To connect end subscribers to IPTV / OTT television, GS Labs offers a large selection of various subscriber devices of its own production and / or applications for third-party devices.
IPTV / OTT set-top boxes
Linux or Android? Among experts, there are more serious disputes on this issue than between the Assassins and the Templars in the famous blockbuster game. There are thousands of arguments in favor of one side or the other, let’s try to figure it out.
The main advantage of Linux-based set-top boxes is that they are faster and more stable than their Android counterparts. Even have a several times less memory size and processor frequency, these set-top boxes can load almost instantly and immediately start showing TV channels. That is the most familiar and comfortable scenario for subscribers who are accustomed to analog television. By pressing one button, the viewer instantly starts watching the favorite TV channel, or switches channels as quickly as possible for search of interesting content (telesurfing).
Youtube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play (Google TV), iTunes (Apple TV), Vevo, Vimeo, HBO, Showtime, Disnay, and many, many other super popular video services in the world have client applications for Linux consoles. In Russia, the online cinemas Megogo, ivi and Tvigle have such clients.
But, unfortunately, the integration of such client applications is not easy, and they are not available on all Linux consoles. Basically only on flagship models of well-known manufacturers.
The disadvantages of Linux-based set-top boxes include limited functionality. The number of applications that can be installed on a set-top box is limited to a couple of tens of thousands. And more than three million are published in the Google Play Market. Therefore, the potential for Android set-top boxes is colossal and limitless. But, in practice, everything is not so simple.
Simply “naked Android”, the so-called AOSP, without Google services, especially without the app store and Youtube, does not become much more functional than “naked Linux”. Yes, you can install a number of applications in advance during production. But, with applications that require Widevine DRM some limitations can appear. This applications will either not work at all, or will not allow the use of premium subscription functionality.
Another way – to go through the certification of the set-top box in Google and install Android TV – is also very difficult. The procedure costs a lot of money and a lot of labor. Any Android is already much more demanding on the hardware resources of set-top boxes, which entails an increase in the cost of such set-top boxes. And if the manufacturer begins to lay the costs for Android TV certification there, then such a solution begins to surpass the cost of counterparts based on Linux by almost two times. In terms of cost, but not in terms of speed, not in terms of application stability, etc.
In general, the Linux vs Android issue is controversial, complex and almost individual. “Depends on what Linux, and depends on what Android”. It all depends on the specific vendor. GS Labs offers both Linux and Android models to customer choose.
Models of set-top boxes based on OS Linux:
- GSL Bullfinch. The most economical set-top box of the entire product line. Supports only TV signal sources such as: M3U playlists, signal from head-end stations with SAP protocol support, and signal from IPTVPORTAL platform. Unfortunately, the set-top box cannot be connected to the DREAM platform due to its limited resources. Nevertheless, this is a full-fledged Full HD 60 frames per second IPTV / OTT set-top box, which is perfect for solving many tasks and will save the operator’s and subscriber’s budget.
- GSL Raven. The Linux box is almost ideally suited to the profile of viewers who prefer linear TV viewing. Not costly. Very fast start-up, fast and stable performance. Support TV sources like DREAM platform, head stations with SAP protocol support, m3u playlists. HEVC (H.265) support. Full HD 60 frames per second. Yes, it is no 4K, but there is S / PDIF for high quality surround sound. There is Wi-Fi. This set-top box can even work as a Smart Home controller, with an external ZegBee transmitter. The perfect solution in its class.
Android set-top boxes:
- GSL Skylark. Budget Android set-top box based on Android AOSP 7.1. Youtube, Netflix, Megogo, ivi, and thousands of other apps from the Google Play Market. Video decoding up to 4K (UHD). Dual frequency WiFi. Support for bluetooth gamepads. Nice basic media center.
- GSL Eagle. Flagship Android set-top box based on Android AOSP 8.0. with support for the operator’s own launcher and the operator’s app store. Allows the operator to fully control the availability of certain applications in the app store for subscribers, providing access only to proven and high-quality applications and acting as an additional source of monetization. 4K support. Dual frequency WiFi. Support for bluetooth gamepads. Allows operators to build a full-fledged own solution of the level of AndroidTV and AppleTV, but under their own brand.