Citing the Dutch giant’s famed TV heritage and a variety of video IPs
accumulated at Philips Laboratories, Jeremy Thomas Davies, NXP
Software’s product and development manager of applications, recently
talked to EE Times about his company’s three-pronged strategy to “bring
the living room HD TV experience to mobile.”
The company hopes to offer
its “video experience module” to a) service providers; b) OEMs (chip
suppliers and tablet vendors), and c) directly to consumers as a video
sharpening app called CineXPlayer. The video experience module is
designed to “upscale video stream resolution and bring HDTV-like
experience to mobile,” claimed Davies.
Unlike those eyeing to
develop hardware-based solutions (i.e. a special video or display
processor for mobile platforms), NXP Software, as its company suggests,
is a strong believer in software. The company is hoping to leverage the
GPU – already integrated in mobile apps processors – to run NXP
Software’s video experience module algorithms.
they are using Imagination’s GPU core or ARM’s Mali, today’s multi-core
apps processors are so powerful and they are more than capable” of
sharpening video and intelligent video scaling, said Davies.
company, however, doesn’t plan to offer all the video enhancement
algorithms (designed to deal with various video artifacts) in one
package. “We have a road map,” said Davies, “and we plan to roll them
out in phases as we educate our customers.” In other words, rather than
pushing every video hat trick in one go, “we need to bring the market
with us,” he said.
Other video enhancement algorithms to correct
judder, motion blur, contrast, and color artifacts, for example, are
“cooking in the pipeline,” Davies said.
NXP Software believes
it’s well positioned to talk mobile platform vendors into licensing its
video experience modules. Since it rolled out two years ago a consumer
app, called CineXPlayerHD, designed to sharpen video on iPhone, NXP
Software has been collecting insights from a million CineXPlayer users,
according to Davies.
Noting how each consumer perceives best video
quality is subjective, Davies pointed out CineXPlayer’s crowd-sourced
information is extremely valuable. NXP Software’s engineering team has
been extracting patterns from how consumers used a variable slider in
the CineXPlayer to set what they believed as optimal video viewing.
company’s video experience module offers high-quality up-scaling to
screen by resolution enhancement, matching video quality to the HD
screen and compression blocks reduction. It also provides details and
sharpness enhancement by intelligently added pixel detail, increasing
perceived color and depth and others.
video specifically tailored to a new display is an exercise all the
leading consumer TV manufacturers, including Philips, went through in
the last two decades. They honed their video skills and thrived on them
as their differentiator. NXP Software’s Davies noted, “For us, this
feels like a history repeating itself.”
But when the medium is
mobile, every vendor of display processing solutions must newly ponder
how much video processing is actually needed to visibly please tablet
users. The issue of cost is also compounded by the impact on battery.
every leading apps processor company, Qualcomm and Broadom included, is
believed to have its own strategy, the battle of mobile display
processing has only begun now.
Yes, this seems like a FAR more sensible use of tablets, than just using them as some outrageously expensive and overdesigned remote control!!
It should be very easy to use a tablet as a portable TV, depending only on access to a WiFi hotspot. The article mentions details about software algorithms to improve the picture, which is fine, but anyone who watches TV on a PC knows that this works very well. I happen to have the PC connected to a 42" HDTV, but that's almost immaterial. If a PC can do it, a tablet should be able to as well. Like the article mentions, tablet processors are becoming plenty powerful enough for this.
The graphic about distance vs screen size is right on the money. You need high resolution even on a small screen, if it's close enough.
So the only question might be, is there TV content available on the Internet, so you can easily gain access to it with a PC or tablet? The answer is yes, at least in some countries, including the US. For those who like cable channels, even they're available in many cases, if you use your cable subscription username/password. The free to air channels, in the US, are available at the networks' own web sites, as video on demand. Local broadcasters also offer content online.
In some or maybe most cases, though, TV content is not available in media streams compatible with tablets. At least, not yet. Tablet makers need to support the same streaming protocols as PCs, such as Flash for example, and that alone should go a long way. It would be even more of a sure thing if tablets supported the same web browsers as PCs. Sometimes it's hard to tell why a device can't see the content. Is it deliberate, from the TV network? Or is it just that the tablet designer is asking for trouble (you know, like Apple not supporting Flash)?
NXP Software's approach seems like the right way to go -- leverage the power of the GPU core(s).
But I disagree with the article's headline "Media tablet is your next TV." In many households, the tablet is an important second screen, but I think most couples and families still prefer to sit together in the living room and watch the big screen HDTV together for shows they share a mutual interest in watching. Watching TV as a group isn't a terribly social experience to begin with, but it's far more social then having each family member go off to his or her room with individual tablets -- especially if they have a shared interest in the same shows.
I find it quite entertaining to see visual media return to Edison's Kinetoscope (1894), also a personal movie/video viewer.
I agree the content has indeed regressed, but there's well over 100 years of good movie content, a lot of which you can get on DVD. Most requires a large screen to get the effect intended by its creators, and some requires adapting yourself to the pace of a different time.
Next year will be the 100th anniversary of Giovanni Pastrone's "Cabiria", which takes place during the Second Punic war between Rome and Carthage. Archimedes has a wonderful cameo as a role model for all engineers. Martin Scorsese describes "Cabiria" as "watching documentary footage of Ancient Rome".
Roman naval battles. Archimedes' Mirrors. Roman infantry formations. Human sacrifices to Moloch. Betajet-Bob says "check it out".
I'm a trailing edge adopter, but get this: On a regular basis I like to crawl up on the couch with my notebook and an episode of Dowton Abbey bought on Amazon--and it ain't even a very high res screen on my Lenovo T61. Just wait til I graduate to a good tablet.
The boob-tube has already been replaced in my household by the ipad, yet TV is ever present. Although we have big screens along with a subscription to Dish Satellite, and can also receive good quality NY City over-the-air TV signals with our roof TV antenna, the fact is our 8 year old daughter prefers to watch kids shows on the ipad. She can be glued to Kid's Nick on Netflix for hours watching reruns of iCarly, Wizards of Waverly Place, etc. My 13 year old son generally watches YouTube videos of whatever (and if he watches a film, it is streamed to our big screen via Netflix over his Playstation console). As for myself, since I have been too lazy to run a TV antenna or satellite wire to the kitchen, I watch broadcast TV over Aereo on an ipad whenever I can catch some TV while having a meal. Of course, with the ipad we are not restricted to watching TV in the kitchen. I can watch Aereo rebroadcasts on my patio, and often I have to get my daughter out of the bathroom or wherever she parks herself -- with the ipad running TV reruns over Netflix. Convenience clearly trumps any need for big screen picture quality -- and has me watching old fashioned over-the-air TV again.
Junko, thanks for a thought-provoking article. While the technology is certainly coming in place to enable tablets replacing TV, I think Frank makes a critical point. TV viewing has, to this point in history, primarily been a shared experience between family and friends. Sure, we like to curl up on the couch with a tablet or laptop by ourselves to watch our favorite show or game while the majority of the house watches something different on the TV. But the experience of watching something as a group will continue to drive demand for TV.
We still go to theaters to watch movies that we could just stream into our homes. The cultural experience will likely delay the impacts of technology advances.
I agree. Each person's watching behavior depends on their living circumstances and personal preferences. Lumping individual experiences into an extrapolated trend of watching content on any of a myriad of platforms and distribution systems is too simplistic IMHO. Besides, video evaluations are very subjective and can vary from person to person and from device to device.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.