Set Tops Are Back - Microsoft Media Room
I know little about IPTV other than I figure it's Television over the Internet. Heh.
Announced earlier this month was Microsoft Media Room, an update to Microsoft's IPTV platform. Long Zheng (fantastic blog) had the scoop four weeks ago when he noticed Microsoft trademarking it in Australia.
I'd personally really like to see Microsoft get this right. Remember UltimateTV? Microsoft's also been talking to Comcast (my provider) about Microsoft's Foundation software for a while.
There's rumor around that say that Microsoft's Foundation software will run on the craptaculous Comcast Motorola 3412 DVR. There's also word that Tivo's software can run on that Motorola 3412 as well. Either why, I needs me an upgrade.
You can find a gallery of images of the Xbox 360 IPTV interface over at Engadget. It'd be interesting if someone put together a matrix of all the IPTV options out there so we could get an idea of what our choices are going to be in the future. There's already a lot of XBoxes out there, and I'm unclear as to what software will be running on what box.
For example, I have a Motorola DVR from Comcast, and an Xbox 360. I don't think this is an unusual scenario. I have Verizon FIOS for my Internet. IPTV comes out, now what? Do I run it on my Comcast DVR? Maybe not, perhaps I cancel with Comcast, and Verizon sends me a new set top box. Or, do I use the Xbox 360? If I want IPTV in another room do I go buy another Xbox?
I'd love for the XBox360 to take on this role. If you've never seen the Media blade with in the 360 or watched a download HD movie on it, you're missing quite a treat. The experience is butter. Truly. Even better is the Media Center integration on the Xbox.
The problem with all this isn't a problem my Mom will have. She'll get one box from her television provider and it'll work. No Problem.
It's me (I?) who will have problems. I just want to watch TV. How will I choose?
|Motorola 3412||Poo||Coax Cable||It current sucks so bad that it's personally embarrassing for me, and I had nothing to do with it's development. But, the hardware is out there. Whose software will unleash it?|
|Xbox 360||Microsoft||IP||Has fantastic potential and I already have the box. Who will offer the service though?|
|Microsoft Media Center||Microsoft||Coax or possibly IP||Media Center could potentially support IP TV. For Coax or over-the-air-HD it's great, but they are expensive and the hardware is often loud.|
|XBox 360 to a Media Center||Microsoft||RDP||I can remote into a Media Center from my Xbox.|
|Tivo||Tivo||Coax (so far)||Everyone loves their Tivo, and they "nearly had IPTV" two years ago. Still, their software could run on Motorola's hardware and be distributed through cable.|
|AppleTV||Apple||IP (via iTunes)||Video quality was initially quite poor, but more and more offerings are available at at least SDTV resolutions. This will no doubt get better.|
|Front Row||Apple||IP||Apple's Media Center software. Doesn't support "TV" only iTunes.|
|OpenSource||OpenSource||Coax/IP||There's lots of great open source Media Center Software for folks with TV Cards|
|DemocracyTV||Non-Profit||IP||Video Podcasting Client and much much more. Has some good HD content.|
Either way, do head over to http://www.microsoftmediaroom.com and http://www.microsoft.com/tv and check it out. Click on Find Your Local Provider and you'll get a list of the providers that can offer Media Room today. Note AT&T U-verse is listed for the US. I've never heard of this service, and their ordering site is down, so I can't see if it's available in my area.
International (non-US) Readers, what's the word about IPTV and set-top boxes where YOU are?
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
It would be nice if Microsoft pulls this off and add another competitor to the market, like DirecTV did years ago. Or at least replace the crappy software currently on the ComCast DVR boxes with their mediaroom software. TimeWarner sold to ComCast in Florida a few months ago and so far the internet access has gone down three times in 20 days. And now they want to replace my perfectly good Moto DVR with some new version.
Neuros also has some potential. However, everything seems to be in alpha version.
I bet we'll hear more about it at E3 (and it's probably no surprise that we're hearing about MediaRoom now, with E3 around the corner).
As a happy Xbox360 owner and frustrated Comcast customer, I'm hoping Microsoft does this right.
anyway, except for the music streaming and picture viewer it is more or less the same thing.
I have seen it in action and there are many problems at the moment:
1. the content is streamed in h.264 which sounds good at first, but if you realize that the sources for those streams are usually DVB-S channels with low bandwidth, the result of a second compression is total garbage.
2. HDTV streams have acceptable quality... using about 12mbit bandwith, but it takes anywhere from 1 to 30s to switch to a protected (encrypted) hdtv channel... thats not what I call ultra-fast channel switching :(
3. due to the multicast there are problems if multiple boxes are connected at one household. the effect can be that all boxes are activated at the same time if one of them is programmed to record a show.
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I'm holding out for IPTV through Media Center... Wishful thinking?