Talk of a TV connected box from Google had been making rounds on the net for a few months. Google made the news official by introducing the Google TV platform at the 2010 Google I/O Developer Conference. Based on Android, with the Chrome browser built in, it is yet another avenue for Google to bring in ad-views from your television. In the crowded set-top box market, does Google TV stand a chance? Are people ready to get more of the web on their TVs?

 
Over the past few years, we have seen many connected televisions with fancy widgets. However, they haven't exactly caught the fancy of the public. This may partly be due to the fact that these widgets were somewhat obtrusive ways of bringing web content on TVs. On the other hand, by bringing Android to TVs, Google is trying to deliver a HTPC experience to the consumer. In our opinion, for technophiles looking to get the web on a TV, a HTPC is a much better option, particularly considering the flexibility that it brings along. However, as HTPC enthusiasts well know, such systems are maintenance heavy. For the average Joe, a restricted experience such as Google TV might be a much better option. As a software platform, Google TV is brimming with possibilities.

Currently, only Sony's TVs and Blu-Ray players to be introduced in Fall 2010 are slated to support Google TV. It is not obvious whether firmware updates would enable Google TV on present day models. No other TV manufacturer has been announced as a Google TV partner. It is not clear when or whether some other company would be able to integrate Google TV in their models. Dish Network's subscribers can get it on their DVRs, but if the consumer's TV experience doesn't involve either of these two companies, he is forced to invest in a Logitech box or some other dedicated hardware to get Google TV. Unfortunately, such boxes probably do not make much sense in the current setup for many people. The average home is already brimming with STBs, DVRs, PVRs, Blu-Ray players and media streamers. Yet another box in the living room is unlikely to enamor consumers.

Dwelling more on the technical side, Google has joined hands with Intel to port the Google TV platform to the Intel CE4100. Promising products based on the CE3100 such as Conceptronic's Yuixx are yet to land in the hands of the consumers. It has also been reported that Intel's CE3100 powers the widgets on some of the sets from Toshiba and Samsung. We all know how those have turned out. One can only hope that Intel has more luck with the CE4100 compared to what it had with the CE3100. Android on CE4100 has the capability to upstage the HTPC as the TV-connected computer of choice, and Google knows perfectly well that the stock Android distribution would find it difficult to make the cut as a proper OS for this platform. A fork, in the form of Google TV, is the best bet, and we will hopefully see this initiative move forward to give a good experience to consumers.
VP8 vs H264 : The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Conclusions
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  • ganeshts - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. The post, I see, was made on Thursday morning, and the draft for this article was prepared much before that.

    I will update the article and we will see how this pans out when other people join in to discuss the post you have linked.
    Reply
  • iwodo - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    One thing we should consider when we compare x264 ( the best of H.264 encoder ) to WebM ( VP8 ), is to use Baseline profile for H.264 only. Because one of the biggest advantage / argument for H.264 is hardware acceleration. For where hardware acceleration matter most, the Mobile sector, their hardware decoder only/mostly support Baseline profile. So if we use a High Profile H.264 quality compare against VP8 and then assume most mobile gadget can get hardware acceleration is simply unfair comparison.

    VP8 doesn't have a spec. At least not in its current form. It can only be called a Commented / Documented Reference Encoder.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    While your indication that hardware acceleration is available only for Baseline Profile H264 might hold true for yesteryear's devices, present generation chipsets support even High Profile 4.1 with just some bit rate restrictions.

    Compare Tegra 1 and Tegra 2 chipsets, and also take a look at Chips&Media IP series on their website. Previous generation used to support only baseline. Present generation can do L4.1 High Profile with 10 Mbps restriction for Tegra 2 and 30 Mbps restriction for the Chips&Media IP (Coda series). (Chips&Media is used in the Shanzai PMP chipsets such as those from Telechips and can decode 1080p videos on to small PMP screens / output to HDMI also).

    VP8, as a spec, people say, is comparable to only Baseline H264. Personally, I feel we are regressing on the quality we could have, because H264 hardware decode is maturing fast. VP8 will take some time to catch up, and unless a new version of the codec appears to catch up with High Profile, will always lag on quality. VP8 is going to take quite some time to catch up on that front.
    Reply
  • iwodo - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    Yes. Today's new chips set may support High Profile. But how many of them are shipped?
    Compare to Millions of iPhone / iPod Touch Devices that still only support Baseline Profile.
    Reply
  • ajp_anton - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    One of the x264 developers wrote a blog about VP8:

    http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?p=377

    There are comparisons somewhere near the end with both screenshots and the whole video downloadable.
    x264, high profile: http://doom10.org/compare/x264.png
    x264, baseline profile: http://doom10.org/compare/x264baseline.png
    VP8: http://doom10.org/compare/vp8.png
    Reply
  • CountDown_0 - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    I'm not saying that Froyo, Google TV and WebM are not interesting, but... One thing I noticed is that nobody seems to have spent a single word about Google Wave. Does this mean bad news for that project? Reply
  • Casper42 - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    What about it? Its been out for a while now so its kinda old news.
    Also doesn't tie in much with Anandtech, being mainly a hardware site.
    Reply
  • awaken688 - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    "In a perfect world, we would have no software patents and everyone would be capable of using the best technology available. However, for now, we will have to put up with these types of laws and patents."

    You need to keep obvious bias from your articles. Not everyone in the world thinks everything should be open-sourced and free for all. As much as the patent trolling and patent squatting sucks, the core fundamentals of the system are what drive a lot of innovation. Many of these companies wouldn't even bother putting in the R & D if someone else could just come in and steal it without having to pay that cost.

    Long story short, keep it technical, objective, and less biased.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, May 30, 2010 - link

    Thanks for your comment.

    This article is meant to be Anandtech's take / opinion on the introductions. So, there will definitely be a bias.

    For an unbiased report, we have DailyTech's articles.

    Also, many engineers who work in the industry believe that software patents are not that great. Patents that reflect actual hardware / system designs make more sense. Otherwise, we end up with patents like the one issued for 'Linked List' [ Check this out: http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7028023.html ]
    Reply
  • flatline403 - Saturday, May 29, 2010 - link

    I assume Ganesh is not a native English speaker. This is a good article with good technical details, but it's badly in need of careful editing. Reply

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