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H.264 settop boxes and IPTV  
Thursday, 02 March 2006

In my previous post, I talked about the MatrixStream settop box capable of H.264 playback. What I did not mention is that it is an IPTV-only settop box. It does not perform the geeky-fun stuff like playback from your home server. Furthermore, it does not handle HD-DVD or Blu-ray disc formats. IMO, this basically relegates to a carrier solution, rather than a consumer solution. However, I do expect to see network HD-DVD or Blu-ray players that can handle H.264, by nature, of course.

But this all brings up the point of what is IPTV? I have not been researching it much, but it seems to be three things to me: a carrier transport, a DRM-ed TV/Film-over-Internet service, and an Internet media movement. To me, the first one, carrier transport, is uninteresting. It is mainly transparant to the customer. Verizon FiOS TV is an example of that. CinemaNow is a good example of the second category. I could get CinemaNow for my LinkPlayer if I wanted and I were running a Windows server (to apply the DRM, of course). Some day, I may take a look at running a Windows virtual machine on my Linux server, because on-demand films is quite compelling. I just despise how online media technologies and DRM are so factional by the software corporations.

Revision3The latter category--Internet-distributed media sharing-- is interesting to me. By sharing, I do not imply piracy, but people creating stuff in a semi-formal manner as popularized by podcasting. In the realm of video casts, Revision3 and RocketBoom are excellent examples as well as community sites like OurMedia, MeFeedia, and YouTube.

When I spoke on the phone with the gentleman from MatrixStream, he was eager to talk about the independent (news) media movement and vlogging. He was trying to suggest something about doing it live or very-near-live streaming, rather counter to the syndication-orientation of blogging. Despite technology and time-convenience aspects of the technology, I suggested that it takes a well-directed team to pull off a decent live news program, and that would be hard to do over the Internet. Recently, however, I learned about an interesting program for Windows called Wirecast that is affordable and would help towards that. I can not help but think about how my MLT project could be used to develop something similar.