Android set-top boxes provide a simple and cost-effective way to make popular apps that consumers are used to seeing on tablets and mobiles available on TV. At IBC2011, EchoStar Europe was demonstrating how the Angry Birds game and the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) can be incorporated into a digital TV service, while at the same time demonstrating how a new generation of pure IP set-top boxes, including a Blackberry smartphone sized device, can be used as thin clients in a multi-room architecture.
The HDX-200 shown at IBC was a demonstration platform; the product will be commercialised within the next year. The Android operating system is only one ‘middleware’ option for this device but clearly an interesting one. Android is effectively the middleware, sitting on top of Linux. Mark Goodburn, Director of Marketing and Communications at EchoStar Europe, pointed out that applications developed for the mobile and tablet market can now be made available for the TV without having to rewrite them. And he added: “Some operators have their own applications and are delivering those to smart TVs already, and they also want to deliver them to set-top boxes.”