The market for rebroadcasting video for personal use, pioneered by Slingbox, has a significant new competitor now. The HAVA from Monsoon Multimedia. Monsoon provided us with a HAVA Titanium HD for review, the top-of-the-line in their product offerings. The HAVA Titanium HD enables the PC to operate with TiVO-like functionality. Customers can pause, fast forward, rewind and record live TV to the PC hard disk, then burn the recorded content to DVD for archiving purposes. The HAVA Titanium HD also serves as a Network TV Tuner for Media Center PCs on the home network (no need for a TV tuner and physical TV source in those PCs, to deliver all the powerful TV features of Microsoft Media Center.) HAVA enables streaming of video content in MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 format from any video source to multiple PCs in a home or business, totally wirelessly. Content can be viewed in full screen – DVD quality video on multiple PCs simultaneously. It also allows content to be viewed remotely on an Internet connected PC. Users can control all the functions of the video source such as a TV or TiVo from their PCs. Moreover, HAVA allows TV content on the PC to be stored, recorded and burnt onto DVDs and enables the PC to operate as a Personal Video Recorder with pause, fast forward and rewind functions. Also, Windows XP Media Center Edition PC (MCE) users can use HAVA as a wireless tuner to add full multimedia capabilities to their PCs.
By connecting HAVA to any TV source such as Cable, Satellite, DVD, TiVo or a Camcorder and by loading the bundled software application onto the PC, users can stream TV programming in MPEG-2 format over the home network or in MPEG-4 format over the Internet. HAVA streams video wirelessly-without requiring a wired connection to the Router. Competitive products require messy wiring or expensive Powerline Ethernet Adapters to connect the router/access point to the video streaming device. HAVA incorporates VBooster, a sophisticated wireless video streaming software technology developed by Monsoon and an 802.11 a/g wireless card to accomplish DVD quality wireless video streaming. VBooster automatically adjusts encoder parameters based on dynamic calculation of the available wireless bandwidth to ensure smooth multicast delivery of the video stream to all the clients on the network.
Users can continue to use their wireless network for services such as web browsing, email, chats, printing and file transfer while watching high quality video wirelessly. HAVA can also be used as an independent Access Point – in all cases video is streamed directly to PC clients.
HAVA streams video at an average of 6-8Mbps directly to PCs in home network in MPEG-2 full D1 resolution, at 720 x 480 pixels – Streams MPEG-2 format over the home network, MPEG-4 format over the Internet. This gives the user broadcast quality video on the PC screen. Competitive products stop at a maximum of 4Mbps streaming, with the leading manufacturer today delivering only 1.5Mbps in SIF 320×240 pixels. These products deliver less than broadcast quality video and the video is often unstable. In the remote viewing mode HAVA can display video on an Internet connected PC at uplink data rates as low as 128kbps.
HAVA can operate as a wireless tuner card for users (who currently do not have a tuner card) of Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE), PCs to add full multimedia capabilities to the PC.
Through the use of the MCE or HAVA’s bundled application, HAVA enables TiVo-like functionality on the PC. Users can record, store, pause, rewind and fast forward the stored video. HAVA takes full advantage of the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) provided with MCE (or in case of HAVA’s bundled application, Titan TV Web Based EPG service) to schedule recording of the programs for viewing at a later time. None of HAVA’s competitors offer this feature.
HAVA enables burning of video content onto DVDs. Because HAVA follows Microsoft’s Digital Right Management (MSDRM) rules for analog video, protected content cannot be duplicated on a DVD. Moreover, Monsoon is considering deployment of DTCP-IP in the remote viewing mode. This allows support of a multitude of DRM schemes and the ability to handle conditional access schemes such as S/M card in North America, DVB descrambling for Europe and ARIB support in Japan.
HAVA features an array of input connectors for the diverse number of old and new Set Top boxes, DVDs, Cable TVs, TiVo and Camcorders on the market today. Each input comes with a corresponding pass through connector, eliminating the use of splitters when connecting HAVA to home video equipment. Inclusion of a Component Input makes HAVA ‘HD Ready’.
HAVA Set Up
HAVA’s set up software has been designed for ease of use and comfort. The software has been developed by the same design engineers who designed the world’s first affordable MPEG-1 and 2 compression products at Dazzle, and PVR products at Emuzed.
Because there are no wires required to connect HAVA to the home router/Access point, setting HAVA up to start functioning is easy. By simply connecting the HAVA to your set top box, loading the application software into the PC and following the set up wizard, you can start watching TV content on your PC.
HAVA has been developed in cooperation with some of the world’s leading companies such as Philips, Intel and Atheros; along with one of the best video compression innovators – ViXS Systems. Monsoon’s engineers took these specially selected components and after several years of uncompromising work, have delivered a groundbreaking and easy to use product. DSPs deployed by competitive products have an inherent disadvantage in not having enough horsepower to manage video effectively. HAVA’s architecture allows for significantly higher video compression resulting in better video quality and streaming through the use of dedicated components.
The software technologies at the heart of HAVA are its VBooster video streaming, Remote Viewing and IR Blaster engines, and PVR software.
VBooster is a wireless streaming technology developed by Monsoon. VBooster enables reliable multicast video delivery over 802.11 networks, allowing up to 50 users to view TV simultaneously. VBooster allows the video stream to bypass the access point (AP), effectively doubling the available bandwidth while still keeping the PC or other Wi-Fi enabled clients connected to the AP for non-video traffic. VBooster is capable of streaming more than 15 Mbps in a 802.11a/g network to multiple PCs from a single video source. VBooster provides for dynamic bit rate control, and adjusts the streaming and compression rate on a continuous basis to provide for QoS and to prevent drop outs.
Remote Viewing Connectivity engine provides for seamless setup even in a complex environment comprising of firewalls and legacy routers (non UPnP). The ‘mirroring’ feature allows users at home and in a remote location to watch TV on their PCs simultaneously.
IR Blaster engine allows HAVA to control most video devices automatically. If HAVA is unable to identify a device, a special learning feature can be used to memorize and store the IR codes of the device. The IR blaster along with the Remote Viewing engine also sets up a virtual remote control on the remote PC. This remote can control any device connected to the TV or set up recordings for the TiVo or the PC at home.
PVR engine allows users to schedule, capture, organize and burn authorized video content to DVDs. Moreover, the engine provides for full time-shifting functionality such as Pause and Fast Forward/Rewind of live content while recording a show.
The HAVA provides an excellent solution for rebroadcasting your video over your own network. It’s smaller than it’s competitor, the Slingbox, while providing similar capabilities. Once HAVA provides players for more mobile devices, they could easily take over this market.
Written by Kermit