[mythtv-users] Some notes on Google TV

Brad Templeton brad+myth at templetons.com
Sun Nov 14 01:24:52 UTC 2010

Been playing around with Google TV.  Haven't seen much on it here
since it came out and I will be writing up more detailed observations
on my blog but here are some notes relevant to Myth folks.

a) Part of why reviewers are excited about GTV is that it provides
many things we've liked in Myth for years, doing some of them
better.    GTV uses a keyboard and pointer, even though it's a sucky
small one in the case of the Sony, but it does allow the UI to
step up quite a bit from the "arrow keys remote" approach that most
systems try to use.  (I have always used Myth with a full keyboard
myself.)    However, it's integrated, under a common interface, and
thanks to the Android platform, there will eventually be a large world
of extra apps that can be installed.

b) Due to being an HDCP device, GTV is able to do pass-through on
the video stream from the cable/sat STB with modifications, something
not open to open platforms, sadly.   I don't watch live TV so this is
not a big thing for me but it is for others, and does allow access to
other features of the STB.

c) The feature that people like most about GTV is the search.  It is
pretty nice, searching across a wide variety of sources, including
your listings, the stuff stored in the Cable/Sat DVR, all sorts of
pay-per-view or downloadable videos from your cable/sat company as
well as Amazon, Netflix etc., Youtube videos, movie trailers.  Type
in a movie and you will see the option to queue it for record, ways to
download and buy it, clickable links to the trailer and other material
about it in one interface.

d) GTV is able to interface with the Dish Network PVR over IP.  The
IP link allows the GTV to fully control the Dish box, so you don't have
to use the Dish remote.    I presume this is an extension of DLNA.
It allows the GTV to have the DVR queue recordings, to search its listings
data, browse and play the recordings etc.   As you know, most STBs and
cable/sat DVRS have pretty sucky UIs, and this allows you to forget
about that UI, mostly, and just work through the GTV.

Likewise the STB seems to send events to the GTV when you do things with
the STB's remote, if you are still using it.   I know there is a DNLA
effort inside the SVN version of Myth, but I have yet to try it out.

The GTV boxes also support the "media server" part of DNLA, so if you
have music (right now only music) stored on a servier it will play them.
It also takes USB disks full of media or photos to play.

e) Fortunately you can plug a real mouse and keyboard in if you get the
sucky Sony remote, though I have not yet seen how you get all the
magic keys of the remote, including the android keys.  Presumably there
will be a market in nicer keyboards for these boxes which actually will
probably  make nice Myth keyboards too.   (Logitech sells their keyboard on
its own, perhaps it can be used with their standard wireless dongles.)
For the Logitech there is an app for android phones to use them as a
remote control.  One for the Sony is supposed to be coming.  This also
works over IP.

f) At present Google TV lacks a web interface.  I really like mythweb
and the idea of doing the more complex things with your DVR system
via a real PC with proper input devices etc.

g) Other features initially in Google TV like subscribing to video
podcasts, the Chrome browser, the Youtube leanback mode and so on are
functions we could always do, though put into a single interface.
It's also possible that eventually you will be able to run the non-DRM
parts of Google TV in an "Android on Linux" semi-virtualization.

Some thoughts about what MythTV could do with Google TV

o) For those who wish it, Myth could appear as a DVR to it

o) Possibly the Myth box could allow its keyboard and mouse to control
the Google TV over IP.  (Don't know if this is possible or not but
an android app to do it is probably possible.)  Just to avoid having
to have two keyboards on the couch.   Or vice versa.

o) As GTV boxes become cheap, they could become an IP controllable
tool by which Myth could accomplish the DRM and HDCP related tasks that
an open system is barred from doing.  One could imagine a "one interface"
system in Myth that records what it can on its own disks but makes use
of DRM-hobbled players to play locked stuff like Netflix and Satellite

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