Set-top box that plays streaming media onto a TV
ZDNet has details of a new broadband based set-top box. The developer Akimbo is launching a product that stores Windows Media 9 streams and plays them back on your TV. The data rate used is 1.5Mbps which with the latest codecs and plenty of CPU power is enough for good quality video playback.
The product of course looks exciting and much is made of its abilities to give viewers a choice from many channels, which include content provided by the existing streaming site CinemaNow.com. The problem for the UK market is that the most common broadband connection is 0.5Mbps and 1Mbps is only just taking off. Datastream providers and Telewest have consumer 2Mbps products in the market but take-up is still too to make a large impact. Additionally to keep the cost to the end-users down, most service providers rely on people not watching hours of high bandwidth streamed video content per day.
Video on Demand is not new though, the UK has had HomeChoice offering a service since 2000 using the BT Videostream 2Mbps service, and hopefully soon to be expanding again using LLU services. The HomeChoice service has one large advantage, the video streaming does not take place over the Internet but rather over a private network and therefore is less prone to problems and bandwidth costs.