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Mediacast 2002 Report [27 May 2002]

(Page 2 of 2)

Big Blue...

Topfield, well known on the continent for its reasonably priced dual tuner PVR boxes (TF 4000 PVR and TF 4000 PVR CoCI), presented two additions to the range - TF 4000 IRPVR with embedded Irdeto and TF 5000 PVR.
In the 5000 series Topfield drop the 50Mhz PowerPC processor known from 4000 models and introduce MIPS R4000 (yes, the one from SGI machines) clocking at respective 200 Mips. The 5000 PVR has also twice the memory of its predecessor; hard drive capacity expanded to 60Gb and features an IEEE 1394 firewire connector at the back for faster connectivity.

Aston, besides its usual choice of Xena and Simba boxes, allowed the visitors to take a sneak peak on it's newest PVR product - Xena 1800 HDD.

IBM, instead of showing their own products, displayed those of other manufacturers using IBM's technology (processors in particular). Showing off what was already in the showroom would almost seem like a waste of time if it wasn't for one special and unique box presented on IBM stand by Dream Multimedia TV from Germany.

The product called Dreambox is exactly what the dbox with DVB2000 and the dbox2 with Neutrino should have been, but despite efforts of the coders, could not become on the physical level.

The box is loaded up with features, runs Linux using horsepower of the 350Mips PowerPC CPU - it's strong enough to incorporate mpeg4 decoding, play ported games or even run game console emulators. There is no doubt we are potentially talking about an ultimate hackers machine. The Dreambox features a UDMA 66 IDE interface to hook up two hard drives of your choice to it, will take up to 256Mb of RAM and communicate with external world at full duplex 100 Mbit via a standard RJ45 Ethernet connector at the back. There is also CI slot, two embedded card readers (we are talking Magic Module maker here) and a compact flash reader on the front. Yes it does have digital audio too.

The early version of the OS running on Dreambox is called Enigma. Being based on Linux, Enigma most probably will have all sorts of Internet utilities, multimedia players, game and network components available at will. The OSD will support skins - and therefore be fully customisable in terms of languages and graphics. If built and priced right, the Dreambox could quickly become product of the decade and the fastest multimedia box on the planet at the same time. Neither price nor the final launch date is known yet, Dreambox could be available as soon as August and cost around 350-399 Euros, but no promises...

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
What's where Early Enigma's main menu
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
Stream Info menu Dreambox on IBM's stand

Vector Industries from France presented two new models of satellite dishes made of SRC - a transparent Synthetic Resin Compound. SRC Transparent 60 and 85 are indeed see through, UV resistant and lab tested to withstand gusts of up to 180km/h (approx 110miles/h). The gain @ 12.7Ghz is 35.58 (60cm.) and 39dB (85cm) which is nothing to moan about for dishes easier to disguise than your typical painted mesh.
Jaeger as well as its older and newer conventional dish motors unleashed a DisEQc 1.2... actuator. So simple it almost makes you wonder why it took so long to invent it. The Superjack DG-100 will push dishes of up to 1.2 meters and might be perfect opportunity to retire your LT 8700. ;)
A penny for my thoughts...

Last year's Mediacast was moved for the first time from exhibition halls at Earls Court into ExCel - a beautiful but remote venue at the Custom House in Zone 3 east side of London's Docklands development. Even though 2001 wasn't the best year for the satellite market, somehow the show managed to dump enough ballast to stay afloat. Mediacast was still very large and crowded, but it wasn't the size and sleepy atmosphere of this year's exhibition that struck me the most - it was the lack of ideas for the year to come.
Last year everybody had some sort of common direction - manufacturers knew the future lay in PVRs. Arguably there is much more to satellite technologies than that, but at least there was a strong voice - common path to follow. This year it was more like a quiet S.O.S. from vessels lost in space, few and far apart and some ships didn't even leave their hangars.  

05 June 2002


Special thanks to the professor




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