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Television Media Technology

TiVo++ from India 161

Posted by timothy
from the still-testing-though dept.
charmer writes "According to a story in rediff, a company in India, Divinet Technologies, have developed a set top box that plays video cds, offers sms, email, chat, plays mp3s, acts as a game box, has a web cam, video on demand, and a digital VCR, and has a multilingual interface (a necessity in India.) And it looks pretty good too :-) No pricing given though."
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TiVo++ from India

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  • Is that REAL Video-on-Demand, or RealVideo-on-Demand?
    • think it won't be video on demand right now.. maybe more of channel-on-demand. Also I have a strong doubt about rate of acceptance... technology has a very large momentum in India.... but I guess it is a real cool toy to have!
    • The icing on this huge cake is the email and chat without an Internet connection.

      The shame is that it doesn't have an internet connection?

      you can chat online (when you're not actually 'online')

      Wow, thats pretty tricky

      The email can be in any Indian language

      No english then?

      Seriously, it does look like it has everything.
      I want one.
  • by traskjd (580657) on Friday March 21, 2003 @04:45AM (#5563445) Homepage
    I wonder if this will be available outside of India? It sounds like a cool device to have!

    I mean I really can't be bothered building a small computer just to integrate into my home tv setup.

    Of course the price could end up being more than building your own computer to connect up?
    • by yo303 (558777) on Friday March 21, 2003 @06:25AM (#5563710)
      Most of the functionality of this device comes from the way it works as part of a network; the inexpensive client receives services from the central server. A WICE box won't work if it's by itself.

      From the article (you did, read it, didn't you?)

      "It consists of a Distribution Module (DM) box installed in every building or multi-dwelling unit (MDU), with a WICE box in every user's house. Each DM supports 16 users. A single wire brings you all the services."
      If you did buy one of these, you'd have to run that wire all the way back to India.

      yo.

    • Not for me (Score:2, Troll)

      by infinite9 (319274)
      I wonder if this will be available outside of India? It sounds like a cool device to have!

      Not for me. If it's from India, I won't buy it. I'm tired of sending money to India.
  • Stretching (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mtn_Dewd (15169) on Friday March 21, 2003 @04:46AM (#5563449) Homepage Journal
    Could they have jam-packed ONE more area of technology into this box? It seems that the only thing they forgot to include was a detachable PDA or perhaps an integrated Gameboy.

    Don't get me wrong. I want one. Now.
    Any plans to come to the US soon?
  • Article Text (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2003 @04:48AM (#5563456)

    A TV set that combines the Internet with a VCR, Web cam, Karaoke system and more. Possible? Yes

    To begin at the beginning, a couple of questions: What costs less than a dial-up connection, but gives you broadband Internet access upto 10 MB per second? What uses your TV set to offer Real-Video-on-Demand, SMS, email, chat, unlimited MP3s, online gaming, video-conferencing, telephony, and interactive education? What doubles up as your VCD, Web cam, Karaoke system, jukebox and VCR?

    The answer: The WICE box.

    Developed by P R Eknath, Sanjay Wandhekar, and B P Narayan -- founder members of CDAC, the brains behind India's PARAM-supercomputer, and currently the management team at Divinet Access Technologies Ltd, Pune -- this little gizmo is no larger than an overhead projector. Called the WICE (Window for Information, Communication and Entertainment) Box, or WICEMAN, it is Eknath's brainchild; his dream of creating a generic platform that can run any application.

    The best thing is, it is a boon to India's Net users.

    "The actual implementation was done by Sanjay Wandhekar, ex-coordinator of hardware technology group at C-DAC," says Eknath. Wandhekar has more than a decade of experience in systems and ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) design and is an expert in converting scientific concepts into marketable products. "Name the application and we will make it happen on this network," he adds, confidently.

    The technology, also known as RAMNet (Remote Access Metropolitan Network), runs on a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). Eknath explains: "Being in a local loop, the speed is tremendous and a digital signal ensures the highest quality with zero distortion. It consists of a Distribution Module (DM) box installed in every building or multi-dwelling unit (MDU), with a WICE box in every user's house. Each DM supports 16 users. A single wire brings you all the services."

    Plug your TV into the WICE box and a fluorescent green menu prompts you to select from live channels, Video-on-Demand (VOD), MP3 music, chat and learning, email and SMS. The joy comes from knowing that you pay only for the TV channels you watch!

    "We are implementing a Conditional Access System (CAS)," says Eknath. "No more paying for 80 channels when all you want is Star Plus and BBC. Also, you can record your favourite TV programmes and view them at leisure, just like a VCR." You can also record remotely, using SMS!

    VOD lets you watch your choice of movie at your convenience. You can fast-forward, rewind or pause, as if it's your own mini-movie theatre. "In fact, one client wants to build movie theatres with no regular movies running. You hire the theatre, select the movie and watch it with your own crowd," says Eknath. Stunned yet? There's more. Such as unlimited MP3 titles. You can also use the Karaoke function and re-record classics using your own voice.

    The icing on this huge cake is the email and chat without an Internet connection. When Anupam, Divinet's multilingual software expert (and also the brain behind CDAC's GIST technology), actually sent me email on my cellular phone using the TV set I was staring at, I began looking at it as if it were the eighth wonder of the world.

    The email can be in any Indian language, you can chat online (when you're not actually 'online'), and even see the person you're talking to if you choose video-conferencing. Your email address is Yourname.number@DivinetAccess.com [mailto], incorporating a unique identification number for every user.

    If that's not enough, the RAMNet also allows you to SMS without a cellular phone. Type your message on the TV screen, enter the recipient's number and send. Since it runs on MAN, the services are within your city limits, but Eknath soon plans to provide inter-city access using content replication. "There is no need for movies and MP3 files to travel globally. They can be accessed from a l

    • Did anyone elase read the full article? There are some very scary statements regarding user privacy. Your userid will be you REAL name, plus a uniques identifying number. And your password is your fingerprint. And advertisiers will be able to to directly target their advertising on a user by user basis.

      While the box pulls together a couple of cool technologies, I don't think there is anything innovative enough here to make this product worth the hype given the privacy concerns. The big innovation is th
  • by Yanna (188771) on Friday March 21, 2003 @04:48AM (#5563460) Homepage
    if this is one of the dreaded consequences of outsourcing jobs to India.

    I mean, the development of these type of technology used to be the patrimony of the US. Later on, it shifted to Far East (Japan) and now we see really cool gadgets being developed in India.

    A sign of what's to come? Is this the result of the US losing their position as main providers of R&D? What will be left afterwards? An economy of service?

    • by psylent (638032)
      kind of reminds me of simputer link... real big hoopla and enthusiasm when it was launched (I was interested and followed it till recently) and now... I just hope it sells well. Go India! Also for those following cricket.. watch India thrash Australia.
    • by jkrise (535370) on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:15AM (#5563539) Journal
      "this is one of the dreaded consequences of outsourcing jobs to India."

      Oddly enough, American technology is to a large extent, devleoped by Indians. Consider this: about 30% of Microsoft employees are Indians. Similarly, NASA has more than 25% Inidans.Outside of Seattle, the only other development centers for MS is in Hyderabad, Inida and Israel.
      Secondly, remember that American Corporate success depends on countries like India for their markets. Why'd you think Bill Gates spent 4 days in India? Philanthropy? AIDS aids? Think again.

      "I mean, the development of these type of technology used to be the patrimony of the US."

      See what this has led to... most of the innovation in the US suffers from this self-centred outlook. The Media-Center PC edition is an example. Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic etc. have now joined to put Linux onto their electronics. American tech focusses on 'lock-in' and 'lock-out' rather than 'features' and open-ness. Take GPS, Qualcomm, Microsoft and Adobe as examples.
      Cellphones within the US are generally a few generations behind Europe, Japan and even India!!

      " Is this the result of the US losing their position as main providers of R&D?"

      On the contrary, it's the result of pampering a few US entities for actions which Americans wouldn't stand for, from other nations. I'd name Microsoft, Adobe, Qualcomm etc. in this list.
      It's also a result of the American education system, though I'd need to write a lot to explain this.

      "What will be left afterwards?"

      The fruits of what's been sown. For starters, I'd suggest Americans need to be more understanding, tolerant and mature. There's no need to get angry at the French or paranoid about job-loss to third-world Indians. A little introspection will go a long way.
      • by Yanna (188771) on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:24AM (#5563576) Homepage
        I couldn't have said it better myself. The only reason I came with those questions is because I follow your line of thought exactly. I was just curious as to how others see the situation.

        I feel for the average American who has troubles to make ends meet. I feel for anyone, American or not, who works for a meager salary and this shifting into development to other countries rather than US will only bring poverty to people who do not have a safety net.

        I used to be socialist, then I moved to Europe and saw first hand what a crippled, backwards system socialism can be and now I no longer know what I am... but one thing is sure, I sleep better knowing that there is a layer of protection between me and abject poverty.

        Anyways, not to go off topic, what I meant to say is that if this trend continues, we can expect to see more troubles for the average American. That's never a good thing and not because they are Americans, but because they have the same rights than anyone else to make a decent life.

        • I am convinced that socialist goals are valid: why NOT organize social activities so that you build up social "wellness" in balance with a development of capital?

          The two classic problems, as I see them come from BOTH sides... Capital is mis-defined, and Social planning for the "Common Good" makes no sense when it is being carried out by a priveleged class of managers.

          So , redefine Capital as EVERYTHING you need to produce: ie, traditional capital + the bioinfrastructure we need for life on earth. How can
          • It's just not as "rich" as capitalism.

            As for Socialism, it has mostly been a lie. Most of what passes for "Socialism" is just an extension of the Capitalist Welfare State. Ie: let's have social programs run by bureacracy and private corporations. Meh. How are you going to guarantee the effectiveness of such programs if their MAIN stakeholders are SYSTEMATICALLY EXCLUDED from developing vision, mission, policy, and decision-making? How? You aren't.

            I don't know where you get your information, but in most

            • How do *I* plan to handle critical infrastructure? *I* don't. I expect that people who have an interest will contribute to the process. This is not about one person, or one group's ideas winning out over everyone else. This is about finding a balance through exposing as much information and considering as many options as possible. Your expectation that there should be one and only one road towards progress tells me you think everyone thinks in terms of Utopian ideals. That is exactly the problem.

              As for soc
        • Anyways, not to go off topic, what I meant to say is that if this trend continues, we can expect to see more troubles for the average American. That's never a good thing and not because they are Americans, but because they have the same rights than anyone else to make a decent life.

          I don't really know that that is true. Anytime anyone develops better technology, it generally helps the global economy regardless of the source.

          Sure, they might make it and sell it here, and they might improve their tech i

    • by jandersen (462034)
      Yes, it is a sign of what's to come. All analysts (ie the ones I have read/heard) seem to agree that the West and especially the US have reached the end of the line, so to speak. We may be fabulously rich and have big military power, but since our economy is based on growth alone, and we have nowhere to grow anymore, we've only got one way to go: down.

      Well, what about the 'emerging markets' - China, India, ... ? Do you really think they are as stupid as just letting Western businesses in and take over eve

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:58AM (#5563640)
        Indeed.

        Western capitalist markets are based on continuous long term growth. Yet it is plain obvious that the markets cannot grow forever. This means that system is fundamentally flawed and will have to be modified in the future towards conservation of resources, controlled markets and zero-growth economies.

        How this will be achieved, however, is unclear since the public has been brainwashed to believe that (representative) democracy and capitalism are the same thing. Just try saying that there is something wrong about capitalism or the reckless consumption based societies and you are immediatelly labelled as a luddite and communist who is hell-bent on replacing democracy with a Soviet-like dictatoriship.

        • "Western capitalist markets are based on continuous long term growth. Yet it is plain obvious that the markets cannot grow forever"

          Plainly obvious to who, exactly?

          "This means that system is fundamentally flawed and will have to be modified in the future towards conservation of resources, controlled markets and zero-growth economies."

          Ah, commies. I see.
        • Western capitalist markets are based on continuous long term growth. Yet it is plain obvious that the markets cannot grow forever. This means that system is fundamentally flawed and will have to be modified in the future towards conservation of resources, controlled markets and zero-growth economies.

          Three of the four fundamental parameteres, labor, capital and land (resources) are naturally bounded. But the fourth and final parameter, technology is usually considered unbounded in just about every economic
      • since our economy is based on growth alone, and we have nowhere to grow anymore, we've only got one way to go: down.

        You are right to a point. The American economy has gradually shifted to servicing only the get-rich-quick markets. Now, the US may be in for a serious depression, but I don't think it's appropriate to call it the end of the line. Companies will simply (*GASP*) have to go back to making good products that consumers want, then all will be right with the world once again(tm). Until then, enj

      • [quote]since our economy is based on growth alone, and we have nowhere to grow anymore, we've only got one way to go: down.[/quote]

        Which sounds rather like something someone in the 70s would have said about, say, the Japanese taking over the auto market and much of other US manufacturing industry. Oops, then we discovered personal computers and there came another thirty years of growth based on new technology.

        America only has "nowhere to grow anymore" if people decide to sit on their backsides and whine r
    • by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamc@gm a i l .com> on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:44AM (#5563618) Journal
      ... if this is one of the dreaded consequences of outsourcing jobs to India.

      Hmm - No. Not due to job outsourcing... but its certainly a result of technology that was born in the US.

      I said "No" because the people behind this are (from the article) "founder members of CDAC, the brains behind India's PARAM-supercomputer". If I recall correctly, CDAC was setup [cdacindia.com] by the Government of India in the late 80s as a direct consequence of the US *withholding* export of supercomputers to India for fear it would be used for defense research (more specifically, nuclear research). As a result, the CDAC people built massively parallel supercomputers from off-the-shelf CPUs (IIRC, they still used American CPUs - off-the-shelf 8086s (?) to begin with). They have some very cluey guys with a lot of experience born from research efforts [cdacindia.com] like creating the complex electronics for interfacing supercomputers. Now it seems some of those people are moving to the private sector - kind of like with Govt. spending jumpstarting the computer revolution in the US.

      A sign of what's to come? Is this the result of the US losing their position as main providers of R&D? What will be left afterwards? An economy of service?

      I think every country needs a *balance* of free trade and protection of weaker industries. A "we can sell to you, but you can't sell to us" mentality is ultimately is bad for everyone concerned; from what I understand, 2/3rds of US income derives from exports.

      At the end of the day, I'm sure your leaders have an eye on industry and employment figures. If not, you elect new ones.
      • "I think every country needs a *balance* of free trade and protection of weaker industries"

        Sure, if you want to be poor. In the short term, allowing weak industries to fail may be harmful to the people who work in them, but in the long term, "protecting" them makes everyone poor.

        No-one benefits from having to pay artificially high prices for the goods they buy due to protectionist policies, and the money spent on those weak industries could much better be spent developing real, profitable new products tha
    • by cioxx (456323) on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:45AM (#5563620) Homepage
      I mean, the development of these type of technology used to be the patrimony of the US. Later on, it shifted to Far East (Japan) and now we see really cool gadgets being developed in India.

      Do you seriously think that US companies could not have invented a convergence box like the one above? Absolutely not. Afterall, US perfected the use of TiVos and other flavors of PVRs, which got hacked and modified initially. Then if you remember, TiVo bent under the Advertising Corporations' pressure and went from a hacker-friendly box preducer to an essentially a closed, DRM device producer with Series 2. You can't easily hack it anymore to fetch the data, modify software, etc.

      So this move from lobbies and corporations who felt that TiVo was cutting into their advertising pie, seriously hampered the ability of producers to put out better, cheaper, open devices. No one is willing to give market something which would be designated to please both the population and the corporate entities who feel they're getting ripped off (For the record, I believe these allegations hold no ground). There are no companies dumb enough to go against already-established PVR makers, additionally opening second and third fronts with DVD and console producers in the competition department. MPAA, RIAA, DMCA and other 4-letter evils will rain down on this producer till they crack under pressure.

      So yeah. You should first and formost blame the corporate forces for slowing down technology for the sake of few millions in advertising revenue.

      That's my take on it.
      • by grumling (94709)
        So this move from lobbies and corporations who felt that TiVo was cutting into their advertising pie, seriously hampered the ability of producers to put out better, cheaper, open devices.

        The thing that the advertiser hates is the 30 sec. skip. All Tivos still have the 30 sec skip disabled. To enable it, press select, play, select, 3, 0, select. The Tivo will chime 3 times. Now, when you hit the the key marked ->|, instead of going to the end of the show, you get a 30 second skip. I don't see any indicat

    • by allrong (445675) on Friday March 21, 2003 @06:02AM (#5563649) Homepage
      Yes, for years the US has lead the world supplying useless acronyms (UA's) for anything vaguely technology or business related (VTBR). Judging from the article, it would seem that the Indians are catching up very strongly in this area (VSITA).

      Maybe they've skipped actual innovation and gone straight for management and marketing.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      "I mean, the development of these type of technology used to be the patrimony of the US. Later on, it shifted to Far East (Japan) and now we see really cool gadgets being developed in India."

      RIAA/MPAA is a reason this.

      It would be very easy for US company to put ASIC for enconding/decoding MPEG-4, off the shelf CPU, standard replacable IDE hard-drive, ability to fetch program information via XMLTV, Linux, ethernet connection, etc.. in a single box.
      • It would be very easy for US company to put ASIC for enconding/decoding MPEG-4, off the shelf CPU, standard replacable IDE hard-drive, ability to fetch program information via XMLTV, Linux, ethernet connection, etc.. in a single box.

        And then, they'd sell it exactly once, with no further revenue. Better to bemoan the RIAA/MPAA and claim that the devices must be locked down to be sold at all, then charge a subscription fee for the decryption keys . . .

    • As faras I can see, this is but another proof that poor != stupid. If the western civilication won't provide what the third world feels that it needs ata price they can / will pay, they will develop it themselfs.

      Still, it sounds like a neat gadget to put next to my TV, and as we here inNorway uses PAL... all I have to do is to convince my cable-provider to support it.
    • by be-fan (61476) on Friday March 21, 2003 @06:59AM (#5563796)
      *Dreaded* consequence? For who? Compete or get out of the business, isn't that the American motto? Might have to deal with a lower standard of living to do it? Well tough. Other people have been doing it for a long time.

      If the US ideology had been isolationist and protectivist (and it hadn't tried so hard to "open up" markets in the rest of the world) I could sympathize with your position. But it wasn't, and I don't.
    • Is this the result of the US losing their position as main providers of R&D? What will be left afterwards? An economy of service?

      That's pretty much it, yes. Manufacturers have been bailing out of the US before the ink was dry on NAFTA [nafta-sec-alena.org], in the name of competitive balance. (Thanks a bunch Bill Clinton! Couldn't you have stuck to shafting interns instead of the rest of the country?)
      H1-B is going to cease to be an issue because the Fortune 500 doesn't need programmers to actually live in the States. No

  • by rf0 (159958) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Friday March 21, 2003 @04:48AM (#5563461) Homepage
    For the geek this is cool. I like it and wouldn't mind one but I can't help but think that normal Joe bloggs on the street might think, why do I need all this? Also I think that it might be just to much. All that technology just can't come cheap surely? As one of the comments says

    "Appreciate the technology and efforts but reality is that no convergence device other than clock radio has succeded. Put the consumer first and you will ... "

    Also I don't like the red....

    Rus
  • No DVD (Score:4, Informative)

    by KrunZ (247479) on Friday March 21, 2003 @04:50AM (#5563469)
    They went for video cds instead of DVD because of the region lock:

    "This is a wonderfull machine but it can only play these sing-cry-kiss movies from Bollywood"
    • Re:No DVD (Score:3, Informative)

      by jfisherwa (323744)
      They probably went for DVDs because of cost and availability. In India, it is very easy to find a video rental store that rents VCDs -- including the not-yet-released camcorder jobs and even "fake" movies (Saving Private Ryan 2, The Matrix 2--this was two years ago) .. renting a movie will set you back about 25 cents US/day (accurate according to economies of scale) .. while DVDs sell for near-US prices.

      Thanks, MPAA! You're everybody's pal!
    • Re:No DVD (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rpillala (583965)

      Sounds like a hack waiting to happen :)

      I'm not sure why, but the VideoCD format is much more popular in India than the DVD format. At least, this was true a couple of years ago when my dad was there. It could be because of the region lock, but then there are plenty of players [dvdrhelp.com] that have workarounds for that. Note that not all players on that page support many regions, but it's a good place to find out if yours does.

      Ravi

      • Another reason for VCDs to be popular is that small shops round the corner that used to cover wedding photography evolved into VHS and further evolved into converting that VHS to VCD format. The encoded streams are burnt into CD-Rs and everybody likes the cheap solution.
  • by n3rd (111397) on Friday March 21, 2003 @04:50AM (#5563471)
    You can watch a VCD that was recorded using your web cam of you playing video games while listening to MP3s.

    Or you can read an SMS that tells you to check your e-mail that contains an chat log reminding you to record a show tonight.

    Or you can chat with your web cam. Wait, that's not right. This device can do so many goddamned things I'm getting confused.
  • by Zayin (91850) on Friday March 21, 2003 @04:52AM (#5563481)

    To begin at the beginning, a couple of questions: What costs less than a dial-up connection, but gives you broadband Internet access upto 10 MB per second? What uses your TV set to offer Real-Video-on-Demand, SMS, email, chat, unlimited MP3s, online gaming, video-conferencing, telephony, and interactive education? What doubles up as your VCD, Web cam, Karaoke system, jukebox and VCR?

    Linux!

  • Well I can't buy a piece of consumer electronics equipment that doesn't run Linux. I mean why waste money on something you can't put in a Beowolf cluster, like my beowolf enabled Sharp Zaurus and Tivo.
  • by psylent (638032) <psylent@natural.mailshell. c o m> on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:01AM (#5563505)
    the guys are from CDAC and they are a government funded agency. They do real good work on computing and super-computing. (I have a friend who writes network drivers for supercomputers... now that is a cool job) I do not agree that this product is because of people developing experience while getting work done for cheap.
  • Links to da Box (Score:5, Informative)

    by DM_Slicer (660706) on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:14AM (#5563538)
    There's details on the Wice box at divinet [divinetaccess.com].
    Still no pricing though.

    Check out their FAQ [divinetaccess.com] tho and it says one of the reasons PPL should prefer their services is:
    "Future: Telephony @ affordable cost."

    ..I did find some pricing on a 'WICE box' but at 9000 Euros a pop, somehow I don't think it's the same thing.. [mywice.com]

    • Re:Links to da Box (Score:3, Insightful)

      by watzinaneihm (627119)
      Don't get all humpy about the box. Remember the simputer? Never really took off. A friend off mine has it, and works too slow. (dirt cheap tho). Here again we have a link to a website which says someone has a box which can do everything except wash dishes. No hardware info, No techspecs except a lot of acronyms, and most importantly no pricing info,
      If this thing works at all, I think it must be in beta phase of implementation (the site claims the box alone has been beta teseted). Don't expect it within th
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:17AM (#5563549)
    I mean, if all the jobs are heading there anyway, why not! Learn a new language, eat new and exotic foods, and a fast Internet connection on-demand. Don't even think of asking AT&T or Comdex for that feature/convenience.

    Is the American tech industry slipping because of copyright battles? Will we be importing more devices from India than Japan in the future or will devices like WICE be banned in the US because they may be considered a violation of the DMCA?

    AllI know is that I would love to have a box like that without having to know all sorts of software and hardware hacks/tricks just to make it work on Linux. And they put it in such a pretty (but bright!) box!

    Maybe they'll offer skins :D
  • HDTV (Score:4, Interesting)

    by birdman666 (144812) <ericreid.mac@com> on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:18AM (#5563552) Homepage
    What would happen to these products if the television networks and electronics companies would get HDTV out of stagnation and into actual homes for a reasonable price? Could any current storage media hold a sufficient amount of HDTV broadcast at a reasonable quality or would Tivo and all of these devices like it be obsoleted until HDs could catch up to the massive amount of space required for the high resolution signal?
    • Re:HDTV (Score:4, Interesting)

      by evilviper (135110) on Friday March 21, 2003 @07:28AM (#5563892) Journal
      Could any current storage media hold a sufficient amount of HDTV broadcast at a reasonable quality

      Considering that I can fit a 100+ minute movie at very-near DVD quality on a 700MB CD-R, I don't think HDTV will be a problem. Granted, set-top boxes will need more powerful processors to compress to MPEG4 rather than MPEG2, but it's not THAT big of a problem.

      Personally, I would prefer to see more devices using VP3... It's open, and at low bitrates, I saw fewer noticable artifacts in a VP3 file, as compared with a similar size MPEG4 file...

      RANT:
      Maybe I'm the only one that notices, since everyone is all too happy to use them, but I hate all the video artifacts I see with MPEG-based codecs (compression blocks, aliasing of straight edges, rainbow discoloration of complex objects like pin-striped suits, etc)... What would be perfect (literally) would be to use MNG for video (I hear some people have successfully stuck MNG in an OGG wrapper along with audio). So you'd have (PNG) video, and in a size probably comparable to MPEG2, but no need for lossy compression that distorts the video (look at nearly identical consecutive MPEG2 frames and you will notice that solid colors are made up of a rainbow of colored pixels, and the pixels change color each frame).

      So, MPEG has annoying artifacts, and all of the open codecs use the same ideas, hence similar artifacts. VP3 is the only codec I have experience with that didn't appear to have the same artifacts (and coincidentally looked better as well) but I admit I don't have as much experience with it as I'd like to. I can't difinitively say VP3 is better, but in multiple cases it has held it's own.
      • (I hear some people have successfully stuck MNG in an OGG wrapper along with audio). So you'd have (PNG) video, and in a size probably comparable to MPEG2, but no need for lossy compression that distorts the video.

        If you got a link to a codec anywhere that could be used in Virtualdub or some other encoding program, please tell me about it. I've been looking for a high-compression lossless codec (huffyuv is a rather light codec for capturing) for archival purposes but not found any. I don't believe the fil
        • If you got a link to a codec anywhere that could be used in Virtualdub or some other encoding program, please tell me about it.

          The only thing I have heard about is an experimental effort... You can find the same information in the Vorbis.com archives I believe.

          I haven't heard any mention of a Windows codec, and even if I get involved, I wouldn't be working on a Windows version myself.

          I don't believe the files will be anywhere near as small as mpeg2, but that's not the issue here.

          I still believe MNG vi

    • Could any current storage media hold a sufficient amount of HDTV broadcast at a reasonable quality

      Considering that I can fit a 100+ minute movie at very-near DVD quality on a 700MB CD-R, I don't think HDTV will be a problem. Granted, set-top boxes will need more powerful processors to compress to MPEG4 rather than MPEG2, but it's not THAT big of a problem.

      Personally, I would prefer to see more devices using VP3... It's open, and at low bitrates, I saw fewer noticable artifacts in a VP3 file, as compar

  • Hardware Costs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday March 21, 2003 @05:48AM (#5563623)
    The only thing that bugs me is that while tech miracles happen, how can this thing do all these features effectively on cheap hardware? To do games and video on demand requires reliable disk drives or high end processing hardware.

    Also, how is the networking the boxes depend upon better or cheaper or immune to the same problems with rolling out broadband or cable access, elsewhere? Surely it requires the same expensive upgrades to the wiring and nodes as any other networking upgrade, the expense having slowed down adoption of this kind of tech.

    But the real problem is the software, the enormous virtual machine required to do all of these things. Programming software to do all the listed features well has taken years, and still isn't finished. I suspect this machine is not nearly as neat or as useful as the PC you are reading this on, especially if your PC is reasonably recent and has a fast, unrestricted, network connection.
  • It's called "PC"
  • Not quite there yet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kanda (624761) on Friday March 21, 2003 @06:00AM (#5563643)
    I have seen many cool product announcements in India, especially during the boom times. Most have fizzled, some are struggling. Slashdot has also carried some articles: Kaii [slashdot.org], Simputer [slashdot.org] I have rarely seen any of these products being sold and used significantly. (I am from Bangalore, India). I would say India has not yet acquired the ability to develop and market complete embedded high technology products. But soon we may get there. Its a dream for many geeks in India that once a few products click. It would open the flood gates of Indian product innovations. Hope the Slashdot crowd will wish us good luck. :-)
    • While I agree largely with you, I'm more interested in the general trend of things. Earlier, in more socialist times, we used to have, say, a single government-controlled Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) developing a decrepit television box that showed more static than actual TV pictures. Now we have a whole lot of other startups in Bangalore, Hyderabad and other places actually innovating stuff.[1]

      Yes, it's important to remain sceptical until technological innovation can be converted to actua

  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Friday March 21, 2003 @06:21AM (#5563693)
    STAR, Asia's biggest television broadcaster is launching India's first DTH satellite platform and seeking exceptional broadcast engineers to work on this pioneering project. This is a unique opportunity for best-of-breed engineers to play an integral role in an enterprise that will transform the Indian television industry. Field Engineering Manager, ODU - Delhi based A qualified graduate engineer with a minimum of five years experience in the design and installation of ODU and the associated Set Top Box (STB). Professionals with a Higher Certificate in a relevant discipline and a strong track record will also be considered. Candidates must be highly motivated, pro-active and team-orientated with strong management and leadership skills. Knowledge of the Indian workplace and culture is essential. Key responsibilities will include: Selection of ODU and STB installation companies Testing and approval of equipment prior to field use Training of installers and monitoring of equipment vendors to ensure the provision of high quality, reliable and cost effective product Management of a nationwide group responsible for ODU equipment design, equipment type approval, installer training, development of training documentation and system quality control Ensure on-time installations to meet customer demand Installation scheduling and team management Preparing and managing annual operating budgets STAR, a News Corporation subsidiary, offers a positive work environment, well-defined HR policies, attractive remuneration packages and the benefits of an exciting career path working with cutting-edge technologies in a corporate culture that nurtures talent, recognises excellence and believes in contributing to the communities it operates in. If you are serious about taking your broadcast engineering career into an exciting new dimension please forward your resume to stardthhr@startv.com. For more information, please visit: www.startv.com
  • I'm not impressed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dusabre (176445) on Friday March 21, 2003 @06:26AM (#5563711) Homepage
    Wow. High technology indeed. Apart from the high-speed Internet access and movie access (I'll believe it when it starts, companies have been claiming its just round the corner for near to a decade), its just a prototype red box with stuff crammed into it. Guess what, I can watch VCDs (and even DVDs), listen to mp3s, chat, read my email, watch TV and sends text messages from my $1000 PC. Putting together the components in a red box isn't a big deal for a competent engineer.

    The internet and movie claims are the only interesting aspect. But I'll believe that when I see it.
    • I hope you get modded up. Wish I had some points for you. But between the European readers gleefully wringing their hands over the Fall of the American Empire, typical American /. readers who don't pause to think before they post (the computer IN FRONT OF YOU NOW can do all of that, or could with probably only a few hundred bucks in add-ons), and the usual gang of idiots and trolls, I fear your post will linger at the default +1 Karma bonus.

      Another medicore day on slashdot...

      Good point, though. :)

  • A mate of mine has a patent on the idea of using SMS to control a video recording device, which it sounds like these people are using - amongst many other cool ideas. I've texted him about this, but I'd like to find out more if you can help.

    As I understand it, he obtained the patent for about £1000 in the UK, and has just been waiting to see if someone uses the idea. I don't know how this works. The invention is in India - is this a problem? How do the international patent treaties work? Is it possib

    • Well here is my advice to your friend.

      Considering the way the patent arguement has been hashed out here many times he can follow two schools of thought.

      1. Patents for the sole sake of patenting an idea should not be allowed. Your friend thought about patenting the idea for controlling a device with SMS. He has done nothing to develop it, but as you say"has just been waiting to see if someone uses the idea". So in essence he is like Amazon and many other entities out there. Jeff Bezos anyone?

      2. Sue c
      • I thought it was on shaky moral territory, myself. Then again if, as a skint recently graduated physicist, he manages to squeeze some money out of a system which currently seems to serve only the purpose of further lining the pockets of the already rich, I say good luck to him.

        One point is that he had the idea first (hopefully). By patenting the idea, he published it. Although he has made no effort to develop the idea, if someone else does so - well, he still had the idea first, and told everyone about it

  • by Anonymous Coward
    email and chat without an Internet connection...you can chat online (when you're not actually 'online')

    What is this guy talking about? Why does he think this is not 'online'?

    it runs on MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)

    And is that network not connected to the internet? If not, how does it work?

  • You forgot... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Viceice (462967)
    One other reason all this can be done lawfully in India is because Indian law has a really view on foregn patents and thus, alot of it doesn't apply in India.

    Soemthing about having to apply for tha same patant in India seperately from your US and other patents.

  • by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Friday March 21, 2003 @07:30AM (#5563900) Homepage Journal
    If they can keep that box cheap and the evil lawyer hordes in the US don't try to eat them alive, they can make a killing.

    Their idea to provide conditional channel access rocks. The most common complaint I hear about digital cable (this is by the way the one thing that consistently pisses me off about my comcast digital cable) is not being able to tailor the channel package. I personally have the top package that comcast offers here, which is about $80 and has about 400 channels or so. Of these 400 channels I may watch 10 or so all the time and maybe surf thru another 20. The rest is garbage.

    Also neat is how they let you upgrade your connection speed temporarily, so you only pay while you use this extra bandwidth.
    • On /. I read about a bill saying that subscribers could pick the channels the want and pay for those only. I don't recall is that was in US or not. The cable companies don't promote that but if you know about it you can have it your way. It is one of those unadvertised things.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday March 21, 2003 @07:35AM (#5563913)
    The barrier to video on demand: lack of demand. The WiReD Magazine article from September, 1994, said it best.

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.09/cable.la bs .html

    I supposed the lack of DVD support was calculated to ensure a built-in market for the VOD service offering.

    I can't really see this device, or the service umbilical, going anywhere any time soon. It failed in 1994, it's fail today.

    -- Terry
  • Scary stuff (Score:5, Funny)

    by Openadvocate (573093) on Friday March 21, 2003 @07:39AM (#5563925)
    They are evil [fanta.dk]

    Ah finally Friday.
  • Waste of time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LordAtlas (529236)
    Yet another "convergence" device. How many more must flop? I've written an article on the myth of convergence [weblogs.com] explaining why such "all in one" devices are doomed. Can you imagine the scene in a family of four with such a device? The dad wants to watch football, mother wants to watch a soap opera, kid wants to surf the Net, and older kid wants to visit PlayBoy.com How on earth would you do all of those at the same time?
  • it's called a laptop. all i need to do is place my laptop on top of the tv set. voila. throw the s-vid out into the tv and we're ready to roll. cost - ~$2800US

    granted, my laptop doesn't have video on demand or a digital vcr, but my desktop with an ati radeon all-in-wonder gets awfully close. this box even has tv-pausing. once again, throw the s-vid out into the tv and we're all done. cost - ~$1800US

    but unlike the "tivo++", these machines are not limited to what they can do. tell me this... can you /. wi
  • I want a tivo that comes with network ports, but is completely hackable with full source. I want it to ship with ssh access turned on, and tivo not to care if I play with it. I'd be happy if they offered no support other than hardware help and a restore disk.

    But I do want to be able to choose to keep the TIVO software and the monthly access.

    I love my tivo for it's great software & useability.

    I love home-brew PVR's for their customizeability.

    Why can't I have both? (And no, I'm not popping the case
  • The title of the story "Three men and a box!" must be a parody with the Simpsons episode "Three men and a comic book". Kewl! ;-)
  • by ultraexactzz (546422) on Friday March 21, 2003 @08:01AM (#5564008) Journal
    ...It can tuck your children in at night, make a killer caeser salad, and can divide by zero.
  • how come you lot haven't noticed the nature of these acronymns?

    WICE, MAN and RAMNET???

    Looks like the Hustler staff couldn't have named this system better.

    And I bet the number one use for it will be PR0N. Man's favourite Wice.

    And don't get me started on the RAMNET. Well ok, you'd need the gumboots accessory for this.

    As for convergence tech, are we not seeing all in one fax, photocopier, scanner, printer? Of course if it breaks you're stuffed. As usual.
  • Those damn Indians are taking our jobs! [slashdot.org] Ooh... Pretty... [slashdot.org]

    That sword cuts both ways, people.

  • Priceing (approx) (Score:4, Informative)

    by tanveer1979 (530624) on Friday March 21, 2003 @08:17AM (#5564079) Homepage Journal
    Normally basic internet set top boxes cost around Rs 5000 here (100-120 $$), however this may be around 150-200$$ Max
  • You guys have now ./'ed my favourite site for the World Cup Cricket news. Oh well.

    -- CodeZion
  • So what? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This box could have been easily developed, it's merely a question of markets and politics. Do people really want web cams and vcd players? Maybe in India, but video phones and similar technologies have failed to catch on in the US for years. Most other countries as well.

    Their concept of fast internet through local distributed nodes is OK, but it requires a large investment by the consumer to buy up these nodes. Lots of nodes! Only 16 users per node in a city of a million? In a country of 300 million? How a
  • The real juice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jalfreize (173125) on Friday March 21, 2003 @08:54AM (#5564232) Journal
    OK. All you jealous geeks, I'm an Indian
    *and* I happen to live in Pune, the home of
    C-DAC, and the first city to get a sneak peek at
    this hyped up device. he he he...

    But cheap shots apart...

    The real juice here is not the WICE box -- its the *network* (RAMnet or whatever). The websites of Silicon Mountains, the guys who will be, I guess, the content suppliers and Divinet Access, the box makers and network engineers, both make very ambitious claims about content replication and the sophistication of the network itself (its so sophisticated, its mentioned as one of the risk factors in this venture.)
    As far as convergence goes, I personally don't
    believe in a set-top box that does everything.
    I would prefer a relatively simple access-point kind of device that allows me to plug my computer,
    TV, VCR, sound system, coffee machine whatever
    and intercommunicate between these systems.
    The network should be sufficiently intelligent
    and filled with enough active elements to do
    the routing and delivery.
    e.g. Can it allow me to schedule my TV
    programming from my computer using my scripts or
    maybe using an SMS from my cellphone?

    This degree of convergence is really a bit too much for anyone, really. Especially for someone like me, who grew up on a single, state-sponsored
    TV channel, and actually liked most of what was on offer then.

    Well, guess all I have to do now, is fill up
    the forms on the website
    (http://www.smjet.com/smjet/Inquiry/inqui ry.jsp)
    and wait for them to reply...
    Har har har...

  • 1. Its a set-top box.
    2. A network to hook up the Set-top boxes into.

    The things i don't understand is who installs & manages this network assuming its available in the cities.
    Is there any place we can use this network today.
    What is the network architecture.
    Does it use open protocols.

    From what i gather, they allow other set-top box manufactures to use this network.

    But how about the content providers.

    How does the content like TV channels are delivered.
    Does the user still need outside cable connection.
    • As I kind of mentioned in one of my other posts,
      there are two entities right now who provide
      the two parts of the whole system.

      1.) Silicon Mountains -
      http://www.smjet.com
      These are the cable guys.
      Check out their Board of Directors. Most of them are people who set up the cable industry in Pune. My guess is, these guys will provide the content (using tie-ups with Star, BBC, Discovery, Playboy, your local cable-wallah etc.). I suppose if this thing becomes a standard, there could be many other companies who cou
  • ...right next to my TV. Shuttle and many other companies have been handling this kind of thing for a WHILE now.
  • by TheConfusedOne (442158) <the.confused.one@ g m a i l.com> on Friday March 21, 2003 @09:59AM (#5564669) Journal
    Personally, I'd prefer to buy ++TiVo instead of TiVo++.

    After all, who wants to spend the money on a TiVo so that the NEXT person can get the incremented one? :-D
  • Good lord, it's bright red and bigger than an X-Box...
  • by lightspawn (155347) on Friday March 21, 2003 @10:10AM (#5564739) Homepage
    The most amazing thing about TiVo is that every keypress has the effect you'd expect. This company actually cares about usability. Most companies don't.

    Before trying this thing for a couple of hours, I can't even be sure I'd be willing to use this thing for free.
  • by BluedemonX (198949) on Friday March 21, 2003 @01:55PM (#5567408)
    No matter what show you're watching with it, at random points suddenly they all start doing a song and dance number and the voices on the lead actors change to a screechy woman for the female lead and a velvety-slightly nasal tone for the male lead. After the dance number, the show resumes. And every romance scene has the camera cut to a shot of trees or something just before any two people kiss (or do anything more hardcore).

He who steps on others to reach the top has good balance.

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