Coming back to the software platform, it is worthwhile to pause and try to see where Google TV is headed. To most reviewers, Google appeared to have bitten off more than it could chew in the first iteration of Google TV. In trying to be a jack of all trades (DVR support, HDMI passthrough, keyboard in front of the TV etc.), it ended up being a master of none of the purposes it aimed to serve.

I have two Android based media streamers running at home right now, the TViX Xroid A1 from Minevox and the Nixeus Fusion XS. I love how the Android features blend seamlessly with the media streamer experience in both the units. The reason Android works for me in both the units is that the gadget has some specific purpose, and it fulfils that purpose first (play local media) before letting the Android features take over. Unfortunately, the Google TV devices out there right now don't get local media streaming right and the online media streaming aspects are better in devices such as the WDTV Live SMP / Rokus. So, there is no incentive for the consumer out there to invest in a box which doesn't get anything right.

It is time for Google TV to start afresh. Pulling away from a PC-like model and trying to resist the temptation to make people spend time (searching) online will be a good first step. If Google keeps trying to make their device act as a bridge between the existing STB infrastructure and the display, it would just mean that the lessons have not been learnt. Google TV should just provide the users a low powered media streamer device with the perfect hybrid of OTT services and local media playback capability. Moving on to DVR capabilities and STB interfacing without getting that right is a waste of effort. In this context, the shift to an ARM based platform is a good choice.

How suitable is the Marvell platform? Going the ARM route is perfectly reasonable. I am more worried about Marvell's track record in this market. I have hesitated in going forward with the Fusion XS review because the firmware is not yet stable or ready for prime time. One may point to Nixeus being at fault for this, but the Kaiboer K860i isn't receiving any glowing reviews either.

Given the similar SoC architecture, I expect a lot of SDK features / code base to be shared between them. Hopefully, the SDK given to the Google TV device manufacturers is up to the mark and gets the necessary features right.

In summary, both Google and Marvell seem to be starting off on the wrong foot in this venture. Given the situation, we hope to be pleasantly surprised when checking out the Google TV devices in action at CES next week.
 

Marvell's ARMADA 1500 : The 88DE3100
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  • Hubb1e - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    Yeah, that's basically what I was saying too. Yes GoogleTV would be able to operate as a standalone box. That basic functionality would be basically local media playback, a browser, and the App store. Any other functionality would be provided by the manufacturer like Sony adding BD playback, or Logitech adding whole home control.

    The DVR box would probably be Google branded because they'd have trouble getting a DVR company to support GoogleTV especially after the first failure, but any other GoogleTV box would be able to act as a client to the GoogleTV DVR box.

    I really think that DVR is required for something like this to work. Yes, there are other options out there for content, like streaming and stealing, but those are still big time niche markets. Streaming is really catching on, but it still lacks the full catalog of shows, lacks sports, lacks news shows, and is spotty on availability. DVRs are absolutely essential to get the average person to buy one of these things beyond what they can get in an $80 BD player of today. Most up to date consumers have a BD player with Netflix and Vudu (or equivalent) and a DVR. Combing those boxes makes sense, and Google is poised to jump on that. Other benefits are that a set top box could also benefit their mobile and vice versa.
    Reply
  • syxbit - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    If it can stream better than a Roku, do local playback better than a WDTV, do local streaming (NFS/CIFS), and be fanless, I'm buying it day one.

    If it has a fan, or doesn't do local playback of MKVs, or if it can't read linux filesystems (ext3/ext4) over USB, then I'll stick with my WDTV.
    Reply
  • haukionkannel - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    Well, hard to say about if it is fanless or not, but Aple is not for open format using. Their music devices and their normal aplication customs are guite a lot against it.
    If you are going to stick on all official Apple formats, you will be fine...
    Reply
  • dijuremo - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    So I really wanted to get a Google TV like device for streaming and everything else due to the low $99 price. However, it is missing one very important feature, Media Center Extender or an application that is compatible with the HDHomeRun Prime. Why? I dread paying Comcast ~$20 per month per digital box for each TV. So instead, the solution is to use the Silicon HDHomeRun Prime then with one of these on each TV in the house I can watch 3 channels simultaneously with all the encrypted channels included.

    So far the only reasonable solution is the Xbox 360, but at $199 each, it is a bit too expensive and I also assume they eat way much more power than a small Google TV box (I may be wrong here though).
    Reply
  • starkenator - Friday, January 6, 2012 - link

    Are the Apps on the current Google TV going to have to be re-written for ARM? Does anyone know? Reply
  • syxbit - Friday, January 6, 2012 - link

    A few apps (mostly games) are written in native code, and would need to be recompiled, but almost all apps are written in Java, so they'd run on the DalvkVM just fine. Reply
  • binqq - Friday, January 6, 2012 - link

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    Reply
  • doctorpink - Friday, January 6, 2012 - link

    one thing i dont understand... do you all have unlimited cap or what???
    and quality... is it close to a x264 ~2gig video ?
    Reply
  • BrianTho2010 - Friday, January 6, 2012 - link

    For what its worth, Marvell's Qdeo technology is somewhat of a gold standard in the AV Receiver world when it comes to upscaling. Looks like an interesting chipset. I would certainly like a streaming box with this chipset. It seems better than everything else currently on the market. Reply
  • signorRosso - Saturday, January 7, 2012 - link

    In hardware or software?
    10-bit is mentioned at the bottom of this AT article page...
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4380/discrete-htpc-g...
    Reply

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