BlackMagic, Nexus Devices, MHL and SlimPort

As I tinker with various things around here I’m finding that I need some tools to be able to capture experimental results in a manner that provides assets for this blog. Recently I’ve added a couple of new tools which I though you might find interesting.

This process of “tooling-up” started last year when I purchased a BlackMagic Design Intensity Pro capture card. That card has been mentioned a few times previously. It allows me to capture video from an HDMI connected source.

The Intensity Pro card has been very handy for a variety of things. Since computers these days are capable of screen resolutions that are also common to HDTVs I have used it to record the output of PC desktops. That has included screencast tutorials as well as the output of specific programs, like Adobe Audition.

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Belkin Ships Dyle Mobile HDTV Tuner For iOS

Belkin-Dyle-HDTV-Receiver-372I’m not the biggest fan of watching TV on a tablet or cell phone. I know that people do it, but I still prefer the more traditional experience of a large television or even a decent computer screen. So normally the announcement of the new Belkin Wireless Dyle Mobile TV Receiver would not be all that interesting. However, I live in Houston, at the receiving end of Hurricane Alley. Such a device could be a handy item to have on-hand in a powerless, post-hurricane situation.

This little device mates to the 30-pin connector on suitable Apple devices. That includes the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, or iPad (3rd generation) allowing you to receive local TV signals without any 3G, 4G or Wifi connection. It retails for $129.

Of course, to be useful the Dyle signals must be available over-the-air in your area. That’s true for most major cities in the US. There is a web site that lets you check your location by zip code.

Looking back a few years to the time after Hurricane Ike, local TV news was a important source of information. When we were without power for tend days we lived on an 8 KW generator shared with our neighbor.

That situation highlighted the need to conserve power, using only the essential things around the house. We initially ran the refrigerator, lights as required, our core network components and a laptop.

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Counterpath Moving To Implement Opus

Counterpath-Bria-Nexus4After my little experimental effort with Opus in the freeware PhonerLite soft phone I reached out to a variety of people seeking advice about other software supporting this new codec. Someone suggested that I try Countherpath’s Bria.

Counterpath is the single most recognized name in the commercial soft phone space. Their Bria, Eyebeam and X-Lite products have a lengthy history. They have at various times graced several generations of my computers and handheld mobile devices.

Since their software is already on my Nexus 4 & 7 Android devices I had a quick look but found that Opus was not actually supported in the current releases. On that basis I contacted Todd Carothers, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Products at CounterPath Corporation.

Todd informed me that Opus support is presently limited to their soft clients on iOS, but that broad support for the codec is in the works. He advised that Opus support across their entire range of soft phones is expected in just a few weeks.

This news is certainly encouraging as I still would like to try some experimentation with the codec in support of some non-traditional applications. The availability of a commercial implementation will open doors to adoption by non-technical users like Mike Phillips.

I tweeted this fact, which just happened to catch the attention of Doug Mohney at HDVoiceNews.

Polycom RealPresence Mobile: Follow-up

nexus-7-PolycomRPM.jpgA couple of weeks ago I was trying the RealPresence Mobile app from Polycom. I was trying it on my iPad since none of my various Android devices were officially supported.

JMR left a comment on the post saying that he had just installed the Android release on his Nexus 7. Since the Nexus 7 is my preferred tablet I decided that I’d give it a try on that device as well.

Happily, the app seems to work pretty well on the Nexus 7. I registered it with my OnSIP account from which point it could call my Polycom VVX phones. Next I used it to call a Polycom RMX 2000 video conference bridge.  That also worked nicely.

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Experimenting with Opus I: PhonerLite

Opus-LogoInspired by my earlier interaction with Mike Phillips I thought it would be interesting to get some hands on experience with Opus. It would be worthwhile staging a little test to better understand the audio path presented in one or more Opus implementations.

A quick Google search revealed that PhonerLite, the freeware Windows soft phone from Germany, includes Opus from the v1.92 release onward. According to the release notes support for Opus replaced support for CELT. The current release is v2.08 from April 16, 2013.

I had first encountered PhonerLite some time ago, when I was seeking a G.722 capable soft phone. It’s very functional but a bit quirky.

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Considering Opus Implementations

Opus-over-skypeOpus promises to be a great tool for online audio. In technology, as in music, not all opus are implemented equally. Allow me to explain.

Earlier this week I happened into a Twitter exchange with Mike Phillips. Mike is a podcaster. VUC founder Randy Resnick has introduced us once before. Mike is seeking a replacement for the role that Skype plays in his online toolbox.

It came to light that Mike has tried to leverage various soft phones, even giving some focus to finding one that implements the Opus codec. Opus is after all, open source, the current state-of-the-art in audio codecs, and a new IETF standard. However, in Mike’s attempts to tap its potential he has to date come up short relative to Skype.

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