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webOS TV set top box design "workshop"
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Old 12/24/2012, 06:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Now that we all know that nothing will come of the LG webOS TV story, we can sit back and design the perfect webOS-powered TV companion box... unconstrained by industry dynamics and Google's tastes...

This is just good fun, to make the best of any disappointment that may still linger...

I welcome any ideas, no matter how raw they are at this point, since they can all be distilled down to something that actually works, and then folded into openwebOS to make it more capable, scalable and competitive.

I don't want to get anyone's hopes up that this is something that i'll be actually building. Not at this point, but on the software side, there are many things that have to be taken care of to make it possible, and if we plan now and in the future will up-stream the "foundational" components of these features to openwebOS, the theoretical "Luna TV" fork of Luna won't have to have too many proprietary pieces, making it easier to merge changes such as WebKit updates.

So this is about making provisions for "clip-in" features that are TV-specific and aren't needed on a phone, but keeping the codebase as similar as possible. Of course, code is not something the consumer should have to worry about, but while everything is still "raw", it's easier to make room for features without compromising the "elegance" of the system, by planning ahead


If you'd like to discuss hardware, feel free. Software? Services? You bet ..It's all part of the whole experience.


And before anyone (out of disappointment) writes off the set-top box idea as a Quixotic dream, please look at the angle of this discussion. We need someone to dream of features before the technical side is mapped out, and then, later on use this discussion as a design manual....

And here's why... From what i gather without having looked at the code, some components of Luna are too tightly intertwined, or not "compartmentalized" enough. This obviously includes the aging proprietary WebKit fork, the keyboard modules, and the two "instances" of Luna that each serve a unique purpose but have the same code, complicating maintenance.

So while Luna is being modernized, it makes sense to see what else will be needed in the future, so that we can plan for different screen form-factors and UI paradigms while keeping the inner workings unified. And even though i'm not working on openwebOS myself, it is time to have this discussion..

Just don't forget to have fun

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Old 12/24/2012, 08:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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And if anyone made it through the dull intro, now that i think about it, the names "webOS Media Center" and "Luna TV", actually sound nice.

I should also bring back a great idea suggested by another member:

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Originally Posted by boovish View Post
I was looking around when I remembered about Tactus Technology (:: Tactus Technology ::) And I thought This would be perfect for a webOS phone.
A Chinese clone of the Samsung Galaxy paired with those pop-up buttons and a Touchstone would make for an interesting remote, where the wife and kids can keep watching the movie and you can channel-surf on the remote itself, while the same movie also streams to a webOS tablet two rooms away...

The ability to use an app on a phone to adjust the DVR schedule from 50 miles away would also add to the ease of use.

FYI, i don't watch TV, i don't own a TV, so this is just a brainstorming session for me and a logical continuation of the LG rumor thread, but i do hope this will grow into something more interesting...
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Old 12/26/2012, 07:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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When they said LG/gram were working on a Smart TV, I thought cool - I like LG and I love webOS...

But reality is a set top box is a better way to go. It cost much less to enter into than buying a whole new TV.

I still think my vision of what the TV should do is not altered by transferring the effort to a set top box... (See: LG smartTV with webOS Open)

The push is to make each device do more, behave more like other devices around it.

Why shouldn't a web browser be built in? Why not use synergy to sync contacts, emails, etc.? Heck, who's to say you don't need a calculator on your TV?

Why not get Open Source fully integrated on it just like a desktop or tablet?

LunaCE cards and gestures make a natural UI for mixing Apps and Channels. It's like Picture in Picture, but not limited to channels only.

The big draw with Roku set top is the ability to add internet fueled channels ported over by developers.

Roku style channels + webOS Desktop fully functional... Why skimp on either side?
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Old 12/27/2012, 07:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by RumoredNow View Post
When they said LG/gram were working on a Smart TV, I thought cool - I like LG and I love webOS...

But reality is a set top box is a better way to go. It cost much less to enter into than buying a whole new TV.

I still think my vision of what the TV should do is not altered by transferring the effort to a set top box... (See: LG smartTV with webOS Open)

The push is to make each device do more, behave more like other devices around it.

Why shouldn't a web browser be built in? Why not use synergy to sync contacts, emails, etc.? Heck, who's to say you don't need a calculator on your TV?

Why not get Open Source fully integrated on it just like a desktop or tablet?

LunaCE cards and gestures make a natural UI for mixing Apps and Channels. It's like Picture in Picture, but not limited to channels only.

The big draw with Roku set top is the ability to add internet fueled channels ported over by developers.

Roku style channels + webOS Desktop fully functional... Why skimp on either side?
Very interesting ideas. I think a set top does make more sense. For the competition of this theoretical device, look past Roku (which I've read about but not used) and apple tv. Look at what xbox is doing (playstation 3 and nintendo wii U may have similar capabilities but i have no experience with the latter). I got the xbox 360 5 years ago and it's still being upgraded software wise- just downloaded an update yesterday!. There is now a Int explorer browser, and has apps for netflix, hbo, espn, etc. Of course, there are games both downloadable and dvd based and plays old school dvds Add the kinect and then you have a very gesture based interface which works with some issues with lighting, size of the room. So any webos based set top box has some deep pocket competition. I think apple is going to move a big move soon and has the clout to get content providers to sign on (thereby removing middlemen like cable, satellite companies)
While I was excited by LG news initially, I think these hardware manufacturers have some very different and conflicting goals. They (LG, sony, panasonic, samsung) don't want to be commodity producers because there are cheaper chinese brands nipping at their heels and want to move to higher profit margin areas. So they add on features to make a smart tv. But they really don't want a fully open solution that consumers want because they want to keep you on their brand. They also don't have the skills or influence to write and leverage a proprietary product so they are looking to google. If webos/gram offers a competitive product with no strings attached then it has a chance. (I think the google partners are a bit wary of google while also entirely dependent on its software- the hardware partners take all the risk and google wins regardless! nice position )
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Old 12/27/2012, 11:48 AM   #5 (permalink)
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No doubt that Apple, Google and Game Console makers have been at it a long time. But for streaming internet content to a TV, Roku is still the sales model. People buy an Xbox 360 or PS3 as a gaming platform first and foremost, any additional functionality is a secondary consideration.

There are some good developers for Roku who have a bit of vision. Yeah a lot of it ends up being subscription channels or free with ads, but there are a few who work off donations. Add in the ability to install "homebrew" channels (AKA: Private Channels) by entering a key into the Roku website under your log in and the thing is pretty wide open.

Roku streams with top shelf capability, but it isn't smart. Smart Boxes (Apple, Google) fall into the locked in feeling. From what I've seen of them they sort of short change each side of the operation (Smart/Apps -vs- Streaming/Video Content Flexibility). That may just be a gut feeling as I've not followed too many reviews and have never actually used a Google or Apple set top.
__________


I think the more options that people can plug in from home the better.

Here's a box and a simple remote. HDMI out to TV. LAN line in for internet. WiFi capable of course, but hard wired internet would be better wouldn't it? Bluetooth capable as well.

So a box and a remote. Simple, low cost entry.

Want memory? Plug in a microSD or a USB memory stick (most people have one of those lying around anyway). Maybe have that expansion port for a plug 'n' play hard drive as well... What format would memory be in (a Fat variant, NTSF, ext3)??? I think the more common the format, the better it flies. If most people don't have to reformat the memory they will be more comfortable and also more willing to use it if they can "time share" a plug in memory storage device between the box and whatever else they have.

Got a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse lying around. Pair them to the box and take off. Makes full internet access easier. The user supplies the higher end interface, keeping the cost of entry down for everyone else.

Are there generic drivers for these types of devices that can be used inside the box? IDK, that's why I'm asking as I spin out ideas...

What other harware would you want to interface with the box???
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Old 12/27/2012, 05:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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@RumoredNow,

Great points... what some people want is to "have your cake and eat it too".. no expensive proprietary hardware (or worse, inability to upgrade), or having to choose between the two platform variants (roku vs walled garden boxes)

I know that we don't have the kind of resources right now that are needed to get this up and done, but it's just so within reach.... the chinese clone phones to use as a remote are readily available (though they need an external case of some sort for durability), hardware could be standardized (a slim and a "fat" model), nice looking cases are most likely available...

So i think if we manage to get the software side taken care of (a monumental task though), the hardware will be much much easier to come by.

I don't have any illusions about this project, but i think that the walled garden companies will not readily bridge the gap between their own offerings and roku's for at least a few years... which creates that nice niche for a truly "free" ecosystem, one that webOS can fill..


It's really worth laying the foundation for something like this, because who knows, a homebrew kit might appeal to a few thousand people, and if there will be enough momentum, a reputable chinese manufacturer may become interested in selling it as a packaged, ready-made product. This isn't like a mobile phone, and much more realistic IMHO, because there is a market for unsubsidized boxes and independent content, and we aren't really aiming big. If we start with small steps and the market's current offerings don't change, like you said, we could really have something. I'm not saying it won't be hard, i'm just thinking this is less risk and potentially "cooler" than trying to re-enter the phone market right away. A foothold in consumer appliances isn't bad at all.
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Old 12/28/2012, 11:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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We haven't heard from the dev porting Open webOS to Raspberry Pi in quite some time... Anyone know if he's made any headway?

FAQs | Raspberry Pi

http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-...pberry-pi.html
__________


Brockota brought Cotton Candy to our attention and it looks like a very promising device. dgdonovan said he was ordering a dev unit. Spinn let us know they were finally shipping back in September as Open Source was just about due to release...

What is it? | FXI Technologies

http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-...ton-candy.html
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Of the two, Cotton Candy looks more powerful, flexible and capable... Also more expensive @ $200.
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Old 12/31/2012, 10:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I haven't been on for a while so didn't notice this thread till now.

How should I put this? I'm already working on the hardware side of this as I've just bought an Acer Revo RL70 nettop computer (it was cheap and I needed something to replace my old laptop}. By using a standard PC setup, there's no worries about upgrades and the unit can be priced competitively.

Software, I've thought about:

Back end - would likely be a forked version of Ubuntu with webOS GUI. There's already a media player called XBMC which has been set up to run in Ubuntu, and this could take over most streaming etc because it already has the codecs for everything including Blu ray 3D.

Front end - Wooden Rows is perfect as a media library as it'd be able to extend past the media players library to include streaming media services etc. Just browse type, select what you want, and the appropriate handler loads up to do what you want. Add to this the ability to browse the net etc, plus maybe bringing in a Glimpse style multi window affair and it becomes more interesting.

It's important to look at I/O because the remote would have to work with it. The temptation is to use a phone or tablet to control it but then you kinda make the browser etc unnecessary on the TV.

That's about as far as I've got, will be looking to partition the drive and get Ubuntu etc running soon (will take a while because I'm not really a software guy). What do you think?
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Old 01/07/2013, 03:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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With regards to the remote, has anyone seen the remote for the D-Link Boxee Box? Quite simple but I think that's similar to what would work. Maybe have a touchpad like a laptop to enable gestures? Short of the Samsung(?) Smart TV remote that works like a wii-mote, this may be the better solution
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Old 01/07/2013, 04:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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That setup you described above is perfect, just perfect. Truly worth building. I still however think it needs a high-end remote, perhaps a chinese clone phone with the camera flash module modded to be an IR LED and moved to the normal position. But that's just me.

In any case, great work. Upgradable, off-the-shelf components are a definite yes, and something i've believed in from the very beginning. I've already been thinking of either a compact, "Mac Mini"-style motherboard, or something flat and thin, like a rack server... nothing in particular, but running Luna on top of Ubuntu really does solve the issue of drivers and compatibility

I really do believe we can build something here that the big manufacturers can't...



Edit: another (unrelated) thing i've thought of, is that a media center PC can act as a print server for mobile devices, and a WiFi router board could be used (optionally) as a power-saving measure (to wake up the main board when needed) and independently handle file storage and backup... the router component could even act as a home base Synergy server for phones and tablets. I realize that this is an added expense and a little "out there", but that's extra stability and extra capability.

Also for reliability, an emergency recovery image could be booted automatically if a problem is detected and the current OS installation needs to be repaired. These are all high-end features that most manufacturers won't be willing to provide for another decade

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Old 01/07/2013, 06:45 PM   #11 (permalink)
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another (unrelated) thing i've thought of, is that a media center PC can act as a print server for mobile devices, and a WiFi router board could be used (optionally) as a power-saving measure (to wake up the main board when needed) and independently handle file storage and backup... the router component could even act as a home base Synergy server for phones and tablets. I realize that this is an added expense and a little "out there", but that's extra stability and extra capability.

Also for reliability, an emergency recovery image could be booted automatically if a problem is detected and the current OS installation needs to be repaired. These are all high-end features that most manufacturers won't be willing to provide for another decade
Well, it's funny you should say that because the system I had in mind would actually be based around a powerful home server. All the features you mention (aside from the recovery image, like that) I was thinking would be handled by a server with phones/tablets syncing across the board whenever they detected they were within range of the home network. However, I wouldn't want to use the media PC for it, I'd be looking to run a powerful home server for this. Why? Because it would be set up as a cloud server. By having this, it would allow apps to have two layers.

First, a portable version with good functionality to get things done when out and about.

Second, a home version which would expand the app by using the phone/tablet as the user interface whilst the home server did the hard work.

This way, things like games can be portable but also be absolutely kick *** at the same time

Just so we're not getting too sidetracked here, with regards to the remote, I see what you mean but I look at it that for a remote it chew through battery power very fast. Remotes tend to be fit and forget with regards to batteries so I'm not too keen on that. Besides, if you're going to use a phone, might as well use a normal phone with Bluetooth protocols, but that's just my opinion
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Old 01/07/2013, 06:58 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Hmm.. i'm thinking of a "power-mote" that can sit and charge on the touchstone, but with an amoled screen and all of the power saving mods, so if used like a regular remote, even though it's phone-based (with popup buttons) it would last a week on one charge... if used as a game controller or to channel-surf on itself, then it'll have to be recharged more often. But i see what you mean. A phone doesn't have dedicated hardware buttons, but every phone (including Android and iOS) could run an app to be used as a secondary remote...
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Old 01/07/2013, 08:44 PM   #13 (permalink)
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webos tv and this would be great.
maybe webos pcIntroducing the Leap Motion - YouTube
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Old 01/08/2013, 06:46 AM   #14 (permalink)
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@Remy X

Like where you're going with the remote, you've almost convinced me. However, I have one more spanner to throw into the works. How would you mitigate the screen lighting up the room when the lights are off, say for movie night?
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Old 01/08/2013, 06:48 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Just to add a financial slant to this, I think the Google Nexus model is the way to go - providing the tech at almost (if not at) cost price. This has enabled both Google and Amazon to gain more market share.
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Old 01/08/2013, 11:44 AM   #16 (permalink)
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webos tv and this would be great.
maybe webos pcIntroducing the Leap Motion - YouTube
@ $70 that's not bad...

In fact, it's very good.


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Old 01/08/2013, 04:40 PM   #17 (permalink)
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@Remy X

Like where you're going with the remote, you've almost convinced me. However, I have one more spanner to throw into the works. How would you mitigate the screen lighting up the room when the lights are off, say for movie night?
Use a black background

With an LCD, you still get some light bleed-through when it's viewed at an angle, but with OLED there is no backlight, pixels light up individually. This saves a lot of power and also looks nice in the dark.

Also, have a look at the Tactus proof-of-concept remote:



With a well-designed pop-up physical button layout (permanent once manufactured, but can have several independent "circuits"), as well as a few webOS style gestures, this can be interesting and quite intuitive.
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Old 01/09/2013, 06:47 AM   #18 (permalink)
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@Remy X Shows what I know about OLED lol. Still, if the Tactus is affordable then hell yeah, looks awesome and should mitigate the light issue well.
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Old 01/13/2013, 11:23 AM   #19 (permalink)
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@Remy X

To keep this progressing, do you know anyone who can work on Wooden Rows? Looking for someone who can get the program to interrogate file network to locate media files and present the details. From there it'd be ideal if clicking on the media displayed opened up the appropriate handler (such as Music Player Remix for audio files)
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