EXCLUSIVE: DVBLink V4 details

EXCLUSIVE: DVBLink V4 details

Following on from my earlier post Pavlo from DVBLogic (Oberon on the Forums) has kindly sent us details on what the forthcoming V4 release will contain.
Pavlo also very kindly gave us permission to let you all know about this exciting release. Most of the information below comes directly from DVBLogic’s document, I have made comments in italics.
Firstly, and please do not hold DVBLogic to these dates as they are very much subject to change, the planned beta and release dates:
•Planned release date 1 September 2011
•Public beta
–July 1st for DVBLink TVSource and DVBLink Home Server
–July 15th for DVBLink for IPTV and DVBLink for Dreambox
–July 22nd for DVBLink Connect! Server
As usual a very agressive time scale from DVBLink but we know how quickly they can turn around new releases. There are a couple of new product names in there which will be explained later suffice to say that DVBLink Home Server is not a plugin for Windows Home Server but it and Connect! Server are what used to be the Network Pack.
Sources available at release time
–DVBLink TVSource
–DVBLink for IPTV
–DVBLink for Dreambox
•Sources made by partners will be available later this year
It is quite normal that the third party sources (HD-PVR Collosus etc) tend to lag a bit behind the main releases. I would expect 1Geek1Tool to be working hard on getting their sources onto v4.
DVBLink Plug-Ins
•DVBLink Server Network Pack will be split into two separate products
–DVBLink Home Server: the DLNA and networked MediaCenter server
–DVBLink Connect! Server: the Web interface for Guide/timers/web streaming, Server for IPhone/IPad, WinPhone and Android apps and Server for 3rd party DVBLink client
Splitting these makes a lot of sense quite a few people only want the web streaming capabilities not the in house networking and vice versa.
Packaging and upgrade policy
•All source products and addons will be available for purchasing separately
•Each source will be available also as a Connected Edition bundle
–Includes source, DVBLink Home Server and DVBLink Connect! Server
•Paid upgrade for DVBLink v2.x and v3.x owners
–Upgrade policy: per user (e.g. all products are upgraded for a single fixed fee)
Whilst it would be nice if this had been a free upgrade I am not suprised DVBLogic will be charging for it. This is a major release, almost a new product, and they obviously need to recoup their investment. No news on pricing yet but I suspect it will be reasonable.
So what is new in V4 to justify the potential cost.
DVBLink server can run on different hardware/software platforms
–Includes DVBLink source products and addons
•Tested platforms
–Desktop/Server Windows OS •XP with SP3 and later •Both 32 and 64 bits
–Desktop Linux OS •Ubuntu v 10.x and later
–Embedded Linux OS •Debian Linux running on Sheeva plug
This is potentially a hugely exciting move. Quite a few NAS drives run Linux and this could lead to NAS drives being sold with embedded DVBLink Servers. Couple this with another announcement, of which more further on, about on server recording and this could be a really good Home TV server.
Of course your Windows based DVBLink server will still work in V4 and if you have a Windows Home Server based DVBLink server then the next bit of news will be really exciting.
Web-based DVBLink server configuration
–Specifically designed for headless servers
•Localized in 10+ languages
MediaCenter integration Subtle but big changes here
•Virtual PBDA drivers
–Easy and more intuitive TV Setup procedure
–Removed 4 tuner limit (8 virtual tuners will be available at release)
–One-to-one mapping between source instance and virtual tuner instance
–Increased system robustness: Minimized usage of undocumented WMC functionality
–Opens possibilities for protected content handling
As I mentioned in my previous post the move to the newer PBDA standard from tuner drivers form the older BDA opens up a wealth of possibilities. It will be interesting how the new TV Setup looks but the PBDA standard does allow for more tuner information.
The really major change here is brought about by the 4 tuner limit being removed (8 is a good start but I would like to see more.) One thing that has confused people about DVBLink since version 2 has been the way tuner mapping works – the so called  “pyramid” principle that is used now (described here:http://dvblogic.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=8994) will
be removed and substituted with more intuitive direct mapping between sources and virtual tuners (as it used to be in v1) . With the tuner limit being removed this makes a great deal of sense but leads to some obvious further questions. I put some of these questions to Pavlo:-
Garry: In terms of recording priority if I have 2 DVB-T tuners and 2 DVB-S tuners
and my DVB-S tuners share the same channels as the DVB-T tuners but have their  own additional channels. Will I be able to set up Media Center so that it prioritises the DVB-T tuners when I want to record a shared channel so that the DVB-S tuners will be available to record a DVB-S only channel.  Also at the moment I can share tuners between several media centers with the virtual tuners taking care of the sharing – will this still work.In v4 server will take care of sharing in the same way as it does  now.
Pavlo: Tuner priority will not be adjustable – server will take an arbitrary source. It is on our plans but will not be done before v4 release.
So it looks like functionality will be the same as it is currently in V3 but with a more intuitive set up.
DVBLink Home Server
•New DLNA server module
–Improved DLNA clients compatibility
–Improved channel change speed (using smart stream burst technology)
This is another fabulous bit of news. With a DLNA certified (I’m assuming EDIT: I’m told it will not be at launch) server this will certainly improve compatibility and may lead to the possibility of watching DVBLink TV channels directly from the server to a DLNA equipped TV,
•New streaming module for MediaCenter clients
–Improved streaming reliability (works over WiFi now!)
Again fabulous news – hopefully this means a much more efficient streaming engine.
DVBLink Connect! Server
Improved web interface and a more robust web streaming
•Bundled IPhone/IPad, Android and WinPhone apps (can be downloaded free of charge)
•Exposes DVBLink Remote API to build custom DVBLink clients
–API is http/xml based – should work on any client
–Publicly available
•Includes (optional) DVBLink recorder module for WMC-independent timer recordings functionality
Wow there is a lot there.  iOS, Android and Win phone 7 apps are a really nice addition but the really exciting things are the public API and the WMC independent recordings – This latter may mean you can have a Windows Home Server recorder and also leads the way to having DVBLink in a completely non Media Center – even non microsoft – environment. The API deserves a further look:
DVBLink Remote API
•HTTP/xml based
•Delivers the following functionality
–Channel list retrieval
–EPG information retrieval (leveled, can be optimized for low bandwidth connections)
–Recording timers management
–Live streaming
•Supported streaming formats
–Raw mpeg-2 transport stream over UDP or HTTP
–Transcoded ASF streaming over HTTP
–Transcoded HLS (iphone/ipad format)
–Transcoded mpeg-2 TS with mpeg-4 video/AAC audio over RTP
This could be really powerful. Imagine integrating DVBLink live streams into your current favourite Media Center Streaming app (come on Remote Potato developers) It also gets round an issue that using PBDA drivers introduces –  the loss of support for other BDA based clients such as Sage TV (of course with this week’s Sage TV/Google news there is no guarantee that a plugin for the new DVBLink API will be developed for Sage TV)
So to sum up there are some really significant changes in V4 of DVBLink. It doesn’t do everyone of the things users have been asking for in the threads on the DVBlogic forums but it certainly seem that it does a lot of them. In addition to what is mentioned here the devil will be in the detail. it will be really interesting to see what some of the one liners actually mean. For example if the new tv setup is a lot simpler it could really change the usability of the product.
I can’t wait to see and fortunately we do not have to wait  long now. To finish off I think a picture can truly say a thousand words:
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15 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: DVBLink V4 details

  1. This looks amazing and very exciting, no complaints from me about this requiring a paid upgrade especially given that they did the right thing by the previous 3.x releases remaining free.

    I do have a question about these bullet points:

    Tested platforms:
    –Desktop/Server Windows OS

    DVBLink Home Server:
    -Virtual PBDA drivers

    Does this open up the possibility of using Windows Server 2008 R2 as the underlying OS which at the moment isn’t supported OOTB (there are ways to install BDA drivers but can be hit and miss)?

  2. Its looking promising – looking forward to putting it through its paces with Sky HD encrypted channels… what this space 🙂

  3. Ok, but as a user of MC what difference will i see? it seems to be making the setup easier but actually now i have the hang of it and i can back up and restore settings i don’t do this part any more.

    the thing i mostly miss from proper tv is support for the red button. in particular the football games which are shown concurrently on sky on saturday night

  4. @spaceboy whilst I’ve heard nothing about interactive support the use of pbda tuners probably makes inplementing such things easier. I think the biggest changes for Media Center users will be the reliability of the new streaming engine and of course the increased number of tuners allowed (although I accept that may not be relevant to everyone)

  5. @databasejase from DVBLogic
    New PBDA drivers are meant for MCE only, which Windows Server 2008 R2
    most probably does not have. For talking to tuners their existing BDA
    drivers will be used (as it is now).

  6. I don’t think that Sky red button stuff is likely to be implemented any time soon. Unlike the BBC Freeview and Freesat red button stuff, which uses MHEG5, Sky (and the BBC Sky receiver Red button services) use the OpenTV engine, which is a proprietary product.

    Presumably there isn’t anything to stop you finding the video and audio PIDS used to carry the various “hidden” channels that carry the interactive video (the News multiscreens used to be fairly easy to find) it’s just the Red button menus that aren’t there.

    What WOULD be good is if DVB-T tuners shared with TV Source could still have MHEG5 Press Red functionality working properly (though I suspect this can be enabled with the Allow DVBS MHEG hack that provides semi-broken access to the Freesat Red Button stuff?)

  7. This sneak peak still isn’t that clear about a few things. The change to the way tuners are virtualised in particular. Are DVB Logic moving to a 1:1 model – where every physical tuner in TV Source is mapped to a virtual tuner in Media Center? So if I have one DVB-S/S2 tuner and one DVB-T/T2 tuner, then in Media Center I will appear to have two DVB-S tuners, one with all the DVB-S/S2 channels (mapped directly to the physical tuner) and one with all the DVB-T/T2 channels (mapped directly to the physical tuner)?

    Or will I have what we had before – all channels on one virtual tuner, and duplicated channels appearing on the second virtual tuner?

    Wonder how this will work with networked tuners and multiple clients?

    Also – wonder what the timescale for Linux versions of TV Source will be – and how plugins will work with these?

    1. Good point on the SKY red button stuff. OpenTV is a closed standard but DVBLogic have had a little success with getting the guide data from it so there may be hope.

      On the tuner mappign front I did get a bit of answer including the article whcih seems to point to a more one to one mapping but I think we will ahve to wait and see exactly how that works.

      I think, but don’t have any defintive information that TV Source for Linux will be available fairly early on – they have been experimenting with it for quite a while if you read between the lines in the Forums. I suspect plugins will be down to the plugin authors as to whether they support Linux.

      1. Garry – think the Sky EPG (which is un-encrypted and just uses a proprietary compression scheme) is separate to the OpenTV middleware for interactivity.

        Reverse engineering the Sky EPG doesn’t really have much relevance for implementing the OpenTV system (which is a language environment of its own)

        1. Thanks Steve. Not an expert on OpenTV so I expect you are right, in whihc case it does look less likely that interactive will be supported on Sky. Although getting the interactive channels ought to be possible.

  8. If they can improve TVSource encrypted channel change speed with Hadu & ACamd…then I will definitely upgrade….otherwise it’ll be pretty pointless….unless Meteor/Smart Potato add live streaming capabilities with this and Mango (next Windows Phone release).

  9. Good to hear DVBLogic keeps investing in this wonderfull product.

    A real pitty is they still don’t provide transponder sharing (splitting one physical tuner into two virtual tuners for two channels on the same transponder).
    – This would keep DVBLogic/MCE on par with MythTV (“multirec”), en Media Portal (up to 5 channels on 1 tuner);
    – It allow DVBLogic to offer something tuner suppliers don’t want to offer (they sell less tuners), and MCE can not offer (lacking DVB-C/DVB-S support)
    – It would allow me to limit the antenna wiring and USB cabling behind my PC to just two Anysee units.

    DVBLogic mentioned in 2010 that transportdersharing was not on their radar at that moment, I hope it is now…

    Ton

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