Saturday, April 05, 2014

Cable Technology Week in Review

The top news this week was undoubtedly the fact that Amazon has finally gone to marketwith its hotly anticipated over-the-top (OTT) set-top box, dubbed the Fire TV. At $99, the tiny box directly takes on both Apple TV and the Roku 3, but it packs in a series of differentiators that Amazon is banking will be enough to make the gambit a success. But analysts were mixed on the outlook for the device, to say the least. In fact, some were downright negative. As Stock Trader Daily analysts put it rather bluntly, “The introduction of a set-top box by Amazon is a huge disappointment.” Investment firm Alcaraz on the other hand said that Amazon could have a winner on its hands: “The Fire TV offers more features than other existing streaming devices. It has the same price that of the Apple TV, but Amazon's product has better technical specs and offers more features.” Which will be the right assessment? The answer likely falls somewhere in the middle, given the level of thirst for streaming.

Speaking of streaming, Level 3 Communications has teamed up with Elemental Technologies to demo a real-time 4K UltraHD video stream using MPEG-DASH and high-efficiency video coding (HEVC) at the upcoming National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) event next week. Level 3's content delivery network (CDN) will handle the delivery of the 4K video, which will be encoded and packaged by Elemental. The move is timey: with four times the resolution of 1080p HD, 4K video content presents a challenge to traditional compression approaches such as MPEG-2 and advanced video coding (AVC / H.264) in terms of the bandwidth required to deliver it. But that hasn’t stopped companies from working on the content. Parks Associates analysts noted 4K will initially be delivered over-the-top (OTT), with companies like Netflix, Comcast and Amazon already working on 4K-based offerings.

From the article, "Cable Technology Week in Review" by Tara Seals.

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