A few years ago, a colleague and I were trying to figure out a way to simplify the installation process for a Internet-based set-top and we were looking for an Ethernet over AC solution combined with a power AC to DC power supply (ie. AC plug on one side and Ethernet and 12 VDC on the output). We never quite found an off-the-shelf version of what we were looking for, but if the latest reference design from Sigma Designs is an indication, there is something even better coming down the design pipeline.
Sigma Designs is integrating HomePlugAV together with their video decoding technology and Z-Wave RF control technology to create set-top functionality in the form factor of a power brick. With AC on one side and a HDMI for connection to the TV. The Z-Wave technology allows for a non-line-of-sight remote control, which can control not only the television, but other devices like lights, thermostats, etc. Sigma Designs indicates it supports the typical Conditional Access and Digital Rights Management solutions, as well as Linux, Android and Windows CE operating systems. They claim it is 40% faster and consumes 30% less power than previous Sigma thin-client solutions.
In its release, Sigma did not indicate when suppliers will release products based on this reference design .