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analysis of viera cast

speculatrix

Active Member
so, viera cast (apart from the DLNA streaming) is a bit bland, so I wondered whether it'd be possible to hijack it and do something more interesting. it's early days yet, but I wanted to get the ball rolling

the first thing to do is set up a sniffer or proxy so that you can see what it's downloading, and to extract the user agent string.

here's the first few things it asks for

HEAD http://vieracast.eu/test

GET http://vieracast.eu/data/home-screen.js

GET http://vieracast.eu/data/common/gradation_v.png

...

the home-screen.js gives me "denied" when I try and access with firefox, so I will need the user-agent switcher:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/59

for me, vieracast.eu resolves to 83.231.191.161, and there appears to be a vieracast.com on 85.233.160.22 so I shall see if faking the DNS gives me anything interesting.

more to follow, but I just wanted to wet people's appetite
 

NumbNutz

Active Member
I just wish they'd make more things available as you're right, it is too bland!
 

toodeep

Well-known Member
What do folk expect? Any video-on-demand service, as in other markets, has to compete with the free-to-use iPlayer, etc..
 

NumbNutz

Active Member
I'd like access to things like Facebook, Twitter and the BBC News website. It's almost embarassing to show the TV's internet capabilities and for everyone who has seen Vieracast say "Is that it?"

When even my Mother-In-Law is saying that you know there is something lacking!
 

speculatrix

Active Member
OK, I set up squid to log the user agent, and all I could think was ***?!

the user agent is different every time and appears to be a base64 encoded string of 216 chars including the == at the end; when decoded it gives a string starting "Salted__" and after that it's gobbledegook binary; I'll have to feed a large number of them through base64 decoder to see if there's a pattern.


Also, I tried hacking/faking a simple DNS change for vieracast.eu to be same as vieracast.us and it didn't make any difference. Maybe fixing the request headers so the web server sees a request to the .com will do something. Will have to go read squid docs for that, or maybe privoxy?
 

speculatrix

Active Member
just wondering if anyone has ever hacked viera cast? would like to run myth tv thru web server or something like that

vieracast is entirely different from the viera DLNA client - the former, which I created this thread for, is the "web"-like page which provides access to youtube, picasa etc. I noticed the other day (I don't use it very often) that a few new things had been added, so at least Panasonic aren't ignoring it.

FWIW, in terms of the Viera DLNA client, I have had 100% success streaming video from my linux file server running Playstation Media Server - PS3 Media Server - so I would be pretty confident that alternatives would work just as well.
 

tangiebaals

Active Member
Just wondered if you'd got any further with this?

I've been having a little play myself, with a view to customizing viera cast. Again I'm at early days but so far I've: -


  • routed it via a Squid proxy
  • seen the random user agent string as you have
  • discovered that you can download any of the required files from vieracast.eu just by using the first user agent string (that it uses for home-screen.js)
  • Configured a Squid redirector to intercept and inject my own pages
  • Discovered how to point to and play random mp3, aac and mp4 files from the web
  • Managed to add Twitter to my main page (which is available in US market but not UK) by tweaking the config files.
  • Also managed to add Pandora, but not managed to get it working (not surprising since it restricts to US IP addresses).
So essentially what I'm doing is having the TV proxy via my Squid server. The squid server inspects my local Apache server to see whether I've got a local modified copy of a "real" file (which I can download with wget, passing the random user agent). It then serves the local file if it exists, otherwise it proxies and passes the "real" file.

The pages that come down are Ajax/Javascript, and Panasonic clearly have a full library of media and graphics facilities. (It'll be the ajax_ce environment that's mentioned on the service menu page).

So I download home-screen.js (and other files) onto my local apache server and make tweaks. I can for example make it play a random piece of music instead of showing the TV in the centre. I've also successfully injected a random .mp4 file into the youtube "featured" list. With a bit of work it shouldn't be difficult (relatively!) to make an app point to any mp4 available on the web.

Next I tried to point the media player to web radio streams (shoutcast, aac streams etc) as I'd really like to be able to listen to internet radio on it, however it didn't seem to like this.

The main hurdle at the moment is getting any feedback. Of course there is no console, so I can't see any error messages. I have overridden the javascript console.log() function to send it back via a php logger on my Apache server which lets me output debugging text, but I still can't figure out how to trap the equivelant of window.onerror(), so syntax errors etc just bomb.

The library is also Panasonic specific, and since it's not a published API, it's all guesswork trying to figure out what the functions etc do. I have to rely on existing code to figure out what does what (e.g. the Pandora code revealed the MusicPlayer() class so I can play mp3/aac)

Still, it does show that with perseverance it may be possible to do some customisation.

I'm going to carry on playing as and when I get a chance, and may create a blog or something to update with ideas and progress so others can jump on the bandwagon and hopefully throw around their own ideas.
 

Interceptor121

Active Member
This whole viera cast seems a bit weak
Even the DNLA is just average because I am sure the TV is not actually capable of playing high profile 1080p H264 files
I have an apple tv with XBMC and boxee and the quality of the webapps is actually very good but the machine has got a dedicated CPU I do not see how a tv could match that
If you want to stream media as of now you need a separate media player
 

NumbNutz

Active Member
If you want to stream media as of now you need a separate media player
I disagree.

Having DLNA on the TV is a great addition and saves me from using my NOISY Xbox 360 for media streaming. OK, I cannot play HD / H264 / MKV files etc using this method but to honest, some ordinary .avi / .divx files look pretty good and are much smaller than their HD conterparts.

I'm looking at getting a Revo PC to hook up to my TV for web browsing and, to a lesser extent, HD streaming. For normal run-of-the-mill stuff, DLNA is great!
 

Interceptor121

Active Member
Playing SD Divx/Xvid files is basic functionality that I would expect working with any device either through USB or network however the reason you get a 1080p Tv is to play HD and there is not point fluffing around if the Tv is not capable of playing content that uses all the display capabilities
Going back to Viera cast there are many appliances that can stream more content and with better performance, I currently play 4OD, BBC iplayer HD (not SD as freesat), MTV on demand, You Tube, flicker, picasa and other 20 webapps out of XBMC or Boxee on the apple tv. Viera cast is good for the non demanding user that want to perform few simple tasks at present but not for the more demanding user. There is potential to add all the SD functionality but I guess it depends on how well it can play the content without being choppy
 

NumbNutz

Active Member
Viera cast is good for the non demanding user that want to perform few simple tasks at present but not for the more demanding user.
It's as if you're complaining the BMW you have just bought doesn't have the same performance as a Ferarri 430! No matter what the field (but especially in tech world), the 'more demanding user' is always going to want the best thing. That's why ridiculous publications like Home Cinema Choice give Best Buy awards to speakers costing more than a years salary.

In any case, think about it ... just over 12 months ago hardly any TV's had DLNA built in, I am grateful mine has!
 

Interceptor121

Active Member
I guess it depends on your salary

I can tell you that a SONY surround system sounds like a squeeking duck compared to a KEF audio because I have had both

Like I said VIERA is at very early stages and the G and V series can only address the basic user needs in terms of media player features

VIERA CAST and the DNLA capabilities of the G series do not offer any HD content

An entry player media player like WD Live TV would cost you less than £100 and £180 with 1TB storage and will play bluray rip decently that is not a huge sum of money and if you spend over £1000 for a TV that displays 1080p you should make sure you have some content to play that actually uses the display capabilities

When I went to the Panasonic shop I was expecting a bit more from VIERA CAST but even the sales people said it was basic
 

tangiebaals

Active Member
Sorry, but *** does this have to do with "analysis of viera cast", you're taking it a bit off topic really!

I agree, I'd love Viera Cast to be able to play MKV files etc, but for now I'm concentrating on trying to add functionality, e.g. streaming from other websites, i.e. expanding the functionality alongside what it can do, but within its capabilities.
 

dazsmith69

Active Member
its overrated, and a novelty to start with. Soon wears off though

Purely a marketing con.
 

tangiebaals

Active Member
Playing SD Divx/Xvid files is basic functionality that I would expect working with any device either through USB or network however the reason you get a 1080p Tv is to play HD and there is not point fluffing around if the Tv is not capable of playing content that uses all the display capabilities
Going back to Viera cast there are many appliances that can stream more content and with better performance, I currently play 4OD, BBC iplayer HD (not SD as freesat), MTV on demand, You Tube, flicker, picasa and other 20 webapps out of XBMC or Boxee on the apple tv. Viera cast is good for the non demanding user that want to perform few simple tasks at present but not for the more demanding user. There is potential to add all the SD functionality but I guess it depends on how well it can play the content without being choppy

It can actually play HD files, I converted a sample file to mpeg2 1080p and it plays flawlessly. So whilst it won't play mkv, h.264 etc the hardware it technically perfectly capable of rendering it in software, it just needs drivers to decode them (or for you to transcode them).

Whether panasonic will add that facility is questionable, but your questioning SD being choppy is irelevant since it can stream 1080 perfectly well.
 

Interceptor121

Active Member
Where did I say it would play local SD files choppy?
Streaming is different of course and nobody would encode 1080p files in MPEG2 so that is irrelavant as well
The TV has already H264 support the issue is if it is capable of using High Profile features and level 4.0 and above
 

Interceptor121

Active Member
Ok I will need to spell it out for you
The fact that the Tv can play a file from an SD card does not mean that it will play seamlessly the same file over an internet connection which is what VIERA CAST is supposed to do
 

tangiebaals

Active Member
I'm not playing off an SD card, I'm playing off my DLNA server (okay perhaps I didn't make that clear). But that's streaming over the LAN, which is exactly the same as streaming over the internet, the only difference being the bandwidth of the internet connection. And the bandwidth of the internet connection, being the only difference, will be the limiting factor, so neither your XBox, PS3, Panasonic nor whatever else will be better at it. The limiting factor in the hardware is simply the codecs for h.264 etc to make better use of said bandwidth.

Anyhow, this has been done to death - back to the task in hand...
 

twa00

Active Member
It can actually play HD files, I converted a sample file to mpeg2 1080p and it plays flawlessly. So whilst it won't play mkv, h.264 etc


I have started to use Wild Media Server (Wild Media Server (UPnP, DLNA, HTTP) - Main page )
which is currently free and will stream DVD's and other files perfectly and with transcoding Blu Ray files - takes some playing around but it does work - usually :smashin:
There is also another (currently free!) product MakeMKV which will stream a Blu Ray to the TV without going through the conversion. Sometimes the sound hiccups but still great picture.

it's surprising what is out there and currently under development like these 2 ß packages.

Clever people these Eastern European and Chinese programmers
 

twa00

Active Member
Forgot to add - all thats (currently) free providing you have a DVD/Blu Ray player or your DVD/Blu Rays on disk.

A little bit cheaper than a media player :) although being totally honest I have one of those on order (HDI Dune) - but for different family reasons!
 

Interceptor121

Active Member
I'm not playing off an SD card, I'm playing off my DLNA server (okay perhaps I didn't make that clear). But that's streaming over the LAN, which is exactly the same as streaming over the internet, the only difference being the bandwidth of the internet connection. And the bandwidth of the internet connection, being the only difference, will be the limiting factor, so neither your XBox, PS3, Panasonic nor whatever else will be better at it. The limiting factor in the hardware is simply the codecs for h.264 etc to make better use of said bandwidth.

Anyhow, this has been done to death - back to the task in hand...

If your LAN if is a good one is the same of playing the SD card but when you go through internet which is what VIERA CAST does you need higher efficiency compression that the TV does not support such as high profile H264
If it did I am sure Panasonic would have been fast to brand the TV as HDTV 1080p, at present there is no such device on the market and the only requirement that is not fulfilled is to play high profile level 4 H264 which is the
 
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