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Video download and streaming capabilities


waynechi

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I know this topic has come up before, but I'd like to pick it up again.

I think C4 could add AppleTV-like capabilities to its controllers relatively easily. We've recently discussed C4 video servers, kaleidescope, on this forum and I can see why duplicating those capabilities might be a little to high end for C4 at the moment. But I do think a HC-300, HC-500, and HC-1000 should be able to do the following with a new software release:

1) Stream and play video files from the controller hard drive or from a network. This has been discussed on the forums a lot already.

2) Adding AppleTV-like video download and purchase/rental capabilities right into the video menus.

While I understand that the HC-500 chipset may not be optimized for video streaming, my five-year old Tivo Series2 can download and play from Amazon Unbox without much fanfare. It works. While the Sony/C4 Blu-ray replacement to the 777 is a good thing, HD downloads are going to become a much bigger part of the market over the next few years. I am sure C4 could negotiate a deal with Amazon or someone else to distribute its Unbox service on C4 machines. If hardware is an issue, something at the price point of an HC-1000 (which has full PC media center specs anyway) could be introduced to add video playback, rental, and even DVR capabilities to those willing to pay a little extra.

While I still think C4 is ahead of its traditional peers (e.g. Elan, Russound) from a technical standpoint, the real competition is going to the Apples, Sonys, Denons, PC-makers, etc who are going to create their own alternatives to traditional whole-house audio systems. Given that a media extender/Apple TV that does almost all of these things today costs less than half of what C4 controllers go for, C4 should expand their video capabilities just to keep up over the next few years. If C4 were able to introduce this sort of thing in 2008, I believe they could see a huge boost in sales and brand recognition.

What am I missing? Does C4 not have the resources to go down this path?

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You're opening up a can of worms with Hollywood... only one service that currently offers DVD to Hard Drive solutions have won their battle with them, and right now, they are up to (and may even) lose their DVD license (which is Hollywood's way of getting even with them). No one wants to battle, in court, a endless pot of $$$. Record Industry and Hollywood are both fighting these battles in the courts right now, and until some of these battles are won in favor of the consumer (and I hate to say - probably all the way up to the US Supreme Court) - you're not going to find a lot of companies getting into this field yet.

As for streaming from the Internet... this too has been talked about before, and I agree with the stance... the Internet is a wild and scary place... viruses, trojans, spyware and more. Rhapsody is the first attempt at streaming anything off the Internet into the C4 system... I'm sure if that goes well, and there is demand for it, they'll move into video - but I'd guess it's a ways off.

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I completely agree it would be crazy to go down the Kaleidescope path with a DVD-to-Hard Drive ripping scheme...I've always suspected that a big chunk of the list price for a Kaleidescope box go to legal fees. What I was suggesting was the capability to play .mpeg or .avi files off a C4 controller in exactly the same way it plays .mp3 today. There's no need to have the C4 device rip DVDs like the Media Controller did with CDs. Its the ripping that gets you into the courts and rings up the legal fees. For example, I store all of my .mpg home movies on the same NAS as my music and can pull them up on the Tivo to watch anytime. No legal controversy there. A Tivo or MythTV box is basically a Linux box with a hard drive, a network connection and video output -- very very similar to what already exists in a HC-500. All you need is some code and maybe some minor processor upgrades and you're there.

As for the "streaming", we'd be talking about a closed system here - probably safer than 4sight is today. Companies like Apple and Amazon already have agreements with studios, so nobody is going to get sued. C4 would be best served to cut an agreement to piggyback on one of these services rather than approach the studios directly. I mentioned Amazon Unbox because they are already running their service through existing Tivos which has very similar hardware. So again, it would only take some coding to achieve. I'm not saying its easy, but its not doing anything that's not already being done elsewhere. Most of the necessary hardware is already in the C4 controllers.

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Waynechi - I think you missed what I said about streaming - I said, "Rhapsody is the first attempt at streaming anything off the Internet into the C4 system... I'm sure if that goes well, and there is demand for it, they'll move into video..."

So yes - I think you'll see it.. baby steps... start with Rhapsody... then we'll grow... :)

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  • 1 month later...

Here's an example of a competitor introducing this type of capability...

http://www.ehomeupgrade.com/2008/04/09/netstreams-delivers-first-vudu-multi-room-solution/

This time around it looks like they chose Vudu, which has HD capability but at the moment has a limited number of studios signed up.

About a month ago, Vudu announced a long list of home control/automation companies who were planning to integrate products with Vudu... including Control4:

http://www.vudu.com/press_release03.13.2008.html

This could mean anything from C4 building drivers to support Vudu boxes to something like NetStreams introduced which seems more integrated than that. What's interesting about Vudu is how many installers they have signed up on their website distributing them. Any dealers here carry Vudu?

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...I've always suspected that a big chunk of the list price for a Kaleidescope box go to legal fees.

Actually the a majority of the cost of a Kaleidescape goes towards licensing and NOT legal fees. Every Kaleidescape system owner has to pay a licensing fee to the DVD CCA. That makes up a large part of the cost of a Kaleidescape system.

As far as the law suite goes, the suite was NOT about ripping DVD content to the system BUT about how Kaleidescape was following the license it was given by the DVD CCA. The DVD CCA told the court that Kaleidescape was not following the agreement it made with the DVD CCA over the use of the CSS (Content Scrambling System). The court found the Kaleidescape was in full compliance of it's agreement with the DVD CCS. You can read the whole opinion from the court here DVD CCS vs. Kaleidescape

Any questions let me know. I am a authorized Kaleidescape Dealer.

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That's really interesting...thanks for bringing the facts to the table.

I'd guess these movie streaming services like Vudu, Unbox and AppleTV don't face the same type of issues and its users don't have to buy this type of license. What's the rationale behind the license the Kaleidoscope users have to pay? Obviously they bought the content once when they bought the DVD, so what more are the users paying for?

OK... I just read the decision. They have to license the encryption software from the DVD CCA. What a scam. Still, Kaleidoscope is taking the brunt of the legal fees even by fighting this. It doesn't look like a cheap case to fight by itself.

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I'd guess these movie streaming services like Vudu, Unbox and AppleTV don't face the same type of issues and its users don't have to buy this type of license. What's the rationale behind the license the Kaleidoscope users have to pay? Obviously they bought the content once when they bought the DVD, so what more are the users paying for?

There is a major difference between Kaleidescape and AppleTV, Ubox and VUDU. I will focus on AppleTV. First AppleTV can only play movies that are bought from the iTunes store. Thats the ONLY legal way to get movies into AppleTV. With that said you can use Hand Brake to "Rip" a movie to your computer and then transfer it to AppleTV. Note that this is NOT supported by Apple nor is it advertise by Apple as such a device. Because of that and how Hand Brake rips a dvd there is no CSS to license.

Now with Kaleidescape, Kaleidescape make a ACTUAL copy of the DVD on to the system, INCLUDING the CSS. Kaleidescape's copy of the DVD gives you ALL the options that are on the DVD itself. Including DVD menu, audio options, video options subtitle options, language options, etc. Using Hand Brake to "Rip" a DVD to AppleTV does not give you the DVD options.

Kaleidescape is a VERY intense piece of hardware and software. There is much more I can go into but I wont as this is not the appropriate forum. You can compare Kaleidescape to the above mentioned products but those comparisons are not Apples to Apples.

Hope that helps.

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Totally makes sense. It does sound like a pretty intense machine.

So while you wouldn't expect C4 to be getting into Kaleidescape emulation, you might expect them to adopt some type of video streaming functionality in their boxes. The HC-500 hardware looks a lot more like a AppleTv or Vudu than a Kaleidescape. I guess I am hoping this functionality is coming soon since its starting to happen elsewhere per these announcements.

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