PC Extension: PC Video + USB throughout the Premise



PC, Internet, and TV Convergence
Since the development of the VCR and more recently the PVR, sources and availability of consumer Television content has exploded. Scheduled TV can be easily recorded and watched when desired. DVDs and on demand video give audiences the freedom to watch what they want when they want. With the growth of Internet video giving consumers access to a limitless array of popular and specialized video media, the options are continuing to increase. Websites such as YouTube and Hulu.com have become as common a source of video entertainment as CBS or NBC. While there is an ever growing selection of video content, the consumption method has remained relatively constant: the TV or the PC. Increasingly, consumers are asking the question “why choose?” and have been seeking solutions to converge the TV and PC experiences. Over 33% of U.S. broadband households showed strong interest in Web-enhanced features for connected TVs¹, and 66.3 Million U.S. TV viewers simultaneously used a PC while watching TV². Converging the PC desktop experience, complete with Internet content, with the comfort, convenience and quality of your TV experience, eliminates the need to choose, and offers a vast array of entertainment options for today’s connected home. (Sources: ¹Parks Associates, 2009; ²In-Stat, 2009)

Internet to TV and PC to TV Today
Content providers and TV manufacturers have recognized the value of convergence and have started integrating the Internet and TV experience in recent product offerings. Digital Set Top Boxes and Internet-enabled TVs offer access to select online video content (e.g. VUDU, Netflix, iTunes) but none offer the familiarity and flexibility that a true PC desktop offers. Some solutions provide limited web browsing and other internet services, but have been hampered by complex setup requirements, poor performance and non-standard user interfaces.

PC to TV solutions such as Windows Media Extenders and Digital Media Adapters such as Apple TV provide access to select content from the PC, but again are limited in scope from the user interface and application variety that a true PC can offer.

PC Extension – The PC on TV
While set top boxes and digital media adapters have begun to offer select PC or Internet content on your TV, none can offer the full array of applications and content available on your PC.

PC Extension can deliver all content and applications from the PC and the Internet to anywhere in the home or office. By giving access to the entire PC desktop on the TV, PC Extension provides a rich and full Internet connection along with all PC content and applications. PC Extension turns your TV into a virtual PC, complete with your familiar PC Desktop, be it Windows, MAC or Linux, and a standard, convenient keyboard and mouse user interface, along with other peripheral connectivity. Watch a PC/Internet video, browse the Internet, play a game, make a VoIP call, check your email, get up to the minute news from your favorite online source, and more, all from the comfort of your living room couch.

Applications of PC Extension
Bringing the full array of PC applications and power direct to the TV greatly enhances the user experience over the common convergence solutions. The following chart compares the flexibility of PC Extension with the other solutions.

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PC Extension provides a full computing experience on your Big Screen TV. Along with video content from your stored library or the many video websites, PC Extension supports the complete array of PC applications and services, all with the familiar look and feel of your PC desktop, no need to learn anything new.

PC Extension Architecture
The PC Extension architecture is simple and non invasive. It is a bridge between your existing and familiar PC environment and your living room TV and home theatre.

The following diagram shows the architecture of PC Extension.

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The PC Box extends PC video and USB over the transmission media to the remote TV Box hub which provides a high quality video output and remote USB ports supporting any device connection from keyboard and mouse to flash drives, game controllers webcams or cell phones.

A full hardware solution that does not require additional software drivers or modification to the PC, the PC Extension architecture provides a flexible, easy to install interconnect of high quality PC video and USB peripheral I/O. The transmission media between the PC and TV makes installation simple and convenient. Cat 5 cabling, WiFi or Powerline communications media can be used.

1 – Video Signal Options
The video signal originating from the PC can be delivered to the remote TV in a number of formats. Most critical to the quality experience of PC Extension is a low latency link between the PC and TV enabling a real time user interface experience.

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Multiple options are available for delivering a high quality desktop video experience to the TV. Tradeoffs between bandwidth required and complexity of the transmission medium must be considered when selecting a solution. To ensure a quality user experience, a low latency link is critical to provide a quality user interface experience. Lag from a mouse click or a game controller takes away from the quality of the PC extension experience.

2 – Signal Transmission Media
The connection media between PC and TV is another critical aspect of system design, affecting both the convenience of the user installation and the type of video technology that can be used. While WiFi or Powerline communications media offers convenience for installation, these bandwidth limited higher latency links require more sophisticated video solutions to deliver a quality PC desktop experience.

Transmission media options include:

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Each of the above technologies have various pros and cons in delivering true PC Extension. The existing infrastructure in the premise, video quality desired, and installation complexities will determine the best choice in each situation. As discussed previously, the transmission media must provide a low latency link between the PC and TV boxes to enable a quality real time user interface experience.

Along with delivering high quality video, PC Extension must offer complete peripheral connectivity in order for the user to interact with the PC from the TV.

3 – Peripheral Connectivity
With 2.6 Billion USB-enabled devices shipped in 2007 alone, USB has become the de-facto peripheral interface to the PC. USB provides a simple interface that eliminates complexity and improves the user experience.

USB offers:

  • Plug-and-play. No software load required
  • Hot pluggable device support
  • High bandwidth (480 Mbps)
  • Versatility. Multiple device types supported
  • Low cost
  • Embedded support in the operating system

As a tradeoff to providing a simple interface with high bandwidth and utilization, USB connections are restricted to a wired reach of 16ft (5m). By its very nature, PC Extension requires that USB move beyond the wired limit, and operate over adverse media channels such as Wireless or Powerline. To provide a true peripheral connection at the TV, there are a number of USB Extension technologies available.

USB Extension Overview

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Of the solutions listed, only ExtremeUSB and USB over IP options are candidates for PC Extension as the others limit the peripheral devices that can be connected (e.g. Delay Budget) or are impractical in a real world deployment (e.g. hub chain, custom host). The following table compares the two candidates.

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While USB over IP offers a convenient connection model and extends select USB connections over a common media, the added complexity of supporting a network aware protocol (IP) introduces performance limitations, including lack of Isochronous device support (web cams), lack of operating system independence, potential for higher latency, and bandwidth vs. video quality issues. Only ExtremeUSB offers a robust true USB experience that provides a user interface and device connection at the TV that performs as though it is directly connected to the PC.

Conclusion
PC Extension can leverage a variety of communications media to deliver a high quality video link to the TV from a remotely located PC. Installations can be made easy using Wireless or Powerline communications media. A higher quality video experience can be achieved by accommodating a dedicated wired link using Cat 5 or fiber optics. However you want to connect, PC Extension brings a full and rich computing experience to you in the entertainment hub of your home or office.

Bringing a true PC desktop experience to the TV opens up a vast array of entertainment and convenience options. Any application or service provided on your PC and all Internet content are brought to the comfort of your living room. No additional software setups or licenses are required. Your familiar PC desktop is available to you and the vast array of video content, websites and PC applications are at your fingertips, all with the standard interface devices that are familiar to us all.

 

Contact Information

Icron Technologies Corporation

4664 Lougheed Hwy
Suite 221
Burnaby, BC, V5C 5T5
Canada

tele: 1.604.638.3920
sales@icron.com
www.icron.com

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