An outside the box idea... (how feasible?)

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by EndBoards, Jul 19, 2007.

  1. EndBoards

    EndBoards New Member

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    I've been thinking about different options & workarounds for the lack of MRV, and thought of something that might be avenue for Tivo (or someone) to explore. Why not change the whole architecture of the DVR? Instead of a set top architecture, go with more of a server/client(s) architecture..

    Start with a centralized "dvr server" containing say 3 cablecard tuners - basically an S3-and-a-half in a single box. This server streams content to nodes located throughout the house. The nodes convert this stream to A/V output for whatever display/sound systems you have and also receive commands from remotes.

    I got the idea from the slingbox type distribution systems that send component video and IR commands over Cat5. You can achieve a form of MRV with this system and a pair of DVR's, but you still have to manage and switch between two independent DVR's. So why not integrate the whole thing? One DVR that can show multiple sessions anywhere in the home.

    Drawbacks: Obviously, I'd guess that it would take a pretty powerful server, not to mention Cat5 throughout your home, and maybe a gigabit network. To satisfy CableLabs you'd probably still have to convert protected content to analog before streaming...

    Benefits: One DVR to manage, content is viewable anywhere in the house, enough tuners to satisfy most families, no files to transfer, no STB to deal with... You could also go to a more user based rather than location based management scheme. Instead of "living room", "bedroom", etc.. A user selects his name and sees his own shows, channel lists, configuration options, etc... These options carry to whatever node he happens to be using at the time..

    Ok... fire away..
     
  2. ajwees41

    ajwees41 Well-Known Member

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    It is already being done in some cable areas. with cable equipment.

    ajwees41
     
  3. GoHokies!

    GoHokies! O2->CO2 Converter

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    KFME
    Not a bad idea, that.

    Not everyone wants to (or has the ability to) have network cables around, and moving HD in realtime could be a problem.

    I think that Diego is working on something like this, but don't remember the details.
     
  4. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    the streaming would take care of cablelab objections.

    but why make for new equipment.

    I would think that instead of copying the whole show over - which is the big cablelabs objection - that TiVo could just bring over part of the show, say a 15 minute buffer and that moves along as you watch the show. You have trick play within that buffer and when the show is done or after some time period you can not see it on the second TiVo but would have to reinitiate "the stream" from the first TiVo again
     
  5. EndBoards

    EndBoards New Member

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    If I understand correctly, CableLabs' hangup isn't so much "streaming vs. moving" as it is protected content leaving a particular box in digital form.

    Why make for new equipment? Simple: Having user-based management and a single DVR to manage seems significantly more convenient (to me anyway).

    GH is right.. The need for Cat5 is a drawback. As far as bandwidth goes, there's always the possibility of compressing the stream before it leaves the server then decompressing it at the other end.. Again.. just throwing ideas around..
     
  6. vstone

    vstone Active Member

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    Martinsville...
    The SA8300HD is designed to do that, although in that application I believe it has a slightly different model number. Last time I brought up the diagnostics on mine, I noticed switches for this. In this application this is similar to a Windows Server accessing its on web server like other PCs on the network would - i.e. the server is also being used as a workstation. In the case of the SA8300HD, it is being used as a server and DVR, and other STB's (non-DVR, I believe) access the server.

    This is also doable with XP MCE with an Media Extension Box (or whatever they call them). The same capability is available on Vista, but the only client is the XBOX. Guess what: I don't want no stinkin' XBOX! (I don't play games, but my hats off to those who do - they push the envelope).
     
  7. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    The Comcast motorolla boxes will have streaming ability and once that is in palce the TiVo software will have a UI to support that.

    Streaming between DVrs at various places in the house will work. Also I think the Moto streaming is over the coax. No idea if it is HD streaming though.

    with my part of the show at a time idea I was wondering if cable labs would allow that since the whole show is never on the other DVR at any one time. Just another way to keep cable labs happy perhaps without TiVo having to do major rewrites
     
  8. sjcbulldog

    sjcbulldog Member

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    Myself, and several others i know are effectively already doing this with HD off the air tuners, and using a cable box for a tuner for non-HD content. I have played with a center media server that has four total tuners with a large amount of disk space. I am running Windows Vista Media Center with a Microsoft xbox 360 used as a media center extender. I also use the add-in package called MyMovies and have ripped my DVD collection to the server as well. My music is all ripped to this same server and my pictures are all stored here as well. The media is all served both through the Media Center, and just through Window Media sharing. I have not "released" this to the rest of the family as the primary way to perform DVR functions, as I have Tivos in each of the rooms with TVs. I do have 1 gig ethernet between the media server (which is in my office) and the rooms with the TVs.

    For the most part it was a pretty nice setup which is why I think Tivo should beware of where Microsoft is heading. There is also no monthly cost for the media center setup. The missing pieces were a cablelabs approved tuner card that could stream video to the various Windows Media extenders in the house; however this is on the way. Also, currently, the average user could not get all of this setup without help (especially MyMovies and the associated codecs needed to stream to the extender in a format it undestands). So while there is a ways yet to go to get all of this working together smoothly (especially with the ripped DVDs), it is getting closer. Once it is done, all of my content in the house as well as what was recorded via the various tuners is available for use.

    The bad thing here for Tivo, is that if MRV was on the horizon at all, I wouild not be spending calories to look at this. With MRV, the Tivo + Galleon is more functional, and easier to setup than the Window Media Center solution. If the Tivo had MRV then I could live without the HD streaming capability and be happy with access to all of my videos, DVDs, pictures, music, and tuner recorded content via Galleon and Tivo.

    Just my $0.02 worth
    sjcbulldog
     
  9. ADent

    ADent Active Member

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    DirecTV was supposed to have a four tuner HD box that could then feed more regular units.
     
  10. TexasGrillChef

    TexasGrillChef New Member

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    Two companies provide similar type solutions. They only serve MOVIES and do NOT have DVR functionality in them

    I have had YOUR idea for sometime. As I have the Avionix MOVIE system. It would be simple enough to COMBINE both TIVO & the AVIONIX into one unit. However the legalities of that with CABLECARDS & Cablelabs is another issue all together.

    Here is the link for AVIONIX MOVIE SERVERS.... http://axonix.com/

    Kalaidascape is the other company that provides MOVIE servers. http://www.kaleidescape.com/

    check em out and see what ya think.

    TexasGrillChef

    P.S.
    The AVionix system which I have is fantastic. The servers allow for Firewire &/or USB Hard Drive upgrades.

    THey also now have HD-DVD support and soon to have Blu-ray support as well.
     
  11. captain_video

    captain_video Member

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    Verizon already has such a setup but it only works with standard definition programming. They're working on a method to stream HD content throughout the house but it may be a while before we see it.

    The company someone referred to as "Diego" is actually called Digeo (perhaps they're manufactured in Mexico, just like our Tivos :D ). They're the ones that developed the Moxi Box and have a new product that's supposed to be introduced in the upcoming months. It's a dual-tuner DVR with cablecards and a built-in DVD player. Here's a press release with more info:

    http://www.digeo.com/press_pressrelease.aspx?id=5

    The press release doesn't mention anything about the DVD player but the one shown at the CES had the integrated player. Perhaps they've changed the design and removed the player. Here's a link with photos:

    http://www.digeo.com/tech.aspx

    The one in the upper right is the model I'm referring to. The DVD player is a slot-load model and you can clearly see the slot in the photo.
     
  12. snathanb

    snathanb New Member

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    Such as distribution system was also in the works on the short-lived VOOM HD satellite service.
     
  13. EndBoards

    EndBoards New Member

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    wow.. sounds like in about 6-10 months this will be a fairly feasible solution.

    Compliments to sjb - your setup sounds excellent. Do you have a website or some other resource where I can learn more about what you've done? Perhaps a good MCE forum? And I also agree with you - if Tivo had HME enabled on S3 I wouldn't even be looking into this..

    To me personally, the missing hardware pieces are a non X-box MC extender and CableLabs approved tuner cards - hopefully 2 way capable to be compatible with SDV... If those were on the market, I'd start working on a setup today.
     
  14. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    I'm just wondering why streaming seems appealing to folks.

    When the central unit goes down, or the network gets flakey, all the TVs are busted.

    From a reliability engineering standpoint, the centralized plan of all eggs in one basket is foolhardy. I have reduced my options to a single path of success. Alternately in a decentralized solution, If a hard drive fails or the network goes down on one device, I can simply go to another room.

    If any component goes down on the centralized device, you are SOL until you have time to fix the centralized device. You are also in a vulnerable situation because if there is some time critical function (like the big game, or wifey wants to record the final episode of the soap), then to achieve success I must pay some guy big bucks using overpriced parts to fix it fast.

    But maybe streaming seems more "live" and that has an inherent appeal- the sense of immediacy and all. I dunno- it just seems more unresponsive at FF/REW/skipping, flakeyness with MPEG4, and oriented to single point of failure.
     
  15. davew723

    davew723 New Member

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    I think MVR (transfer, not streaming) is better for content recorded by the Tivo Tuner between Tivos. Its the right solution for that application.

    Although I would really love to see streaming content made available on the Tivo by an HME update. I see it more as an additional content source similar to renting movies from unbox. Althought this content would initially not be stored long term. Just cached until a stream/channel change. Having the ability to view/download from some of the following direct streams mpg2/mpg4/h.264/wmv/divx or via flash/silverlight would be huge for Tivo. Content providers like YouTube could easily create their own HME plugin and Tivo would get to collect their typical month service fees. YouTube is not the only content source. There are lots of video sources. Another example is http://wwitv.com. I can see a HME plugin for this site and many more. Or Channels like the Home Shopping Network might want their own HME plugin where they could show the live video stream. Embedded in the stream is VBI/script content that could be parsed by the HME add and provide the option to make direct secure purchases via the Tivo HME app along side the video.

    Streaming in my mind just opens additional content which Tivo needs to stay competitive.

    Tivo should take some baby steps toward open streaming. Allow viewing it but not storing it, to avoid copyright issues. Only open up a couple formats at the start. Maybe just mpg2/4 at the start or what ever is easy. The next step would be to create a better Tivo partner program where vendors could certify the DRM on the content to store the content longer term, similar to unbox.
     
  16. EndBoards

    EndBoards New Member

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    Yes, you can go to another room, but you can't view anything on the failed box.

    None of this concerns me. In all my years of working with PC's, both at home and at the office, using both low-end and high-end products, I can remember a total of 3 hardware failures... I've built several PC's from scratch and I know where to get good prices on quality components. Anything I buy or build will have plenty of redundancy built in. And personally, there is very little on TV that I'd ever define as "critical".. Maybe a few sporting events per year, and really only if my teams are playing.. As far as the wife goes, nearly everything she's interested in is available online - some at a better quality than we get from our cable operator.

    There are also benefits to centralization. Easier management. Half the hardware = half the components that could fail. Flexibility in the location and appearance of your devices.

    We're talking about streaming recorded content, so a "live" feeling doesn't seem relevant. I use the low-end slingbox over my 10/100 LAN at home and it's pretty responsive remote-wise.. Though I would hope for better..

    Streaming in itself has no appeal. The appeal is that (right now) it's the only way to get what we want - a well integrated and modular system that allows you to time and place shift all of the various forms of content in the home. If that was achievable with a more distributed system of transferring between boxes, then I'd probably go that route. In fact, the ideal solution in my mind would be if the extenders had a good sized (say 5GB) buffer that would allow faster local response and be less susceptible to network issues..
     
  17. EndBoards

    EndBoards New Member

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    woah.. streaming content off the internet isn't at all what I'm talking about.. (Actually "we" rather than "I" since it's obviously not a new idea)

    The idea is to record normal Cable TV content to a "master" or "server" DVR that lives in a closet in my home. That DVR distributes the content on demand (streaming appears to be all that's acceptable to CableLabs) over my own LAN to one or more small local boxes also within my home. Those boxes sent component video (or maybe HDMI eventually) to my local A/V system.
     
  18. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    I am fine with streaming but as a way to view shows between components placed at each TV. I would rather have multiple units in the house to easily deal with failures and for shows I really do not want to miss I typically set them to record on 2 different units.
     
  19. vstone

    vstone Active Member

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    Martinsville...
    I agree.

    Consider the following true tale: At a vacation home, ER is coming in poorly. Of course I have to make it better, the end result being no ER at all. Better half is not amused for several years. I know its only TV and she knows its only TV, but one point of failure can get you in the doghouse and eventually cost you a big rock!

    Having missed severl season/series finales due to the cable comp. DVR, I say let's go for a graceful/gradual loss of services, not a complete one. (of course, the lightening strikes the house - and all bets are off!)
     
  20. sjcbulldog

    sjcbulldog Member

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    A good site for looking at Windows Vista Media Center Edition is http://www.thegreenbutton.com/.

    As to single point failures, if you have the right machine with the right air flow and the right UPS (or surge protection), you find that computers go for a long time without failure. While I agree that the single Tivo box will last even longer, for me the tradeoff of less infrequent failures is worth the convinence of all of the media in a single place.

    As to streaming, the big issue for me is not streaming per se, but the ability to watch any moving I want immediately from its storage repository without a delay of minutes or hours to start. It does not matter if it is truely streaming, or being xfer'ed to a local hard disk and played from there, as long as I can start watching that show I want within at least a couple of minutes. This implies that the bandwidth must be there to "stream" HD content in real time.

    Just my $0.02 worth
    Sjcbulldog
     

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