Video Technology Magazine December 2005               

Major Digital Media Tradeshows
I have compiled a list of all the video related tradeshow I could find, I am always looks for more to add.

Digital Video Tradeshows for 2006

Some of the major shows comming up next month are:

January 5-8, 2006
CES Consumer Electronics Show
Las Vegas, NV

January 23, 2006
NATPE Mobile++
Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV At NAPTE

January 24-26, 2006
NATPE National Association of Television Program Executives
Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV

I am already booked and ready to go for CES
CES is the world's largest annual tradeshow for consumer technology and America's largest annual tradeshow of any kind.

Some of Products That Debuted at CES

Videocassette Recorder (VCR), 1970
Laserdisc Player, 1974
Camcorder, 1981
Compact Disc Player, 1981
Digital Audio Technology, 1990
Compact Disc - Interactive, 1991
Mini Disc, 1993
Radio Data System, 1993
Digital Satellite System, 1994
Digital Versatile Disk (DVD), 1996
High Definition Television (HDTV), 1998
Hard-disc VCR (PVR), 1999
Digital Audio Radio (DAR), 2000
Microsoft Xbox, 2001
Plasma TV, 2001
Home Media Server, 2002
HD Radio, 2003
Blu-Ray DVD, 2003
HDTV PVR, 2003
HD Radio, 2004
IP TV, 2005

Yahoo! to Stream CBS Programs
Yahoo and CBS announced Dec 27,2005 that Yahoo! will host a pair of episodes from CBS comedies "Two and a Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother" for free video streaming this week.

In early November CBS revealed that it had been in talks with Apple to offer its content via iTunes after ABC made hit shows available through iTunes.

CBS also said recently that it was in talks with Google about video on demand and video searching.

Many people are compairing Yahoo! streaming to iTunes but there are some very large fundimental differences. With iTunes this is download then play, where with Yahoo is a stream. Streaming offers more control to the content owners, but doesn't allow the video to be copied off to a portable media player for later viewing.

Tuning In to Yahoo! at The Motley Fool

This is part of a longer term direction for Yahoo that I wrote about last month Yahoo's Hollywoodification.
Yahoo is incredably well equipt with server and bandwidth for this sort of thing.

TiVo teamed up with Yahoo to allow customers to program their devices through Yahoo's Web site.

Vying for Remote Control Washington Post

CBS Threshold - Streaming VOD
On the Threshold web site for a while they has streaming VOD the Last Episode Aired.

Even though CBS hasn.t given the "official" cancellation notice to the THRESHOLD team, word is out that the show has been terminated.

"This marks another exciting step forward as we continue to expand our content franchises to broadband," said Larry Kramer, President, CBS Digital Media. "'Threshold' is an exciting new drama with a compelling mystery component that lends itself to Internet audience appeal.
"We continue to seek and identify new ways in which traditional media and new media can work together to help each other's respective businesses," said Nancy Tellem, President of the CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group. "The goal here is to recruit new viewers to 'Threshold,' help existing viewers catch up if they've missed some episodes and drive more traffic to"

Currently there are short streaming clips on the site but no Episodes.

More can be read at ZDnet - CBS streams 'Threshold' on demand and iCOM - to Stream Episodes of New Suspense Drama "Threshold"

I will miss this Show.

NBC To Offer On-Demand Movies Via P2P
From SlashDot
NBC Universal has signed a deal with Wurld Media to make some of their movies available for download via a secure P2P network in 2006. There hasn't been a price released yet, but the movies include what you would get on their existing video-on-demand and pay services plus around 100 older movie titles. Once the material is downloaded, users can only view it for up to 24 hours before it expires.

How Should On-Demand Content Work?
From SlashDot
A recent Slashdot thread on how NBC is planning to offer on demand movies, and this NPR story on The Changing Face of Television has me asking: How will content (be it TV, movies, old, new) be distributed? I also include books -- content is content, the medium for the content changes but good content will always sell. Has anyone thought to try a pay-on-demand for content ie., subsidize the production costs by getting the audience/fans to pay for new episodes, thus skipping the broadcast networks? I know there was a campaign to raise money, in this way, to save Star Trek Enterprise, and there was an attempt to bittorrent a Star Trek Spoof recently on a pay-for-download basis. For shows with a decent cult following (eg., Firefly, Arrested Development, etc.) isn't it possible to fund the production without network participation (assuming all license agreements can be cleared?

Throwable WiFi Camera
From SlashDot:
The Eye Ball is a spherical, throwable WiFi camera designed to precede police into areas where there's no direct line of sight. It's manufactured by O.D.F. Optronics, Ltd, an Israeli maker of vision-based systems for the defense, security and consumer electronics markets. Remington Arms Co. has won approval from the Federal Communications Commission to sell the Eye Ball domestically, with law enforcement being likely buyers. The cost is about $4,800 for two EyeBalls (who would want just one?), which apparently also includes video monitoring gear.


Past Articles
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Video On Demand is finaly here, Almost...

Almost all of the major Cable operators did a wide scale roll out of "Video on Demand" eariler this year(2005). Testing had begun in Late 2003.

Time Warner, Adelphia, Comcast, Rogers, SHAW, Cogeco, RCN, Mediacom, COX, AT&T.

For many years the politics of content liscensing made doing this almost impossible. Even now HBO ondemand doesn't stream all of the movies they play, I suspect they can not get the rights to offer it over there VOD service.
iN DEMAND ,a partnership venture between Comcast Cable, Cox Cable, Time Warner Entertainment and other cable companies, started content liscencing for Pay-Per-view several years ago. They seems to be a major player behind this progress opening up the VOD liscencing.

Founded in 1995 Diva Systems as a spin-off from SRI International and David Sarnoff Research Center, DIVA had developed a high-speed, massively paralleled supercomputing video server called the Princeton Engine and depolyed the OnSet ITV Network. It looks like they filed Bankruptcy in 2002, then won a $39.5 Million dollar settelment from Gamstar-TV Guide Int in 2003. It was at
DIVA's interactive video-on-demand products and services were deployed in six cable systems in the U.S. with multiple system operators including Charter Communications, Insight Communications and MediaOne. DIVA had also established relationships with leading industry participants, including content providers such as Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures, manufacturers of digital set-top boxes, providers of application managers and set-top box operating systems and billing system providers.
Why do I bring up DIVA, well it seems that they made some serious headway with VOD content liscencing from 1995 to 2002 before they folded, I suspect that someone bought up there technology that is now part of iN Demand or some cable operators tool kit now. Diva has 19 patents passed for Video Distribution from 2000 to 2004.

To my amazement, Adelphia, started the service with almost no mention. There was no advertizing and nothing in the mail. A new menu option just showed up one day on my cable box and I discovered it when flipping channels by accident.

Adelphia and Comcast, that I have persoally tried in Northern and Sourthern California, started off working well earier this summer, but for the past few months, both have become unusable, where the video stalls and sputters, the menu system crashes and burns, spitting out error messages and dumping back outside. Even when it was working well the menu's were very slow, and now after spending several minutes to get down to a Movie, it will fails and youhave to keep starting over and over again, before getting through. I have tried this at many locations.

The DOCSISŪ protocol (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) is the bases for IP over cable and all Video on Demand services are based on it.

Some of the technology companies behind this are, Internet Photonics, BigBand Networks, Concurrent, N2 Broadband,

The two big makers for Cable Boxes are Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta. In November, 2005, Scientific-Atlanta announced an agreement to be acquired by Cisco. A special meeting of shareholders has been called for February 2, 2006 to vote on the deal.

What are the best Video DSP?
These days support for MPEG-4.10 (H.264) and Microsoft WM9 (AKA VC-1) are important, but so is H.263 and possibly On2 Technologies VP6 and VP7 Codec's. There is also compress vs. decompress performace, these are not the sMIPS-Based, ame. Many chips are geared towards SDTV (NTSC/PAL ~720x480) decompress, and don't perform nearly as well with compression.
 Also many come with the Codec's in closed source (black box) libraries, which solves many of the IP liscencing issues, but can prevent even the smallest of changes to these codec's that can make it difficult to fix problems or use these close codec's in anything other then the intended applications. Also I found with some of them, it's not possible to write your own DSP code to use your own codec source code, so adding GSM, OGG, Driac to one of these is not possible.
 Many like the Nexperia and Sigma Designs come with a high performance DSP core and a lower performing MIPS core(or similar) that can run PSOS, QNX, uC-Linux or some other embedded OS and is used as a user programmable commuinications controller, providing Disk/DVD-Rom , Ethernet or other I/O and is programmable by the developer.

In no particular order:
Cradle Technologies - CT3400 and CT3600 Not mentioned often enough
Sigma Designs - EM8510, EM8620L,
Equator Technologies - BSP-15 and older MAP-CA
Philips - Trimedia TM1300 and Nexperia PNX1300, PNX-1500
TI - TMS320C64x , TMS320DM642 also just refered to as DM642 or just 642.
Analog Devices - ADSP-BF53x Blackfin and ADSP-21xx SHARC
ARC International - ARCTangent
Infineon Technologies - Carmel DSP, TriCore MCU-DSP
ARM - ARM 7 and ARM 9
ESS Technology - Vibratto-II ES6688A
Motorola now has it under Freescale Semiconductors - 56800/E and DSP563xx.
Micronas MIPS-Based. MDE 9517D, MDE 9518D STB Chip (MPEG2 only)
Broadcom MIPS-Based. High Definition AVC/VC-1 , Cable TV and STB chips Just MPEG2
Amphion Semiconductor (formerly known as Integrated Silicon Systems) was sold to Conexant around July 2004. They have the CS6701 IP Core for MPEG-4 'Simple Profile' (Level 0 to Level 3) Video Encoder
Intel - XScale (PXA25x, PXA26x)
CEVA - Teak, TeakLite, Xpert-Teak, Palm , out of Israel sells IP Cores
Renesas - SuperH RISC Engine Family (SH3, SH3-DSP, SH4), I bet you never even heard of these guys, but there huge.
Toshiba Taec , TX4938, TMPR4938XB 64bit Risk Processor, MIPS Based., TC35273XB is a single-chip, low-power MPEG-4 encoding and decoding (CODEC) solution
ViXS XCode II, MIPS-Based, MPEG2/4 encoded up to a bit rate of 15 Mbps and up to a 720 x 480 resolution.
VWeb VW2002, VW2005, VW2010 will do MPEG 1, 2, 4 & H.263 A/V
STMicroelectronics - ST20 Core, ST40 Core
There was QuickSilver Technology with there Adaptive Computing Machine (ACM), that seems to hold some promise, but looks like it's dead now.

(Oak TeraLogic died 2003) had Cougar and Janus chips/platforms, was Aquired by Zoran.

Still working on this article, please send your opinions, addition and corrections...
If you know of more Send me an E-mail with it.

ATI Video Processing Upgrade
From SlashDot:
FiringSquad has a hands-on look at ATI Catalyst 5.13 drivers for the Radeon X1800XL, with a focus on video quality. They say it's the greatest leap in video quality technology for ATI since the original Mach64-VT. They triple their HQV Benchmark DVD scores by adding diagonal filtering, unusual cadence detection, and even noise reduction. On top of the video quality improvements, the new drivers enable ATI's hardware H.264 support as well as hardware transcoding. Best of all, Catalyst 5.13 will be a free upgrade scheduled to be released to the public next week.

50% of HDTV Owners Don't Use HD
From SlashDot:
Broadband Reports and Techdirt posted The Technology Liberation Front's article that said apparently half of all High Definition Television (HDTV) owners don't actually use the HD capabilities of their set, and nearly a quarter think they are watching high definition video when they actually haven't set it up correctly. Set-top box maker, Scientific Atlanta's survey, noted that HDTV sets will be in approximately 16 million homes across the country by the end of the year.

Apple Adds New TV Shows To iTunes
From SlashDot:
Ars Technica is reporting that Apple has added eleven new and classic television shows from NBC, the Sci-Fi network, and USA. The new shows include Alfred Hitchcock, Battlestar Galactica, Monk, Surface, Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, Dragnet, Law & Order, The Office and most importantly: Knight Rider!" From the article: "Steve Jobs took the opportunity to toot Apple's horn, stating that since the inception of video downloads on the iTMS, they'd sold nearly three million individual items. In addition to the sales figures, the PR from Apple stated that their current offering of video stands at approximately 300 episodes. All in all this looks like a slam dunk for Apple as they're rounding up their distribution deals and diversifying their suppliers. If the rumored deals with FOX and CBS are true then Apple will have a dominating lead in this market, much like their current domination in the digital music distribution arena."

Apple Signs Up NBC
Apple and NBC Entertainment have signed a deal that will make a plethora of NBC content available to iPod and PC users via Apple's iTunes. It's a follow-on deal to the one Apple announced in October with Disney that offers five Disney and ABC shows. The Disney deal was announced during the launch of the video iPod.

NBC Universal TV Group president Jeff Zucker said the discussions between NBC and Apple had started before those between Apple and Disney. What is different about the Apple-NBC deal, Zucker said, is its scope - more shows including sports, late night and daytime fare - and more platforms - NBC, the USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel.

Zucker said NBC Entertainment's "digital strategy is for our content to be available anywhere and everywhere and so this is just the next step in that strategy."

The shows will go for $1.99 each, just like the Disney shows, and include: "Law & Order," "The Office," "Dragnet," "Battlestar Galactica," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and older programs such as "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Dragnet" and "Knight Rider."

First-run prime-time programs will be available after they run on the US West Coast, said Apple and the General Electric-controlled NBC.

Financial terms, including the deal's length, were not disclosed, except for Zucker's statement that the deal is "definitely not exclusive."

The Floodgates Have Opened
Apple says it's sold more than three million videos since its iTunes started selling video in October.

TiVo will enable certain models to copy recorded movies and TV shows to Apple iPods and Sony PSPs.

Archos is also closing deals fast.

Founded in 1988 Archos based Igny France has been making portable video and audio players since 2000.

Last month EchoStar invested $7M Euro ($9.5M USD) for 25% of Archos

EchoStar, the operator of DISH Network, is now allowing Archos to copy content recorded on an EchoStar DVR

CinemaNow will allow the Archos to download and play movies after then have have been downloaded to a PC.

Canal+ can use the Archos as a DVR by attaching it directly to the Canal+ STB. link here

These Canal+ folks are soemone to keep an eye on.

Interesting Links
From SlashDot: Video Multiplexing on Large Screens?, interesing thread

Class 725, Interactive Video Distribution Systems on the US Patent office web site.

PC-Based Video Servers: Princeton Server Group

Arroyo Video Solutions, Inc.

Modulus Video Inc Makes High end H.264 MPEG4 AVC encoder capable of HD. used MPEG-2 TS over UDP.

Tandberg Television

Terayon Communications

I forgot to mention Cisco Systems Inc., the Router company, recently agreed to buy Scientific-Atlanta Inc., a maker of set-top boxes, making a clear play to deliver programming to televisions through the Internet.

Copyright © 2005, John L. Sokol
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