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5 tips for buying a digital TV set top box

5 tips for buying a digital TV set top boxThinking about jumping headfirst into the HD digital revolution? Does Foxtel, TiVo and PVR mean anything to you or is it all a bit too much? We list the five best tips for buying a set top box.Digital TV is here, and in case you hadn't noticed the TV advertisements for Freeview channels like One HD, you may need a set top box. There's lots of confusion and questions flying around right now about the hardware you'll need and compatibility.To make things easier, we've put together a big feature explaining everything you need to know about buying a set top box - specifically, a personal video recorder (PVR) you can use to receive and record digital TVWe've listed a big feature table comparing 10 different boxes, including TiVO, plus a list of features to look for. We've also decoded Freeview, explaining what it is, and what you need (hint, you don't need a Freeview box).Here we've listed 5 issues to consider when you're buying a digital TV set top box. For the entire feature, look for the new issue of PC Authority, on sale now in your local newsagency.1. Remote schedulingForget to record the big game before heading out for a romantic dinner? Remote scheduling can come to the rescue - the IceTV website lets you schedule recordings from the Web, and even an iPhone.2. Ease of UseThe TiVo is the PVR you'd buy your Nana - it's flexibile yet user-friendly and it gives you the best chance of catching the end of your favourite shows. The jack-of-all-trades computer media centres and Beyonwiz set top boxes are probably best left to the gadget freaks.3. Free vs Pay: Foxtel vs FreeviewThe Foxtel iQ2's extra tuners are attractive, but otherwise PVRs that record only free TV are just as good if not better. The real question is do you want to shell out at least $50 per month (plus installation) for Foxtel channels and the iQ2. If you do want Foxtel, the iQ2 is a no-brainer.4. Movie downloadsAlmost every PVR is blessed with an Ethernet port, but most providers are still fleshing out their Video on Demand platforms for delivering movies via the Internet as well as over the air. So far, TiVo's deal with Blockbuster is the one to watch, along with Telstra's Bigpond and Apple's iTunes on computers.5. Set Top Box vs PVRIf you simply want to watch Digital TV, a $49 SD or $99 HD set top box from the likes of DGTEC will do the trick. If you want to record shows, pause TV, skip ads or access Video on Demand, be prepared to pay at least $650 on a Personal Video Recorder.

10 Reasons Why You Should Choose an Android-Based Set-Top Box Solution

10 Reasons Why You Should Choose an Android-Based Set-Top Box SolutionThe battle of operating systems is raging ferociously without an end in sight. When it comes to Pay TV market, Linux has been dominating the Set-Top-Box marketplace. However, the Android Set Top Box has been making headway recently and edging into the lead, as operators look to deploy a Hybrid DVB-C/T/S solution.There are 10 main reasons why operators, developers and any vendors should consider opting for Android:1. FamiliarityThe Android STB provides a superb user experience familiar to many users from other products that operate with Android, including their HD technology and Android tablets, which makes it very user friendly, easier to adapt to, and reduces the need to learn a new system.2. State of the Art TechnologyAndroid equips operators with the latest and most sophisticated technology, allowing them, and consequently their users, to constantly update the service with new apps, developments, state-of-the-art features and the already familiar user experience (UX) used for Android mobile phones.  An operator who will have presence within the multi-screen market and has the correct middleware to supports open API for applications’ development, most likely won’t have any concerns finding new clients for their solutions.3. Ahead of DevelopmentsThe smart TV Android system is the choice for the consumer who wants his device to always be ahead of the times. TV control devices other than remote controls, such as body gestures and voice commands for example, can be incorporated. There is every chance that such devices are more likely to be developed rapidly for an open platform. The same is valid for video conferencing devices (e. g. microphones and cameras). This all enables operators to offer additional services and a comprehensive and attractive user interface.4. Better ApplicationsFeatures and services for OTT Android STB have a significantly better array of applications compared to Linux STB. Operators seeking excellent OTT services and who wish to expand to multi-screens should ponder the possibility of Android. Operators can also predefine a set of applications they consider particularly attractive and useful for end-users. These apps can already be preinstalled on the operator’s Android STB and they can then promote certain applications and even contribute to revenue sharing with service providers.5. System Integrity Minimizes Risk FactorsAndroid Set Top Boxes have been talked about since 2009 and recently many vendors have started to look into Android as a potential operating system for the OTT. Android’s Sandbox model isolates applications to allow Android to cover a wider environment when it runs apps thereby allowing it to maintain system integrity and thus minimize risk factors. This is due to the fact that SoC vendors implemented security measures to their solutions and permitted users to use DRM-protected content.6. Secure OperationBased on the recent market development, Android devices have become highly adaptable because they operate securely and safely even when new apps are introduced. The hardening of Android devices restricts the ability to install any external unsigned application on the device. In this way the Android box is as hardened as any other Linux box.7. Rich Eco-SystemDue to its rich eco-system, Android offers a wide range of applications and games which can be used on the big TV screen. In contrast to proprietary STB’s Operating Systems, it doesn’t require setting a dedicated developers’ community.8. Support for Multicast Linear TVSupport for Multicast linear TV playout is high on the operators’ wish list. Interactive TV middleware vendors should equip their products and solutions with support for this functionality support by an Android-based STB.9. Long Term Higher ValueAndroid boasts far-reaching APIs, built in- security, web browsers and several incorporated applications. Vendors and operators who are planning to start investing in solutions today would be well-advised to opt for Android. This means having sophisticated services that will offer higher value and superior experience for their viewers and subscribers in the long run.10. Free OS licensePermissive licensing allows the software to be freely modified and distributed by device manufacturers and other platform developers.So it seems that despite the fact that Linux is currently more common in the Set-Top-Box market, operators entering the OTT/IPTV market and traditional TV Service providers looking for their next generation Set-Top-Boxes, are now evaluating the adaptation of the Android platform and the above reasons make it clear why the trend is growing towards Android as the operating system of choice.To stay ahead of the game and lead the competitive TV industry market, operators should have the right tools and technology, and the Android Set Top Box (STB) is without doubt becoming a must- transforming the TV viewing experience into a very personal, social and interactive encounter.

What is a Set-Top Box (STB)?

What is a Set-Top Box (STB)? A set-top box is a hardware device that allows a digital signal to be received, decoded and displayed on a television. The signal can be a television signal or Internet data and is received via cable or telephone connection.In the past, set top boxes were mostly used for cable and satellite television. The STB could deliver more channels than a television's own channel numbering system. It received signals containing data for multiple channels and filtered out the channel a user wanted to view. The numerous channels were generally transmitted to an auxiliary channel on the television. Other features included a decoder for pay-per-view and premium channels.Today, most STB systems have two-way communication, allowing for interactive features like adding premium channels directly from the device or incorporating Internet access.A set-top box is also known as set-top unit.Sunshine explains Set-Top Box (STB)The evolution of set-top boxes can be traced back to early 1980s, when a cable converter box was required to receive extra analog cable TV channels and convert them to content capable of being displayed on a regular television screen. The cable converter boxes came with a wired or wireless remote control, which helped to switch a channel to a low-VHF frequency for viewing on the TV. Some newer television receivers significantly reduced the need for external set-top boxes but they are still in wide use. Cable converter boxes are sometimes required to descramble premium cable channels and receive interactive services such as pay per view, video on demand and home shopping channels.Set-top boxes can be divided into several categories ranging from simple boxes that receive and descramble incoming AV signals, to complex units delivering a slew of services such as videoconferencing, home networking, IP telephony, video on demand and satellite broadband TV services.The set-top boxes can be broadly classified into the following types:Cable Converter Box: Converts any type of channels broadcasted from a cable television service into analog radio-frequency signals on a single VHF channel. This unit can enable a noncable-ready television to receive cable channels. Some of these cable converter boxes can also descramble the signals to manage many channels that are carrier-controlled and access-restricted.TV Signal Sources: These include Ethernet cable, a satellite dish, DSL connections, a coaxial cable, broadband over power line or even an ordinary VHF or UHF antenna.Professional Set-Top Box: These are also referred to as integrated receiver/decoders designed especially for robust field handling and rack mounting environments. These are generally used in the professional broadcast audio or video industry and include a unique feature for producing uncompressed serial digital interface signals.Hybrid: These came into existence in late 2000s and became popular among both pay-TV and free-to-air set-top box businesses. Hybrid set-top boxes facilitate the traditional TV broadcast from cable, satellite and terrestrial providers and combine it with the video output provided over a network and personal multimedia content. Hence, they give users a wide variety of viewing content, eliminating the need for having a separate box for each service.IPTV: These set-top boxes are small computers that allow two-way communication on an Internet Protocol network and the decoding of video streaming media.