- Israeli Startup Introduces an Android MiniPC Named “Meet Bob” Added 1/9/2014
- Marvell Reports Skyworth will Produce Smart TVs and Set Top Boxes with Google Services for Smart TVs Added 1/9/2014, Updated 1/11/2014
- Hisense Announces Android and Pulse PRO Set Top Box based on Google Services for Smart TVs Added 1/9/2014, Updated 1/11/2014
- Roku TV Android TVBox will Complete with Google TV Added 1/6/2014
- Chromecast SoC Supplier Marvell Announces New ARMADA 1500 Plus for Smart Media Players Added 12/5/2013
- CloudMedia’s OTT1 Linux Media Player Emulates Roku for Asian Content Added 12/4/2013
- HiMedia Q5II Dual-Core TVBox Supports Hardware Decoding for XBMC Added 11/28/2013
- Crowd-Funded Qubi Android Media Player Promised for July 2014 Added 11/23/2013
- Silicon Dust Upgrades Single-Tuner Simple.TV 1 to Dual Tuner Simple.TV Added 11/23/2013
- Samsung HomeSync Will Include McAfee VirusScan Mobile Protection Added 11/13/2013
- Vizio Abandons Google TV with $79.99 Co-Star LT Stream Player Added 10/16/2013
- Google Abandons “Google TV” Brand for Outdated Android TVBoxes Added 10/11/2013
- Wizarm Proposes a CrowdSourced Android PVR without TV Tuner or Disk Drive for US$299 Added 10/7/2013
- Amazon and BestBuy Offer Samsung HomeSync at List Price with Few Details Added 10/6/2013
- Wall Street Journal Reports Amazon Readying TV Box Added 10/3/2013
- Overpriced Samsung HomeSync to be Generally Available for US$299 on 10/6/2013 Added 10/3/2013
- Huawei to Demo MediaQ M310 in Sydney through 10/6/2013 Added 10/3/2013
- Koushik Dutta Adds AppleTV Mirroring with AirPlay to CyanogenMod Added 9/21/2013
- Sony Announces General Availability of BRAVIA Smart Stick for US$150 Added 9/19/2013
- Instructions for Sony BRAVIA Smart Stick Reveal Additional Features Added 9/14/2013
- XBMC Finally Gets Hardware Decoding on Android Devices Added 9/6/2013
- XBMCAndroid.com Staff Pans the Linux-based “Little Black Box” Added 9/6/2013
- Sony Sends an Oddly Shaped Google TV Dongle for FCC Approval Updated 9/3//2013
- Samsung HomeSync Media Server Finally Appears at AT&T Store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Added 8/26/2013
- Moved the Google’s $35 Chromecast Dongle Might Redefine the Media Player Market to its own article on 7/28/2013 due to length
- CNX Software Reports “Kaiboer F4 / Ugoos UT1 Quad Core Media Player Is Now Available for as Low as $116” Added 7/28/2016
- Waiting for the Other (Amazon’s) Shoe to Drop in the Media Player Market Added 7/26/2013
- Steve Hawley Bemoans The Half-life of Google TV for DISH Network Updated 5/18/2013 for minimal Google TV presence at Google I/O 2013
- Hands-on Review of the HomeSync Media Server from Singapore Added 7/24/2013
- Samsung’s HomeSync Media Server Updated 6/7 for on sale in June 2013 for US$310 equivalent price in Asia, 5/28 for still no U.S. delivery date and 5/21/2013 for new promotional “veedio” teaser
- Sony’s Personal Content Station is “Coming Soon” Added 6/4/2013
QCube v2 for Google TV has HDMI Input and Output Updated 8/3/2013
- Pandora TVBox is an All-in-One Android Media Player, Game Console, DVB Receiver, Video Chat System, etc… per CNXSoft Added 6/9/2013
- CNXSoft reports 100 Euros “Little Black Box” Runs XBMC Linux Added 7/14/2013
Google TV: Inventing the Android Media Player
The Google TV operating system, based on a customized version of Android, powered the predecessors of today’s Android media player TVBoxes. According to Wikipedia’s Google TV entry:
Google TV is a Smart TV platform from Google co-developed by Intel, Sony, and Logitech that was launched in October 2010. Google TV initially, with official devices from Sony and Logitech. Google TV integrates the Google Chrome browser to create an interactive television overlay on top of existing Internet television and WebTV sites to add a 10-foot user interface.
Google TV’s first generation devices were created and commercialized by Sony and Logitech. The first generation of devices were based on x86 architecture processor by Intel. For the second generation of devices new partners have joined, including LG, Samsung, Vizio, and Hisense, some of which include 3D capabilities. The second generation of Google TV devices are based on ARM architecture processors.
Google TV leverages many of Google’s existing products. Google TV’s operating system, a customized version of Android, provides the underlying foundation, allowing developers to create applications that extend the system’s functionality. Google’s Chrome browser provides a gateway to the Internet, allowing consumers to browse web sites and watch television, in tandem. Consumers can access HBO, CNBC, and content from other providers through the Chrome browser. Android and Apple smartphones and tablet computers may be used as remote controls for Google TV. Google TV products ship with wireless remote controls with a full QWERTY keypad. An update in November 2011, allowed access to Google Play and enabled search to find content from live TV, Netflix, YouTube, HBO GO, Amazon, and more.
Google TV has been less than a roaring success. Low-cost ARM Cortex-powered MiniPC USB sticks and TVBoxes, manufactured in or marketed from China’s Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (Guandong province, near Hong Kong) and running Android 4.2+, sell for less than US$100 delivered to the US. These devices provide media player capabilities similar to dedicated devices running Google TV. They also have access to hundreds of thousands of applications (apps) intended for Android smartphones and tablets from the Google Play store.
Google Services for Smart TVs
Capitalizing on the success of its Cromecast dongle and faced with declining Google TV implementations, Google has delivered Google Services for Smart TVs to HDTV original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). As of January 2014, Google had published little information about these services. A 1/10/2014 Google search on the topic returns the following sponsored links:
Clicking the Shop for … link returns links for HDTVs by major US brands dated 2012 and 2013, which indicates they support Google TV, not Google Services for Smart TVs. Hisense and Skyworth are the first TV manufacturers to announce adoption of Google Services for Smart TVs (see items below.) I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.
Note: Much of the earlier content below was moved here on 7/24/2013 from the earlier Potential Personal Video Recorders (PVRs/DVRs) with HDTV Tuners article, which has been renamed Personal Video Recorder (PVR/DVR) TV Boxes and PCTV Tuner Sticks.
Comigo Ltd. posted an Android-based TV Stick Converts any TV into a Family Communications Center press release on 1/6/2014:
Yarkona, Israel – 6th January 2014: A unique Android-based TV stick aimed at enabling families to communicate, share content, interact and play via the TV – no matter where each individual may be located – is to be launched at CES, Las Vegas.
The new HDMI TV stick – called Bob and developed by Meet-Bob Ltd. – is designed to provide families with intuitive and exciting interactive communication options. It easily turns any TV into a content and communications center, enabling family members to watch TV shows, movies or videos together; easily share favorite content and special moments with each other; keep-in-touch (using a Web-cam) and play games with one another – even if they are spread out in different parts of the world!
The Bob stick can be easily carried anywhere, making any TV part of the family network
Content providers, brands, retailers or any companies interested in extending their reach to the family living room, are provided with a refreshing new family-oriented product offering unique marketing opportunities. Bob enables the efficient delivery of content (live channels, VOD and games), the promotion of products and services and micro-targeted campaigns directly to the family’s TV. Bob’s social nature and its unique interactive capabilities, allow it to target families in an entirely new way, strengthening brand loyalty, increasing viewer engagement and opening new revenue opportunities.
Moreover, with the Bob stick the user experience is fully personalized. Every family member has a personal login and is offered relevant features and content to fit their profile. For example, the kid in the family will have access to specific VOD, live channels, games, Apps, websites and educational books that have been authorized by his parents. He will have limited TV viewing time and can communicate only with other family members. While grandma will have the ability to access different content that is relevant for her, the ability to ask for family help, links to her shopping sites, options for sharing with other family members, etc. Bob enables each content provider, brand or retailer to define different user profiles at home and their usage scenarios.
“Technology was supposed to get us closer; it has opened the boundaries and has become a commodity enabling us to communicate easily with anyone, anywhere,” said Sigalit Klimovsky, CEO of Meet-Bob Ltd.
“But while we communicate more with more people, we interact and communicate less with the people we care about… our family. We believe technology can do more for us and bring the people we love closer together and that’s what Bob is designed to do,” she added.
About Meet-Bob Ltd.
Cellular phones and social networks enable us to communicate easily with anyone around the world, yet they reduce the personal human interactions. Aimed at bringing families back together, Bob provides them with exciting interactive communication options. This Android-based HDMI TV stick turns any TV into part of the family network.
Bob creates an exciting opportunity for brands, content providers and retailers interested in entering the TV market with a refreshing family-oriented product. With Bob, dedicated TV content can be distributed to any TV. Its social nature and interactive capabilities allow strengthening brand loyalty, increasing viewer engagement and maximizing revenue opportunities.
More details are available from the Times of Israel’s ‘Meet Bob’ turns TV into a ‘Family Affair’ article of 1/8/2014. Here’s the Meet Bob booth (Venetian, Level 1, 75500) at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2014:
A Meet Bob representative showed me a high-end remote control with an air-mouse and alphanumeric keyboard and a lower-cost remote with conventional directional control and no keyboard. The unique UI is well designed and very responsive.
Family-friendly Meet Bob reminds me of ZeroDesktop’s MiiPC for Kids with Remote Adult Supervision App. I hope Meet Bob doesn’t suffer the same fate as Microsoft Bob.
Marvell Reports Skyworth will Produce Smart TVs and Set Top Boxes with Google Services for Smart TVs
Marvell Technology Group, Ltd., the producer of the CPU powering the Chromecast dongle, reported Marvell Partners with Leading Global TV Maker Skyworth to Introduce Smart TV and Set-Top Box with Google Services for Smart TV in a 1/7/2014 press release:
Skyworth announces K100 Smart TV and GS100 and GS300 set-top boxes with Google Services for Smart TV powered by Marvell’s ARMADA 1500 Plus.
Las Vegas and Santa Clara, California (January 7, 2014) – Continuing its leadership in the Smart Home ecosystem, Marvell (NASDAQ: MRVL) today announced a partnership with Skyworth, a global TV maker, to deploy Smart TVs and set-top boxes with Google services for Smart TV. The new offerings are powered by Marvell’s ARMADA® 1500 Plus (88DE3108) system-on-chip (SoC) platform, a full HD media processor designed for a vast array of smart video products. …
The ARMADA 1500 Plus is the newest edition to the award-winning ARMADA 1500 product family, offering significantly improved graphics performance due to its OpenGL ES 2.0 compatible graphics engine, while real-time 1080p video encode capabilities allow the platform to function as a multi-screen source device, enabling an optimal viewing experience for consumers. Additionally, the ARMADA 1500 Plus incorporates an enhanced security engine that further facilitates more seamless adoption by service operators as well as its award-winning Qdeo® video processing for state-of-the-art HD and 3-D video for an immersive entertainment experience. The SoC has an integrated HDMI receiver and Gigabit Ethernet, enabling a broad range of low cost form factors that makes the ARMADA 1500 Plus ideal for small set-top-boxes, over-the-top media players, hybrid set-top boxes, and Smart TVs at mass-market price points.
Marvell will showcase its innovative Digital Connected Lifestyle solutions at Murano Rooms 3304-3306, level 3, located at the Venetian Congress Center, during CES, January 7-10 in Las Vegas.
Skyworth (HK00751) is a global TV manufacturer and large-sized high-tech public company. Holding the No. 1 domestic TV market share in China, achieving No.1 sales volume in domestic TV market in China, Skyworth will move forward on the way of internationalization, since established a strong, comprehensive global sales, distribution platform and network that covers major continents. Skyworth is committed to providing customers with complete solutions of digital life and bringing Skyworth’s video and audio products into common households to let people of different countries and groups enjoy the fun and joy of digital audio- and video- life. …
Skyworth might claim to be China’s top-selling TV maker, but the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA) rated it (#7) below Hisense (#5) in its “2013 Global TV Brands Top 20” item in the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) Daily magazine for 1/9/2014:
This means that Marvell and Google Services for Smart TVs have captured the two leading Chinese TV manufacturers’ smart TV and set-top box business. (See item below for the Hisense offering.)
Hisense (@Hisense_USA) published a Hisense Launches H6 SMART TV for Android and Pulse PRO Set Top Box based on Google Services for Smart TVs press release on 12/5/2013:
Suwanee, GA – December 5, 2013 — Hisense today announced the launch of the new H6 SMART TV with the latest Google™ services for TV powered by Android™ 4.2.2. Along with a new EasyView natural user interface and incredibly simplified remote control air mouse, the new H6 SMART TV available in 40-inch, 50-inch, and 55-inch models is powered by Marvell’s latest ARMADA 1500 Plus (88DE3108) HD Media processor.
“Android delivers on the promise of Smart. Today, by seamlessly coupling Hisense’s television expertise, Marvell’s high performing and innovative ARMADA 1500 Plus platform and Android’s connectivity and interactivity, Hisense is delivering on the promise of a truly smart TV — and making it accessible to broad markets here in North America and across the globe,” said Jonathan Frank, Vice President of Marketing, Hisense USA. “We are proud to bring Google services for Smart TV to the market with the H6 and the Pulse PRO. Hisense provides a comfortable, lean-back experience, with an elegant, simple remote with MIC for voice control and functionality that is simply phenomenal. And if you’re not quite ready to invest in a new TV, but would like the latest and greatest Android platform, get the Pulse PRO set-top box.”
Image courtesy of Android Beat
“I am very pleased to see the new ARMADA 1500 Plus from our award-winning SoC platform family to be the first to power a broad portfolio of Hisense SMART TV products with the next generation of Google services for Smart TVs,” said Weili Dai, President and Co-Founder of Marvell. “We are excited to collaborate with Hisense and Google on bringing the best consumer experiences to the North American Smart TV mass market and beyond.”
Both products come with the Hisense Social TV™ App and Hisense Cloud Services Hi-Media™ Player and Receiver. The H6 features a 120Hz refresh rate, and both are Energy Star 6.0 qualified, and are configured with 1GB RAM and 8GB ROM. The H6 remote, which will also be sold with the Pulse PRO, comes with just 30 keys, a built-in air mouse with IQQI Smart Input and content centric voice search with a built-in microphone.
The Pulse PRO brings all of the SMART functionality you receive with the H6, including Netflix, Vudu HD Movies, Amazon Instant Video, Chrome™, YouTube™, Google Play™, Google Voice Search™, PrimeTime, Android-based TV v4 Media Streaming, a MARVELL BG2-CT board with 1G RAM and 4G Flash, HDMI-In/Out, IR-In/Out, DLNA, WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, USB and an air mouse remote with MIC and Motion Sensing.
Android, Google Play, Google and other marks are trademarks of Google Inc.
For more information please visit: www.hisense-usa.com.
The Android Headlines blog reported Hisense Announces their Pulse Pro Android TV at CES 2014 on 1/9/2013:
While Google TV isn’t officially dead, it might as well be. We have heard rumors that it would be renamed and relaunched in 2014 as Android TV. And it looks like Hisense spilled the beans a bit early. Hisense is showing off a nice little set top box at CES this week. Which is called the Pulse Pro, obviously keeping up with the Hisense Pulse naming scheme. It’s running software called “Android TV v4″. It’s not exactly Google TV, but it’s clearly built on the same foundation, with the same PrimeTime guide, and the ability to run Google TV apps. The Hisense Pulse Pro is said to be pretty impressive, according to those in Vegas this week able to check it out. They say one of the biggest improvements is the home screen, which lays out your content choices in a much more straight-forward way than standard Google TV software
The remote is said to be much simpler than your typical Google TV remote, it’s focusing on being able to easily jump to the content you want rather than offering a full keyboard. The need to type on a keyboard has been replaced with a built-in microphone. All you have to do is press the search button, then speak into the remote’s mic and it works within a few seconds. It worked well even at CES, on the show floor. Which as you can expect, is pretty noisy. Hisense has also added in the motion sensing to the remote control. The Pulse Pro’s pointer was actually very responsive. So for those times when you want to use a web browser on your TV, the remote will work quite well.
As far as availability and pricing goes, Hisense didn’t have any information on that front. But hopefully we’ll see it out on the market really soon. How many of you are interested in the Hisense Pulse Pro? Let us know in the comments below.
Update 1/11/2014: Hisense also published a Hisense Transforms Smart TV Experience with the VIDAA Series press release on 1/6/2014 about Android-equipped smart TVs without a reference to Google Services for Smart TVs:
Las Vegas, NV, January 6, 2014 – Hisense today introduced the VIDAA series TV, a full-featured Android-powered SMART TV with multi-core processing and a stunningly simple, elegant and immensely powerful User Interface (UI). VIDAA redefines the current Smart TV landscape with a vastly improved user experience that does not yet exist in the product category.
The VIDAA series TV Full HD lineup will be available in March 2014 and features three ultra slim LED models, the 65H7 (65-inch), 55H7 (55-inch) and 50H7 (50-inch).
VIDAA simplifies and enhances a passive, lean-back consumer experience with intuitive channel “jumping” across four content experiences: Live TV, Video On Demand, Media Center, and Applications. VIDAA has built-in WiFi, a Chrome™ browser and also supports screen sharing – enabling pictures, videos and music to be simply shared right to your TV screen from most mobile devices. It also features a 30-button remote control with the most sophisticated built-in air mouse technology, a pop up virtual keyboard and astounding natural voice control.
“Hisense has boldly re-invented the concept of Smart TV with the VIDAA series. By combining a sleek and elegant look with the most intuitive UI and innovative remote control, our television is no longer just Smart – it’s simply brilliant,” said Jonathan Frank, Vice President of Marketing, Hisense USA.
Hisense is providing the global consumer electronics community and end-users across the world with the best-balanced coupling of connectivity, functionality and image performance with the VIDAA series. Users can easily navigate content experiences and view them uninterrupted as they slide into view. This new type of user interface was designed to align with the passive nature of the 10-foot, lean back experience, which favors a consumption-friendly experience over complicated interaction.
The VIDAA series will be on display at the Hisense booth 7243 during CES, January 7-10, 2014.
Hisense UHD TVs with built-in Android features won’t be available until 2014Q4 according to a Hisense Launches Android Powered UHD Line at CES 2014 press release of 1/9/2014:
Las Vegas, NV – January 8, 2014 — Rounding out the most comprehensive line of high-performing, attainable Ultra High Definition televisions on the market today, Hisense today unveiled the Hisense H8c series and Hisense H9 3D series at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The H9 will debut with 85-inch and 75-inch models and the H8c will be available in 65-inch, 55-inch and 50-inch models. Both series are powered by Android™ 4.2 and include SMART TV features such as Netflix, Vudu HD Movies, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, Chrome™, YouTube™, and are Google Play™ certified.
“Our message at CES is UHD For All!” said Jonathan Frank, Vice President of Marketing, Hisense USA. “These two additions to our line deliver stunning performance, elegant design and category leadership when it comes to coupling advanced features and innovative UI.”
The H9 is navigable via its cutting-edge VIDAA user interface; comes with Bluetooth® 3D glasses, Ultra-LED (U-LED) technology for incredible color detail and local dimming, RF remote with NFC, and Smart Interaction capabilities including voice and gesture controls.
UHD (3840 x 2160) native resolution; UltraSMR 480 (H9); UltraSMR 240 (H8c); Precise Local Dimming; Mega Dynamic Contrast Ratio; Android 4.2 base; VIDAA UI; HDMIx4 to support UHD inputs, USBx3to support UHD video play; AirBridge™ Digital Media Player and Receiver; Merlin™ Air Mouse and smart remote controls, built-in WiFi; Dolby Digital; DSP audio process; closed captioning; noise reduction; parental controls; sleep timer.
The new UHD models will be available nationwide in Q3 2014. [Emphasis added.]
Both series will be on display at the Hisense booth 7243 during CES, January 7-10, 2014.
The delay in UHD models with Android UIs might be due to availability of GPUs that will handle the 15 Mbps bandwidth required for Netflix’s highest-quality UHD offerings coming in early 2014. Most UHD owners will require faster Internet connections and Ethernet connections. For more details, see Brian Bishop’s How Netflix won CES: It’s not the TVs, it’s what you watch on them article of 1/10/2014 for The Verge.
Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes will require HDMI 2.0 connections to support 4096x2160p60 content. HDMI 1.4 maxes out at 4096x2160p30.
The Roku TV smart TV was announced today in advance of the 2014 CES show. The company plans to license the new reference design platform and software stack to manufacturers to build and distribute Roku TV models. TCL and Hisense are the first partners, with first demos expected today.Roku TV says it is removing the complicated layers and menus that plague existing smart TV set-ups and give consumers a home screen that centralises all content sources: live programming, streaming, music.
Roku TVs can be controlled by a TV remote or a mobile device using the Roku app for iOS or Android. It supports modern casting standards including DIAL, which streams content from a mobile device to the TV.
TV manufacturers will receive the Roku TV reference platform complete with TV and remote control design as well as software and support. Like their Roku streaming player counterparts, Roku TVs will have full access to the Roku Channel Store filled with more than 1,200 channels that offer 31,000 movies and feature TV shows and live sports plus news, music, kids, food, science, tech, fitness, foreign language and other programming.
The question is: Will Roku have more success with its Roku TV than Google had with Google TV?
Jean-Luc Aufranc reported Marvell Unveils ARMADA 1500 Plus (88DE3108) SoC for Android and Linux Smart Video Platforms in a 12/5/2013 article for CNX Software:
Building on top of it ARMADA 1500 SoC for Google TV, Marvell has recently announced the ARMADA 1500 Plus (88DE3108) HD secure media processor SoCdesigned for smart video products based on Android 4.2.2, and Linux, such as media players, OTT boxes, hybrid set-top boxes and smart TVs.
ARMADA 1500 Plus features two ARM Cortex A9 cores, Vivante GC1000 and GC300 GPUs, respectively for 3D and 2D graphics, and integrates an HDMI receiver and Gigabit Ethernet.
Hisense will be among the first to use the platform with the upcoming H6 Smart TV and Pulse Pro set-top-box, but details have yet to be released for these two products.
- Processor – Dual core Cortex A9 with over 6000 Dhrystone MIPS
- Dedicated 3D and 2D graphics acceleration – dual threaded unified shader (Vivante GC1000 and GC300) with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 and DirectFB.
- vMeta Video Codec – Decoding: H.264, VC-1, MPEG2, AVS, VP8 and several other formats. Real-time encoding: H.264, VP8 to allow the platform to function as a multi-screen source device.
- Marvell Qdeo video post processing engine for improved HD and 3D video quality
- Audio – Support for HE-AACv2, Dolby HD, DTS-HD, SRS and other high-end audio formats.
- Trusted Video Path certified security engine with the following DRM/CAS options: Verimatrix, Widevine, Playready, NDS VGC, DTCP-IP
- Hybrid architecture – Multiple TS inputs supports PayTV Operators STB requiring both broadcast (DVB-T,C,S) and IP content deployment.
- Peripherals – HDMI 1.4a, SATA 2.0, SDIO, 2x USB 2.0 host, 10/100/1000M Ethernet MAC with RGMII interface, and more
- Support for Google services for Smart TVs based on Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2
Marvell ARMADA 1500 Plus appears to be very similar to the older Marvel ARMADA 1500, except the company switch to ARM Cortex A9 cores instead of using its own ARMv7 implementation, it may have added Vivante GC300 for 2D graphics (TBC), fast Ethernet has been upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet, the SATA version has apparently been downgraded to SATA 2.0, and HDMI got an upgraded to v1.4a (vs 1.4). The rest of the SoC appears to be more or less the same according to the block diagrams.
Marvell also provides smart TV and STB reference designs with a complete Android TV and Linux SDK supporting PayTV and OTT services, and including device drivers, schematics, layout files and other documentation. The platforms support Marvell Wi-Fi (2×2 802.11ac) and Powerline (G.hn) technologies.
Further information may be available on Marvell ARMADA 1500 Plus page
Hisense’s US$99 Pulse with Google TV TVBox was no longer available from Amazon.con when this post was written. Hisense is Walmart’s primary TV supplier and also has Costco as an outlet. Hisense is the largest TV maker in China.
CNX Software (@cnxsoft) reported Cloud Media OTT1 Internet Media Player Runs Linux on Cavium ARM11 SoC on 12/3/2013:
Cloud Media is mostly known for their Linux based Pop Corn Hour media players. but recently they started offered a free media player called FreeOTT via ISPs or Facebook giveaways. This little box gives direct access to online video channels.
I reviewed FreeOTT a few months ago, and found the interface to be sluggish (possibly because of my Internet connection), audio was not working on my TV. So overall not a very good experience from my side, but they’ve upgraded the firmware with features like Miracast, DLNA, and “iOSCast” (Airplay?), possible improving performance, and recently added CCTV 1 to 15, except CCTV 4, to the list of channels.
- Media Processor – Cavium CELESTIAL CNC1800L ARM11 @ 640 MHz
- System Memory – 256MB DDR3
- Storage – 256MB Flash + microSD card slot
- Video Output – HDMI Output (1080p), Composite A/V Output
- Connectivity – 802.11n Wi-Fi, 10/100 Ethernet
- USB – Micro USB for power
- Streaming Protocols – Adobe RTMP, HTTP, MMS/RTSP, HTTP LIVE STREAMING (HLS), SopCast
- Supported DRM – HDCP Over HDMI, AES-128 Bit HLS Encryption
- Dimension – 123mm (L) x 100mm (W) x 25mm (H)
- Weight – 120g
1OTT Player comes with a micro USB cable, a USB to Power adapter, a remote control, 2x AAA batteries, and a Quick Start Guide. The device runs Linux, and the user interface is built on top of Adobe Flash Lite (Stagecraft 1.2) which may explain the sluggishness I experienced with the free version of the player.
This device is quite different from XBMC and/or Android set-top boxes I usually feature in this blog, as it’s mainly an Internet video player, getting channels from known online sources, and I understand the only way to play local videos is to connect it to a Plex Media Server.
The key media features of 1OTT player are listed as follows:
- Social TV – Direct SopCast link over Facebook and Twitter
- CIBN TV Channels – Over 50 Live TV channels and VODs from China International Broadcast Network available anywhere in the world
- Support for PLEX Media Server
- iOSCast, DLNA and Miracast support
- Education TV channels – Over 10,000 free videos from sources like TED, Khan Academy, and universities such as Tsinghua, Peking, Harvard, and Yale.
- Private Apps – Get more free and premium video and audio contents from private app developers. Check the developer website if you are interested in bringing apps to Cloud Media OTT platform
- Premium Content Apps – Kartina TV for Russian Expat, Polsky TV for Polish Expat, Umedia for Chinese Expat, HDZone for Vietnamese Expat, Online TVRecorder for German Expat, etc.. There’s also some premium adult content that needs to be managed via parental controls.
Last time I tried in FreeOTT I could also access YouTube, Russia Today, Revision3, SoundCloud, CBS and more as shown in the picture below.
1OTT media player is available for pre-order now, with shipping scheduled for the 20th of December 2013. You can purchase the device for $69 with FFhmGkkuKr coupon until the 14th of December, and $99 afterwards. There’s also $25 international express shipping fee, for a total discounted price of $94, which seems pretty expensive for this type of hardware. However, there’s no subscription to watch most TV channels, and it may be worthwhile in some cases.
Visit Cloud Media’s 1OTT page for details.
CNX Software (@cnxsoft) reported HiMedia Q5II Android STB Features HiSilicon Dual Core SoC, a 2.5″ SATA HDD Bay, and Supports XBMC Hardware Decode in an 11/28/2013 post:
Many Android set-top boxes are based on application processors mainly targetting tablets such as Rockchip RK3188, and media capabilities including video quality, and audio pass-through are not always optimal, or not working at all. On the contrary, HiMedia Q5II, an Android 4.2 media player, is powered by HiSilicon 3718 (or is it Hislicon 3716C V200?), a dual core Cortex A9 SoC designed specifically for media players. It also features an external SATA slot, HDMI and composite video output, optical and coaxial S/PDIF, and I’ve just found out the company worked on making video hardware decoding work with XBMC.
HiMedia Q5II specifications:
- SoC – HiSilicon Hi3716C V200 dual core ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.6GHz + ARM Mali-400MP4 GPU. N.B.: HiMedia indicates the processor is Hi3718, but most resellers give specifications with a dual core processor called 3716C… Hi3718 is not listed at all in HiSilicon website, and Hi3716C is a single core processor. So I’d guess it might be Hi3716C V200 which is a dual core Cortex A9 processor.
- System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
- Storage – 4 GB NAND Flash, hot swapable SATA slot, and MMC/SD 2-in1 card reader
- Video Out – HDMI and composite
- Audio Output – HDMI, L/R stereo (RCA), and optical & coaxial S/PDIF
- Video Containers – ts, m2ts, tp , trp , mkv, mp4, avi , rm , rmvb , wmv, asf , flv, vob, dal , mpg, mpeg
- Video Codecs – MPEG1/2/4, H.264/AVC, MVC,VC1, XVID, DiVX , REALVIDEO8/9/10, VP6
- Audio Format – MP3, wma, aac, ape, flac, mka
- 3D Video – side-by-side , up-and-down , Blu-ray 3D
- Video modes – PAL, NTSC, 720p, 1080i (50/60Hz), 1080p (50/60Hz)
- Display – LED display on front panel
- Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, and 802.11n Wi-Fi with external antenna
- USB – 3x USB 2.0 Host ports
- Power Supply – 12V/2.0A
- Dimensions – 170 x 115 x 24.5 mm
- Weight – 500g ??
The device runs Android 4.2 with a custom user interface, but you can also switch the standard Android interface. The power is controlled by an MCU, which means the main SoC is turned off, or in deep sleep mode, while the player is in standby, which should result in lower standby power consumption. The company claims audio downmix and pass-through are both fully supported for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA (7.1)
lossless HD-Audio format, as well as DTS / Dolby Digital (5.1). The device come with a remote control, a power adapter, a SATA cable, an HDMI Cable, and a Quick Start Guide, which you can also download here. It shows how to connect the STB to your audio amplifier among other things.
HiMedia provides 2 applications to interact with their set-top boxes via your smartphone or android:
- HiShare – Wirelessly shares media files (video/audio/photo) from your Android smartphone or tablet to your HDTV.
- HiControl – Transforms Android smartphone or tablet into a touchscreen and remote control.
The video below filmed at the Hong Kong Electronic Fair by tablet republic shows XBMC with hardware video decoding running on the Q5 II.
The latest firmware for HiMedia Q5II is available from their website, and dates from the 23rd of October, and it may or may not include XBMC hardware decoding capability.
If the processor is indeed HiSilicon Hi3716C V200, it is supported by Linaro, or at least they work on it, so it might also be a fun platform to hack around, install Linux, or get the source code for the Android kernel.
HiSilicon 3716C V200 Block Diagram
The box has been released in September, and can be found in Aliexpress or W2COMP for $129.99, and Amazon for $154.99. Despite the extra features such SATA, Aluminum casing, 3D Blu-ray decoding, etc…, the device seems a little pricey compared to other dual core Android STBs on the market. Further details ar available in Chinglish on HiMedia Q5 II page.
Via Eddy’s Lab
CNX Software (@cnxsoft) reported Qubi Android Media Center Features Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC on 11/23/2013:
Traditional Qualcomm Application Processor have mostly been found in tablets, smartphones, and in development board such as the company’s own Mobile Development Platforms (MDP) or MyDragonBoard boards. But recently, a Snapdragon S4 has found its way into a smartwatch and today, I’ve found an upcoming, or maybe not, media player powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 600. Beside Qualcomm quad core Krait SoC, Qubi Android media center features 2 GB RAM, 16 GB NAND Flash, dual band Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, Gibabit Ethernet, and more.
Here are the specifications of the device:
- SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Quad Core Krait CPU @ 1.7 GHz with Adreno 320 GPU
- System Memory – 2GB RAM
- Storage – 16GB NAND Flash + microSD slot
- Connectivity – Dual band Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, Gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth 4.0
- Video Output – HDMI with HDMI-CEC support
- Audio Output – HDMI, optical SPDIF
- Video – 1080p video decoding
- USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port
- Misc – IR receiver
The device is also said to support Miracast, Dolby & DTS audio decoding, HDMI pass-through, and there will be a customized and “streamlined” version of XBMC install in the box. As you can see from the picture above, the enclosure for the player has not been done yet, but they have a working demo on a prototype PCB which is currently running Android 4.2 with a customized UI, but the version may be upgraded at the time of release (July 2014). That’s one of the rare media player with Wi-Fi ac which should be able to stream any 1080p videos you throw at it, as well as Gigabit Ethernet which may not be that useful in this type of device.
A dual sided remote will also be included with one size used as a standard remote, and the other a QWERTY keyboard, with both sides backlit. Using a Wi-Fi direct connection, it will also function as an air mouse, and the built-in microphone will be useful for voice command and Skype. There’s also an headset jack for the same purpose.
The 8-minutes video demo below shows the prototype board and remote, the Android UI, their version of XBMC, and some games (Riptide 2, Shadowgun).
The company is looking for funding via Kickstarter to complete development, and manufacture at least 4,000 units. The early bird pledge is $129 for Qubi and its remote, and the regular pledge is $149. Add $30 for shipping if you live outside the US. The price is actually quite aggressive considering the hardware provided, but the expected delivery (July 2014) may have put off some people for this type of device, as they’ve only received about $26,000 in pledges out of the $500,000 requested with 14 days left to go, so the product may never see the light of the day. Their XBMC source code modifications will apparently be made available in September 2014, based on the $30 pledge to get the source only (People who pledged for the box will get the code for free if they ask).
CNX Software (@cnxsoft) posted Dual Tuner “Simple.TV by SiliconDust” DVR Runs Linux on Zenverge ZN200 SoC on 11/21/2013:
“Simple.TV by SiliconDust” is the full name of a digital video recorder (DVR) featuring two tuners, one input supporting antenna (ASTC) and over-the-air cable (ClearQAM) connections, one Ethernet, and one USB 2.0 host port for external mass storage devices. The device, called HD Homerun on SiliconDust website, is powered by Zenverge ZN200 STB SoC, and runs Linux. This is an upgrade of Simple.TV 1, and it allows you to watch a channel, while recording another, or record 2 programs thanks to the 2 tuners. An app will also be available to watch recorded TV program on Android tablets (coming soon) or iPads, and there’s also an HTML5 client to watch TV in any compatible browser. Recorded shows can be watch from any location with Internet access if you have a Premier subscription.
Simple.TV 2 specifications:
- SoC – Zenverge ZN200 STB SoC with a quad Stream HD Transcoder, audio processing engine, transcryption engine (CA/DRM), and a unnamed host processor
- System Memory – 1GB RAM
- Storage – NAND Flash (capacity unknown), Hard drive via USB 2.0 host port
- Tuner – Dual TV Tuner (ATSC for now, but DBV-T2, DVB-C, DVB-S2, and ISDB-T should also be supported according to C|Net) with one coaxial port
- Connectivity – Ethernet Port
- USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port
The device is said to support DLNA for Xbox 360, and Roku Channels. You’ll notice there’s no video output, that’s because contrary to many other DVR, the new Simple.TV DVR does not connect to your TV, and you’d have to use a media player connected to your TV to watch recorded shows. [Emphasis added*.]
The hardware will let up to 5 users watch recorded TV shows on their preferred device at home, but if you want remote access and extra features (See table below), you’ll need to pay a premier subscription that costs $60 for one year, or $150 for lifetime.
* Lack of an HDMI output probably will put a significant dent in the device’s sales. I continue to believe that there’s a large market for a device with one or two ATSC/DVB/Cable tuners, USB/SATA-2 storage, and HDMI output.
Amazon sells the forerunner of the dual-tuner Simple.TV devices, the SiliconDust HDHomeRun DUAL High Definition Digital TV Tuner HDHR3-US (Black), for US$77.61.
McAfee (@McAfee) announced McAfee Partners with Samsung to Protect Consumers from In-Home Cyber Attacks in an 11/13/2013 press release from the Wall Street Journal:
McAfee VirusScan Mobile to Ship on Samsung HomeSync Boxes
McAfee today announced protection for Samsung HomeSync users against the growing range of Android-based threats reaching consumers’ living rooms through Internet-connected TV and entertainment platforms. McAfee(R) VirusScan(R) Mobile software will come pre-installed in all Samsung HomeSync boxes to provide users with a secure in-home digital entertainment experience.
The Android platform has become increasingly attractive to cybercriminals because it continues to grow as the preferred place for consumers to live out their digital lives. According to the McAfee Threats Report: Second Quarter 2013, there were nearly 18,000 new Android malware samples in the second quarter of 2013 and this rapid growth is not expected to slow down because Android users are failing to protect themselves. McAfee’s Digital Assets Survey found that only one fifth of U.S. smartphone users and 13 percent of tablet users have security software installed on their devices.
“Consumers are eager to invite new digital entertainment technologies into their home, but with these new technologies comes new security and privacy risks that aren’t being acknowledged,” said Gary Davis, vice president worldwide consumer marketing at McAfee. “We’re able to protect HomeSync customers right at the point of purchase and eliminate the opportunity for malware and other security threats to invade the in-home digital entertainment experience.”
McAfee VirusScan Mobile software is an anti-malware system that scans and cleans mobile data, preventing corruption from viruses, worms, dialers, Trojans, and other malicious code. It protects mobile devices at the most critical points of exposure and will allow all Samsung HomeSync users to enjoy their entertainment and TV experience in a safe and secure environment.
McAfee VirusScan Mobile software will be pre-installed within all Samsung HomeSync boxes globally as an independent security app at no additional cost to end users. HomeSync will also come with the option to upgrade to McAfee Mobile Security, McAfee’s comprehensive mobile security solution offering best-in-class in privacy features at $29.99 US for a 12-month subscription.
McAfee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), empowers businesses, the public sector, and home users to safely experience the benefits of the Internet. The company delivers proactive and proven security solutions and services for systems, networks, and mobile devices around the world. With its Security Connected strategy, innovative approach to hardware-enhanced security, and unique Global Threat Intelligence network, McAfee is relentlessly focused on keeping its customers safe. http://www.mcafee.com
Visio announced the availability of its Co-Star™ LT Stream Player, which supports the DIAL protocol and offers an HDMI input, from the Vizio Store on 10/16/2013:
- Upgrade any HDTV to be a smart TV with streaming movies, TV shows, music and more on demand*.
- Combines your existing live TV with the best in streaming entertainment into one seamless experience.
- Built-in Wifi for easy, hassle-free internet access.
- Access popular streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, iHeartRadio, M-GO, Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, YouTube, and more.
- Second Screen Interactivity – Control apps and send content seamlessly from your mobile device to Co-Star™ LT**
- Supports Full HD 1080p and 3D.
- Easy to use remote with 1-touch access to popular apps.
From the Overview page:
Upgrade Any HDTV With Shows, Movies, Music and More On Demand
Powered by VIZIO Internet Apps Plus™, Co-Star™ LT is your door to the best streaming entertainment.
The VIZIO Co-Star™ LT Stream Player seamlessly combines live TV and streaming entertainment – bringing more hit movies, TV shows and music to your existing HDTV*. Powered by VIZIO Internet Apps Plus™, Co-Star™ LT adds apps such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, M-GO, iHeartRadio, YouTube and more to your TV – you can even control select apps from your smartphone or tablet. Its HDMI pass-through feature eliminates the need to change inputs, and a streamlined interface with full-screen apps window makes finding something to watch a breeze. With 1080p Full HD resolution, built-in Wi-Fi, and 3D-readiness, VIZIO Co-Star™ LT is the ultimate entertainment upgrade for any high-definition television.
Smart TV Made Simple
INSTANT SMART TV
Enjoy streaming TV, movies and music on your HDTV
Watch live TV + streaming content in one unified experience
High-speed wireless means no cable clutter
HDMI IN + HDMI OUT Connects to TV & Cable / Satellite box, No changing inputs to access apps
*Compatible with high definition televisions with HDMI-HDCP connectivity. Internet connection required and sold separately.
**Compatible with apps including Netflix and YouTube that support the DIAL (DIscovery And Launch) protocol.
From the Tech Specs page:
Features Smart TV Platform VIZIO Internet Apps Plus™ Remote Control Wireless (2x AAA batteries included) Featured apps Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu Plus, MGO, Vudu, Crackle, iHeartRadio, YouTube, Facebook and many more. Second Screen Interactivity Control apps and send content from mobile device to Co-Star LT.
Networking WiFi Yes, 802.11n (single-band 1×1) Ethernet No (optional USB to Ethernet adapter available)
Video Resolution supported 720p, 1080p 3D support Yes – Pass Through Video playback H.263, H.264, AVC, MP4, VP8, WMV9/VC-1 TV compatibility HDTV with HDMI-HDCP port HDMI Profile HDMI 1.4
Audio Music playback AAC LC/LTP, HE-AACv1 (AAC+), HE-AACv2 (enhanced AAC+), MP3, PCM, WMA Audio Features Pass-through only. Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus & DTS Digital Sound
Ports and Interfaces HDMI In (to Cable/Satellite Box) 1 HDMI Out (to TV) 1 USB 1 (USB 2.0)
Power Energy Star Certified Yes
Weights + Measurements Product Dimensions (W x H x D) 3.98” x .97” x 3.98” Weight .37 lbs
In the Box Co-Star™ LT Stream Player Remote Control Batteries (2x AAA) Power adapter Quick Start Guide
VIZIO, Inc. has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided herein. All product specifications, functionality, features, configurations, performance, design and other product information described herein are subject to change without notice. VIZIO, Inc. disclaims liability for typographical, technical, or descriptive errors.
I would have been tempted to purchase a Co-Star LT for testing if I hadn’t bought an early 38-inch Vizio HDTV whose power supply died after 13 months of use. (One month out of warranty.)
Janko Roettgers (@jank0) reported Google to sunset Google TV brand as its smart TV platform merges with Android in a 10/10/2013 post to the GigaOm blog:
Google TV is dead, long live Android TV: Three years after launching the first generation of Google TV devices, Google is now looking to rid itself of the brand and realign its smart TV platform efforts more closely with Android. The move is part admission that Google TV failed, part hope that Android will eventually find its place in the living room.
Google apparently isn’t quite ready to announce the switch-over yet; a spokesperson contacted for this story declined to comment. However, an executive from a consumer electronics manufacturer that has been producing Google TV devices confirmed the rebranding in a recent conversation with GigaOM, saying: “They are calling it ‘Android TV.’”
Google’s partners, developers have stopped using the name
Some of Google’s hardware partners have already made the switch. Sony introduced a new smart TV adapter dubbed the Bravia TV stick last month. The device is based on the most recent version of Google TV, but Sony’s announcement didn’t mention that fact once. Jamie Marsh, TV marketing manager for Sony Electronics, was instead quoted saying that the device “brings the full power of Google services to your TV.”
Sony’s latest TV stick is based on the latest version of Google TV, but you won’t find that mentioned in any of its marketing material.
Sony isn’t alone with this kind of wording. Geneva, Switzerland-based chipset manufacturer STMicroelectronics announced support for Google TV products last month, but also refrained from using the brand in its announcement, instead saying that its new SDK “allows the development of Android-compliant devices and supports the latest Google services for TV.” And LG recently showed off some new devices at the IBC in Amsterdam that were described as Android devices with access to “the latest Google services for TV.” *
Even members of the original Google TV team have started to drop that name when talking about their work. A recently-scheduled developer event in Seoul was officially called “Android TV Developer Day,” and some developers have started to change affiliations in their online biographies from “Google TV” to “Android TV.”
The use of both “Android TV” and “Google services for TV” suggests that Google may not have finalized the new branding for its TV efforts yet, or that it may use a variety of brands depending on the target audience. It’s unclear when the company is officially going to announce the switch.
TV devices will run the latest version of Android, offer more options
For Google TV, this is more than just a name change. The TV platform was launched three years ago based on Honeycomb, the Android version that also powered Google’s first steps into the tablet world. Google’s latest tablets now run Android 4.3, but Google TV is still stuck on Android version 3.2, which makes it much harder for developers to bring their apps to the TV screen.
Google announced earlier this year that it would update Google TV to the latest version of Android, which would allow developers to use the same APIs available on mobile devices. The upgrade to Android 4.2 was officially announced for Q3, but word is that LG will now update their Google TV devices later this month, with other manufacturers following in the coming months.
See Nate Swanner’s article below re LG update in October 2013.
*The devices LG announced at the IBC 2013 conference were:
- Android TV
- Android TV with Cable
- Android TV with Terrestrial
- MiniBox for Android
Full disclosure: I’m a registered GigaOm analyst.
On the same topic, Jeff Baumgartner (@thebauminator) reported LG “Debuts Models that Blend Its NetCast OS, Google TV, and Live and On Demand Cable Video” in his Cable Show 2013: LG Enters the Cable Box Biz article of 6/10/2013 for the Multichannel News site:
The consumer electronics giant has launched lineup of IP-connected devices, including models that use its own NetCast Smart TV operating system and the Google TV OS and are designed to blend cable-supplied, live subscription TV services, VOD and whole-home DVR capabilities with over-the-top apps from Hulu, Vudu, and YouTube and other sources.
LG said it will use DLNA-compliant boxes to connect to a home video gateway in order to receive terrestrial or pay TV programming and video-on-demand, meaning that none of the new LG devices appear to be outfitted with CableCARD slots. LG is wrapping all apps and services within its own user interface.
LG has previously developed TVs with CableCARD slots, a move that enabled those HDTV models to support subscription digital cable TV services (but not cable VOD) without a separate set-top box. Monday’s announcement offers a clear indicator that the consumer electronics giant has completely reengaged with the cable industry.
LG is entering the show here with a family of seven different devices, including set-top models that are capable of supporting downloadable security and Ultra HD/4K video.
- IPTV Set-Top: In addition to cable-supplied live video and VOD, LG said the device supports Google TV outfitted with the Google Play app store, Google Chrome browser, and integrated home monitoring and automation capabilities.
- Android Mini-Box/Dongle: A media player with the Jelly Bean 4.2.2. operating systems with on-board 802.11ac Wi-Fi for HD streaming to devices hanging off the wireless home network.
- NetCast OTT Set-Top: Offers live linear, VOD and DVR and OTT fare, and uses LG’s DLNA-compliant “Smart Share” technology for accessing protected content over a home network.
- Ultra HD Set-Top: Adds 4K reception and playback via a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, HEVC compression, with support for DOCSIS 3.0 and the 2.0 version of the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), a home networking platform that supports speeds up to 800 Mbps.
- Next-Generation “OpenTV 5” IP Set-Top: Combines an IP-capable box with Nagra’s OpenTV 5 middleware and conditional access protection, 802.11n for file sharing with a home gateway.
- “Low-Cost” MPEG-4 Cable Set-Top: Device will support “downloadable conditional access security.”
- Wi-Fi Dongle: Allows users with Miracast smartphones to “mirror” the phone’s screen directly onto the big screen TV over a Wi-Fi connection.
A company spokeswoman said the LG-made Google TV STB is available today, while the NetCast IP box will become available in the second half of 2013. The company said it “has the flexibility and relationships to distribute most of these devices through retail or to service providers.” However, LG did not announce any distribution relationships Monday. [Emphasis Added.] …
Nate Swanner reported LG Google TV reportedly getting update to Android 4.2.2 this Monday in a 10/10/2013 post to the Android Community site:
Having already said their Google TV would get an update in the third quarter of this year, LG is apparently ready to make good on that promise. Via a tipster, we learn that LG customer service is telling users they’ll see an update to their service, starting Monday.
The update, which is said to be an upgrade to Android Jelly Bean, was noted as being the 4.2.2 variety. The upgrade for Google TV was announced at Google I/O this year, but LG was the only company willing to commit to the change. Others, like the Logitech Revue or Vizio CoStar, have been quiet on their upgrade cycle. [Emphasis added.]
On the heels of the Chromecast announcement, many wondered if Google TV was bound for the recycling bin. Google is determined to have both, saying they believe there is room for both in your living room. With hardware partners dragging their feet on upgrades or turning their back on the program altogether, we wonder how true that is. LG seems to be one of the few partners sticking around. [Emphasis added.]
If you have an LG Google TV, or LG TV with Google TV built in, look for your update on Monday. It may roll out in one day, but a gradual implementation is expected.
From the “There’s a sucker born every minute” and “Take the Money and Run” departments: CNX Software (@cnxsoft) reports Wizarm PVR MediaBox Features Samsung Exynos 5250 Processor in a 10/7/2013 post:
Wizarm is an high-end set-top box / PVR powered by Exynos 5250 dual cortex A15 processor, with 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, lots of I/Os including USB 3.0 and SATA 3 support running Android 4.2, and soon Ubuntu as well. Although its main use is to handle and process media files, the device can be also used as a PC, gaming console, smart TV box, or even a development platform.
Here are the specifications of the device:
- SoC – Samsung Exynos 5250 dual Cortex A15 up to 2GHz with Mali T-604 GPU
- System Memory – 2GB
- Storage – 16 GB eMMC. SDXC card slot, and SATA 3 connector for 2.5″ SSD or HDD
- I/O ports:
- SATA 3
- USB – 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0 host ports
- Video – HDMI OUT, HDMI IN, DisplayPort
- Audio – LINE IN, LINE OUT, Optical out
- Misc – IR sensor
- Dimensions – 21cm x 14cm x 5cm
The hardware is somewhat similar to Nuvola NP-1, except it has a slower processor (Exynos 5250 vs Tegra 4), but adds SATA support, and to me the key features is HDMI in, as it allows you to record anything coming out of another HDMI device. If you’re a gamer, you can use this box to record the action from your PS3 or XBOX 360 game console. Recording can be done up to 1440p.
Wizarm board connected to Samsung SSD
The source code for the platform will be available on git.wizard.com (not working at the moment).
Wizarm is still under development, hardware seems mostly done, except certification, Android 4.2 development is nearly complete, and Ubuntu will be added later. The company is now looking for funds to complete development and start mass production via an Indiegogo (flexible) campaign to deliver the product in April 2014. The “earliest wizard” pledge reserved to the first 100 backers will get your the device for $249 including express shipping, after you’ll need to pledge $299 to get the device. [Emphasis added.]
You can also visit Wizarm.com for more details, videos and pictures, access to forums, etc…
The rabbit ears appear to be for the FM (not ATSC or DVB-T/C tuner.) It’s doubtful if the HDMI input will record 1080p TV content because of HDCP restrictions. You can purchase a Hauppauge Colossus capture board with HDMI (1080i, max.), component (YPrPb), and analog video inputs from Amazon for US$135. Samsung’s HomeSync device offers similar features with a 1-TB disk drive for the same exorbitant price, although it works only with the latest Samsung phones.
From the “Lets show a picture of it and see if it sells at MSRP” department:
Amazon.com provides these “technical details”:
- HomeSync is the center of your connected life.
- It stores and displays the best content and features of your Galaxy phone on your TV, puts the Internet on a larger screen and expands your entertainment choices.
- 2.5″ 1TB HDD inside: No Fan, No Noise, No Vibration
- Connects your HDTV to your home network; compatible with most HDTVs and Samsung Galaxy devices; 1TB shared storage; Android Jelly Bean 4.2 operating system; public and private content management; Bluetooth; NFC tag
Would you spend $299 plus sales tax for a TVBox that costs more than a 32-inch LED HDTV without knowing more about it?
See the Overpriced Samsung HomeSync to be Generally Available for US$299 on 10/6/2013 post below.
Brad Linder (@BradLinder) reported WSJ: Amazon TV box will offer music, video streaming, apps and games in a 10/3/2013 post to his Liliputing blog:
Amazon’s third generation tablets are scheduled to hit the streets starting this month, but the company reportedly has more hardware in the works. Hot on the heels of reports that Amazon will launch its own smartphones in the coming year, the Wall Street Journal has new details about a TV box Amazon is reportedly building, which the paper says could be ready to launch in time for the holiday season. [WSJ link changed to not require subscription.]
Amazon Google TV app
As expected, the Amazon device will provide customers a way to play music and movies purchased from Amazon on a television set. Amazon Prime subscribers who pay $79 for free 2-day shipping, among other benefits, will also be able to stream thousands movies and TV episodes for no additional fee.
In other words, it’d work a lot like a Roku, Google TV, or Apple TV device.
It’s not clear if Amazon will be able to match the number of channels available on competing devices right out of the gate. Roku, for instance, already supports online video streaming from over 150 sources including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Vudu and HBO Go.
It’s also not clear if Amazon would match its competitors’ pricing: An Apple TV runs $99, while you can buy Roku devices for as little as $50.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the project might even be killed off before Amazon’s TV box is even released, due to financial or performance concerns. But it makes sense for Amazon to try to flesh out its ecosystem for making digital content available across devices.
While you can use a Roku to stream Amazon Instant Video on a TV, an Amazon-branded box would likely be designed to work with Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets and other devices. You might be able to use your tablet as a remote control for your TV, for example. And it could give you one more reason to buy music, movies, or apps from Amazon’s digital content stores if you can buy once and run on your phone, tablet, and TV.
Everyone wants to get into the TVBox act as a result of Google’s success with Chromecast.
Brad Linder (@BradLinder) reported Samsung launches $299 HomeSync Android-powered media center in a 10/3/2013 post to his Liliputing blog:
The Samsung HomeSync is a home media server with 1TB of storage. You can set it up by your TV and use it to play videos from the hard drive on your TV. You can also use it backup and sync data from your Samsung phones or tablets, or stream content from your mobile device to your TV.
That’s more than 8 times as expensive as a Chromecast, Google’s simple device that lets you stream audio and video content to your TV. But Samsung’s HomeSync can do a lot more than a Chromecast… as long as you’re using it with a Samsung phone or tablet.
Here’s some of what the HomeSync can do:
- Backup photos, videos, music, and other data from your mobile devices.
- Create up to 8 separate user accounts for synchronizing and shareing your data.
- Use your phone or tablet as a remote control for your TV, using the touchscreen as a mouse and the on-screen keyboard to type.
- Stream content from your Samsung Galaxy device to your TV in real-time to display photos, videos, and other content.
Samsung says the HomeSync will be available from Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg and the Samsung web store.
Customers who buy a $299 HomeSync will also get $50 to spend on digital content from Samsung’s MediaHub store.
From the Samsung HomeSync Brings The Best Features of Your Galaxy Devices to Your TV press release of 10/3/2013:
For Application Developers
Application developers can make their existing Android apps compatible with HomeSync in the Google Play Store with as little as one line of code. For more information, visit http://developer.samsung.com/homesync.
Application developers are also invited to attend the first annual Samsung Developers Conference [to be held 10/27 through 10/29/2013 at San Francisco’s St. Francis hotel] where they’ll have the opportunity to connect with industry visionaries, Samsung executives and technical leaders, and fellow developers while getting an exclusive first look at the latest tools, SDKs, and emerging platforms for Samsung devices to create what’s next. HomeSync product management members will be on-hand to demonstrate HomeSync, discuss development possibilities, and answer questions. Attendees of the HomeSync breakout session will have a chance to win a HomeSync. [Link, location and dates added.]
I find it strange that Samsung is releasing the device on a Sunday.
Even the general-interest NBC News site carried a Samsung HomeSync is a $299 Android-powered media center and cloud drive article by Wilson Rothman (@wjrothman) on 10/3/2013:
On Thursday Samsung revealed its $299 HomeSync, a little black box that has three basic tricks: It lets you blast your videos and photos on your TV, save (and access) those media files on a central home network drive, and play movies and other content from the Internet via standard Android apps. Instead of coming with a remote control, it takes commands from your compatible Galaxy phone.
HomeSync, available on Oct. 6, is not quite the same as the $99 Apple TV or Google’s $35 Chromecast. True, all three let you watch movies and TV streamed from the Internet (with varying degrees of functionality), and view the pictures and videos you’re constantly shooting on your phone.
But neither of the other two gives you a way to offload all those files for permanent storage. With nearly a terabyte of internal storage in the HomeSync, you could shoot for years and not fill up the drive.
Samsung HomeSync gives you a plethora of Android apps and options.
The other difference is that HomeSync is basically a free-standing Android device, so you can install any app, not just video streaming stuff. Spec-wise, it partly resembles the Ouya Android game console, so as long as there’s not too much latency when you’re controlling what’s on the screen, you could technically even use it to play games. …
None of the stories about HomeSync’s general release mention Samsung HomeSync Media Server Finally Appears at AT&T Store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, as I noted on 8/13/2013.
Not to be outshone by Samsung’s HomeSync announcement, Huawei Devices offers a sneak preview of ‘Connected Home’ tech at hands-on experience stand “at an experience stand in Sydney’s Bondi Junction Westfield this school holidays”:
Sporting Celebs line up for new Huawei Devices experience
Huawei Devices will offer the public a sneak preview of its next-generation of ‘Connected Home’ devices at an experience stand in Sydney’s Bondi Junction Westfield this school holidays. The experience stand will show off the capabilities of the MediaQ – Huawei’s mini-media-streaming device – and Huawei’s latest Android smartphones, with a line-up of sports stars from the Sydney Roosters and Sydney Swans making guest appearances at the stand.
“This is a great opportunity for Australians to have a hands-on experience of Huawei’s latest Devices,” said Huawei Australia Account Director Geison Jiao. “Huawei’s Devices business goes beyond our latest range of smartphones, so we’re giving a special sneak preview of new ‘Connected Home’ technologies like the MediaQ so users can experience what Huawei’s latest innovations can bring to their own homes.”
The experience stand will be open at Bondi Junction Westfield until Sunday October 6th. A range of local sports stars will make daily appearances at the stand, including former Sydney Roosters star Brad Fittler and Sydney Swans stars Shane Mumford, Jarrad McVeigh, Ted Richards, and Ryan O’Keefe. Details of appearance times will be updated on Huawei Devices’ Facebook page, www/facebook.com/HuaweiDeviceAustralia. …
Huawei recently updated their Devices Website with the M310’s less-than-stellar specifications:
- Chipset: Hisilicon K3V2 Quad-core
- Memory: 1GB RAM + 4GB Flash
- 1 × STB In
- 1 x HDMI Out
- 1 × SPDIF / 3.5mm stereo jack / Mic mono ( three in one )
- 2 × USB 2.0 (1 extension from Y cable)
- 1 × microSD card slot
- 1 × micro USB
- Power supply: 1 × Micro USB for power DC 5V 2A
- Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n 2.4G/5G 2×2MIMO
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
I believe the STB (Set Top Box) In interface is a conventional HDMI input port, which is uncommon for TV boxes. Note the lack of GPU and operating system details. Commercial availability is still in limbo.
Brad Linder (@bradlinder) reported CyanogenMod to let you mirror your phone on a TV with Apple TV AirPlay support in a 9/21/2013 post to his Liliputing blog:
Google may have thwarted CyanogenMod developer Koushik Dutta’s efforts to make the Chromecast more useful by letting you stream all sorts of content from your phone to a Chromecast. But he’s shifted his efforts to the Apple TV.
Koush is showing off an upcoming CyanogenMod feature that lets you mirror your phone’s display on a TV using Apple’s AirPlay service.
Basically all you would need to do is plug a $99 Apple TV into your television, fire up a phone running CyanogenMod, and choose to stream from your device to the Apple TV.
This’ll fill your TV with a copy of everything happening on your phone. That’s not just video — you can surf the web, view Google Maps, or run other apps. It could be an interesting way to give presentations — just fire up a slide deck on your phone and you can show it on a TV or projector in a conference room. But it’s more likely that you’ll just use this feature to bore your friends with pictures from your last vacation… or photos of your cat.
It looks like the AirPlay support is built into the same AllCast app that Koush has been working on, which means that there could eventually be a single app or service on CyanogenMod devices that’ll let users stream content to a TV using a Roku, Apple TV, or other devices… maybe even a Chromecast or Google TV one day.
Cyanogen, Inc.’s Team page says Koush is CyanogenMod’s VP of Engineering. Kim-Mai Cutler reported Cyanogen Mod Raises $7M To Find A Direct-To-Consumer Route For Android Firmware in a 9/18/2013 TechCrunch article.
Sony’s PR Department issued a Sony Introduces BRAVIA® Smart Stick with Google Services press release on 9/18/2013:
New Sony NSZ-GU1 BRAVIA Smart Stick Brings Google Search,
Google Play and More in a Slim, Stick-like Form Factor
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 18, 2013 – Sony Electronics today announced its next-generation smart TV device, the NSZ-GU1 BRAVIA Smart Stick, making it easier than ever for owners of Sony’s 2013 TV line-up to discover and watch exactly what they want, from TV programming to apps and websites, all on one screen with one easy, voice-activated remote.
The BRAVIA Smart Stick features a slim form factor, 8GB of on-board storage, and plugs directly into the MHL port on the back of 2013 Sony BRAVIA TVs, with a USB cable to provide its power source. In addition, the BRAVIA Smart Stick comes bundled with Sony’s award-winning, voice-activated remote control, giving viewers a variety of ways to interact and control their entertainment. Priced at $149.99, the BRAVIA Smart Stick is available now at Sony Stores and select retailers nationwide.
“The BRAVIA Smart Stick answers the question, ‘What’s on TV,’ with ‘whatever you want to watch’” said Jamie Marsh, TV marketing manager for Sony Electronics Home Entertainment & Sound Division. “It brings the full power of Google services to your TV. From the apps in the Google Play store to the power of Google search, the BRAVIA Smart Stick integrates seamlessly with Sony’s own BRAVIA apps and navigation to deliver an amazing connected TV viewing experience.”
Search live TV, the internet and apps
Viewers can either type or speak into the included universal remote and enjoy the power of Google search for results from cable/satellite providers, the internet and apps. The BRAVIA Smart Stick also integrates a user’s existing cable or satellite service, so there is no need to switch inputs to enjoy content from either source.
The Chrome™ browser is built for speed, simplicity and efficiency, and features a Flash Media Player, enabling viewers to enjoy endless video content with easy, engaging interactivity.
Out of the box, the BRAVIA Smart Stick is pre-installed with entertainment apps like Netflix®, Pandora®, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, YouTube and more. Viewers can personalize their TV experience by adding video, music, games, social networking and news apps from the Google Play Store.™
BRAVIA Seamless Control
The BRAVIA Smart Stick’s user interface seamlessly integrates Google and Sony’s own BRAVIA apps, allowing viewers to stay in a single menu to launch any of their apps, including BRAVIA apps like the Internet Video Library.
Additionally, the BRAVIA Smart Stick’s Picture-and-Picture feature allows viewers to surf the web and watch TV at the same time in two independent windows on the television screen, without interfering with one another. Perfect for Fantasy Football, with one screen showing the game and another showing live scoring updates of your fantasy league, it’s also perfect for live tweeting or updating a Facebook® status while watching award shows or other televised events and programming.
Intuitive operation with a remote unlike any other
With a large, clickable touchpad on one side and a QWERTY keyboard on the other, the BRAVIA Smart Stick’s remote control is optimized for ease of use. Additionally, users can simply speak into the remote’s microphone to search content, apps, and the web.
The universal remote controls the TV, all of a user’s apps and even connected set-top boxes, and the clickable touchpad works just like a laptop’s, including one-handed operations like pinch and pull zoom control.
If the Smart Stick has a Micro-USB OTG power connection, why does it need the MHL feature for it’s HDMI connection? Apparently, it’s MHL that prevents use with earlier Sony BRAVIA TVs.
Richard Lawler (@rjcc) supplemented his earlier story with a Sony BRAVIA Smart Stick revealed, it’s Google TV in a Chromecast-looking dongle Engadget article of 9/13/2013 that includes a link to the device’s Users Manual:
The Sony NSZ-GU1 Google TV device we’ve seen pop up in FCC filings has been at least partially revealed today, and it’s called the Sony BRAVIA Smart Stick. The blog post doesn’t specifically mention any Chromecast-style features, but it is an MHL dongle that runs both Google TV and Sony’s own BRAVIA apps. The features are just like Google TV boxes Sony has released before, with a remote (that the FCC filings showed is at least similar to the previous ones) that has QWERTY and voice search support. Additionally, its “picture-and-picture” feature lets users see a browser in one window and TV in another.
Since it’s a true Google TV device it can install and run Android apps from the Play Store, but any other details will have to wait until it’s officially announced on Sunday (the truly dedicated can dig into the source code, linked after the break). Of course this does leave one other question: Now that app support is available as a simple plug-in dongle, does that mean Sony is going to ship plain-jane HDTVs and leave the “smart” features for add-on accessories like this one?
Update: @CJ_000 points out the web-based instruction manual is up on Sony’s site, and should answer most questions about how it works. It also lists the pre-installed apps, and at least so far, Hulu Plus is not among them. We’re not seeing any DIAL-related features available to start with, so now we really want to know when it will be available,
will it work with TVs other than Sonyand how much will it cost?
Update 2: Reader Bryan points out a page in the manual that confirms this accessory is only for 2013 model year (and later) Sony HDTVs.
Brad Linder (@BradLinder) reported XBMC media center adds Android hardware decoding, drops Windows XP support from his Liliputing blog on 9/6/2013:
The developers of open source media center software XBMC have released a new build of XBMC 13 Gotham, sporting a few shiny new features including support for stereoscopic 3D video and for hardware-accelerated decoding on Android devices.
XBMC for Windows now requires Vista or later. The software is also available for OS X, Linux, and Android.
While XBMC has been available for Android for a while, up until recently it’s relied on software decoding, which means you’ve needed a pretty fast processor to handle HD video playback. Now XBMC can take advantage of the graphics chips in many phones, tablets, and TV boxes to decode H.264 and other supported video codecs.
At this point you’ll need a device running Android 4.0 or later — and XBMC 13 doesn’t currently support hardware decoding on devices with Amlogic or Allwinner chips.
3D video support now works with videos encoded in SBS, TAB, anaglyph and interlaced formats. The media player can’t yet handle 3D Blu-ray videos.
The team has also made some changes to the menu system, removed the default weather app (to stop XBMC users from hammering Weather Undeground with forecast requests), and fixed a number of bugs.
You can find more details at the XBMC blog.
The XBMCAndroid.com Staff (@XBMCAndroid) posted a Preliminary Review of the Little Black Box Android TV Device on 9/5/2013:
Just over a month ago we were given the privilege of getting our hands on one of the latest devices to hit the XBMC consumer base. What is this mystery device you ask… The Little Black Box. Here at XBMC ANDROID we had heard a lot of exciting things about this new device and like many of you, we were anxious to jump right in.
The Little Black Box [@TLBlackBox] is unique from its competitors in both design and function. That is to say… this device comes to you with a customized body and LINUX based build of a XBMC. This offers users a much more stable experience than other set top boxes made of the same hardware design and form factor. The creators behind TLBB are clearly attempting to bring XBMC into the home of consumers as a stand alone experience… where as companies like PIVOS require users to do the extra work in getting XBMC up… running… and working. It is for this reason that we applaud The Little Black Box Team.
As we all know, there are two sides to every coin. As such, even TLBB has its flaws. Where it excels in differentiating itself from its competition, it also seems to have set itself apart for its shortcomings as well. Out of the box… absolutely nothing works.
- The controller needs to be manually paired with the box.
- The mapping of the keys is less than subpar… rendering the remote quite useless.
- The update process out of the box was an utter mess… requiring a USB drive and a few hours of patience.
- The default skin was often lacking in functionality.
- Default wifi functionality was also quite bad. I had to change my actual SSID as this device wouldn’t connect to networks that have names that exceed a count of roughly 15 characters.
This is just a few of the larger, more painful, shortcomings I fell upon in the first 3 days of testing the device. Also, should you be wondering, I spoke with the team and these are all know, acknowledge issues that they tell us they are working on.
THE UGLY TRUTH
If you are in the market for a device to run XBMC on… there are literally hundreds of options on the market. This fact makes it almost panic inducing to decide what to product to purchase. For the price, and current status of this product, I would have to recommend a “wait and see approach” when it comes to The Little Black Box.
Sadly, for all of these companies, a new product came to market this year known as the OUYA. This device, in my mind, has closed the door to many of the hardware startups in this space. The OUYA offers better hardware, better firmware, and richer features for a smaller price tag than many of these business can provide.
All of that said… don’t count them out. They talk a big game and seem poised to follow through. They are striving to become a “name” in the XBMC community… and it is entirely possible to do this… they simply need to have a product that costs the same or less than an OUYA with an experience that is, at least, as stable as theirs.
It’s probably safer to stick to XBMC on Android devices for now. See the earlier CNXSoft reports 100 Euros “Little Black Box” Runs XBMC Linux article below for more product details.
Richard Lawler (@rjcc) reported Sony’s first post-Chromecast Google TV device is a dongle, not a set-top box in an 8/30/2013 Engadget article:
We first got a whiff of Sony’s NSZ-GU1 earlier this month from an FCC filing, and now the folks at GTVHacker point out those documents have been updated with more info and pictures. The first new Google TV hardware seen since the $35 Chromecast dongle launched, this device appears to be a blend of the two. A key difference revealed from the pictures however, is an odd stepped design, with the MHL/HDMI port protruding from the bottom of the box. The brief user manual included in the filing may explain this however, as it can draw power via that MHL output and the USB connection to a BRAVIA TV. A tiny diagram in the truncated user manual shows it plugged into the side of a TV like the Chromecast or Roku Streaming Stick. If you’re wondering about the PS4 — yes, we looked, but there’s no indication it’s meant to work directly with the upcoming console.
Like previous Google TV devices, it brings HDMI passthrough to the table along with an IR blaster, remote diagrams (in a separate filing) look similar to the one included with the NSZ-GS7 and GS8. Inside is a low power Marvell DE3108 SoC, 8GB of flash memory and 1GB RAM, however the specs indicate it’s limited to 720p video output. As GTVHacker put it, the entire thing is similar to the Chromecast but with Google TV features. What remains to be seen is when it arrives, how much it costs, and what software tweaks Google and Sony can cook up to make this generation of Android-powered smart TVs more appealing. [Emphasis added.]
The HDMI connector hump on the TVStick might be required to accommodate recessed HDMI receptacles on Sony Bravia TV sets. None of the pictures I’ve seen include the reported HDMI in (pass-through) port.
Sony’s GS7 and GS8 have an MSRP of $199, so I wouldn’t expect the NSZ-GU1 to be price-competitive with Chromecast.
Edwin Kee noted that Taiwanese Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) firm Wistron Group will manufacture Sony’s dongle in this 9/2/2013 post to Upergizmo.com:
There is word going around that Sony could very well unveil their very own Google Chromecast rival device – at least if one were to infer to some of the documents and photos released by the FCC. These images do point to a dongle with the model number NSZ-GU1, and it also carries the words “Internet Player”. The Sony branded dongle itself seems to come with with an HDMI-in port and MHL-out (720p video), where those will be accompanied by an IR Blaster sensor and a ‘Connect’ button.
The Sony device will be manufactured by the good people over at ODM Wistron, and the revealed specifications sheet also showed off the presence of a Marvell DE3108 SoC, 8GB of flash memory, 1GB of RAM, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity. Not only that, it does seem as though the dongle itself will be powered from a television’s USB connection. It remains to be seen whether the NSZ-GU1’s functions will be exactly the same as that of the Google Chromecast, or will it be used to mirror a mobile device, but only time will tell. We expect to check out this particular device from Sony at IFA 2013 later this week, considering how the confidentiality request [to the FCC] has already expired on August 29th. [Emphasis added.]
Sony’s device’s functions are unlikely to “be exactly the same as that of the Google Chromecast” and probably will implement or emulate Miracast. If the latter, this post will move to the Miracast-Compatible Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes article.
Jeremiah Rice reported Samsung HomeSync Drops Into Online Store Along With PDF Manual, But You Can’t Order It Yet [Update: Pricing And More] in an 8/26/2013 post to the Android Police site:
Update: It turns out you can get a Samsung HomeSync in the US… if you live in the greater Chicago area. AT&T is selling the devices at its flagship store on Michigan Avenue, and only at this store. We called up the location for information about pricing and availability, here’s what we were told: the HomeSync is $299 (no contracts or anything), is currently in stock at that location, and you do not have to be an AT&T customer to purchase one.
Samsung HomeSync™ is available at the AT&T Michigan Avenue Store in Chicago. Samsung HomeSync stores, shares and streams mobile content across multiple devices, and brings the Internet to a TV screen, offering Web browsing, YouTube, apps, games and social networking. In addition, it provides 1 TB of secure storage for up to eight separate accounts and allows each user to sync in near real time, as well as upload and download mobile content. We have not announced further plans for U.S. availability of Samsung HomeSync.
It never rains, but it pours. Just a few hours ago we reported that the Samsung HomeSync popped up on the manufacturer’s registration page, despite being unavailable for purchase four months after its scheduled release. Now a page for the HomeSync has gone live on Samsung’s online store, curiously marked as an AT&T model. Unfortunately there’s no way to order one, or even see how much it will cost.
The HomeSync is Samsung’s take on Google TV, which very emphatically is not a Google TV. It’s more of a home media server, assuming that you’re OK with all your media either being served up by a Samsung device or bought from Samsung’s Media Hub service or Google Play. The set-top box runs a highly customized version of Android and includes a 1 terabyte hard drive for videos and apps. Video and audio can be mirrored from the Galaxy S4 via AllShare Cast (including content from the Play Store) and the box itself has access to the Play Store and Samsung’s proprietary content. For a hands-on look at the HomeSync, check out our coverage from Mobile World Congress way back in February.
The device manual (PDF link) also popped up on Samsung’s site, but it yields no clue to price or availability. Considering that we’ve seen two major breaks on the web, I’d say that a launch is imminent. The curious mention of AT&T on the product page may imply that Samsung wants to promote the HomeSync in carrier stores.
Price will be the make-or-break factor here. With the Chromecast and Roku already covering some of the HomeSync’s media-centric functions well below the $100 level, Samsung will have to work the storage angle hard to make its alternative appealing.
If you can afford an apartment on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, you can probably afford a US$299 HomeSync box. Other folks might want to combine a US$100 3-TB USB drive with a $50 Android TVStick to store and playback whatever video content from wherever they want.
The 74-page manual makes a point of detailing DivX license requirements for 720p (!) playback, but doesn’t mention Miracast, DLNA, UPnP and other media playback standards
CNX Software Reports “Kaiboer F4 / Ugoos UT1 Quad Core Media Player Is Now Available for as Low as $116”
As if there weren’t enough Chinese Android-powered media players available already, CNX Software (@cnxsoft) posted Kaiboer F4 / Ugoos UT1 Quad Core Media Player Is Now Available for as Low as $116 on 7/28/2013:
K-R42-1 (aka CS918 aka MK888 aka …) has been one of the first Rockchip RK3188 Android TV Boxes available on the market, and can be purchased for less than $90 US. Kaiboer F4, discovered at the end of June, has similar specs, but comes with 2 Wi-Fi antennas, potentially improving Wi-Fi reception. The only problem. until now, was that it was not available for sale, but this has now changed, and you can purchase it for $116 including on GeekBuying, renamed as Ugoos UT1. It’s also available on Aliexpress at higher prices at the time of writing. [Update: Dealsprime sells it for $109.99]
Kaiboer F4 / Ugoos UT1 Specifications:
- SoC – Rockchip RK3188 up to 1. 8 GHz with Mali-400 MP4 GPU
- System Memory – 2GB DDR3
- Storage – 8 GB Flash + 1x SD card
- Video Output – HDMI, and AV
- Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
- Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with 2 external Wi-Fi antennas. (No Bluetooth)
- USB – Micro USB OTG + 2x USB host ports
- Power & reset buttons
- Dimensions – 187x128x24 mm
This Android 4.2.2 device comes with a 5V/2A power adapter, an IR remote control, HDMI and composite cables, as well as a user’s manual. GeekBuying has posted some pictures of the devices including the custom user’s interface.
as well as low resolution pictures of the board.
At the bottom of the top side of the PCB, on the left side of the cable that goes to the small IR/LED board, you can see a 3-pin header with what may be GND, TX and RX, so this could be a decent Rockchip hacking platform, more practical than RK3188 mini PCs.
Geekbuying also posted some benchmark results: Antutu 3.x (15,245), Nemamark 2.4 (59.9 fps) and Vellamo (HTML5: 1544 / Metal: 491), and tested some features and apps such as Miracast, Video webcam, XBMC, Netflix…
Purchase status on Geekbuying.com was “Presell” as of 7/28/2013 with a “Presell Product Lead-time: 2013-08-03”.
Amazon (AMZN) is making e-readers and tablets and will likely soon introduce a smartphone. As it works to build all types of connected devices, that leaves a natural next step: a television set-top box. The e-commerce giant is planning to introduce a device this fall dedicated to streaming video over the Internet and into its customers’ living rooms, according to three people familiar with the project who aren’t authorized to discuss it.
They say the box will plug into TVs and give users access to Amazon’s expanding video offerings. Those include its à la carte Video on Demand store, which features newer films and TV shows, and its Instant Video service, which is free for subscribers to the Amazon Prime two-day shipping package. The Amazon set-top box will compete with similar products, such as the [Chromecast], Roku, Apple TV, and the Boxee Cloud DVR, along with more versatile devices such as the Playstation 3 and the Xbox. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.
Many other set-top devices already give their users access to Amazon’s video catalog. By building its own system, Amazon can put its content more directly in front of consumers while expanding its lineup of devices and giving developers another reason to create apps for Amazon’s digital ecosystem.
The set-top box is being developed by Amazon’s Lab126 division in Cupertino, Calif., which has toyed with building TV-connected devices for several years, the people familiar with the effort say. The project is being run by Malachy Moynihan, a former vice president of emerging video products at Cisco Systems (CSCO) who worked on the networking company’s various consumer video initiatives. Moynihan also spent nine years at Apple (AAPL) during the 1980s and 1990s. Among the other hardware engineers working at Lab126 with considerable experience making set-top boxes are Andy Goodman, formerly a top engineer at TiVo (TIVO) and Vudu (WMT), and Chris Coley, a former hardware architect at ReplayTV, one of Silicon Valley’s first DVR companies. …
Amazon has a tough price-point to meet: Google’s $35 Chromecast. Content is another problem. Although I’m an Amazon Prime subscriber and get Amazon Instant Video with the subscription, my wife and I find Netflix’s streaming content more to our liking. I doubt if we’re different in this respect from the majority of HDTV owners.
Brad observed in his Jeff Bezos Doesn’t Care What You Think About Amazon’s Quarterly Earnings article of 7/25/2013:
… Amazon’s chief executive doesn’t concern himself with Amazon’s quarterly earnings report or with Wall Street’s visceral reaction to it. (In fact, he’s in Silicon Valley for most of this summer, working with Amazon’s hardware design arm, Lab126, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly.) …
It’s hard to make much money when you’re opening refrigerated fulfillment centers around the country, manufacturing your first set-top box, preparing to launch a phone, buying up video content in a furious competition with Netflix, and creating original programming, all the while diving into new product categories and revolutionizing the publishing business. …
Bezos has a habit of pulling rabbits out of hats, but the Lab126 folks have a serious challenge on their hands.
Independent TV analyst Steve Hawley (@tvstrategies) complained that Google TV obsoleted his first-generation Logitech Review device in his The Half-life of Web TV Devices article of 2/5/2013 for TeleCompetitor:
Like most households, ours has a TV routine in which we watch certain programs. The other day, we wanted to see what else was on and because we have Google TV, we also get the Web and online video on our TV. Our version of Google TV is on a Logitech Revue, which was one of Google TV’s two device partners at launch, along with Sony. Google’s other launch partners were DISH Network, Adobe and Best Buy.
We were excited when we hooked our system up more than two years ago (has it been that long?), and we enjoyed the experience until we changed over to a DISH Hopper whole-home DVR. The Revue is integrated with the DISH Network ViP722 set-top box, so a Google TV search would yield not only Internet results, but also, upcoming TV shows from the DISH Network EPG and programs DVR-recorded on the 722. DISH continues to support this setup.
We still have the Revue, so when we want to watch streaming video on our TV, that’s what we use. The Google TV main menu pops up along the bottom edge of the TV screen, with the icons of several apps, access to a grid view of all the apps installed on the device, and alerts that usually are about new versions of apps. Last week, there was an alert. An update to one of the TV apps was available, and we were prompted to go to Google TV’s Google Play store to download it. …
I backed out of this screen and repeated the process just to make sure: same screen. Google has not updated Android on the Logitech Revue, a first-generation Google TV device, prior to version 3.1. After some further research, a November 14, 2012, posting on the Google TV blog announcing enhancements to Google TV said that the latest enhancements applied only to second generation Google TV hardware – with a link back to the announcement of these second generation devices . It was immediately clear that our Logitech Revue had reached its half-life.
Yes, the November press release did indicate that first-generation devices would still receive updates to YouTube and PrimeTime for Google TV – Google’s online electronic program guide and recommendation engine. And yes, the Revue still works fine: we can watch videos from YouTube, Amazon, NBA, Netflix and CNBC programming. Pandora and Napster are still there. The DISH integration still works. But our device will no longer be able to obtain new apps from the Google Play store. The beginning of the end. …
Android-powered MiniPCs aren’t likely to suffer a similar mid-life crisis because tech-savvy users can upgrade their TVBox’s operating system, within the limits imposed by their initial hardware purchase. The Logitech Revue Companion Box with Google TV and Keyboard Controller sells for US$160 from an Amazon partner. At least Google hasn’t (yet) straight-lined Google TV as they did Google Reader.
Rumor has it that the sold-out Google I/O 2013 conference, to be held 5/15 through 5/17/2013 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, will be the venue for announcing a major Google TV update and, finally, a built-in 10-foot UI for Android devices to make developing apps that display on living-room TVs easier.
I’m a DISH Network subscriber with a ViP 722R PVR and have an unrelated complaint about the device’s software, as described in my Changing AT&T DSL Fixed IP Addresses to DHCP to Accommodate DISH Network’s Broadband Configuration post of 8/15/2012.
Update 3/18/2013: David Pierce (@piercedavid) asked “Android is coming to our TVs, but has Google already lost the battle for the living room?” in a deck for his Google TV: silent but not forgotten at I/O 2013 article of 3/17/2013 for TheVerge.com:
It’s easy to miss the Google TV booth here at I/O 2013, hidden in the corner of the third floor. That may not be an accident: there was apparently no room in the company’s sprawling three-and-a-half-hour keynote to mention Google TV, either, just a short blog post hours later announcing that it now runs the latest version of Android. So in a sea of new products, services, and pitches to developers, we couldn’t help but wonder: is TV dead? Google has killed plenty of products with many more fans than Google TV — will it go the way of Reader?
Google TV is Android, and Android is Google TV
We’ve been told that Google TV isn’t going away — the company can’t give up, because the market and opportunity are too large. But Google’s changing its approach to your living room, beginning with the update this week. Google TV is now based on Android 4.2.2, the latest version of the operating system, and offers developers much more — when Google TV first started three years ago, the team forked Android to build the OS, and a source described this update as “bending the fork back in.” Google TV is Android, and Android is Google TV — or it will be, whenever the update becomes available. It’s what Google TV should have been from day one. …
… Despite its slightly awkward presence, like the nerdy kid that snuck into the school dance and hid in the corner hoping no one would notice, Google TV isn’t gone. And Google believes it may be heading toward a comeback: we’re told to expect a steady drumbeat of Google TV products, from partners like LG, TCL, and others. But a steady drumbeat is what got Google TV where it is today.
What Google TV needs is a makeover, and a splashy re-launch. It needs to shows us why it’s different now, why it’s better. Google needs to convince users, developers, and manufacturers that the Android they love on cell phones can work on the big screen in their living room as well. Then Google needs to prove it, fast.
Samsung’s overpriced HomeSync Media Server still isn’t available in the US, but Kenny Yeo finds it lacking compatiblity in his First Looks: Samsung HomeSync Personal Cloud Device review of 7/22/2013 for Singapore’s HardwareZone.com:
A Confused Box?
The Samsung HomeSync is a stylish-looking box that lets you share and stream content such as photos and videos from your Samsung mobile device to your TV. It also doubles up as Android media player, allowing users to enjoy Android apps as well as play various media files on your TV. But is it the perfect complement to your Samsung mobile device? We’ll let you decide after reading our usage experience.
The perfect complement to your Samsung mobile device?
Design & Features
The HomeSync device is actually really compact. Here it is next to the new Galaxy S4 Active.
Samsung is one of the best when it comes to industrial design and the HomeSync device is very modern-looking and sleek. We especially liked the front brushed aluminum panel, which gives the device a high-end look and feel. It certainly looks good beside Samsung’s own newer TVs and is a device you would be happy to have sitting on your TV cabinet. The front panel has a single LED status indicator located at the top right corner and the HomeSync device only has two buttons – a power button and a function key that is used to pair devices without NFC capability.
To keep the front brushed aluminum panel clean, Samsung has positioned the buttons on its side, and there’s only two of them.
The dual USB 3.0 ports let you expand storage and or quickly transfer media content.
Behind, the HomeSync device has an HDMI port for video output, a micro-USB port, an Ethernet jack, two USB 3.0 ports that you can use to expand storage or simply play media files from, and finally an optical audio out. Under the hood the HomeSync is powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core Exynos processor with 2GB DDR3 RAM and has 1TB of storage. The unit is also built-in with Wireless 802.11b/g/n support and Bluetooth 4.0.
What it Does – Part 1: HomeSync
The HomeSync is so-called because it lets users share and stream content from their Samsung mobile device to their TV. This can be done by simply downloading the HomeSync app from the Google Play Store or Samsung Apps and then activating the device by using NFC. This also automatically sets the HomeSync device up. For Samsung devices without NFC, you can still manually set your device to work with the HomeSync device via the downloaded app.
Simply tap the HomeSync device on the top with your NFC-enabled Samsung mobile device and the pairing will be done.
Once paired, your Samsung mobile device becomes a remote control. In this mode, it works like a touchpad on a notebook.
After installing the app, the option to share via HomeSync will appear on your Samsung mobile device.
Once your device is paired with the HomeSync device, you can use your Samsung mobile device to navigate the HomeSync’s menu page. You can do so in three ways: using your mobile device as a pointer, using the display of your Samsung mobile device as a touchpad, or by simply mirroring your TV’s display on your Samsung mobile device. We found the third option to be the easiest.
To share content via the HomeSync device on your TV, simply navigate to the photo or video on your Samsung mobile device and tap the HomeSync icon in the top menu bar. After tapping the HomeSync icon, you will be given the option to share it publicly, in your personal folder or in your password-protected private folder. Users do not need to be the on the same network as the HomeSync device; they can even be outside using a mobile connection and still perform these functions – quite similar to other online cloud storage options.
Speaking of private folders, the HomeSync device can sync with up to eight users, with each user supporting a maximum of six mobile devices. And each user will be allocated a password-protected folder to keep sensitive data.
Unfortunately, that is just about what the HomeSync can do. Despite its rather capacious 1TB hard drive, it does not store backups of your device – only the media content that you choose to sync with it.
What it Does – Part 2: Media Player / Smart TV
Aside from sharing content from their Samsung mobile device, users can also make use of the HomeSync device’s two USB 3.0 ports to quickly add or play media files using portable hard drives or USB flash drives.
The HomeSync’s video and music player apps both support a healthy selection of formats and codecs. This includes H.264, MPEG-4, VC-1, VP8, DivX, WMV and more. And thanks to its 1.7GHz dual-core Exynos processor, the HomeSync device handled video files we threw at it with ease. It also plays lossless audio formats such as FLAC, Ogg Vorbis on top of your regular lossy formats such as MP3 and AAC.
The HomeSync device is a capable media player capable of playing multiple formats and has no problem displaying subtitle files.
If your TV does not have built-in Smart TV capability, the HomeSync’s YouTube app will let you watch YouTube on your TV.
Browsing the web on the big screen is quite an experience.
The HomeSync’s bundled video and music player apps are easy enough to use and will automatically scan for recognized media files. However, it will only scan files that are on the HomeSync’s drive and not on expanded storage devices.
Since the HomeSync runs on Android 4.2, it therefore enables Smart TV features on older TVs. Users can download apps and games as they would on any Android device and use it with their TV. With the HomeSync, users can also browse the web, watch YouTube videos, update Facebook and play Android games on their TV.
What Am I?
On paper, the HomeSync sounds like a nifty device, but in practice, it seems to suffer from an identity crisis and has several limitations.
To begin, despite running on Android 4.2, the HomeSync works only with Samsung devices. The app refused to install on other non-Samsung Android devices and sighted compatibility issues. Additionally, the HomeSync does not come with a remote control and relies on your Samsung mobile device for control. This poses a problem because if one were to take a photo outside and share it on the HomeSync back home, the user(s) back home would need a compatible Samsung device to navigate to the photo or video to view it.
Is it not simpler to just send what you wanted to share straight to the mobile device back home via other services such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or just plain instant messaging? We cannot help but think that the primary function of HomeSync – that is to quickly share content from your Samsung mobile device directly to your TV at home from anyplace and at anytime – is a very niche and specialized one.
On top of that, most Samsung mobile devices support DLNA as do most modern Smart TVs. And it is much more straightforward to simply share content via DLNA, which again makes the HomeSync redundant.
The Samsung HomeSync fulfills a very specific need and has several restrictions that gives it limited appeal. Not to mention its asking price which seems the reverse of what you would expect given its limitations.
That said, we did find the HomeSync device to be a very capable media player and it does bring Smart TV capabilities – as well as Android 4.2 functionality – to older TVs. It is also very stylish-looking and well-built. Unfortunately, at S$489, it is considerably more costly than its competing media players and it seems to work in a closed ecosystem with limited advantages (if any).
All in all, the Samsung HomeSync is an interesting device, but one with limited appeal because of its vaguely-defined purpose and usage restrictions. [Emphasis added.]
See my Samsung Galaxy S4 Screen Mirroring Is Not Miracast Compliant article of 7/20/2013 for another Samsung usage restriction example. As of 7/24/2013, the HomeSync device was not certified as an interoperable Digital Media Adapter by the WiFi Alliance.
Update 6/9/2013: Lise Pendergast posted an extensive Samsung HomeSync photo gallery with links to sources on the Electronic Explorations blog.
Update 6/7/2013: Reuben Lee (@ReubenCNETAsia) updated his 6/4/2013 article (see below) as follows:
Update (June 6 1100 GMT+8): Samsung has confirmed that the HomeSync will be available in all Asia markets starting June 2013 and will retail for about US$310.
Still no word about US markets.
First unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, the Samsung HomeSync is a media hub that lets you share multimedia content easily from the smartphone to the TV. As it is Android-based, it can also allow you to access apps as well. The onboard 1TB storage doubles as a networked access storage device for the family. Here’s a quick look how the Galaxy S4 is paired with the HomeSync via NFC.
The Samsung HomeSync will retail for S$498 from June 6 via the Singapore telcos, before it is made available in electronics and IT stores from July.
Tapping the Galaxy S4 on the HomeSync opens up the accompanying app. (Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET Asia)
S$495 corresponds to about US$395 at current exchange rates. A bit pricey for the equivalent of a MiniPC or TVBox with a 1 TB USB drive.
Update 5/28/2013: Samsung remains mum on HomeSync delivery date:
Update 5/9/2013: iDroidSpot posted MWC2013 – Samsung HomeSync Presentation, a 00:05:00 video demo from HomeSync’s introduction at the Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona:
Heap big smoke but still no fire regarding HomeSync’s US pricing and availability.
Update 4/26/2013: Samsung posted Play your Personal Cloud: Introduction to HomeSync and App development reference to the Samsung Developers Blog on 4/23/2013:
1. Introducing Samsung HomeSync
Samsung is introducing a new product that will bring greater innovation to mobile devices.
HomeSync is a cloud storage device you can use at home. You can save photos and videos that are in your mobile devices then enjoy them anywhere, anytime. You can also connect HomeSync to your smart TV to watch its content on TV. Because it is based on Android (Jelly Bean), it lets you install and run Android applications. With mobile devices connected to HomeSync, you can control the HomeSync screen displayed on TV at home.
2. Home Cloud Accessible Anywhere, Anytime
Save your data at home and share it easily.
HomeSync is a 1 TB network storage device. If you register your mobile devices and HomeSync in your Samsung account, you can access HomeSync from your mobile devices anytime to upload or download data. With one ID, you can register up to 6 devices, including HomeSync. So, you can easily share data among your devices. You can also register up to 7 family members so that the whole family can save and share data together. This means that you and the people you allow can enjoy the content saved in HomeSync from their own mobile devices. They can also enjoy the content from multimedia devices, such as smart TVs at home.
3. Android Media Center at Home
Enjoy Android on TV. Because HomeSync is based on Android Jelly Bean, it lets you use various services provided by Google and Samsung. It ships with many built-in Android-based services from Samsung, such as Samsung Apps, Media Hub, and Video Hub, as well as Google services, such as Google Play and YouTube. If you have synchronized your mobile devices with HomeSync, you can control them at home with your HomeSync controller. You can also enjoy the content in HomeSync through many multimedia devices at home by connecting HomeSync to your TV with an HDMI cable, or to your music players through an optical audio port. (The TV screen supports HD and full HD.)
4. Various Controller Modes Supported
Through the HomeSync app, you can control the TV screen of HomeSync. HomeSync supports many control modes as listed below.
- Remote Mouse: Senses the movement of a device through its geomagnetic sensor and accelerometer sensor, and controls the cursor on the screen. (Phone-type devices supported)
- Touch Pad: A control method similar to the touch pad of a laptop. Touch the screen of a device to control the cursor on the screen. (Phone and tablet-type devices supported)
- Mirror Mouse: Controls by mirroring the TV screen on the device. (Planned to be supported in the Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S IV, and later models)
- QWERTY Mode: Lets you enter text on the TV screen with a QWERTY keyboard that automatically appears on the device control screen.
5. Powerful Hardware & Software
HomeSync has great hardware performance with its built-in 1.7 GHz Dualcore CPU and 2 GB RAM. It is great for playing multimedia content as it supports many codecs.
App Development Reference
Please refer to the below information about Android app development for HomeSync. It differs from regular mobile devices due to the nature of remote controlling with a smart TV. Please note that HomeSync is defined as a “faketouch” device instead of a touchscreen device. (Please refer to No. 4 and No. 5.)
- OS : 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean MR1) API Level 17
- Resolution :
- Full screen : 1920×1080 (sw720dp)
- App Area (Excluding status bar): 1920 x 1008 (sw720dp)
- Density : hdpi
- Features that HomeSync supports :
- Features that HomeSync does NOT support :
Note: If your application has any of above features in a uses-feature tag in the Android manifest file, those should be either removed or set to not-required by adding the ‘required=”false”‘ property, in order to be installable in the Play Store.
e.g.) Before: <uses-feature android:name=”android.hardware.camera” />
After: <uses-feature android:name=”android.hardware.camera” android:required=”false” />
- OpenGL ES version :
- For more information :
- about uses-feature: http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/manifest/uses-feature-element.html
- about Play Store filter: http://developer.android.com/google/play/filters.html
Now if Samsung would publish availability and pricing details, I could decide whether to evaluate a HomeSync box. The SamMobile (@SamMobile) reported:
In a 4/2/2013 tweet. My calculation says week 21 begins on Sunday, May 19, 2013.
C|Net News’ Jacqueline Seng (@jacseng) reported that users in Singapore will be able to Pair [Their] Galaxy S4 to Samsung’s HomeSync via NFC when the device releases there in 2013Q2:
Tapping on the HomeSync opens up the accompanying app.
(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET Asia)
As a refresher, the Android-based media hub is able to run apps from Google Play and doubles as a networked storage device for the home. Based on Jelly Bean (version unspecified), the HomeSync features 1TB of onboard storage, supports full-HD output (the AllShare Cast dongle only supported up to 720p output) and is powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core processor.
The HomeSync app.
(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET Asia)
A Samsung Galaxy S4 is easily paired to the hub via NFC. This opens the HomeSync app, or prompts you to download the app from Google Play if it’s not installed. Using the app, you can then access media files stored on the HomeSync and even download them to your S4.
That’s not all. The S4 even acts like a Nintendo Wii-mote and enables you to point the phone at the screen to navigate–similar to the Magic Motion remote for LG TVs.
Waving the S4 around acts as a cursor, while touching its screen is akin to click and drag.
(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET Asia)
During Samsung’s demo, the Wii-mote-like feature worked and we were even able to play a round of Angry Birds: Star Wars.
Besides the S4, the HomeSync media hub can also be networked to other Samsung AllShare-compatible products such as tablets and laptops. All you need is a free Samsung account. The company also told us that it is rebranding AllShare as Samsung Link when the S4 is rolled out.
The HomeSync app is currently not listed on Google Play, but will come pre-installed on the S4. It will also support other Galaxy smartphones and tablets in the future.
Theoretically, you should be able to download the app on any non-Samsung Android device, but you will probably not be able to access the Samsung Link service or any features associated with it. For example, the ability to upload photos instantly to the HomeSync–much like the feature found on Dropbox and Google+ mobile apps–either via Wi-Fi or a data connection.
The HomeSync will be available in Singapore in Q2 and pricing has not been confirmed yet.
The Lilliputing.com site reported on 2/23/2013 Samsung’s HomeSync 1TB Android-based media server streams apps to your TV, keeps your data in sync with a MiniPC having specifications similar to the UG007:
Samsung makes phones, tablets, and televisions that can run apps. Now the company is also offering a set-top-box that can bring Android apps to your TV, let you stream content from your mobile device to a TV, or keep your data synchronized between devices.
It’s called the Samsung HomeSync, and it’s a home media server with a 1.7 GHz dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8GB solid state drive, and a 1TB hard drive.
The HomeSync is expected to ship in select countries starting in April, 2013.
The device features WiFi, Bluetooth and Ethernet support, 2 USB 3.0 ports for peripherals, a micro USB port for connecting to a PC, and HDMI output for hooking up a TV or monitor.
Under the hood, the HomeSync is running software based on Google Android Jelly Bean, which means you can use it to watch movies on the hard drive or stream videos from YouTube, among other things. It also includes access to the Google Play Store, which should let you download additional apps such as Netflix or Vudu to turn the HomeSync into a pretty powerful media center for your TV.
Samsung says you can also link up to 8 accounts to the HomeSync so you can synchronize data across your devices or access shared or private storage. In other words, you can keep your music and movie collection on the HomeSync’s 1TB hard drive and use each of your family’s phones to access a different set of media files for each user.
Samsung hasn’t yet revealed how much the HomeSync will cost.
Update 4/1/2013: The UK’s Clove Technology site posted a Samsung HomeSync product page on 4/1/2013:
The above page header was followed by a canned device description and this features list:
Samsung HomeSync Features
- 1.7 GHz dual-core processor
- 2 GB DDR3 RAM
- 1TB HDD media storage and 8GB flash for Android OS and apps
- HDMI output (supports HDMI v1.4)
- 2x USB 3.0
- S/PDIF optical audio out
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (2.4/5GHz)
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Customised Android 4.2 Jelly Bean UI
The SamMobile blog reported in a Hands-on – Samsung HomeSync post of 2/28/2013 that the HomeSync will be available from April 2013 starting in the US.
Alex Colon described his Hands on With the Samsung HomeSync experience in a PCMagazine article of 2/26/2013. David Ruddock posted [MWC 2013] Hands-On (Video) With Samsung HomeSync: I Don’t Quite Know What It’s For, But I Kind Of Really Want One to the Android Police blog on 2/25/2013.
From Samsung’s HomeSync creates connected media experience for the whole family announcement of 2/24/2013 from Mobile World Congress 2013:
HomeSync competes directly with Apple TV (US$99) but offers the advantage of built-in disk storage. There’s no indication of an included HDTV ATSC/DVB-T tuner for time-shifting, but the retail HomeSync device will validate Android 4.2 MiniPC/TVBox architecture in the consumer electronics market. Adding a tuner probably would increase its market by one or two orders of magnitude.
Sean Hollister reported Samsung Galaxy S4 doubles as a smart TV remote, with built-in IR blaster and ‘WatchOn’ software in a 3/14/2013 post to The Verge:
Samsung’s new flagship smartphone sports a feature that’s becoming increasingly popular as of late: the Galaxy S4 will come with a built-in infrared LED and companion app that allows it to control your television and home theater system. We most recently saw such a feature on the HTC One, and a smattering of recent tablets have had it too, but the new handset most closely follows in the footsteps of Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 10.1 and Galaxy Note 8.0 by using what appears to be the very same Peel-inspired interface.
Not only can you control your media center directly, but also check current TV programs, discover on-demand content with Samsung’s Media Hub, and purchase it from the phone, then watch it on the TV or your device itself. At Mobile World Congress, the company called it Video Discovery, and you can see our video demo on the Galaxy Note 8.0 below. Now, it’s called WatchOn, and we’ll let you know if it differs in any significant way from what we’ve already been shown.
Undoubtedly, HomeSync will interact with Samsung’s new Galaxy 4S smartphone, but it’s not yet clear ho
This basic TVBox, shaped like shallow covered bathtub has one each HDMI and USB connectors; the front has a MicroSD slot:
Like Samsung’s HomeSync it includes a 1 TB disk drive and has WiFi/NFC connectivity, but Sony doesn’t emphasize streaming video capabilities. The device will transcode video from AVCHD to MP4, however.
Pandora TVBox is an All-in-One Android Media Player, Game Console, DVB Receiver, Video Chat System, etc… per CNXSoft
Chiang Mai of CNX Software (@cnxsoft) posted Pandora TV Box is an All-in-One Android Media Player, Game Console, DVB Receiver, Video Chat System, etc… on 6/6/2013:
This morning I received an email from DealExtreme with a link to a teaser video about an upcoming Android device to be available on June 10, that comes with a game controller (PS3 type) to play games. After some research, I finally found this “Android-on-TV” device which is based on Rockchip RK3066 with 1GB RAM, 8GB Flash, lots of ports (USB, HDMI, Ethernet), a webcam, and more. Beside the game controller, it also comes with a remote control, so the device can be used for a whole lot of applications including gaming, video chat, media player, web browsing, and more. It’s something you can already do with existing devices, but it may require some efforts, and this one seems to come all included.
Here are the specs of the “beast”:
- SoC – Rockchip RK3066 dual-core processor @ 1.6GHz + MALI 400 MP4 GPU
- System Memory – 1GB DDR3
- Storage – 8G NAND Flash + SD card slot (up to 32GB)
- WIFI 802.11b/g/n
- 10/100M Ethernet
- Bluetooth 2.0
- Camera – 2.0 MP camera
- TV – Apps for Macau and Hong Kong on-demand videos and live TV, and optional DVB receiver (no details provided, but I guess it must be through a USB dongle)
- Input Devices – 6-axis (PS3) game controller and “air flying squirrel” mouse (I guess that’s means an RF remote with gyro)
- USB – 1x USB OTG (full size), 3x USB 2.0 host.
- Video Output – HDMI (720p to 1080p)
- Audio ports – Buil-in microphone (3 m range) + 3.5mm headphone jack
- Buttons – Power and recovery buttons
- Power Supply – 12V/2A
This Android 4.1.1 “Android-on-TV” box comes with a remote and an optional Bluetooth game controller, a stand to position it on top of your TV, an HDMI cable, a mini USB to USB cable to charge the game controller, and a 12V/2A power adapter. It’s also said to support DLNA and Airplay, and a applications to control the box with your Android smartphone is provided. This device looks like the ultimate Android STB that allows you to do virtually anything you may want to do on your TV. This looks promising, but we’ll have to see how the software implementation, and hopefully this won’t be a “Jack of all trades, master of none” type of products.
Pandora TV Box with its Remote, Game Controller, Power Supply, and Cables.
If even though it’s not available on dx.com right now, I could find it on Aliexpress for $145 including shipping. Considering the features and accessories included, the price seems about right, but better wait until it’s on more websites. 7po.com also has a forum thread about the device with more pictures and details in Chinese. The company behind the product appears to be “L.C. Smart Co. Ltd” based in Shenzhen, but I can’t find any details about it, except their username in Sina Weibo (Chinese twitter) is @LCTVBOX101.
[Update: the device is already available from DX.com for $123.90 including shipping]
Amazon.com sells the 4.9-inch ASUS CUBE V2 with Google TV for US$139 with free shipping for Prime subscribers:
- Works with existing HDTV and existing cable or satellite system to provide access to the over-the-air TV, Internet content, streaming services and Android apps.
- Use Voice Search to quickly find what you want on live TV, the web, or on-demand services such as Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, and Netflix.
- Get 50GB of ASUS Web Storage accessible on your PC and mobile devices.
- Universal remote with 2-in-1 directional and touchpad, QWERTY keyboard and built-in microphone.
I have no idea what ASUS uses to occupy the empty space in this humungous TVBox.
Most set-top boxes running XBMC, are actually Android devices running XBMC as an app, and I don’t know of other media players that are sold with XBMC Linux pre-installed. Until today, as an XBMC Linux STB called The Little Black Box has been officially announced today. This XBMC device is powered by AMLogic AML8726-M3 @ 1 GHz, and comes with 1GB RAM, 4GB Flash, HDMI and AV output and more.
Little Black Box hardware specifications:
- SoC – AMLogic AML8726-M3 ARM Cortex A9 @ 1GHz + Mali-400 GPU
- System Memory – 1GB RAM
- Storage – 4GB NAND Flash
- Video Output – HDMI (1080p) and composite
- Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet + 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
- USB – 2x USB host ports
- Weight – 500 g
- Dimensions – 10 x 10 x 3 cm
The package will come with the box, a dual sided RF remote with a qwerty keyboard and standard remote buttons (pictured on the right), an HDMI cable, a power supply, and a quick start guide.
The device was initially scheduled for the 1st of May, but following some delays it should now be available at the end of May. It can be pre-ordered for 99.99 Euros including free shipping to Europe and US which is still reasonable considering you get an RF remote, and price includes VAT. Shipping to Asia, Thailand at least, costs about 30 Euros.
Correction: So as per Peter’s comment, there will be two versions TLBB, specific to this set-top box, and a community build. The source code of both version is available via github. The exact source code used in the device will not be made completely available.There will be a TLBB version (closed source) shipped with the product, as well as a community build (See j1nx) which will be fully open source.
You can watch watch the teaser video below.
Further information and link to pre-order are available on The Little Black Box site
As of about 7/1/2013, The Little Black Box is available for purchase from Amazon as The Little Black Box Pure XBMC for US$129.99 plus $5.99 shipping from Oregon. Here’s CXN Soft’s The Little Black Box XBMC STB Gets Users’ Feedback, Becomes Available on Amazon report of 7/21/2013:
The Little Black Black Box (TLBB) is an set-top box running XBMC powered by AMLogic AML8726-M3 with 1GB RAM, 4GB Flash that comes with a dual sided RF remote control. The device became available for pre-order in April, and the first customers have started to receive the media player, one of them (flipfoelyfe) has uploaded a video, and posted some pictures.
After initial issues setting up Wi-Fi (A bug seems to prevent the use of long passwords), his tweets about the device are rather positive, and he uploaded a short video demo showing Sports-a-Holic plugin playing a live NBA match, and a ESPN Boxing program.
Whereas you had to pre-order and be patient for the first batch, LTBB is now available on Amazon for $129.99. Considering it also includes a dual sided RF remote control with a QWERTY keyboard, this single core set-top box is about the same price, or even a few dollars more, than Android dual core media players running XBMC such as G-Box Midnight MX2 or Tronsmart Prometheus. But if you’re looking for a device that runs exclusively XBMC, this may be the only media player that ships with the Linux version by default.
Thanks to CSilie for the tip!