Finally, a Commercial-Grade H.264 Decoder

QIP-D sides

Ever look for a quality, affordable, commercial-grade MPEG decoder? The usual choice is the Amino H-150 – a not-very-good decoder that can’t be controlled or updated over a network, requires a keyboard and the secret password (snakes) to edit the playlist, only IR control, and no ability to control an attached TV. Support? Faggetabboudit!

The search is over – Contemporary Research recently released the QIP-D IPTV Decoder-Controller, and I’ve had a chance to test out a pre-release unit.

The Basics

Overall, it’s a well-made integration-friendly IPTV decoder that retails for $599. The unit can decode MPEG2, MPEG4 and H.264 streams in UDP or RTP format and supports closed captioning. The compact metal enclosure, a bit bigger than 7″ x 4′ x 1″, has a behind-the-TV mounting flange. The front has buttons for power, setup menus, volume and channel up and down, and an IR sensor. The back sports an RJ-45 Ethernet port that supports 6-watt POE and a port for an external 12V power supply. In addition to HDMI, there are audio de-embedder ports for optical PCM/AC3 SPDIF or analog stereo. A standard DB9 port sends RS-232 TV commands or receives commands from a control system. An IR port can connect to an optional IR extender or wired IR from a control system. There’s a USB port for firmware updates, but you can handle all that from Ethernet.

Tuning In

Streaming operation works much like a TV tuner; select a channel number or use channel up/down. Creating the list is way simple – download the free CR Toolbox. The app can scan your network for QIP-D decoders and show them all in a list and:

  • Create a channel list, adding a channel number, name, and multicast address
  • Select some or all decoders
  • Send the list – that’s it!

CR Toolbox can also access QIP-D Web pages, update firmware, and test operation using Telnet commands.

Taking Control

System integrators have several options for remote control:

  • IR Remote. Operate the decoder with a basic IR remote or multi-brand remote
  • Local control system. Connect from RS-232 or wired IR ports, or send Telnet commands through the room’s dedicated IP switch. BTW, AMX and Crestron integrators can use the same control module as ATSC-series TV tuners.
  • LAN control system. The QIP-D can listen to Telnet commands, or respond to network ICC-Net commands. ICC-Net is a published protocol that uses UDP broadcast commands. Each decoder can be set to a unique device ID, and responds when a command includes its ID. You can use your own control system, or use CR’s web-based Display Express software.

In addition, the QIP-D has an internal database of RS-232 TV codes to control TV power and in the future, inputs. CEC TV power control is also available.

Long story short, the QIP-D is an excellent commercial-grade MPEG decoder that plays well with all control systems.

Full disclosure – I am a past Contemporary Research employee.