Entertainment

Some More Details About iiNet's FetchTV Box

If you saw yesterday’s post on the upcoming FetchTV box and thought to yourself, “That looks cool, but I want more information”, then you’re in luck. Because we’ve got some more information right here:

Hardware:
The box itself runs a Broadcom 7413 400MHz dual core processor to support 1080p (and in the future, 3D content) playback. There are three DVB-T tuners on board for recording two free-to-air channels simultaneously while watching a third, and there’s a 750GB HDD inside. The HDD is partitioned into three parts – 50GB is reserved for FetchTV operations, 400GB is reserved for Push VOD, which means that the service will push content onto your device, which allows you to start watching instantly when you choose to watch it, while the remaining 300GB is reserved for recording TV shows. That 300GB gives you about 110 hours of SD recordings at MPEG2 (or 330 hours of MPEG4).

The device has 512MB of RAM, two USB ports for peripherals like keyboards and mice, and perhaps the most interesting feature of them all, a credit card reader built in for future online transactions like online shopping.

Online content delivery:
The FetchTV platform uses multicast IP delivery over a closed ISP network. Here’s the explanation of what that means from the FAQ:

FetchTV utilises Multicast IP delivery over a closed ISP network. Multicast is an alternative to the traditional Unicast delivery model most commonly associated with IPTV and video streaming to the PC. Unicast is commonly referred to as “pull VOD” as customers often select a video service, then wait for download or stream to commence.

Unicast is a “One to One” delivery method that can place significant demands on ISP’s networks. As such, content is often metered and Unicast content providers often deliver content in low resolution to reduce network demands.

Examples of unicast delivery models include the VOD services on: TiVo, Appletv, iView, yahoo!7, Playstation, X-box, etc.

Multicast utilises a “One to Many” delivery method making it far more efficient than Unicast. Multicast significantly reduces the demands that video delivery places on ISP networks, and therefore supports the delivery of high resolution programming (HD and SD). In the case of FetchTV, multicast content is also unmetered by partner ISP’s.

Multicast delivery does require specific ISP network equipment and compliant modems. Many Australian ISP’s have recently upgraded their ADSL2+ networks to support multicast, and have migrated to compliant modems in anticipation of this opportunity.

Multicast delivery is crucial for the successful delivery of TV and video services over broadband.

With the FetchTV multicast model the closed network architecture (managed platform) guarantees control over bandwidth allocation, contention ratios and content delivery. Push VOD is delivered and stored on the STB during periods of network inactivity or at speeds that minimise contention. This facilitates efficient use of the ISP network and provides subscribers with access to instantaneous viewing of video on demand with no download delay.

Control over Quality of Service (QoS) allows ISPs to give FetchTV content higher priority than other IP traffic. This ensures no degradation of the linear subscription TV picture quality irrespective of what other internet use is occurring in the home at the same time.

So essentially FetchTV are claiming that this technology allows them to guarantee the quality of content delivered to the FetchTV box over IP. It also means that you may need to upgrade your modem.

PVR:
The PVR will let you record two FTA channels while watching a third, which is all well and good, but also allows you to record content from the linear IP Pay TV channels.

Installation:
For most people, the FetchTV box will be delivered via post or courier and you’ll be able to plug it in yourself. However, there are some occasions the ISP will configure a custom install, like if you want internal ethernet cabling or need an extra aerial put in.

FetchTV Services:
Depending on your bandwidth, you can get different FetchTV services. Here’s a rough guide:

The credit card reader:
Here’s what the FAQ says about the credit card reader:

Online payment
Support for secure payment transactions will be added to FetchTV later this year. For payments, FetchTV will utilise the same SSL security as traditional on-line payments. The built-in credit card reader on the STB ensures that the card is present, and pin code utilised, for any transaction. This arrangement improves security for both the customer and vendor. The FetchTV platform will facilitate external application providers to utilise the STB and payment facility (known as t-commerce).

So, after all of that, what do you think? It’s certainly a different route from TiVo and Foxtel, yet promising all the same. Is anyone desperate to try this out?


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