Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Google Fiber TV–Is It’s HTPC DNA SageTV?

Google had their official unveiling of Google Fiber last week in Kansas City and I was watching very closely.  I expected this to be an interesting announcement with it’s fiber-to-the-home bringing gigabit internet (up and down) along with a rumored TV service.  I’m thrilled about both of these services, but especially curious about the TV-side of the announcement.  Now that I’ve delved a little more into this I think the Google Fiber TV just might be bigger than some people realize.

Not only am I very interested in a “better” TV/DVR than what you can currently get from the cable companies – I also live in the downtown Kansas City area where I felt my odds were good for getting Google Fiber.  So yes, I’m likely more interested in this than those outside of the Kansas City area.  But I’m even more excited about this because I suspect there is quite a bit of SageTV Home Theater PC inside of Google Fiber TV. SageTV is a Home Theater PC or Home Media company that Google purchased just over a year ago and it seems that this is what the SageTV team has been working on since being acquired.


I stopped by the Google Fiber Place where they have a large “showroom” to demo some of the ways you can use Google Fiber in the real world.  As you can imagine I spent a lot of time in the Fiber TV section where they had the actual Fiber TV hardware running and where I could see the EPG (TV Guide), menus and settings page.  We switched channels, displayed a guide that looked awfully familiar to this SageTV user and went through some of the menus.  When we were on the settings page I think I caught a glimpse of the words “SageTV” on the page.  The TV show page had similar info and details pages available just like I see on SageTV.  It certainly wasn’t exactly like the last version of SageTV, but it was pretty similar.  Add to this experience you can check this Google + thread where a little confirmation of SageTV involvement was mentioned:


I had a chance to try out the Fiber TV app on the Nexus 7 tablet and that has similar functionality to the 3rd party SageTV web app I’m used to using but in a much improved UI


One last thing to note before I close today – Fiber TV is a Media device with a server/client architecture, just like SageTV is.  It includes music and movies and Google is integrating Netflix and their own Google-brand of instant movies.  The ability to stream your movies and music and ge the super-powered DVR with tuners that work on all content (Read: not blocked for certain channels or requiring CableCard setup) makes this HTPC enthusiast very, very happy.  I don’t know how much SageTV is inside Fiber TV, but I’m pretty confident it has quite a bit inside.

Lots of questions from the HTPC crowd to talk about here such as: what about plugins, DRM on movies, commercial skip etc.  I’ll have more to say about Google Fiber TV soon.  Stay tuned.