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 3840x2160 may just cost $50 more than the current 1920x1080 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)
Google announced this new resolution support on Youtube a bit weirdly: 4K is 4096x3072 thus 3072p. It is not "4096p" and not "1096 x 3072 pixels". Or is 4K supposed to amount to 4 Million pixels? Here's the text from Youtube's announcement (as posted at this moment to http://youtube-global.blogspot.com/2010/07/whats-bigger-than-1080p-4k-video-comes.html):
Today at the VidCon 2010 conference, we announced support for videos shot in 4K (a reference resolution of 4096 x 3072), meaning that now we support original video resolution from 360p all the way up to 4096p.
We always want videos on YouTube to be available in the highest quality possible, as creators intend. In December of last year, we announced support for 1080p, or full HD. At 1096 x 3072 pixels, 4K is nearly four times the size of 1080p. To view any video in a source resolution greater than 1080p, select "Original" in the video quality pulldown menu:
Here's my reaction:
- WHOAAAWWW! Is this 1st of April or something? Is Google talking for real?
- What is the bitrate going to be for 4K? My guess, based on calculating the bitrate per pixel of 2mbit/s for Youtube 720p and 4mbit/s for Youtube 1080p is that for 4K it would be something like 24mbit/s. That's within the same bitrate as our 15 year old DV format (like miniDV tapes). That's like the top bitrate established for 1080p AVCHD format. This is totally manageable! We can get 50mbit/s and 100mbit/s "easilly" over here in Scandinavia. If Google would provide full bandwidth delivery of Youtube 4K worldwide, we could seriously enjoy this!
- I wish the LCD and Projector industry focus on making Quad HD or 4K screens (however they should be called) instead of that 3D fad thing. Logically, thanks to Youtube 4K, we could be getting 4K HDTVs and projectors for less than $1000 by this time next year. Because the processors are already ready, they just need to be put into mass manufactured screens and projectors.
Another point in Youtube's announcement that I would like to learn something about and maybe start to counter:
To give some perspective on the size of 4K, the ideal screen size for a 4K video is 25 feet; IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors.
I have seen Quad HD LCD screens at trade shows. Those were in the 50-82" range I think. They are absolutely amazing (Sergey Brin has one), some of the most impressive demonstrations I have ever seen in going to most of the trade shows since 2005. See my video of the Samsung 3840x2160p 82" LCD HDTV. See my video of the JVC 4K2K HDTV and Projector.
I believe that one can see higher than 1080p on HDTV starting below 50" sizes. The iPhone 4 has a 326DPI 3.5" screen. I don't see why we can't get higher DPI on our HDTVs than 52DPI on a 42" HDTV? Why should the iPhone 4 have a 6x higher DPI than my 42" 1080p Full HD HDTV? If they were to put 4K processor in my 42" HDTV, it would still "only" have a 111DPI, still much less than what they have done on the iPhone 4. Sure my 42" HDTV has 132 times larger surface area than an iPhone (a 42" HDTV could fit 132 of iPhone's screens), if you want to set a standard for what the DPI per field of vision should be based on the iPhone 4 held at half arms length (50cm) with 326DPI screen, then a 42" HDTV with 4K screen of 111DPI would need to be seen within 1.5 meters of a distance to get the same effect. Usually a sofa is placed 4-6 meters away from the LCD HDTV. Perhaps people will want to sit closer to the screen to experience something closer to 4K quality. At the photo exhibitions and museums of paintings, it is common for people to approach the images at distances closer than 1 meter to appreciate the details in the image. Perhaps 4K would be more suitable sizes above 50" and preferably perhaps even above 60" in diagonal. 67" 4K HDTV would have a 70DPI thus achieve same pixels per angle of view at 2.5 meters distance. 65" 1080p HDTV is $2500 today at Best Buy, how much more would it cost to include the latest 4K processor in there to stream 4K contents from Youtube 4K? Perhaps 4K HDTVs in the living room can be displaying any of our existing 12megapixel images taken with any recent digital photo camera, slideshows on a 4K screen look awesome. Thus Picasa could be streaming out some amazing customized and personalized slideshows, to be marvelled at in the living room at closer distance than usual.
Another point in Youtube's announcement that I would like to discuss:
Because 4K represents the highest quality of video available, there are a few limitations that you should be aware of. First off, video cameras that shoot in 4K aren’t cheap, and projectors that show videos in 4K are typically the size of a small refrigerator. And, as we mentioned, watching these videos on YouTube will require super-fast broadband.
Now, let's discuss, when are cheap 4K encoders going to be available? What hardware is required in the camcorder to encode that resolution effectively (and not also use up too much bandwidth in its compression). How expensive are the 4K decoders really?
Is 4K support something that could come with the upcoming ARM Cortex A9 processors?
I would think that this could be a nice challenge for ARM processor providers to work towards. They have now reached 1080p playback for a while already, even though it only really comes with ARM Cortex A9 to small low power consumer devices. Media streamers though have done 1080p playback for a few years already. I filmed the first 1080p KiSS Technology players at CeBIT 2004:
With Moore's law, doubling of playback processing every 18 months, 4K decoders should have been ready since the second half of 2008 already, and in Set-top-box devices that shouldn't cost more than the KiSS Technology DP-600 shown in 2004, less than $300 today? Perhaps next year we will be able to see Google TV boxes with 4K and Youtube 4K streaming support on $2K 65" 4K LCD HDTVs or $1K 4K projectors?
Here's an update on my August 2nd 2008 wish-list for features of my next HD Camcorder:
Since the beginning of 2008, I have been using my Sanyo HD1000 camcorder to post about 1000 videos in 9mbit/s 720p HD quality (h264 baseline Sanyo recordings) to Youtube and before mid-2008 using 3.5mbit/s DivX 720p HD to my server when I posted all my technology videos at http://techvideoblog.com. In 2005-2007, I was using my old Sony HDR-HC1 for my 1080i HDV recordings to video-blog in 3.5mbit/s DivX 720p and Google Video.
I consider myself to be a professional video-blogger, thus I really would like to see the HD camcorder industry to include video-blogger features in next generation camcorders.
I would like to see Sanyo release a compact pocketable HD3000 model in the next couple of months, with following features:
- built-in WiFi upload to Youtube HD, like the Eye-Fi but WiFi uploads should be fast at full WiFi speed with resume of uploads supported and very easy to use user interface in the camera to manage uploads and automatic-uploads.
- built-in Android touch screen interface (for editing titles/descriptions), with USB-host or Bluetooth for keyboard text input to edit titles/descriptions
- faster/better H264 encoding quality per bitrate with more lower bitrate options such as 4mbit/s 720p (which should be at least as good quality as 9mbit/s encoding on the older Sanyo HD1000) for quicker upload to Youtube.
- Wireless microphone using Bluetooth or RF built-in would be nice as well.
- Live WiFi streaming with overlay chat API for Qik/Ustream would be nice as well while it also records HD versions.
- If possible, it should record both 4mbit/s 720p or 1080p 8mbit/s for Youtube and 20mbit/s 1080p for archiving.
- It should support automatic editing of intro/outros in all videos. Thus I could record a new intro/outro for each new event and it should just automatically edit that in.
- Let me pause recordings to thus edit videos while I film and let me join/cut videos within the camcorder faster than on HD1000
- It should let me point to a transparent PNG file to use as Watermark in all videos by default, the Watermark should be applied while filming thus not loosing any quality in re-encoding later.
- Version with built-in SIM card slot for HSDPA features would be nice, constant overlay live IRC chat would be nice to receive live questions and suggestions from live viewers
- 4.3" or 4.8" screen would be nice as viewfinder compared to the 2.7" of the HD1000.
- Built-in 2.5" or 1.8" hard drive compartment would be nice for adding built-in storage upwards 500GB.
- Otherwise a second built-in SDHC card slot would be nice.
- Some clever system to swap battery while filming without having to interrupt the filming would be impressive.
- Built-in wide-angle, I film everything in wide-angle so I'd rather not have to buy an add-on wide-angle lense. Yet it's ok if Sanyo make the lense look wide an cool by default (small lenses don't look as professional).
Dear Camcorder industry, if you want to differentiate your HD Camcorder with good optics (better than a basic Flip camcorder), and not let Smartphones get HD camcorder functions built-in before we see some of these things. These features are it! Once you have got these features integrated, you can start aiming towards Quad-HD resolution recording for cheap if the HDTV LCD industry can follow as well, instead of making those ridiculous 3D HDTV.
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