Is Transcoding is Here to Stay?
Yesterday I wrote about how important file
format and codec support is and a few people have other thoughts on the
subject. Weldon Dodd at ReWinD says that
transcoding is here to stay, mainly because of the royalties that companies
have to pay for each codec that they support.
This is a good point, and is very true but I have a few thoughts on this
There are a few things that can counter this problem. Still on my v2
Extender rant, these royalties will already be paid when OEM’s purchase the
SoC/IC/processer from Sigma. In other
words, Sigma already paid the royalties to include the decoding functionality
in the hardware. Weldon covers this as
his first example, and I agree 100%.
This is clearly the way to go, and it’s why devices from NetGear, KiSS,
etc have such great codec support. This
isn’t going to happen in an Xbox 360 however.
Weldon’s next example comes with software decoding, or what
the Xbox 360 and TiVo are doing. This is
where the cost goes up, as Microsoft or TiVo need to pay individual royalties to
all companies involved. It’s also a
problem because decoding in software takes a lot more work. I would say this is a huge problem for a
TiVo, but not a problem for the Xbox 360.
The only thing the Xbox 360 needs is specialized decoders to take
advantage of the hardware. In fact, this
can already be seen with the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive. The Xbox 360 can already decode MPEG-2, VC-1,
and H.264 at HD bitrates and resolutions.
All we need Microsoft to do is port that code so it’s useful to the
Media Center Extender side of things.
Not as easy as it sounds I imagine, but I’m sure it could be done.
Now, assuming that for some odd reason Microsoft could not
get those codec’s to work in the Media Center Extender side of things, my
suggestion since before the Xbox 360 was released was to open the
Live! Marketplace to codec developers.
Let DivX Inc. create an MPEG-4 ASP decoder and let them sell it to me
for $15. Microsoft get’s a kickback from
that too, and I’m happy. I’m going to
pay for the codec either in the price of the console or standalone, as long as
the Xbox 360 can identity the codec in question and direct me to the Live!
Marketplace I don’t see a single problem with this approach.
There is still a place for transcoding, but I think so much
more needs to be done first on these devices for them to really succeed. As I said before, there is no way any company
can support all codec’s and file formats, so this is where I would leave
transcoding open (and for those who don’t want to buy the codec from the Live!
Transcoding is here to stay, but needs to be here on a
Great blog Weldon!