Another 4:2:2 Option (SageTV STB) (1 Viewer)

Register Today to see less ads! It's Free!
Status
Please reply by conversation.

pendragon

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 13, 2008
1,100
63
I've been using SageTV for the past few years to integrate OTA, DN, FTA and recently SD throughout our house. For those unfamiliar with this approach, a Sage server controls all the tuners as a pool and uses them to play live to networked Sage clients and record requested programs from an integrated guide, available to all clients. Recordings and imported media are also accessible to the clients. This makes the management of thousands of channels and recordings imminently possible, although there is some effort to getting it all set up. The nicest part is the operation is intuitive, even for non-rocket scientists.

One can use properly configured HTPCs to perform as Sage clients. This has been the traditional Sage method and is only limited by the amount of effort and money one wants to invest into a PCs and codecs for each room/screen. A few years back Sage started selling a STB called the HD100 which was a low-power, networked device that easily integrated into home theater system. Being hardware decoders, the quality was good and they were able to decode almost all audio and video formats one could throw at them, at a much lower price than any HTPC. However 4:2:2 video playback was limited to standard definition.

Recently we decided to add a couple of Sage clients, and I looked at the newer Sage HD200 STB. When I discovered the video decoder in this unit was the same as used in the AZBox, I wrote to Sage to ask whether the HD200 could decode HD 4:2:2. They didn't seem particularly aware of this format, but gamely asked for sample video. I was all too happy to oblige with very high rate cuts from FTA. A week or so later, Sage reported they had been able to get the HD200 to work with HD 4:2:2 and this would be released in their next version of firmware.

I picked up a couple of HD200s and noticed yesterday that a new firmware version had been posted. Today I finally got around to testing it, and it worked beautifully. That pretty much checks the boxes for me, except for Dolby E :) I realize this is not a solution for most people, but for die hard addicts this is a very complete and affordable alternative for a whole house implementation.
 
Register Today to see less ads! It's Free!

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
I wonder, if the SageTV Client STB HD Theater HD200 can support HD pic-in-pic or "two channels" feature over 100 mbps LAN and/or USB 2.0? If it uses the same Sigma processor as AZBox it should be able to with a suitable firmware, but I guess they didn't try. If HDMI interface is not fast enough, a HDTV that supports Pic-in-Pic feature may be connected to both HD200 ports - HDMI and Component, and the HD200 would need to output 2 different channels via these ports in Pic-in-Pic mode with main channel Audio. That's how I get pic-in-pic on my TV from various sources (not Sage ;)). Do you know, if at present it outputs from all digital (HDMI) and analog ports simultaneously? Does it run on Linux - I guess they can use AZBox as an implementation example?

Also, if they added 4:2:2 support, they may be better off by stating it in the device spec, and also specify there MPEG2 and MPEG4 profiles and levels supported by the device.
 
Last edited:

pendragon

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 13, 2008
1,100
63
Zamar - I doubt you'll see any of these features in a Sage STB. Most don't fit the Sage client model and I expect few if any people who use Sage would see them as worth the trouble. For the same reason the AZBox would be a horrible substitute for a Sage client, so a Sage client would be a horrible substitute for an AZBox. They are two completely different products.

My only point was that those looking for a whole house integrated A/V solution can now include 4:2:2 in their viewing options. Putting an AZBox in every room to accomplish this would be by comparison a complete hack.
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
I didn't suggest to use AZ instead of Sage: its hardly possible at the moment and too expensive. Just mentioned that this processor can decode 2 HD streams in parallel. Actually, its not that bad to watch a movie on a big screen and keep an eye on some dynamic events on a small one. Was wondering if its possible with Sage.

I take it, it doesn't output from all video ports simultaneously. This may indeed be in some contradiction with quality Video-on-demand concept behind Sage (if I put it correctly). All ports output is an economical option, but may be its not required for typical SageTV users. ;)
 

pendragon

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 13, 2008
1,100
63
Don't get me wrong. I have a long list of reasons for PIP and use it wherever I can. I wish more displays and components would support it. Nevertheless the lack of it doesn't seem to be a deal breaker for most people.

What appears the most common PIP implementation is on a display, rather than a STB or AV processor. That kind of makes sense because it puts the burden on the user to figure out how to supply two or more simultaneous video streams. The Sage UI is very state oriented, which would make a dual video output or PIP from a Sage client STB a bit awkward. On first blush this would either be a monumental hack or a substantial UI redesign for them. Much easier for a user to take a PIP-capable display and string a couple of video cables.

I haven't had time to work through the Sage HD200 STB capabilities, but the HD100 was only intended to output video through one port at a time. In some cases one could get two working if they both were capable of supporting the same resolution, e.g. HDMI and component with 1080i. It would have been nice if the composite/S-video outputs would downscale like many satellite/cable receivers, but the HD100 wouldn't do it.

There are many things I would like to see done differently in the world, but from a practical point-of-view I think Sage has done a pretty good job focusing their resources on what matters. There's always MythTV and Linux for those who want to try their hand at system design.
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
This discussion reminded me one story. ;) At some point I briefly had Sonicview 360 Elite - a dual tuner SD DVB-S STB. This was a very refined receiver hardware wise, but was apparently supplied with FW having limited FTA capabilities. It however sent pic-in-pic easily via HDMI and Component Outs, and output via all ports in parallel properly scaled pics with PG over each.

Unfortunately, to cut costs and make room for their oncoming premium models, SV blocked synchronous output from 2 tuners to different ports: I was unable to get one channel via HDMI, and another via Component or Composite port. I contacted their office asking to fix it in FW if possible. A tech support guy who seemingly knew nothing about its hardware told they are busy with other fixes "more important for our customers". I also asked him a few questions on motor install, and he suggested to contact Rick... as their official support point - it never worked that way either. :)

The resume is, may be SageTV guys never thought about their new client boxes outputting pic-in-pic via the same or different ports, because nobody asked them about it at HW / FW development stages, or they didn't get a grounded marketing hint on sale numbers dependency on these features, if any.
 
Last edited:

pendragon

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 13, 2008
1,100
63
Frankly if I were Sage and a customer wanted two video outputs, I'd tell them to buy two clients. Complicated people should pay extra rather than the 99% who are content with the primary functionality. Gold-plating in engineering development can easily cause a competitive product to miss the market or overprice it.

I thought asking for 4:2:2 was already on the edge, but it was a small enough incremental improvement that it was apparently deemed worthwhile. If I'd asked for the moon I would have been wasting oxygen.
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
I don't know about Sage users, you may be right, but based on various forum posts, many people asked SV to separate dual tuner output to different ports as a feature, since SV products appeared to target lower income buyers. But the coders team they hired locally seemed to be consumed by other goals. Again, SV had big marketing plans at earlier stages turned out to produce nothing. ;)
 
Register Today to see less ads! It's Free!

pendragon

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 13, 2008
1,100
63
If the Sonicview was marketed as a dual tuner box and failed to deliver on its promises, I can understand your frustration. But this is completely OT. Sage has never advertised the HD100 or HD200 as being capable of providing more than one output at a time (or PIP) and this is clearly documented in the manuals and in their support forums.
 
Register Today to see less ads! It's Free!
Status
Please reply by conversation.

Users who are viewing this thread

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 0, Members: 0, Guests: 0)

Latest posts

Top