This past weekend I was catching up on all things home theater on AVS Forum when I ran across a company (XStreamHD) that is promising to deliver hi-def movies and more via satellite and the Internet to your home.  The information provided by the flash content on their web site is pretty impressive.  Here’s a snippet from their press release on 1/8/2008 at the CES show in Las Vegas:

XStreamHD is leading the Full HD revolution with the first transport network to bring 1080p video and 7.1 channels of lossless audio directly to the home via satellite.  Never before has there been a home theater experience that combines all of the features, quality, value, and convenience that consumers want.  XStreamHD offers affordable access to the highest quality HD movies, music, broadcast TV, electronic games, and more – without the limitations of programming schedules, storage space, or physical media, and without the hassles of video rental stores, slow mail service, or out-of-stock titles.  With XStreamHD, consumers will never miss the new releases or the broadcast HD content they love.  The hottest movies and new releases are delivered via satellite, while vintage titles may be delivered over a broadband Internet connection.

With XStreamHD, consumers can build a customized, unique, and unparalleled in-home entertainment network and enjoy the content they want most, when it’s most convenient, anywhere in the home, and at the quality today’s home theaters were designed to support.  Only XStreamHD’s proprietary technology delivers video in Full HD (1080p) – twice the quality of current cable and satellite offerings – and up to 7.1 channels of lossless audio achieving sound quality that is identical to the studio master and surpassing any other direct-to-home service available.

They are implementing this with a media server, much like a media server by SnapStream (ala Beyond TV) or Microsoft (ala Windows Media Center).  However, their server has 3 ATSC tuners and a PBX.  Here’s the feature list from their site:

  • Satellite delivery of Full HD 1080p video, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4/H.264 in 4:3 or 16:9 screen formats
  • Satellite delivery of up to 7.1 channels 96kHz/24bits of lossless DTS-HD™ Master Audio
  • View four Full HD video streams simultaneously throughout the home
  • Learns users’ choices and preferences to adopt their entertainment profile and continuously updates the Virtual Personal Library™ with titles they’re likely to enjoy
  • Equipped with three ATSC tuners and a Network Video Recorder for viewing and recording three HDTV broadcasts at the same time – even while watching a fourth selection from your Virtual Personal Library™
  • Patent Pending Adaptive Recording™ ensures accurate recording of HDTV programs from start to finish, even if broadcast schedules change or are delayed
  • Easy-to-use on-screen menus to manage content preferences, parental controls, spending limits
  • DLNA v1.5 certified to integrate all compatible devices on the XStreamHD network
  • Dual slide-in drive bays enable scalable storage featuring Seagate® Technology hard drive storage – 500GB, 1 TB, 2 TB options – and the ability to configure an external storage subsystem via the eSATA interface
  • Includes a feature-rich Personal PBX business-class phone system; also supports VoIP calls and offers free calls between XStreamHD subscribers
  • Uses gigabit Ethernet (GigE) permitting the transfer of HD video and audio at 1 gbps throughout the home
  • HDMI interface simplifies installation and ensures signal integrity for vibrant 1080p video
  • Front panel USB port for MP3 audio downloads

They then depend on small fanless units connected to TVs throughout the house to stream video from the server.

It’s a pretty impressive product, especially if it is priced right and is reliable.  Here’s their pricing and availability blurb:

The XStreamHD solution will be available to consumers in early Q4 2008. The introductory price for a complete XStreamHD home solution, including a Media Server and a Media Receiver, is available to initial subscribers starting at just $399.

Commentary

Probably the biggest thing I would be concerned about is storage.  While 2TB sounds like a lot, large DVD collections wouldn’t fit on that, much less large hi-def collections.  I also wonder what kind of archiving would be allowed.  Could the content be burned to a Blu-ray disc?  Could it be copied to another computer or server?

Another concern is whether the satellite(s) would be reliably available and how reliable the end-to-end solution would be.  I’m currently using Windows Media Center and Beyond TV on Windows Vista and it’s not completely reliable.  It works and the quality is amazing, but if I’m not around at the wrong time my family is still paralyzed.  As a turnkey system, XStreamHD may actually prove to be the thing my family needs.

Overall, though, this looks like a fantastic solution, and I’m really looking forward to hearing more about it.