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PLEX for Yahoo Connected TV devices - Vizio, Vizio Co-Star LT, Sony, Samsung

There has been some discussion of this topic in another thread specific to Vizio (https://forums.plexapp.com/index.php/topic/29480-vizio-internet-apps/), but I wanted to start a new topic un-bury it from the depths of the other topic... 

 

I am working on a plex client app for the Yahoo Connected TV Platform. My understanding (though I haven't confirmed this) is that this encompasses all Vizo Smart TVs and the Vizio Co-Star LT device, as well as several Samsung and Sony devices. A list of some devices using this platform can be found here: http://connectedtv.yahoo.com/tvdevices/.  I have seen indication that a few other manufacturers might also use this platform on some devices, like Toshiba, Hisense, and others. 

 

All I can confirm for sure is that every Vizio Smart TV I have tried is able to use the app I have created. 

 

The app is currently in an Alpha state and soon to be released to the first few testers. So far, the only testers lined up are for the Vizio TVs. Please PM me if you would like to help test on other platforms or the co-star LT.

 

I hope to have a release ready for the app store within about a month, but that is realistically probably a pretty aggresive schedule. Naming/Branding for the app is still up in the air a bit based on some recent communication with the Plex team, but at the moment I'm calling it CRASH Player. Not very inspired, but based on my long-standing nickname Crash. 

 

Most recent tests show excellent performance up to 1080p over ethernet or a solid wireless connection for Direct Play videos. Though the devices may vary in their media support, I have found that my TV seems to support the following formats very well:

 

    SUPPORTEDCONTAINERS: [ 'mp4', 'wmv', 'asf' ],
    SUPPORTEDVIDEOCODECS: [ 'h264', 'vc1' ],
    SUPPORTEDAUDIOCODECS: [ 'aac', 'ac3', 'wma', 'wmapro' ],

 

 

Transcoding is a little tougher because of hardware limitations on the devices (at least the ones I have tested), but I believe a strong PMS machine would deliver the same performance. MKV (one of the more popular) is not a supported container format, and the media player (at least in my TV) does not support the HLS protocol typically used in the better Universal Transcoder. I am still working on the Transcoder performance and testing and will test the Universal Transcoder on some of the newer devices, but at this point I'm getting at least 'reasonable' results from a somewhat underpowered Plex server. 

 

I should have the first Alpha release available for a limited number of testers within a week, assuming the holidays don't get in the way too much. 

 

Watch this thread for more updates if you are interested in a Plex client for the Yahoo Connected TV platform.

 

Thanks, 

 

Rob 'Crash' Hales

 

 

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Comments

  • dafengqi1dafengqi1 Posts: 6Members
    Kudos, Rob!!
  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    Alpha release 0.0.1 is now out to testers. I've given it all a decent run-through today and everything seems to work pretty well.  I know of a few bugs and limitations at this point, but I'm not going to go into too much detail tonight, as it is after midnight on Christmas, but I wanted to get the app out to the testers tonight.  

    Below are a few screen shots. First thing you will need to do is go to settings and add your IP address and change any other settings you want/need to. Unfortunately, the platform doesn't expose the socket functionality required to auto-discover a Plex server. Also, if you change your settings to make everything Direct Play, some movies cause the TV to explode in a spectacular fireball display. Well, or maybe just shut down in an error condition. However, I appreciate any efforts to find out what formats will Direct Play correctly. 

    Remember, you can only see the movies that are onDeck right now. Just play the first 5 or 10 seconds of a movie in some other player and you will be able to see them in the app. You can go into the Settings screen and back out to force a refresh of the onDeck list. 

    When you are playing media, an information bar appears at the top of the screen showing various things to help troubleshoot and understand how the media is playing. It specifies if the media is transcoding or direct playing, as well as buffer information (though the buffer % doesn't seem to work on my TV and is a bit flakey in the simulator). It also shows the resolution the movie is playing, the Quality (transcode) or Bitrate (Direct), Buffer %, Buffer Count, Formats (container/videoCodec/audioCodec), and the Frame Rate. You can use the green button on your remote to turn that display off. On my TV, the transport overlay has to be visible for that to work. I haven't bothered looking into why that is, and I may not, so just push the button twice if you need to. :) 

    Other than that, I know it is ugly, and I know there are a few little minor bugs. I know that if your media streams are not in the right order in the container, you may have problems with a few things, but it should still play properly. All results of hacking some things together to get a working app. All of these things will be cleaned up in the future. 

    Thanks testers for helping out. Have a Merry Christmas. Watch this space for more updates and requests. Next big step will be access to the entire library. 

    Thanks, 

    Rob 'Crash' Hales...

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    Screenshots: 

    dock.jpg

    settings.jpg

    sidebar.jpg

    resume.jpg

    player.jpg

  • dafengqi1dafengqi1 Posts: 6Members
    What a Christmas gift! Thanks Rob!!
  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    Hey Everyone, 

    I hope you all had a good Christmas. I'd like to add a little to my Christmas Eve post for testers. 

    At this point, I'm not interested in bugs too much. I know there are a few, and I know you will probably find more. If you want to mention anything you find, that is fine, but I'd really like to focus on the media.

    I'd like to find out what kind of media is supported. As I mentioned before, I found the following supported great on my TV: 

        SUPPORTEDCONTAINERS: [ 'mp4', 'wmv', 'asf' ],
        SUPPORTEDVIDEOCODECS: [ 'h264', 'vc1' ],
        SUPPORTEDAUDIOCODECS: [ 'aac', 'ac3', 'wma', 'wmapro' ],
     
    MKV files are definitely not supported on my TV. Also mt2s didn't work, but didn't blow up quite as bad as MKV. If you have any other formats, you can test with, great! Just force Direct Play in your settings and try to play it. You can find the format in the Info Bar on the player screen, or in the media information on plex. Let me know your results, positive or negative. 
     
    I'm also interested in hearing from someone with a strong server for transcoding. The Generic Transcoder seems a bit inefficient, at least how I'm using it. If I run at 320p, my transcoder will keep up, but anything else, it can't seem to do it, even though it is not maxing my CPU on the server. Almost like it isn't taking advantage of all the available threads. I'm not sure really. The Universal transcoder seems to do a lot better (but, of course, I haven't figured out how we can use that yet with this app). 
     
    Any other problems playing any media you have? 
     
    I have only implemented a very basic fast-foward/rewind so far. It just seeks forward and back 10 seconds. If I stick with this method, I plan to make that number configurable. If I'm transcoding and seek too far or too quickly forward, it seems to get lost waiting for the transcoder to keep up and eventually drops out of the movie. But again, this might work better on a strong transcoder server. I still have a few other options in mind to play with for fast-forward and rewind, but I think I'd like to work on a full-screen Library view before I start playing with that. With Direct Play, fast-forward and rewind seem to work really well. If you try to hit the button too quickly, it just keeps jumping back to the current seek point. I think this is in the media player itself but I'll see if I can find a way to clean that up a little bit in the future. I haven't yet implemented the fast-forward and rewind buttons on the remote. Only the on-screen buttons work.  
     
    If you hit the back button while media is playing, then try to play something else, things seem to get hung up somewhere. I haven't looked into what is happening yet, but I have it noted and I'll do some digging as it bubbles to the top of the priority list. 
     
    I'll try to get a bug/issue/feature tracker up and running soon so everyone can keep track of where some of these things stand and maybe submit bugs. 
     
    That's where we stand for now. Hopefully any testing so far has been positive and we are on our way to a decent app. With the wide variety of devices and capabilities out there, and me just testing on my own little piece of it, you never know what kind of results it will see when it gets out there to other devices. 
     
    Thanks again for your help. 
     
    Rob 'Crash' Hales...
  • kwigginskwiggins Posts: 3Members

    Rob,

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to do this. I have been looking for a way to stream movies directly to my Vizio TV since last year. I am looking forward to when this is released to a larger audience.  I'll even offer my services as a Beta tester if you need more.

    K Wig.

  • Kingof2v1Kingof2v1 Posts: 1Members

    Any room for more testers? Also, when will you be releasing an OPEN alpha? :)

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    kwiggins and Kingof2v1, I think we have room for a couple more testers for the Vizio TVs. Then I think I'll cut it off there for Vizio TVs, but still looking for testers for the Co-Star LT and any other brand TV. If I get too many testers, I'm afraid it will start turning into a nightmare trying to keep everyone authorized and keep track of everything. 

    I'll need your developer code, Yahoo ID, and TV brand.  This link will show you how to get the developer code: 

     

    http://developer.yah...p_Software.html

     

    PM me that information and I'll get you added. 

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members
    Kingof2v1 wrote on December 27 2013, 2:56 PM: »

    Any room for more testers? Also, when will you be releasing an OPEN alpha? :)

    The process of getting an app approved to actually be put on the app store is not really simple. You pretty much have to have a full working app that meets several standards and guidelines. So there really is no way for me to put an app out there for anyone to play with without it being much further along than it is right now. At this point, I have to add individual testers manually. 

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    Not sure where the forum dug up that old avatar pic of me (gravatar maybe?) but I changed it to a picture of my cute girl instead of my ugly mug. :) 

  • iPseudoNymiPseudoNym Posts: 4Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited December 2013

    This is looking great, crashbob!!! I would be most interested in helping test on my Vizio M501d-A2R.

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    I have decided to allow 10 Vizio TV testers. Much more than that will get hectic for maintaining each version. I have about 7 lined up so far with a couple more requests I'm waiting for information from.  I appreciate everyone's help. 

    In trying to get a little bit more organized for this, I took today away from coding to get the beginnings of a wiki and bug tracker put together. I'm considering a small forum for issue, testing, and bug discussion amongst testers if anyone thinks there is a need to go that far. At this point, I have only heard good things from about 3 testers and one potential ugly bug, which may be more of an issue with the Plex Generic Transcoder than with my code, but I still need to look into it. I'm still hoping to find a way to NOT use the generic transcoder if I can. But Direct Play of the media encoded in a supported format seems to work really well. 

    More information will be found (in the future) at http://crashplayer.com and bugs will be tracked at http://bugs.crashplayer.com. 

    I'll be working on getting a full-screen library browser up and running next. I can promise it will not be attractive, but hopefully it will be functional. I hope to release that version to testers within a week, but since I have yet to dig into it at all, I can't make any promises. 

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    I found that I have a physical limit of testers from Yahoo. I cannot add more than 10 people to an app. So including me, we are already there. 

    However, I plan on moving pretty quickly with this project, and will need to get somewhat regular feedback from testers to get benefit from them. So, I hate to be a stickler, but if I don't hear from you, either positive, negative, or just saying "Hi, I'm testing", then I'll replace you as a tester. I already have a few people giving good feedback, and some I haven't yet heard from. But I have several others requesting to be testers still.  I understand this is a busy time of year as well, but I'll have to use my best judgement and I apologize in advance if I kick you off as a tester. 

    In other news... I have a pretty good start on the full-screen Library view. I can see and watch all the top-level of all media at this point and all the various categories (onDeck, All, Unwatched, Recently Aired, etc.). For TV Shows and Photos, which have a deeper hierarchy, I still need to do some work.

    Watch this space... 

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    Internationalization! 

    Who is fluent in a foreign language?  Before I release this to the Yahoo store, I will make this support as many languages as I can get translated. If you are interested in translating my phrase list, please PM me and I'll get back with you in a few weeks. 

    Thanks, 

    Rob... 

  • ltrayanovltrayanov Posts: 4Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    I can do bulgarian and russian. Shoot me the list

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members
    lubeto wrote on December 29 2013, 4:39 PM: »

    I can do bulgarian and russian. Shoot me the list

    Excellent. That will be when I get closer to submitting it to the store, but I appreciate your offer. I'll get back with you in a few weeks. 

    Thanks, 

    Rob... 

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    Quick Update:

    We are finding compatibility differences from old devices to new devices. My TV is a couple years old, but apparently an older model with limited support for different media types. The newer devices seem to support most video and audio formats that we can find. This is great news for those with new devices, but complicates things for those with older devices.  Of course, if you have your media in a format that the TV supports, it all Direct Plays beautifully.  

    I will probably build with support for the newer devices as priority, but with a Compatibilty Mode for older devices that won't be quite as nice, but should work pretty well. And again, if your media is in the right formats (see below), then the app should work great for you anyway. 

    Here are the known supported formats for Compatibility Mode: 

        SUPPORTEDCONTAINERS: [ 'mp4', 'wmv', 'asf' ],
        SUPPORTEDVIDEOCODECS: [ 'h264', 'vc1' ],
        SUPPORTEDAUDIOCODECS: [ 'aac', 'ac3', 'wma', 'wmapro' ],
     
    We are also finding compatibility issues with some formats of media and the Generic Transcoder. Attempting to transcode this media is causing the PMS to crash entirely. We are hoping new devices will support the Universal Transcoder, and then we can use the generic transcoder only in rare cases and with warnings as to it's experimental use. 
     
    Also, making good progress on selected media from the entire library. As promised, it's ugly. But functional.
     
    Sneak Preview: 
     
    fullscreen.jpg
  • bjh81782bjh81782 Posts: 1Members

    This is looking good!  Excited for this.  Thanks for your efforts.

  • crashbobcrashbob Posts: 92Members

    UPDATE: Version 0.1.0 just released to testers. 

    I've been putting in the hours over the holidays and have the next version released to testers. If asked about testing, check your email and/or private messages for information. 

    Here are the significant changes for the new 0.1.x release:

    The biggest change is full-screen Full Library support. Woohoo! This was big. It is a bit ugly, as promised, but functionally, I think it is pretty solid, though I'm sure there are still a few bugs to be found (and I found a few today in my testing, but nothing worth delaying the release further.)

    The main library screen looks like this:

    library-full.jpg

    You can pan left and right to find all the media. (No indicators yet to show that here is more media to scroll to, but that's on the list).

    If you select a TV Shows section, you will be taken to the Shows screen:

    show.jpg

    Select a season and the episodes will show on the bottom.


    Select any media from either screen and you will be sent to the Media Info screen:

    mediainfo.jpg

    You can see there is potential for all kinds of beautifulness here! But for now, just the basics. Play, or go back.

    At the moment, photos and music are not supported, though you can look into the photo sections at least (I haven't tried music or home videos at all). If you try to click on unsupported media types, it will let you know that it doesn't know how to handle that media yet. 

    Watch this space... 

    Crash... 

  • chris@thebarrettbunch.comchris@thebarrettbunch.com Posts: 11Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    This is exciting! I'll be watching and looking forward to a release version.  :D

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