV.
I don’t have Google TV yet, I’m waiting for ARM Powered version of it, and they haven’t yet released it world wide. But I like to speculate about how it works as I am sure Google TV will revolutionize TV, and the Trillion-dollar/year TV industry.
The probable technical reason TV networks are able to currently block Google TV from accessing their online web tv offerings is probably flash.
The Chrome browser in Google TV can be set to User Agent: Generic (by default though it is set as User Agent: Google TV), thus making it impossible for websites to detect that the user visiting the website is using a set-top-box or a computer/laptop/tablet or other device.
The probable only way for them to detect the set-top-box, can only be the flash plugin. As Adobe probably doesn’t want to irritate the TV networks, due to them all using Flash, they probably also don’t want to allow Google to switch over the flash player in Google TV to User Agent: Generic.
Google probably also prefers to try as hard as possible to make some deals with the content providers instead of forcing Adobe into setting up Flash to be undetectable. As Google wants all these content partners also to allow their content be distributed on YouTube.
In any ways, if Google and the TV Networks don’t reach an agreement soon, I am sure Google will eventually ask Adobe to provide Flash in a totally undetectable fashion. And if that happens, the TV networks will only be able to decide if they want to have any “legal” streaming of their shows online or none at all. And if they decide to remove online flash streaming, the most popular application on Google TV boxes will most likely then be BitTorrent.
- Vizio and Toshiba reportedly to announce Google TV sets at CES [TNW Google] (thenextweb.com)
- Viacom Blocks Google TV Users (adweek.com)
- Viacom is the latest network to block Google TV (geek.com)
- How To Watch The Daily Show on Google TV (gigaom.com)
- How To Watch The Daily Show on Google TV (nytimes.com)
- Fox to Block Google TV: Now Every Major US TV Network Blocking Google TV (crenk.com)
- Viacom blocks Google TV, the madness continues (venturebeat.com)
- Comedy Central, MTV now blocking Google TV (news.cnet.com)
I already guessed it (2, 3, 4), logically, Google is working with ARM to prepare the ARM Powered Google TV boxes to come probably around early next year, by the same time Google TV OS is open sourced. This will allow for cheaper Google TV, probably down towards the $99 price point, depending on some versions of Google TV excluding the HDMI input and IR Blasters features. Here are my guesses for what good value ARM Powered Google TV should be sold at early next year:
Google TV on ARM Cortex-A9, full 1080p playback support, including high bitrates, high profile, h264 in MKV and other containers.
Output only version: $99
Input/Output + IR version: $149
“We are talking to Google, but we have nothing to announce right now,” said Tudor Brown, president of ARM, at a technology conference in Taipei on Thursday.
Brown said ARM’s latest processors are less expensive and require less power than Intel’s Atom processor. “If Google TV is to be mainstream, it must be built on a lower power system, …on lower cost technology,” he said.
This way, all HDTV’s shipping with ARM Cortex-A9 will be able to include the full Google TV features for just the additional cost of $25 or a bit more for making each HDTV Smart as Marvell’s CEO Dr. Sehat Sutardja explained in his keynote from ARM Techcon.
I haven’t yet got the box, and I haven’t seen these features being confirmed or not by Google TV representatives, it’s being released right now in the US market. Here are some of my expectations for very interesting software and cloud service features to be available with the Google TV platform (currently an Intel CE4100 exclusive, but no reason it won’t work for ARM Cortex A9 SoCs soon as well). I base my speculation on a consideration that Google TV would be a totally open and centrally uncontrollable platform as Google has been describing it to be. If you have any means to confirm if any of these features can happen or not on Google TV, please post in the comments:
1. BitTorrent download/streaming: Just type in the name of a movie, TV show, game or song and it will download to an external USB hard drive, or perhaps even better, it will download to your cloud based storage, so-called online seedbox services which can download any BitTorrent on 1gbit/1gbit symmetrical connections and then stream you the downloaded content after minutes. Imagine such international seedboxing network, that can directly interlink and shares Petabytes among the most popular contents with each other, so in many cases, when you request a popular content, it will already be pre-cached on that seedbox or can quickly be cached within that network and instantly streamed to your Google TV box.
Not very legal? Who knows, laws can be changed by politicians, I expect Google TV could accelerate the implementation of Global Licence regulation, where everyone pays a sort of tax on their Internet Service Provider, which thus is redistributed to content creators directly, excluding old-media intermediaries.
It will be interesting to see if the local BitTorrent client app or if the global remote untracable encrypted seedboxing approach will dominate. I expect that this p2p app on Google TV cannot be blocked or remotely removed by Google, Sony, Logitech or by anyone else, that is, if the platform truly is open. I also expect live p2p streaming to work. So you could also watch any TV channel like this, with a quality bitrate that is the same as your own upload bandwidth, as everyone watching is expected to upload to other viewers in real-time so unlimited amounts of users can tune in for free to any live TV channel they want.
Subscribing to BitTorrent RSS feeds will be a great way to auto-download shows and have them ready stored on the USB hard drive to playback on your TV or to sync to your portable Android device.
2. Cloud-based DVR service: while I wonder if Google TV can record TV contents from its HDMI input, with or without needing to use the recently cracked HDCP copy-protection code, while it may be cool to store HD digital copies of TV contents on a simple external USB hard drive, the most interesting DVR feature of Google TV may be remote cloud based DVR services to be provided by Google and perhaps other cloud service providers. Basically, you hit the record button, and that content is recorded on the cloud. The way it truly would happen, is that Google is recording every TV channel all the time no matter what, and depending on laws and regulations, users should be able to get access to all of that content on-demand after broadcast.
This is one big Global cloud based DVR of all channels. Maybe it would require Google to also provide real-time compression of all those recordings so that people with slower bandwidths can still stream all those cloud DVR recordings. If laws and regulation for DVR use does not allow everyone from rewinding and watching everything on-demand, then at least as long as the user has scheduled any specific recordings, has clicked “record” before the show started, then all that content could be provided back. The question is, may the user click a “Record all channels all the time” button?
Google has been doing global cloud based DVR recordings for a while now, as they need it anyways for their content ID matching technology. So now, the release of Google TV may bring those cloud DVR recordings closer to YouTube as well, as TV contents will be posted to Youtube automatically, depending on rights with content makers. If a TV channel opts-in, 100% of their broadcasts can thus be automatically published to Youtube.
3. Game console: 3D graphics accelerating performance should be powerful enough to provide Wii-like gaming graphics. Logically, there will be emulators available for all Nintendo consoles up till N64 and more if Nintendo agrees to licence its games legally. Also, Google has been saying that video gaming is a big part of their plans for Android 3.0 Gingerbread, which probably also includes support thus for the Google TV platform. Which game controllers will be best to use? The Wii remote or any other decent Bluetooth remote control will probably work great for multi-player gaming.
4. YouTube Leanback: the key for Google TV is to provide an excellent Leanback experience for all web videos. It is absolutely important that when people search for anything, that the best most user targetted video for that topic is displayed in full screen instantly in one click. The recommendations algorithm that Google and other app providers need to implement as overlay layer on top of this Leanback experience is crucial as well. There needs to be one big green “Like” button and one big red “Skip” button of which all user ratings need to be carefully aggregated to thus provide personalized Leanback web video experience. This experience could be so good that it could take over most of people’s daily 5-hours of TV watching.
Imagine this scenario: Sit on your sofa, hit the green button. Leanback starts. It knows your topics of interest and launches a video in a mix of those genres that you like and from a source it thinks you will enjoy at that moment in time based on knowing your tastes. If you are in any specific mood for any specific contents, just type those in to tweak the recommendations algorithm at that moment to bring you contents in those more specified areas. At any moment you can add tags, add or select genres and topics to thus tweak what it brings to you at that moment.
The goal with Leanback is that the algorithm can bring you full screen video contents that should make you think following statement at every single time: Oh wow, this video is just awesome! more!
Eventually, Leanback should provide in-video automatic editing. If you are in a hurry, you could watch just the best parts of any video, skip past the boring parts. The way it learns what parts of videos are best, is that this green “Like” button and red “Skip” or fast-forward buttons can be pushed at any specific times by all users. When something really cool is going on in a video, you can hit the green “Like” button again, it thus creates hot-zones on all videos to thus be able to extract the best scenes and even add them to playlists together with the best scenes from other videos.
5. Content publishing: Google TV could turn out to be one of the futures central tool for creating your own TV contents and publishing it from your living room. The HD webcam such as Logitech’s is not only going to be used for HD video-conferencing, which already is ground-breaking and revolutionary (second best “just like being there” experience with family, friends, colleagues and customers). The HD Webcam could be used to record multi-user live podcast shows, with someone somewhere doing the real-time multi-camera editing, content that can be streamed live by unlimited other users and can be stored thus as TV shows. But it should also support uploading and publishing of any HD video contents from a camcorder, just plug in your HD camcorder to the USB connector of Google TV, and that video content can be published to YouTube HD this way.
6. Quad-HD content streaming: the reason Quad-HD does not yet exist in all our most modern HDTVs is not so much a technological issue, but more of an infrastructure issue. Regular terrestrial, satellite, cable TV networks supposedly do not provide enough bandwidth to provide Quad-HD TV contents on them. And in turn as well, no HDTV makers yet want to produce the Quad-HD screens saying the reason for not making them is because there is no content to watch. Google TV changes this. In theory, Quad-HD is just a newer processor inside of the HDTVs. The upgrade of processor inside of the HDTV to support 3840×2160 may just cost $50 more than the current 1920×1080 HDTV, at least if it is mass manufactured with quickly expanding demand. YouTube already supports Quad-HD content streaming. I estimate that the bandwidth required for on-demand Quad-HD video streaming could be around 24mbit/s. Many Google TV users may already have enough bandwidth to support this. And if full bandwidth is not always available, then any resolution above 1080p and below 2160p could be streamed at adaptable bitrates. It may be true that above 46″ Quad-HD screen may be required for good use of that extra resolution. But I have seen Quad-HD at trade shows for years now, and every time I see demonstrations, it simply is amazing and awesome, even just watching 8megapixel digicam pictures on a Quad-HD screen up close is an awesome experience, I find it 100x more interesting than the marketing fad that is 3DTV.
- Playing With YouTube Leanback On Google TV: Nice! (searchengineland.com)
- Google Leanback on TV is really neat (zdnet.com)
- How It Feels to Use Sony’s First Google TV [Video] (gizmodo.com)
- YouTube Rolls Out Leanback on Eve of Google TV’s Launch (mashable.com)
The imminent release of the $300 Logitech Revue that runs Google TV OS, basically Android for set-top-boxes, uses exclusively an Intel CE4100 for now. One of the reasons for that may be 1080p@60fps h264 high profile high bitrate support (possibly, Intel muscling for some HW decoder exclusivity?). What I am wondering, is, how soon will the Google TV OS be announced to run on the next generation ARM Cortex A9 processors to be sold cheaper than intel? My guess is Google will announce ARM Powered Google TV partners early next year, once Google TV OS 1.0 is open sourced and released for free for anyone to use, after the initial launch exclusivity with Intel, Sony and Logitech and as initial interest for the platform increases.
Until then, ARM Powered “Smart TV” solutions are all over the market in set-top-boxes, media streamers, built-into modern Blu-ray players and HDTVs as you can see in solutions I recently filmed from Philips, LG, Samsung and Panasonic.
Google TV is being launched based on Intel CE4100, Logitech has an event later today. I can’t wait to see reports from it. Sony has their event unveiling their Google TV devices on October 12th, that will be fun too.
Google product manager on Google TV, Rishi Chandra said following:
We do believe that this is the similar transformation that happened with the phone, with the introduction of the Smartphone, now it’s going to happen with the TV, this is the introduction of the Smart TV.
Watch ABC News report over at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMBv5uLvvlA
Look forward to Logitech’s Google TV products to be unveiled later today. Logitech plans to sell at least half a million units in the next three months. Of course, obviously, I can’t wait for Google TV to be compatible with ARM Cortex A9 processors that have full 1080p 60fps support and HDMI pass-through overlay graphics support as well.
I believe Google TV is very important because it is the software that finally makes it possible to easily bring on-demand web video and features into the living room of not just HTPC/mediastreamer geeks but for everyone. People’s 5 hours daily TV watching is going to be disrupted for the better.
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