The Digital Media Player Blog


posted Jul 2, 2014, 4:14 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs   [ updated Jul 2, 2014, 4:55 AM ]

Android ARM TV Sticks are the new SMART TV

posted Jan 18, 2013, 5:04 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs   [ updated Jan 18, 2013, 5:41 AM ]

Remember my post on Android and ARM last year? Things have been changing fast in the last year for Android Smart TV market. 

There are a bunch of mostly Chinese players who are making small HDMI/USB sticks with an SOC of Dual core ARM chips with all ports for USB, and built-in Wi-Fi. These small sticks sell for less than $70 and run Android 4.1 The beauty of it is that you can plug them into any HDMI screen and suddenly have  full functioning smart TV. You have an open platform with internet access and you can run all the usual apps that you can on an android phone or tablet. I have tested an popular unit called the MK808 running an Rockchip Cortex A9 1.6 Ghz chip. What is more interesting from a business perspective is that these players are mostly being sold on Chinese websites directly to the end users around the world. Sites like offer the players with free freight around the world. 


No big brand names are at the moment offering an solution or implantation like it. Dell have recently announced a project called Ophelia that look like these players but at the moment it seems that the interest is mainly being build up from the first movers and innovators mainly by forums and on the web. 


What’s to like in compared to old MIPS based media players like WDTV. 

  • Internet access makes it easy to download subtitles on the fly from you video library.
  • You can watch YouTube, and stream TV from your favorite TV channels.
  • You can download many different media players. 
  • you can get power form the TV's USB port, meaning NO cables sticking out 


Cons versus old media players


  • HD sound are still not implemented
  • Hardware decoding does not work on all formats like avi, mkv 
  • Full HD does not always work, often less than 650p
  • Remote control is cumbersome since you are navigating or a desktop
  • no real Remote based UI
  • Connections such as Wifi, Ethernet don't run at full speed 
  • NFS not supported
  • UPNP takes time setting up
  • No Media library app like don't really work yet. 
  • lack of connections such as Ethernet, Optic cable etc.
  • firmware upgrades are pretty difficult the first time around


All in all there is still some way before these players are up to what the old MIPS based players like WDTV could do. However the charm of having a small media player you can hide behind you LED flat screen is a mayor WAF factor. Also there is coming out a new stick every month now so the race is on to build the smartest and most functional player is on. It is great to see that external media players again are taking the lead in the innovation of the digital media player landscape. Integrated SmartTV solution  are now trying to catch up.  

Behind the scenes of HBO Nordic and how OTT is changing media distribution

posted Sep 28, 2012, 6:17 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs   [ updated Sep 28, 2012, 6:42 AM ]

In august 2012 HBO International announced that they will start a subscriber based streaming service for their TV series in the Nordics countries before end 2012. Having been an avid follower of the digital media development for the last years I set out to find out what and who was behind the decision to choose the Nordics as the first market for HBO premium content outside the USA on an entirely new broadcasting platform that have not been seen before in world.

The formation of the URHO-TV

In 2009 Peke Ekelunds investment company Parsifal sports started URHO-TV in Finland. URHO-TV provides costumers direct access to the top league Ice hockey games. As a paid content channel it have gained over 100.00 subscribers in 2009. URHO-TV Expanded its service online with URHO Play, built on the technology platform from QBrick.

Qbrick The source the runs the service

Qbrick has been a partner to Urho TV for the past three years and we are happy to extend this close co-operation as part of the UDS personal Pay TV solution for HBO Nordic. TDF Media Services is a strong and innovative partner for us in the Nordic region¨. says Peter Ekelund Chairman of UDS as well as chairman of HBO Nordic.

Qbrick is the leading provider of Web and Mobile TV in Europe. The company was established in 1999 and has since then confirmed its position as a provider of turnkey online video solutions for the company’s customers which operate mainly within segments such as TV channels, radio stations, media, advertising agencies and production companies. Qbrick delivers services to many TV channels in the Nordic and elsewhere.

Qbrick is an whole owned subsidiary of TDF group and part of the TDF Media Services Business Unit. TDF is developing a multi-format and multi-support terrestrial platform for managing

and distributing audio, video and data content to all types of receivers. As a dedicated broadcaster and designer of telecom networks, TDF is positioned at the nexus of the new digital, mobile and multimedia technologies by using all means of transmission: terrestrial, IP, satellite, etc. For years, TDF has been creating innovative solutions, to the point it is now developing tomorrow’s communications, channels such as digital cinema, 3D, connected DTT, video on-demand, catch-up television, digital radio, web broadcasting, real-time traffic display and ultra-high speed telecom networks.

HBO Nordic

A Joint Venture between Parsifal and HBO international

Urho Digital Services The company behind the screens

Again owned by Parsifal and and Peke Eklund. This company actually seems to be the brain behind HBO Nordic and will be running the services for HBO in the Nordics. They are also the company the signs on other technology and service providers such as Erisson, Qbrick and other service providers .

The sports channel  URHOtv paved the way for paid online TV in Finland and have since developed an popular platform with more than 150.000 paying subscribers. The TV platform is new being organized in a new separate company called URHO Digital Service (UDS). UDS is a B2B company which allows other entities ( Media, Program distributors , operators and Content owners) to distribute their content and recruit and administer costumers online.

UDS first costumer is HBO Nordic, which is buying access to the platform and handling of subscribers in the four Nordic countire. After UDs will continue to expand on the European market. UDs will offer other costumer like HBO a complete white label solution, which contains everything form content distribution, streaming platforms, applications, CRM and payment solutions for subscribers.

Thus this solution is different in it nature other OTT providers such as Hulu and Netflix, since it lets the content owners keep the costumer base and direct billing rights to the costumers.

URHO Digital services  offers the following services as white label prodcuts to content providers


Ericsson AB has inked a five-year deal with Urho Digital Services Oy (UDS) to manage the playout and media management components for HBO's big push into Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has inked a five-year deal with Urho Digital Services Oy (UDS) to manage the playout and media management components for HBO's big push into Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. HBO Nordic, a joint venture of HBO and Persifal International, will pitch the carriage to pay-TV programmers while also teeing up the launch of a stand-alone streaming service in the region that's expected to cost less than €10 (US$12.58) per month and debut in mid-October. That launch is getting a high profile because HBO has so far resisted the temptation to offer a stand-alone subscription service in the U.S. HBO's experiment in the Nordic could serve as a blueprint for other OTT ambitions. (See HBO, Netflix Set for OTT Video Clash .)


Technology partners

Ericsson, Qbrick, UDS, TDF, Parsifal, HBO international, Urho Digital Services Oy

Connected TV’s causing convergence in Consumer Electronics, IT and Broadcast

posted Sep 28, 2012, 12:24 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs   [ updated Sep 28, 2012, 1:06 AM ]

According to the NPD group, a US-based Market Research firm, household are increasingly adopting connected TV’s and using them for online video services in both paid and free video. For the 10% of total US households owning an connected TV, they see a decline in the usage of streaming media players, video game consoles, PC's and Blu-ray Disc players. This amount to about 20% of the households that own a connected TV.

From these numbers we can see several trends in of convergence in the  IT, Consumer electronics and media distribution industries.

Connection Convergence in a post-PC world

posted Aug 28, 2012, 7:25 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs   [ updated Aug 28, 2012, 7:26 AM ]

Remember the days when you had to connect you mobile phone to you pc to update its firmware? Remember when you had to have the pc turned on to watch Movies, and listen to music in your home? Remember when you actual did listen to music on you pc ? Remember when you had  transfer files from one device to another by connect them to the pc?  Well those days a slowing going away because the embedded devices are talking together without the PC.

These Eco system help consumer live and connect between devices in a Post PC world

Airplay Apple TV Ecosystem –streaming from I-devices to TV, speakers

Nexus Q cube & Google Play      -music, video, streaming

NAS DSM operating system  from Synology         -downloads –unpacking –converting and transcoding video

Amazon Whispernet      -update you books across you platforms phone, kindle and tablet

Tehtering your smartphone for connection to internet from non -3G devices.

Cloud Storage and server run applications that help us run application in the cloud.

For consumers the trend is clear, we are replacing the multi tasking pc with smaller dedicated devices for our everyday computing tasks. Tablet for everyday browsing, and even more for typing and writing with new keyboard form factors. Storage, NAS to hold our data of pictures and video. TV with smart Tv embedded to show our favorite TV shows and Movies. Music players that can stream Spotify, and own music stored in the cloud or on the NAS. Smart phones for controlling devices, calling. The real killer to PC’s is that beforehand all these devices had to hooked up at some time to the pc for firmware updates, transfer of content, configuration and so on. That is increasingly being changes so that the embedded device start talking together without the PC.

                                                 DSM operating system in Synology NAS server.

The Return of Google TV

posted Aug 27, 2012, 7:34 PM by Henrik Cort Tranæs   [ updated Aug 27, 2012, 7:36 PM ]

Remember Google TV? Its back!

 It was on everybody lips back in 2010 when Logitech bet the company on its Revue series together with Google Tv platform. The product was a flop and ended have a fire sale for the remaining stock. Logitech have since not touched the internet TV streamer market. Well seems like other are ready to give Google a second run for the money. While Apple is brewing up its upcoming Apple TV as in REAL TV, rumors are that production have started of their real tv and content deals are being made in dark rooms, others are betting that Google again will save the day for the less fortunate, than the believers of the later apple a day.

Vizio the American maker of flat screens Tv have announced their Google tv offerings, Sony have ditched  their own flavor of the smart internet TV, and went all in on Google Tv with its eternal  NSZ-GS7 promised later to be built in the TV seriously very soon, and last but most interesting have first producer of Android media streamers Hisense chipped in the market with their sweet spot $99 Google TV device.

It will be interesting to see, if these lower priced device than Revue and DLink Boxee can spark a new interest in the admittedly dying media streamer market. Seems like everybody have gone embedded the last year, with Samsung and LG offering interesting services on the flatsceen TV’s. However there must be a market since the old and the new apple TV boxes are till selling like hot cakes. With the recent addition of Hulu+, Apple have secured another important content maker into its ecosystem.

Again content is king and Google has a bit to prove here with its US only Google Play offerings of music, books and movies/TV shows for the Google TV eco system to become a success and a true contender to Amazon instant videos, Roku and Apple.



Hisense google tv

Logitech Revue

Why Samsung is the most Converged company today

posted Mar 2, 2012, 1:03 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs

Companies have always had an easy job of becoming mentioned in the press and getting attention. There have always been an sexiness toward IT companies. Men like their electronics and thus attention is as easily to get as it is for the car industry. Before IT came into becoming a Consumer device, Consumer electronics brand and their products enjoyed their time in the spotlight. Magazine devoted to homemade electronics, new articles and  social talk were about the patriarchs new electronics devices such as TV’s radios and hi fi systems. Brands such as Sony, Philips, Bang & Olufsen, Zenith were the hallmark of envy both also attainable products for the consumers.

 Today the talk of the town and news articles are all about the devices coming from the IT industry.  Apple, ASUS, HP, Dell and Intel take the most press coverage in the news. Sony, Toshiba LG are left behind.

An notable exception is Samsung which many ways is the odd one out but also the largest consumer electronics brand today. Samsung in many ways it the most integrated IT and Consumer electronics company today, ranging from the production of LCD panels, the 2nd largest Semiconductor manufacturer in the world, but also as said before the largest consumer electronics and It producer today. It many ways Samsung success can be attributed to its great knowledge and know how in both serving the IT Industry and the consumer electronics industry and have become the most converged company between the 2 industries. 

Android on ARM meeting the demand for power & GUI

posted Sep 19, 2011, 2:32 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs

The last  6 months have shown 3 evolving trajectories for the digital media player industry.

1. Media players are becoming embedded in all new Tv's today.
2. Android is emerging as the new platform for Media players.
3. ARM is becoming the Chip set design that meet Power and And power usage requirements.

Today you don't see an Tv producer that don't advertise and embedded media player functionality on their current offerings. Samsung is advertising their Smart tv as "What do you what to do on your TV today". Tv producers have been better at integrating local offerings from local TV channels and news sites.
We however are still missing full internet access and 3rd party apps on these offerings. Many TV's still don't support Flash. Performance is still sluggish on many of the designs.

Android is finally showing up at many independent producers of Media players. One such interesting it the Taiwanese company showcasing their Tizzbird F30, an Media player running Android 2.3 and having an app store. Support for HD media formats and Sound is incorporated. Sales are expecting to start in October 2011. Other hardware producers are looking at the market to. However The limitations set forth in the Android which is made for Smart phones still exist. How will apps made for 5 inch screens look on a 50 inch screen? We still need to see more Support form Google on this. Their Own Google TV will also run android on the next update more tailored for large TV's

ARM and Android go hand in hand, therefore we are seeing interesting chip designs around android for Media players. The Tizzbird again uses the Telechips ICC design. Other vendors are bidding in and Sigma Designs and Realtek are looking a bit dated on their design compared to these new powerful ARM designs. However There is still a long way for the Arm design to cover all the Video and Audio codecs that the MIPS design from Sigma cover today. However the big force for the ARM design is that Google and a lot of developer from the Smartphone market are ready to deploy their skills on a smart and useful GUI for the TV.

H.264 Decoder IC Market to Grow 20% Annually Through 2013

posted Nov 12, 2010, 3:37 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs

H.264 decoders are beginning to appear in many solutions and the compression scheme is becoming more popular. Satellite set top boxes continue to be the largest market for H.264 decoder ICs. In addition more and more DTVs are using H.264 decoder ICs rather than only MPEG-2. As a result In-Stat expects H.264 decoder ICs to grow at an annual rate in excess of 20% through 2013.

“Advanced compression, such as H.264, is becoming increasingly popular due to its lower bit rate and smaller file size that especially helps networked video solutions,” says Michelle Abraham, Principal Analyst. “The proliferation of video applications, such as user generated content and online video streaming, embedded DVRs and mobile video are serving to increase demand for low cost, high-quality encoders.”

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

  • Worldwide H.264 chip unit shipments will increase by 51% in 2010 over 2009.
  • Broadcom was the largest supplier of H.264 decoder ICs for the satellite set top box market.
  • STMicroelectronics continues to maintain leadership in the SD MPEG-2 cable market
  • MediaTek remained the top supplier of DVD decoder ICs
  • Renesas lead the market in Blu-ray SoCs in 2009

Recent In-Stat research, MPEG ICs Grow with the Consumer Electronics Market (#IN1004696MMT), covers the worldwide market for MPEG integrated circuits in consumer electronics. It includes:

  • Examination of MPEG IC markets for broadcast and professional applications, semi-professional and industrial applications, and consumer electronics—both line-powered and mobile.
  • Worldwide forecasts for multiple types of MPEG ICs for several types of applications through 2014.
  • Companies mentioned in the report:, ALi Corporation, Ambarella, Broadcom, C2 Microsystems, Cavium Networks , Hisilicon, Intel Corporation, Magnum Semiconductor, Maxim Integrated Products, MediaTek, NTT Electronics Corporation, RealTek, Renesas, Sigma Designs, STMicroelectronics, Stretch, Sunplus, Texas Instruments, Trident Microsystems, ViXS Systems, Zenverge, and Zoran.

Intel Smart TV a new name for Viiv

posted Nov 3, 2010, 1:02 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs   [ updated Nov 4, 2010, 2:26 AM ]

Intel has announced a new marketing and PR campaign for Its embedded SOC chipset, the CE 4100. Featured in the upcoming Boxee box and in various CE makers TV series the Intel Embedded Chipset is becoming a bigger and bigger competitor to Sigma designs and Realtek product ranges for embedded Chhipsets for Media players, settop boxes and Tv's.Intel Began its entry into the media market some time ago with the Intel viiv platform. for a overview and history of Intel earlier efforts see our special section on Intel Viiv

Watch below The VP and President of Intel Digital Home Group Eric Kim give his vision of Intel in the home. Eric Kim was former Marketing CEO for Samsung before he came to Intel in 2005. 



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