XStreamHD – Digital Content Delivery with a Twist

April 16, 2008

This is one of those posts that got shoved off to the back burner and eventually fell off the stove altogether, I’m ashamed but it’s still not too late to finish dinner.

This one goes all the way back to CES (yeah I know January was only three months ago) and a little announcement that flew under the radar of many, from a start-up called XStreamHD.

XStreamHDWhatTheHeck you say? Yeah, I have to admit the name didn’t exactly grab me by the throat the first time either. However, now that I know what it is, what it’s called makes more sense.

But getting back to what it is, XStreamHD is a rather unique content distribution system with some nice accoutrements (picture this guy and say accoutrements again and try not to laugh). Ok seriously though, yes it’s a “digital download” service but not the kind you might be expecting. XStreamHD utilizes the internet for some of its functionality but that’s not where the content comes from.

XStreamHD is a HD media server that receives its content via satellite but we’re not just talking about any old content here, supposedly XStream has semi-formal agreements from the studios to offer HD content ahead of or directly with disc based release dates. XStream might even be able to offer some completely unique content, or content packages that can’t be seen elsewhere.

But make no mistake this is no simple satellite receiver or “IP box”. The XStreamHD system utilizes some rather unique hardware, including: DLNA certified media server, three off-air HD tuners, DTS-HD Master Audio capabilities, up to a 80mbs stream rate… HDMI 1.3 and a slew of other features. Among them, even the capability for VOIP phone service.

The system seems geared at quality not quantity, i.e. top Hollywood films, trailers, unique content all in pristine 1080p video and lossless audio, versus more of the same from cable. Why, it’s almost as if someone asked a bunch of movie geeks what they would like, and… wait did XStreamHD ask you guys? No one asked me damn it. I know all of this might sound a bit too good to be true, but as far as I can tell the system is very real and very launching in the fourth quarter of this year for a reported entry point of $399.

The XStreamHD system would seemingly resolve one of the biggest pit-falls of digital delivery systems, specifically bandwidth. The satellite bandwidth is there and “on” 24/7 whether it’s being used or not. Or in other words, you have a constant stream of data that’s ready and willing to be used, all they have to do is plug in enough sockets to make that expenditure for the bandwidth profitable and all’s well in geeky videoland.

Below is a quick breakdown of XStreamHD’s features from their website:

Pricing & Availability
The XStreamHD solution will be available to consumers in early Q4 2008. The introductory price for a complete XStreamHD home solution, including a Media Server and a Media Receiver, is available to initial subscribers starting at just $399.

Featured System Highlights

  • Satellite delivery of Full HD 1080p video, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4/H.264 in 4:3 or 16:9 screen formats
  • Satellite delivery of up to 7.1 channels 96kHz/24bits of lossless DTS-HD™ Master Audio
  • View four Full HD video streams simultaneously throughout the home
  • Learns users’ choices and preferences to adopt their entertainment profile and continuously updates the Virtual Personal Library™ with titles they’re likely to enjoy
  • Equipped with three ATSC tuners and a Network Video Recorder for viewing and recording three HDTV broadcasts at the same time – even while watching a fourth selection from your Virtual Personal Library™
  • Patent Pending Adaptive Recording™ ensures accurate recording of HDTV programs from start to finish, even if broadcast schedules change or are delayed
  • Easy-to-use on-screen menus to manage content preferences, parental controls, spending limits
  • DLNA v1.5 certified to integrate all compatible devices on the XStreamHD network
  • Dual slide-in drive bays enable scalable storage featuring Seagate® Technology hard drive storage – 500GB, 1 TB, 2 TB options – and the ability to configure an external storage subsystem via the eSATA interface
  • Includes a feature-rich Personal PBX business-class phone system; also supports VoIP calls and offers free calls between XStreamHD subscribers
  • Uses gigabit Ethernet (GigE) permitting the transfer of HD video and audio at 1 gbps throughout the home
  • HDMI interface simplifies installation and ensures signal integrity for vibrant 1080p video
  • Front panel USB port for MP3 audio downloads

I’m seeing this as a high-end (although at $399 not that high-end) alternative to some of the other IP VOD systems, SyncTV and Netflix’s (reported) system come to mind. The way I read it is you can be viewing a 1080p movie within 15 minutes of initiating a download from scratch, but you can also queue content to be ready and waiting for you on demand. Not too shabby.

Listen, if I could do something like this for say, one half to three quarters what my cable bill runs me and skip all the crap TV, tired re-runs and just get the good HD movies and my network series off-air, I’d seriously consider this system. But then again, there’s always that cable company gotcha. As long as they’re the ones providing your internet service they have an excellent inroad into offering you the whole kitten caboodle. Regardless XStreamHD is definitely something I’ll keep an eye on.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under HDTV Programming


Comments

  • Logich

    I am actually very interested as well. The cost of getting all of these HD videos through a traditonal DSL or cable pipe would be very high. If these guys can convince the content providers of the security of their delivery mechanism, we may actually see some good movies and tv shows on here.

  • Logich

    I am actually very interested as well. The cost of getting all of these HD videos through a traditonal DSL or cable pipe would be very high. If these guys can convince the content providers of the security of their delivery mechanism, we may actually see some good movies and tv shows on here.