What Codec is Unbox using - is it the same for S2s and S3s?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Dajad, Jul 11, 2007.

  1. Dajad

    Dajad Active Member

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    Enquiring minds want to know.

    As far as I know the S2s can only decode Mpeg2. The S3 can natively decode MP3/H.264. Presumably TiVo/Amazon would use the H.264 codec for S3s to save a whole lot of bandwidth and/or get a much higher resolution for the bits-per-second buck! Anyone know?

    I'm really hoping Amazon uses H.264 files (and not the ungainly Mpeg2 files) for the S3. If so this leads to the prospect of HD content (at reasonable file sizes) coming soon to the S3 through Unbox - just as Microsoft is doing for HD movie/TV show downloads to the 360.

    ...Dale
     
  2. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    they have different encoder/decoder chips , the codec may be different but I think the resulting mpeg2 for analog is the same format. I imagine for now it is the same mpeg2 file coming from UNBOX for an S2 or an S3.

    Nothing has used the mpeg4 formats on the S3 yet. UNBOX is of course the first thing it makes sense for such a use of delivering HD
     
  3. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Right now all Unbox content is MPEG2. In fact the S3 software hasn't been updated to use the MPEG4 decoder yet, so they couldn't use MPEG4 even if they wanted to. However I doubt they'd use MPEG4 even if they could. The reason being is that only S3 units have the hardware to decode MPEG4. Amazon is already having to maintain three copies of every video to support TiVo, PCs and portable devices. If they offered MPEG4 versions for S3 owners then they would need a 4th version just for a small subset of users. I'm not sure if they'd want to do that. Although I'd love it if they did, especially if they also retained the original DD5.1 audio.

    Dan
     
  4. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    2 questions-

    - how do we KNOW the MPEG4 decoder is not active?


    -what's the big deal for amazon to havea 4th (or even 5th or 6th ) version of a movie to download? It's only space on a hard drive(s) someplace no? And some cpu time when they first get a movie in to encode it to another standard? wouldn't it literally be a matter of pennies to them or is there a lot more to it?
     
  5. Dajad

    Dajad Active Member

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    Thanks Dan. Actually it makes REAL sense for Amazon to support H.264 because all of the following settops and portable devices now support it.

    SETTOPS:

    - TiVo Series 3 (well once TiVo supports it)
    - Xbox 360
    - PS3
    - Apple TV

    PORTABLE DEVICES:

    - iPod/iPhone
    - Apple TV
    - PSP
    - Zune

    to name but a few. And, of course, any PC can play back H.264 via WMP or iTunes/Quicktime.

    It seems to have become (in recent months) the global standard that DivX/XVid wanted to me. So, I'd be enormously surprised if MPeg4/H.264 doesn't become the defacto standard.

    ...Dale
     
  6. HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

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    So you are saying no protected WMV for the S3? ;)
     
  7. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    The problem is that all of those devices use different methods for DRM. So Amazon would either need to maintain different files for each, or do the multiplexing/DRM at download time which may or may not even be feasible with their system.

    Dan
     
  8. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    that is all true ... for SD, but if UNBOX started sending out HD content then it would make sense for TiVo to finally turn on the MPEG4 capabilities. It would only be a software update for the S3 and only S3 could play the HD version so no worries about S2 compatibility. Since TiVo has the order direct from the DVR function going then they get a piece of each download, that is incentive to spend the resources to finally turn on MPEG4.

    I think both UNBOX and TiVo realize that it is best to start slow and just did the common SD as a starting point. They can not ignore HD for long and expect to keep market share
     
  9. Dajad

    Dajad Active Member

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    Excellent point! I hadn't thought of that. I wonder why the BitTorrent crowd haven't swarmed to H.264 since every device they'd want to play their content on now (or soon will) supports H.264. All the big boys refused to support DivX/Xvid to placate Hollywood. One shift by the BitTorrent community to H.264 and we'd have the universal video equivalent to MP3s!

    I had another thought, it would be to Amazon's EXTREME benefit to use MP4/H.264 for bandwidth reasons alone. Presumably Amazon is paying for the bandwidth. They could cut their bandwidth to 1/4 or 1/5th of what it is now if they switched from Mpeg2 to H.264. That would be reason enough for me.

    Not to mention that S3's could store much more downloadable content in H.264 format.

    Imagine, for instance that instead of purchasing say, season one for BattleStar Galactica, the user purchases it from Unbox. Unbox could start downloading all 22 episodes (or whatever the number is, one at a time). The first would be available whenever it arrived and the others would come in behind. The user could have the entire season on their S3, the subsequent episodes would not expire until 24 hours after someone started watching them. There would be no need to order them one at a time. And, if they were in H.264 format they would use MUCH less real-estate on the users TiVo - and/or High Def versions could take up no more room than the standard def versions do in Mpeg2. There's lots of neat ideas TiVo could pursue here and H.264 would make it much easier for them in the S3 world.

    ...Dale
     
  10. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    I understand about Dan's point with multiple copies, but it's is nothing in space or the logic to load up the correct file- it's just yet another case with identical semantics. So the bandwidth savings wins out.

    As far as Tivo goes, the PC could assist a compression of the hard drive, yielding the equivalent of 6 to 8TB capacity on 2TB drives.

    Before too long, you'll be seeing Tivos with 2000 movies. Take it on vacation and even if you get rained out, you have got your entire dvd library- home videos- everything with you- and then some.

    And the upgrade will cost you what it does to put a 300GB in your Tivo today.
     
  11. HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

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    This is not you or me re-encoding at home. This is professional level work and has to be robust. There is some effort. There are less than 30,000 S3s in the world. When more hi-def TiVoes are around it becomes practical.

    Which HD color rating would go on those compressed videos?

    You'd lug an S3 on vacation? :) Maybe the S3-lite, I mean S3-light. :)


    Seriously though, the major issue is what DRM scheme is going to be supported/used.
     
  12. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    My question sort of got glossed over- but what is the big deal if amazon has 20 different versions on their servers? Is hard drive space all that big a deal in this day and age? They dont have a server farm big enough to be able to do the encoding for another few versions of the file? the bandwidth savings might make up for the extra storage space and processing time- no?

    Or am I missing something?
     
  13. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    no, multiple copies are not that big a deal as you point out. What matters to UNBOX is how many of each type of copy can they rent/sell and at what point is that break even to go forward?

    also captian_video makes a point in reverse. he talks about the current format being alright for iPod or small SD screen. This format of the content is not but so valuable to content owners since long term it does not stand up and people are likely to rebuy/rerent thesame stuff in the future if they want it but in a higher format. The content owners know about the analog hole and that nothing they do really stops it but they are trying as hard as they can to make the digital hole as tiny as they can and thus I think they hold HD format a little closer to the chest.
     
  14. HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

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    Gee, I thought this was more than gloss:

    But it is more than that. Its not just TiVoes, and it is about supporting an acceptable protected format, like protected WMV.
     
  15. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    NJ

    sorry- i wasn't clear you were replying to me.

    I understand that it's a sizable effort to go back and redo the old content- but what do they add a week- a couple hundred items. I'd think they could schedule that in whatever batch run they do and make another few copies of different flavors.

    (and I get the market isn't there yet- was just asking hypothetical since it seemed some were saying it was a huge ordeal to make additional versions. so was wondering for the future).

    unfortunately in the end everyone will be overtaken by the borg and it will all be windows DRM I'm sure...
     
  16. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    T-shirt idea to make people scratch their heads

    resistence to digital HD is futile :D
     
  17. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    NJ
    catchy
     
  18. HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

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    Like lice. :D
     

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