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IBC demos: UHD, whole-home and better looking STBs

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The ARRIS VIP4600 IP set-top box, one of the new range of better looking STBs

Last week we published the Editor’s Top Three demonstrations from IBC (immersive UHD sport, UHD UI and Netflix & Co. integrated into STB platforms). Here is a round-up of some other demos that caught our eye. We will wrap up the IBC demos with one further article next week.


Samsung was showing off its curved UHD television set with displays of user generated content that, while not offering the best example of what you can do with the format, did emphasize just how immersive UHD content can be. All the sequences, from handheld cameras following friends on zip wires to cycle races and motorbikes, put you at the centre of the action. Actually, the most telling story on the whole stand was when you walked around the corner to see some HD sport on a more modest-sized screen. HDTV was a noticeable step-down after UHD; I felt, not just saw, the difference. That bodes well for an industry that wants to sell UHD displays and services as a major upgrade.

Samsung was showing various UHD capable set-top boxes like its prototype UHD cable gateway, which supports 4kP60, 10 bit, HEVC and 802.11ac WiFi. This device comes with a client STB with WiFi that connects to the gateway. A Samsung UHD satellite STB will be deployed in 2015 with first a Korean and then a European operator, the company said. This will be a 4kP60, 10 bit, HEVC device.

ATEME was involved in a whole bunch of UHD demonstrations, one of which was 4k VOD on a 75 inch Samsung television, encoded on ATEME’s TITAN platform in HEVC Main 10 profile. TITAN Live also provided the encoding for the Red Bull programming that was broadcast live to the Eutelsat and IDC stands. 

One demo we missed out on, due to lack of time, was the LiveSphere 360 degree television experience that ATEME was showing. This allows a viewer to ‘pan’ around a venue or event to see what is above and behind them, rather than just in front of them, then zoom in or out. Effectively it puts you in charge of the view you get. 

This is worth flagging as part of the wider movement towards more immersive viewing experiences. The company showed a rock concert in Finland, shot with multiple camera positions (one on the scene, one on the edge of the scene, and one in the middle of the crowd), and a clip of some tennis shot at Roland Garros earlier this year.

You can still see the concept demonstrated on the ATEME website, including the tennis, here. In fact, watching online you can imagine how this concept could be popular as a second screen accompaniment to the big screen feed. 

With LiveSphere you can focus on sections of the crowd and dwell on the scenes, getting the kind of view that only the police currently get at football matches! Moving around the scenes, you neither interrupt the video or the audio tracks.


Whole-home TV

Neotion was demonstrating its DVBeacon whole-home solution, using two DVB-S2 tuners to feed content around a conceptual home. The company connected a Smart TV to the gateway and, after launching the required app on the television, the satellite channels displayed on the TV, which was now acting as a client to the gateway. Using DLNA and DTCP-IP, DVBeacon acts a server and projects the operator UI onto all devices. 

This solution is aimed at the Pay TV market. Neotion says it received a good reaction to the demonstration, with operators under pressure to give consumers a multiscreen and multiroom offering if they have not done so already. They are looking for an approach that is easy to install and manage, the company said.

Amino was showing its whole-home PVR solution with its top-of-the-range ‘Live’ gateway (which has Intel Atom inside), acting as the server for Amino 140 STBs that take the role of client, in an all-IP solution. ‘Live’ can record seven simultaneous  HD streams and starting next year the figure will rise to 12. 

This whole-home solution also harnesses DLNA and DTCP-IP to enable secure distribution of premium video. In the demonstration the company showed recorded content served from the ‘Live’ gateway to an Apple iPad, where it was displayed alongside a kind of master control panel. You could then drag-and-drop the content feed to other devices. 

In this demonstration, the feed was ‘dragged’ to an icon of a Smart TV and then played out on that connected television set. The Live gateway is already available in the U.S. and comes to Europe early next year.


Better looking set-top boxes

Ahead of the show, ARRIS flagged its new-look IP set-top boxes and they looked very attractive under the IBC spotlights. The STBs have clearly taken their design inspiration from the Apple iPhone with a black glass effect (and in some cases a hybrid of colourful plastic and black glass). 

The ‘heartbeat’ flashing red, green and blue lights were, sadly, just to show operators the brightness levels they can choose to indicate standby, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity (respectively); they would actually look great as a permanent flashing feature! 

ARRIS has responded to a more demanding public who have become accustomed to the colourful plastics and glass effects of CE devices. The company says service providers are keen to compete on looks as well as service functionality. ARRIS showed how its round STBs (think of a glossy ice hockey puck) give operators the flexibility to ship an STB first (one ‘puck’) and then a hard drive to accompany it (a second ‘puck’ that stacks below the first, with a perfect fit so they look like one device).

Meanwhile, on the Humax stand there was a selection of what you might call luxury-feel STBs with the kind of leather-trim effect you would expect to see in a nice car interior (and similar colours!). It is clear that the miniaturization and beautification of STBs continues. Anyone who likes their ‘engineering’ look and chunky cooling grills is going to be out of luck within a few years. If you think square and metal is beautiful, then hang onto the boxes you have!
A final round-up of demos will follow next week, plus our analysis from IBC over the next few weeks.

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