Let’s face it, while those of you with Google TV love it, it’s not the most popular platform and certainly isn’t living up to Google’s own expectations. So it should be no surprise when they make this kind of move. Google has acquired a new company, and the company in question is SageTV. Their product is home theater software (previously available for $40 or so). The downside of the acquisition is that consumers can no longer get the SageTV software (I’ll give you some other options at the bottom on this article).

While the company stated that they accepted the Google offer because they share a vision of open technology, they almost ironically, pulled down their store and just about everything else once they signed the deal. I guess it’s not open anymore.

What Was The SageTV Service All About?

Here’s some info on the no-longer-available SageTV software I dug up today:

Watch online video on your TV with integrated Google Video support. SageTV Media Extender lets you connect all your TVs to Google Video.

SageTV Media Extender DVD playback lets you play all your hard disk based DVDs with DVD menus and 5.1 audio. Now see thumbnails for all your TV show recordings. Powerful file conversion and compression – SageTV can convert any of your files to almost any format you need:

  • Pushbutton conversion to video iPod, portable video player or cell phone formats
  • Save space by converting your TV recordings to higher compression video formats
  • Convert your HDTV recordings to MPEG4 with surround sound to save space

SageTV supports more formats than ever before including:

  • WMA, AAC (iTunes), FLAC, Ogg/Vorbis music files now supported for playback with full tag parsing
  • MOV (Quicktime), 3GP, MP4, H.264 Playback

New DVB support with EPG data direct from broadcaster. Now see EPG data from ATSC broadcasts for DTV subchannels.

Enhanced EPG Data for US/Canadian customers includes Series Information and TV Editorials.

New Music, Photo and Video library support:

  • Rotate and flip photos with full quality
  • View music by Genre
  • Find your favorite musc of the 80s, 70s and more
  • Video and DVD library with more detailed media information
  • Aspect ratio correction available for all media types

I also found out they had a hardware media extender called the SageTV HD Theater 300

Enjoy online video, music, photos and your DVD/BluRay library all over your home in Full HD for only $149.95 each. You can also watch live or recorded HDTV from your PC or Mac with SageTV Media Center software. Our fastest HD Theater ever!

Now with HDMI 1.3 and support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD/MA. All your favorite online video from YouTube, Google Video and major TV networks on your TV at the press of a button on your remote control!

Easy to setup, just connect your SageTV HD Theater to your TV, setup your wired or optional wireless network connection and you are ready to go. (Wireless adapter sold separately)

  • Enjoy your home video library, music and photos
  • Movie Trailers, music videos, TV shows and more on demand online
  • Easy to setup, connect your TV, home network and go
  • No fan, no noise
  • With optional SageTV Media Center software for PC or Mac and an HD TV tuner you can watch and pause live HDTV and record a whole season of shows

Sage Moves by Savvy Google?

SageTV’s main bailiwick (so I hear) is in fact DVR, so that sure sounds like what Google would like to add into the next version of Android and Google TV doesn’t it? Then those set-top boxes you’ve got might be able to get a firmware update which allows recording of shows to an external USB device. That could mean instant bonus for pre-existing Google TV users.

It could also mean an all-in-one solution for Google Android users who have got tablets and smartphones. If SageTV is rolled into the next version of Android, then a server/client setup is no stretch of the imagination at all. That would mean instant streaming server for all your home-based entertainment straight to your portable Android devices.

Some Open Source Alternatives

If you’re in the market for a SageTV-like product, there are a ton of options already available (here’s that part where I tell you where else to go). My father, TechnoDad, really digs My Movies while I’m currently testing out Remote Potato. I’ve also got Orb installed which works quite well when compared to Remote Potato which has some issues. For a while there we were both testing TVersity but in the end it just wasn’t what we were looking for.

This is not meant to be any kind of exhaustive list, just some places to start looking round. Feel free to drop your favorite in comments.

What Will Become Of SageTV?

I have to be honest with you, I’ve never heard of SageTV until today. Though, I imagine there are plenty of pissed off people right about now. I mean from a developer community standpoint, you help SageTV build up an app full of customizations and extras along with a community that uses the tool, and then they shut it all down and sell it off to Google. That could certainly be frustrating, especially if development on the application goes totally in-house at Google and is no longer available to the public. All that time and effort, and any code you might have submitted in good faith, suddenly falls into corporate hands and disappears? Yeah, I’d be sort of pissed off as well.

Then again, Google might not do that at all. The closing of SageTV’s site (aside from forums) could simply be to enable a swift and clean changeover of control. After all, SageTV shouldn’t need to focus on their own web development anymore since they’ve got the resources of Google at their disposal.

For Google it’s definitely win-win. They probably got a good deal and got a key piece of software that they need if they want to continue expanding the multimedia streaming capabilities of Google TV and Android.

Here’s a video from YouTube showing the features of the latest version 7 of SageTV. Too bad we can’t see it in the ‘flesh’ anymore.

If development does turn into Google Android only, I hope that Google releases SageTV version 7 to the public. That’s the minimum good faith gesture they could do on their part and then any further development of the software could be ‘theirs.’