Amino Internet TV boxesNow I generally dont blog about devices because as we know ‘it’ is about experience design, stories, easy to use tools and elegant product design – and no, I am not on commission but this product for me is media distribution come full circle. I have personally been through the cycle of

  1. Web TV (the boxes in the late 90s that put ugly web pages on your TV via a Set Top Box) – I recall trying to get BBC web pages looking good on these devices, and failed. PVR’s that captured broadcast content for time shifted, on-demand viewing (I was part of this revolution in the early 00’s) nVod, those annoying looped, bandwidth hog, channels on satellite. (Some BBC iTV used these principles) IPTV and broadband TV – TV-like programming pulled on-demand or streamed to the big screen in the home (I created the first BBC adsl services)

So given my habit now of watching my video iPod vodcast captures on my TV, where is the device that sits between the endless content on YouTube and Google Video and the TV. Well here it is. Drum roll. Amino’s AmiNET125i – all the way from Hong Kong. (Thanks to Marc Walker ex CTO of TwoWayTV Aus, and new LAMP mentor for the heads up). Here are some excerpts from their press release in advance of the over-sized IBC2006.

Amino, leading IPTV platform supplier, has announced the AmiNET125i to enter the blossoming Internet TV market. The AmiNET125i is a flexible device which allows consumers to browse and access video content from the Internet on their television, hence making Internet TV more attractive to a wider consumer audience. �Internet TV is being heralded by many analysts as the next potentially �disruptive technology� that, in time, will overshadow conventional telco, cable or satellite TV. Fuelled by the rise of both premium content and user-generated video sites such as iTunes�, Google� Video and YouTube�, the ad-supported and pay market for Internet TV is expected to reach a combined $16.2 billion by 2010,” said Michael Wolf, Principal Analyst for Digital Media at ABI Research.

The AmiNET125i is a multi-codec unit, designed to deliver Windows Media 9 and MPEG-4 video streams to a TV. The product features a low-cost digital signal processor (DSP) supporting a range of decoders which are widespread in the world of Internet-based content. There is also a powerful host processor to ensure the user experience is on a par with that of a PC-based web portal. In anticipation of DRM issues, the AmiNET125i supports Microsoft � Windows Media Digital Rights Management 10 (WM DRM10), which prevents the interception and piracy of digital content. The unit will also integrate an embedded HTML 4 browser providing JavaScript. This allows content to be resized to fit the larger TV screen, regardless of its dimensions, ensuring the best possible user experience.

Whether this becomes a device with as much brand awareness as TiVo is of course dubious, and as I haven’t actually seen the interface even more so, but it will herald a range of other devices that sidestep the network walled gardens of IPTV and the content walled gardens of the likes of Akimbo. In those countries where broadband is as available as fresh air (not over capped Australia of course) these Internet TV devices will provide a way for those millions, nay billions of self-publishers – and the 100 million per day watches on YouTube alone to view that content in a more social, sharing environment. No more emails with URL’s saying watch this, more family and friends sitting around the TV watching the best of what the now biggest video distribution portals have to offer. It also heralds an easy way to share your video content knowing that more people are equipped to watch them away from the computer or laptop – there are quality considerations (the level of compression that Google and YouTube use needs to be decreased a tad for passable 720/576 TV size!). Internet TV set tops have come and gone without doubt in the past, but that was primarily been due to a scarcity of rich media content. That scarcity has now completely disappeared and for me the ability to settle down, kick-back and in real time watch the best video content on the web on the large screen is compelling.
Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006