Current Set Top MPEG-4 Enabled?

trugel

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 25, 2004
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In the Spring 2004 issue of HDTV Etc. on page 42, it states the following:

"... The system currently uses the Motorola DSR550 HD-STBs. By the third quarter of 2004, there will be a new STB that will have PVR Networking Server functionality (the PVR 580).

"The plan is to include IEEE 1394 in the PVR 580, but the 550 will not be upgraded for 1394. When VOOM eventually broadcasts in MPEG-4, there will be a 'customer easy' upgrade to MPEG-4 by the third quarter of 2004 (via firmware and a new STB card that will be delivered to the subscriber), to enable the broadcast of more than 200 channels, including at least 39 HDTV services.

[THIS IS THE PART THAT CAUGHT MY EYE]

"According to VOOM, the firmware upgrade for MPEG-4 already took place on the existing 550 units"

Sean: Can you confirm/discuss this with Wilt on the Yahoo message board. Was this part of the latest firmware upgrade?
 

HeavyC

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Apr 20, 2004
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I think MPEG-4 was the plan, but as of this week they are going with WM9 which is the better compression codec.
 

Ilya

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trugel said:
"According to VOOM, the firmware upgrade for MPEG-4 already took place on the existing 550 units"
Interesting... I guess, that's the encoder upgrade Wilt was talking about...
Hey, what if we are already watching MPEG4 on some of the channels without even knowing that? Just a crazy thought...
 

Ken F

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Mar 8, 2004
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Firmware is just another name for software. Current boxes do not have the hardware support necessary for MPEG4/WM9. Wilt said in an earlier message that the upgrade board for existing boxes would support both MPEG4 and WM9, and they'd use whatever was available first and/or worked better (at the satellite uplink).

See these two messages:

http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/VOOM/message/8899
http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/VOOM/message/8910

According to Wilt H, current STBs will be upgraded to WM9/H264 using the slot, while STBs produced after some point will integrate it on board, rather than using the upgrade slot. Nothing has been said about any other changes. Nothing has been said about any new model STB aside from the DVR.

He also said the upgrade board *could* be mailed out to customers rather than the installers, but he doesn't yet know how they are going to send out the upgrades.
 

cmslick3

SatelliteGuys Family
Apr 9, 2004
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Chicago area
I would rather see them swap out the entire box. I would be afraid of the cards being damaged in shipping, and then not being able to watch for a while. But I guess it's easier to mail out a card than swapping boxes.

All I can say is that no matter where you turn now Microsoft is getting into everything.. I for one am scared!!
 

HeavyC

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Apr 20, 2004
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Yeah, MS may be everywhere, but I really can't deny the quality of WM9.
 

Ilya

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Ken F said:
Firmware is just another name for software. Current boxes do not have the hardware support necessary for MPEG4/WM9.
Ok, that makes sense. So there are three pieces of the puzzle: the encoder (at their end), the decoder card, and the software/firmware that supports it. According to the article quoted above, the software/firmware is already in place. Which also means that the decoder is ready too, at least in small quantities. (You wouldn't have the software ready, unless the hardware is ready too.) So, as soon as the upgrade of the encoders is complete, and the sufficient quantity of decoders is manufactured, they should be ready to roll it out...
 

vurbano

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Apr 1, 2004
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I dont mind them shipping me an upgrade card. But I dont think they could switch to WM9 until every last box had a card in it.
 

CKNA

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Dec 15, 2003
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HeavyC said:
I think MPEG-4 was the plan, but as of this week they are going with WM9 which is the better compression codec.

What are you basing that WM9 is better MPEG-4?. Just because VOOM signed agreement with Microsoft it does not mean WM9 is better.
 

wasch_24

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Mar 30, 2004
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CKNA said:
What are you basing that WM9 is better MPEG-4?. Just because VOOM signed agreement with Microsoft it does not mean WM9 is better.
Do a search for "oddwun" he has been doing some independent evaluations of both and has concluded that WM9 is better in many facets. Research it.
 

Mike J

Active SatelliteGuys Member
Mar 30, 2004
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MPEG-4 vs WM9

Per the "Motorola guy" that I spoke to yesterday at NAB, they were caught off-guard by the WM9 announcement...going to be a contractual issue as the MPEG-4 upgrade is already contracted/paid for, but NOT WM9...on the other hand, Microsoft might subsidize the changeover to get traction in the DTH satellite space...
 

HeavyC

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Apr 20, 2004
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From everything I've read and seen and heard, WM9 is clearly the superior codec. In terms of compression and overall PQ. WM9 is almost like a generation ahead of what MPEG-4 can do. And this is coming form a pretty staunch Apple supporter.
 

Ken F

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Mar 8, 2004
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Note it's important to differentiate between MPEG-4 and the new MPEG-4 Part10, otherwise known as H.264. The new MPEG-4 Part10 (H.264) is said to be competitive with WM9 at HD resolutions, whereas the current/older MPEG-4 standard is clearly not. Apple's Quicktime uses the older version of MPEG-4, although they plan to move to H.264 later this year, and are showing some new software with this codec at the NAB.

As mentioned before, there is no "Microsoft free" codec, as Microsoft technology is licensed and used in MPEG-4 / H.264. Every time you buy a MPEG-4 Part10 product, you are sending some money to Microsoft. There is simply more of their technology in WM9.
 
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