Author Topic: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products  (Read 7055 times)

Offline bodogbodog

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IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« on: September 28, 2013, 05:39:06 PM »
Let me share an update – although probably short on the specifics that I'll leave for IceTV to release as they come to fruition

I was lucky enough to attend a group discussion today with IceTV management and staff at their Sydney offices where they sought out the views of half a dozen of their long standing customers who have been active in providing feedback on forums over the years. It was great to meet some of the other customers and forum members - and it was a great relief to discover that we all shared similar views of the key current issues we all face with IceTV albeit across multiple platforms - none of which are "fatal" by any standard - but it was good to hear that IceTV staff recognised them and have plans to redress many (all?  ;D) of them with future releases and Ice box

We did discuss the new Ice box and it sounds pretty exciting in terms of the features and capabilities that they intend to include in it – as Apple has shown controlling the hardware means you can deliver features with certainty about how they will respond and perform. We discussed target pricing and I think they have a good handle of what features they must provide and a competitive price that people would be prepared to pay for them

It won't be the only platform they support but it will deliver a very rich IceTV experience – customers will of course still be able to continue to use IceTV services on a range of PVR's, just as they do today

They also shared a number of other initiatives they are working on around harnessing the media experience in homes – accessing media files from various local and online sources and utilising multiple media devices on a network – providing a interface to media stored on various devices on the network and utilising other resources such as tuners on multiple devices on the network via IceTV

We also heard how they are focussed on providing a better experience around recording conflicts – I think we've all had the challenge of scheduling conflicts on devices

To provide some hope for other areas of improvement – think automated ad skipping – now who wouldn't want that provided!

As a long term IceTV user with 2 Windows Media Centers and a Beyonwiz PVR I was encouraged by what I heard today – they've looked at what is needed to manage multiple media sources and of course free to air TV and come up with a strategy and products which will cater for many of the enhancements that we've been looking for

I'm sure they'll start to share some of specifics for their product plans over the coming months – but I for one can see a bright future for IceTV if they deliver on their plans!
Beyonwiz T2 1gb + E8400 Win Svr 2013, 4GB RAM, 8TB storage, Tiny Twin USB Tuner, Hauppauge WinTV NOVA TD-500 Tuner + IceTV Skippa

Offline tonymy01

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2013, 06:52:08 PM »
I just couldn't make it to that today, I got an invite too.  Interesting by the sounds of it.  Are you allowed to talk about it?
Regards
Tony

Beyonwiz DP-S1 & Topfield 5K (using PerlTGD to upload ICE EPG/timers for the 5K, normal ICE interactive for the Wiz).

Offline bodogbodog

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2013, 08:38:16 AM »
Tony - yes they are happy for those who attended to talk about it
As is always the case in discussions like this some of it will definitely happen, some might happen and some will never happen - I'm just not sure what info falls into each category  ;D - so that's why I'm holding back on too much of the detail
It certainly hit the right spots for me, and I think others, in terms of where the focus is on delivering new features and functionality
For me better tuner conflict resolution, network discovery and storage, playback of more codecs and ad skipping come to mind as items on the agenda - along with the new ICE Box - I can definitely see myself buying one (or two) of them - as I said it's like Apple, control the hardware and you can develop to optimise it and deliver specific functionality
Happy to try and answer any questions you might have (I'm much more competent in being a user experience type customer as opposed to a full beneath the covers techo though)

Offline prl

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2013, 11:23:20 AM »
Not all of the new capabilities require the new IceTV PVR, or new features on new or existing PVRs. From the description given in the discussion, the automated recording conflict resolution should be able to be implemented over the existing IceTV protocol and on existing IceTV-capable PVRs without modification. The other half of this, the ability to play recordings from any PVR source on a single (or perhaps any) compatible device may not be achievable on existing devices without some firmware update. This ability to play "from anywhere to anywhere" becomes more important if you use the automated conflict resolution, because you lose some control over where recordings will be made.

We were told that the "by the end of this year" availability in the SMH article was unlikely. First half of 2014 may be more like it. However, my experience with both Topfield and Beyonwiz is of over-optimisim about release dates, and buggy firmware at release. We'll just have to see how IceTV goes with this.

Pity you couldn't make it, tonymy01.
Peter
Beyonwiz T4 in-use
Beyonwiz T2, T3 & T4 for testing

Offline JPP

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2013, 10:52:43 PM »
I can safely say though, without giving too much away, that a 4 tuner IceBox or IceTV PVR (not to be confused with the earlier IceBox that was used in conjunction with a Topfield 5000) is a definite, although other less capable models may be considered as well.
Phil.
Beyonwiz T2, DVDO Duo Video Processor

Offline bodogbodog

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2013, 07:20:48 AM »
So what do others think on this aspect?

Does the ICE Box need to have a Blu Ray drive included with it?

Personally I don't think so - I've got enough of them on other devices like my dedicated Blu Ray and Sound System and (if I bother) the new XBOX One

Offline IanL-S

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2013, 04:16:23 PM »
We were told that the "by the end of this year" availability in the SMH article was unlikely. First half of 2014 may be more like it. However, my experience with both Topfield and Beyonwiz is of over-optimisim about release dates, and buggy firmware at release. We'll just have to see how IceTV goes with this.

Pity you couldn't make it, tonymy01.

Optimism is always an issue when dealing with this sort of think. Topfield 'announced' that DLNA support was coming soon (for 2400, 2460 and 7100+) in May 2010 but it did not turn up until December that year. From my Topfield experience firmware development goes involves short periods of intensive effort, then long gaps while the engineers work on something else or try to solve some problem or other. The whole process can take over a year. It was just on a year from when I got an engineering sample of the TF-T6000 and when it was first seen in the wild, although the official release was some two months later. Another month or two later and there is still no instruction manual suggesting that some aspects of the firmware have not been sorted out (ie in the manual but not yet working in the firmware).

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Check out the oztoppy wiki and Topfield Aus Forum for Toppy help

Offline madmax

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2013, 11:42:29 PM »
So what do others think on this aspect?

Does the ICE Box need to have a Blu Ray drive included with it?
This is a tricky one. It would certainly be attractive from a marketing sheet perspective. For me, it would be great to have it, but I'd still buy it if it didn't (assuming no other deal-breaker issues). I remember quite clearly how much trouble Beyonwiz had getting their DVD drive to work to an acceptable level, so they must have devoted a considerable amount of time to do so. A cautionary tale for the Ice engineers.......

Offline prl

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2013, 10:22:21 AM »
From my experience, Beyonwiz never got the DVD drive in our DP-S1 to work acceptably. It refused to recognise about 10% of the CDs in our collection (commercially produced ones, not RIPs). But perhaps there was (also) a hardware problem with my unit's drive.

One of the issues (other than simply cost) with adding a Blu-ray drive are the conditions on a Blu-ray licence. This was mentioned at the meeting, but I don't know anything about the conditions or how they might impact on features in the rest of the unit.

In general, I have a bias towards component-based systems, even to the extent of wanting to be able to buy a TV screen that's a screen and no more when our current TV (which has no usable tuners now that analog TV has been shut down) packs it in.

The $80 Toshiba DVD player we got to use instead of the S1's DVD player worked (and still works) far better both as a DVD and CD player than the S1 ever did.

Offline madmax

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2013, 11:23:29 AM »
Yes, on thinking about it more, I'd rather Ice just concentrate on making a kick-ass PVR and forget about optical media. Currently I use a PS3 to play blu-rays, there is no reason why I couldn't continue to do that.

Oh, and I presume auto DLS change-overs are a given? That alone would go a long way to convince me to buy one.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 11:31:33 AM by madmax »

Offline bodogbodog

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2013, 08:12:13 PM »
auto DLS change-overs are a given?

I agree - skip the Blu Ray in the new device - can you clarify what auto DLS change-overs means?

Offline grampus

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2013, 09:06:03 PM »
Daylight savings
BeyonWiz, T3

Offline prl

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2013, 10:36:08 PM »
I've always been a bit puzzled that while both the broadcast standards and IceTV specify times in UTC, Beyonwizes and at least the old Topfield TRF7000 run the EPG and scheduling in local time (which, amongst other problems it has, is discontinuous).

The main problem with running PVR EPG and scheduling in UTC (and of course translating to local time in the UI) is that once a year you have a 23-hour day (in local time) and once a year you have a 25-hour day and they need to be dealt with in the EPG display.

Of course, any PVR should use zoneinfo to translate between UTC and the correct local time (i.e. the local time as it was at the time represented by the timestamp). The zoneinfo data on the PVR should be kept up to date. The zoneinfo database for all timezones in Australia is less than 13kB (OS X 10.8.5).

Offline madmax

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2013, 10:15:56 AM »
I agree - skip the Blu Ray in the new device - can you clarify what auto DLS change-overs means?
As grampus said, Daylight Savings. Having to go through the multi-multi-step process twice a year is a pain, and 10-fold when it doesn't go smoothly and your timers don't all get re-sent properly.

I will be extremely disappointed if Ice don't find a way to eliminate this requirement, be it via using UTC or some auto process which runs without user intervention. Was this not even discussed at the meeting? prl, were you there? Surely you would have brought it up if you were.....

Offline prl

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Re: IceTV Has Some Impressive Plans For New Features and Products
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2013, 11:04:14 AM »
...
I will be extremely disappointed if Ice don't find a way to eliminate this requirement [manual DST intervention], be it via using UTC or some auto process which runs without user intervention. Was this not even discussed at the meeting? prl, were you there? Surely you would have brought it up if you were.....
We were given an opportunity to list three(?) things we'd most like to have in the new PVR. I don't think that I raised DST as a issue that should be handled much better. I think that somehow the fact that the problem is really a PVR manufacturer's problem to fix and not an IceTV Interactive problem didn't carry over to thinking that IceTV was to become a PVR manufacturer. I'm not sure whether anyone else raised the issue. Perhaps if the meeting had happened this coming weekend rather than two weeks ago, DST would have been further forward in our minds.

I did give Luke (Luke at IceTV) an additional list that I'd partly scratched up from the suggestions in the forum and partly from my own head. However, I compiled this list also not knowing that IceTV was to become a PVR maker, so there are no suggestions about changes to PVR capabilities. The list was:

-----------
IceTV Web pages UI
Single MyWeek page for all recordings on all devices (on “todo” list, Dave at IceTV 20/4/13). This facility apparently already exists on iPad app.
Easier management of multiple PVRs in a single A/V system.
Fewer clicks to update series recording. Currently click on recording, click on Update Series, opens recording in My Shows, click on Update Series again.

Recording management
Failover of a failed recording to record an “encore”/repeat of the same program.
Prioritisation of recordings when conflicts occur.
Record only one instance of a show when a repeated series has an “encore”, and the series recording is set to record First Runs & Repeats.
There seems little purpose now to Only HD/Prefer HD/Prefer SD/Only SD. It is only of any point for SBS, and it would be better if it only recorded on the HD service if the program was flagged as having a HD source.
When setting up a recording, default to “Prefer HD” if the recording is being set on a HD service, and Prefer SD if being set on an SD service.
Bring back “record on specified service”, not just “record on specified network”. I was never sure what use the latter was, anyway.

Information and feedback
In MyAccount, report last fetch time for all registered devices, labelled by device name, and all registered apps/widgets.
Better error information where available.
Search on HD flag.

Schedule policy
Stop second-guessing program start times. What stats does IceTV have on how successful they are?
-----------

I assume that the IceFolk are watching this exchange, since they specifically asked us to raise awareness of their plans, and I'm sure they'd be interested in any responses. But in any case, Luke has invited us to contact him directly with any new ideas or issues, and I'll email him about DST capabilities and direct him to this topic.

Just to exemplify, though, how important it is that the zoneinfo tables are kept up to date, my router is (AFAIK) supposed to do automatic DST switching, and has not done so yet. Indications from the router forums are that it has very dated zoneinfo tables (the most recent change to Australian DST rules was WA finishing its DST trial in 2009) that will switch later than they should. I'm still waiting to see if that is the case.

I think the most likely cause of the problem that I'm seeing on the router is that the DST tables don't reflect the alignment in 2007 of the Eastern states DST start and finish dates. If that's the case, I should see the switch on the last Sunday this month. Anyway, it shows the need for zoneinfo files to be kept up to date. There's the added problem of temporary changes to DST rules as for the 2000 Olympics and 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Unfortunately, using zoneinfo transfers the problem from twice-yearly user intervention to a dependence on updates to the zoneinfo database. Using UTC as the scheduling base, though, would mean that even if the time zone needed to be specified manually at DST changes, the timers and EPG would not need to be reloaded, because only the representation of their times, not the underlying UTC time, would change. A manual time zone/DST fallback would be needed, though, even if zoneinfo tables were used (in case manual overrides were needed).

I got this excessive interest in computer timekeeping, I think, when (a long time ago) I ran a stratum 1 NTP server synched to DCF77 (and yes, DCF77 really does broadcast on 77kHz).


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