As you very well may have read a few days ago, a group called vidtonic will be showing off a built-it-yourself Android powered television at CES 2011. At the first announcement, not many details were given - that's all changing now. Jeff Cody of vidtonic posted a big Q and A list today listing several questions that were of course on everyone's minds when they first heard the term "Android TV" as well as a couple regarding the actual kit they'll be showing off. Would you like to know more?
The questions and answers are thus, asked by you, and answered by vidtonic:
How much does it cost?
Pricing they do not know yet (or wont let us know yet.) They do mention that this project is meant to be an AFFORDABLE open TV platform for Android enthusiasts, so that might be a good sign. Pricing will depend on the TV size - we will have 22", 26", 32", and 42" TV kits available at launch. - They say larger sizes will be available later on, but not at launch.
Can just the circuit board be purchased, rather than the full kit?
Yes. The board will be available on its own as it is useful as a standalone Android development kit. Features include HDMI output, ATSC tuner input, VGA input, USB, SATA, mini PCI-e, and more.
They say that if you're able to put together a computer from components with instructions, you'll have no problem here. No soldering is involved, all instructions will be included.
Target for the actual release of the product for sale is inside the second quarter of 2011. Pre-release kits will be released as early as Q1 if at all possible. Several items go into producing the kits, some they say are in their control, some out: circuit board production (using a next-gen ARM Cortex A8 processor,) software development (modifying the Android core and creating specific Android apps for the TV,) and licensing and business deals.
Will the modding community pick it up?
They HOPE so. In their efforts to make this project a success (and since the prime demographic is the mod community,) they'll be giving out free kits to the community. How? Idunno. They say they'll be reaching out to "some of the main Android mod project leaders" as they reach launch date. They note the following:
On this point - we are geeks, and coders, and engineers here at Vidtonic. We believe in open platforms, open systems, and the ability to hack away on your own hardware. So, to the extent possible (and by that, I mean to the extent that we meet all our legal licensing obligations), we are not locking the system down. Things like HDCP licensing agreements will limit some of what we can release, but to the extent possible we release everything with open hands. The limitations will be those that others force upon us.
It will be very difficult to brick your DIY setup. If you do, you can sent the board back to vidtonic and they'll un-brick it for you. Nice!
Is this Google TV?
Nope! They say they're based off the Android open-source repository. They've got "nothing but respect" for Google and what they're doing with Google TV and Android, and the Homebrew DIY kit is not meant to take away from the Google TV project in any way. This is a DIY kit for Android enthusiasts, and is an open development platform. They do mention that at some point, they may switch over to the Google TV platform if it's appropriate and "still meets their goals."