Forgot your password?
The Borg Box and Convergence Fantasies
Technology Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday April 25, @11:10AM
from the wouldnt-it-be-nice dept.
Gather round kids and let me tell you a story. A story of "Convergence": a nasty buzzword many of us have dreampt of in hot lusty dreams that we wouldn't admit to our mothers. The dream is the borged media box: combining the functionality of your Tivo, your MP3 Box, DVD Player, CD Player, and so much more. It's not here yet despite lots of trying, but its getting closer.

If your closet looks anything like mine, its full of stereo equipment. Some obsolete (VCR?), and some of it is critical to survival (Tivo). But the stack of components are seperate devices which provide flexibility, but are unable to integrate cleanly into each other. What I'm describing here is The Dream. A simple box that can fulfill the tasks of my tuner, reciever, CD Player, and has a ton of new tricks that nobody has done yet.

As always, I'm looking at this through the eyes of an open source hacker. Where possible I mention projects that could provide a framework. And I also make a huge assumption about disk space. Right now 80 gig hard drives are available for only a few hundred dollars. But since it'll be years before this box really exists, we will presumably have hundreds of gigs at our disposal. When we cross 500 gigs, things get interesting... we suddenly can store a few hundred movies... a month of TV... a few months of your favorite radio broadcasts... all in one beautiful box. This project could certainly be done on windows, but ideally it wouldn't matter, since most people would never see the underlying OS, and besides, the massaging of closed source applications to fit within this framework wouldn't be possible.

Devices

The most important devices are those that are already critical in a stereo today. We need to build upon that base before we can really start breaking new ground. That said, first and foremost, we must have a CD Player. But not just any CD Player, this CD Player should automatically rip every CD you insert and store it in Ogg Vorbis, ideally at a high bit trate. While programs like Grip and FreeAmp provide an excellent foundation, the interfaces to each will need work to fit within the Borg Box.

Why stop with a CD? We have to dedicate the physical space to read discs, lets include a DVD Player. VideoLAN has a pretty solid player for Linux now. But why stop there? Like our music, we should automatically rip, catalog, and store our DVDs. This should be optional of course because the disc space required to store DVDs is going to be fairly huge. But imagine if the last 20 DVDs you watched were stored on this box? It might take 50 gigs to store at a good compression rate, but when your buddy comes over you could quickly show him that scene you mentioned the other day without rummaging through that pile of DVDs and CDs that inevitably accumulates on top of every flat surface without 5 feet of your stereo. And in 3 years, that terebyte disc may be real. And since the player is purely a software thing, Dolby Digital, DTS 5.1, and future 6.1, 7.2, and whatever else comes next could be provided with a software upgrade (unlike today where you may need a new DVD Player or Reciever)

The DVD storage leads me into what is the new essential video component: Tivo. Anyone who uses a Personal Video Recorder for more then a few weeks knows that going back is just not an acceptable solution. Tivo simply makes TV tolerable again. But Tivo has its problems. We need bigger hard drives and more storage. The Tivo interface breaks down as the number of programs increase: the 35 Hour DirecTivo model becomes unmanagable when you have 60-70 shows on it. What happens when we can stick a half a TB of disc space on this? But afaik, no open source application duplicates the functionality of the Tivo.

We should include a Tuner as well, but I'd like it to be able to play a few tricks that most can't. I enjoy listening to Howard Stern in the morning. So my mega media box should start recording it at 6am. And the audio it records should be indexed nicely with the other audio we have. Audio compresses extremely well so we could keep a lot of it around. Recording a 5 hour radio show is only going to be a few hundred megs. I've seen bits and pieces of this software in place, but with Tuner cards available for less then a hundred bucks, this should be a negligible addition. The real effort will be the programming, but since we're already doing much of these things already, it shouldn't be that hard: The PVR will need the ability to record time/date, so radio stations could simply be extra channels. And the audio stuff already is encoding CDs, and providing a nice interface for selecting music. It won't be as simple since most radio stations won't have accesible "Guides" for what is on when, but we could make do with simple time/duration/station.

While we're at it, users with high enough bandwidth should be able to stream audio and video from the net. URLs are just channels and stations. A nice internal list of popular sources of content would be a nice start. This won't matter today, but as broadband becomes the norm, web based TV should start not sucking.

We'll also need to provide a few inputs for other devices. The real trick here is that since we're going to want to do things like crossfading and overlaying audio, so these will be hard to do. Honestly, with all the devices that this box has, hopefully we wouldn't need more then 2 spare inputs, but that is a big issue that remains to be seen.

Wishes

I'd love to see a version with an integrated DirecTV reciever (ala the DirecTivo which has some really great features, but no traditional cable tuner which really sucks). But that is a very difficult step and don't see that happening in any sort of open source project, so this may be an unattainable dream for our Borg Box.

A version capable of being a Cable Modem would be awesome. The cable company could make some serious bread selling something like this. They are already leasing Cable Modems and Digital Cable boxes. This would cost far more, but they could also charge a lot more for the huge gain in functionality. But imagine plugging this in to your cable jack, and being done. DHCP handles the net connection. Digital Cable. Its all done. DSL for those folks would be nice too, but you'd still need a cable input for video.

X10 Control would be sweet as well. Then events could be raised to do anything that X10 can do. The doorbell could trigger the front door camera, and change the video source to the camera by the front door (the X10 devices to do this security stuff is only a hundred bucks, so its not cost prohibitive). There are countless nifty things that you could do, and the only cost to the box is a few dollar firecracker to broadcast and recieve X10 signals, plus code to configure simple event handling. And that would be the ahrd part: coding a clean and flexible X10 system would be tricky work.

De-Interlacers are somewhat expensive devices that could probably be reasonably implemented as part of the playback. I'm sure it wouldn't be as top notch as a dedicated processor or high end progressive DVD Player, but it seems like this could be done nicely, and then we could pull one more component out of the chain. I suspect doing a good job with this would quickly become clock cycle consuming. Maybe co-processors could be employed for the job. This would only affect HDTV users, although in 18 months, that might be the majority of users for this device. Lets face it, this thing is going to be high tech, and the mainstream isn't even ready for Tivo yet!

New Tricks

A phone jack will be necessary for a variety of purposes (CD Lookups, TV Guide Information) for users without ethernet access to the world. Why not rig it up to allow notification of phone calls? You're watching a movie and the phone rings. The audio fades, and optionally the video pauses. A window pop's up and tells you who the call is from. Festival could even say it out loud.

Since we'll have a net connection, various reports could easily be generated. Some things could be snarfed automatically. Perl modules exist to get things like weather, stock quotes, and status of your pop mail. I'd love to wake up, press a button, and hear "Its 65 degrees and sunny with 10 mph wind from the northwest. LNUX is trading at 12 cents a share. And you have 1092 messages waiting". Well, I'd like it better if those last 2 numbers were switched, but you get the point. Advanced users could code simply scripts to acquire new information making the options limitless: Traffic reports ("It will take you 12 hours to get to work because you live in California dumbass") and any compliant rss website could give you news headlines. Couple that with X10, and you could make it so a motion sensor triggers your report. Add bounds for time. If the borg box detects motion between 8am and 10am in the living room, give the morning weather report. Suddenly, you have the report as you're getting your keys and wallet, and know without even looking outside if you need your coat.

While we're at it, why not provide an alarm clock? Its easy, but overlooked. Your alarm could be your customized news report I mentioned above, your favorite morning radio show (starting at the beginning, and not at 7:45 during the middle of that annoying commercial for the head shop), or your choice of obnoxiously loud ringing tones guaranteed to raise the dead.

Since all the devices are integrated, we have a variety of controls available that most recievers don't have. We could crossfade one device into another. I know its picky, but hey, it sure would be cool. You could fade the radio volume 50% to get your caller ID spoken to you. Its the little details that would really make this stand out.

Interaction

The real trick is going to be the interface. If I tell my amazing media box that I'm interested in Tenchi, it should be able to provide me with the Tenchi Soundtrack that I ripped. The Tenchi DVDs I watched a few weeks ago (and if its not on the hard drive, it could at least remember what I watched and when). And the episodes that have aired recently on Cartoon Network. And since we have a net connection, why not search Napster, Gnutella, and Google? There's a plethora of solid sources of multi media out there. The real trick is going to be providing a clean interface for picking what it is your want. The UI will provide you with key information. Icons representing local media, media you've already seen, DVDs you have but maybe haven't ripped, things that could be streamed, things that are coming soon. But it can't be overly complicated (by default. There always should be advanced options).

Actually communicating with the device should be available on many levels. A simple remote control for the bulk of normal everyday functions: Play. Pause. Fast Forward. Menu Navigation. "I Like This Thing I am Seeing, so show me more like this in the future". A wireless keyboard should be an option too. With this GUI, more complex features would be available: writing perl scripts, typing in more complex search requests.

Someday voice interaction would be excellent as well, but thats a bit off yet. Today's voice recognition is not up to the task of taking commands from a room full of ambient noise: it simply can't figure out when it is being addressed. But its not far off. "Borg Box, Good Morning" could be the trigger for your morning weather report. "Borg Box, Good Night" changes to a play list containing mellow Brian Eno tracks. Can you imagine? It sounds like the high tech star trek stuff, but the parts are all getting really close.

Hardware Interfaces

Ideally we would provide component video with options for 480i for backwards compatibility, and 480p at the minimum for HDTV. If we could do 780p, we could provide a very crisp video signal, and make a lot of nifty things possible, like fitting sharper smaller fonts on screen. Maybe a VGA adapter too. We could probably do this the same way the Playstation 2 does: a nice little dongle gives us all the options necessary even for older sets, without cluttering the actual device.

Audio should by default come out via optical toslink cable. Admittedly, many recievers don't support that, but backwards compatibility to to channel RCA stereo plugs would be nice. Surround sound would only be available through the optical channels, just as the PS/2 operates today. We won't make the mistake that the DirecTivo does of only sending the principle signal to the optical port, and only mixing in other effects to the RCA ports.

Obviously we will need a phone jack for primitive net access, and for phone functions. But also an ethernet port for the lucky folks with DSL, Cable, or real network connections.

We'll need a cable jack. Ideally it could handle Cable Modem input, Digital Cable Input, and just plain old cable. But for starters, just cable is enough. If cable companies participate, a lof of magic is possible.

An IR port could provide input for a remote control and a full blown wireless keyboard. The keyboard could be sold seperate to keep costs down if necessary, but wireless input is cheap, as are remotes.

We probably also should have power too, although a future version should also include a cold fusion module so that this box can power your house as well. Hey, we're dreaming, why not go all out ;)

Costs

Expensive. We're talking thousands of dollars for this hardware. And who knows how many hours for the software. Much of the functionality I've described already exists in various forms, but writing a consistant, well designed UI requires rare skills in the open source world. And a device like this is almost entirely about the UI. Many Slashdot readers could build this box, but its going to take special people to actually make the UI friendly enough to gain mass acceptance.

Costs could potentially be taken on a bit by Cable companies leasing these an alternative to cable boxes/cable modems. Since they already lease those for 5 bucks a month each, customers are used to it. And this provides the functionality of a thousand dollars worth of hardware.

Adversiting is also a huge potential revenue stream. Yes its annoying, but if it meant you could get this box for $1000, would it be worth it? Personally I'm all for highly targetted advertising. If I search for Tenchi, my ad should be about anime. While the banner ad market is poop, this kind of targetting could be hugely valuable. Cartoon Network runs hundreds of ads a week for anime, but they are preaching to the converted: you're already watching their network when you see this ad. This method could get anime fans who maybe didn't realize that Big O is running on Cartoon Network, and is a really excellent show worth watching. You may have a lot of anime DVDs, and not know Cartoon Network's lineup changed. And nothing irritates me more then mismarketing. If I am alone in my basement, I should never ever ever see an add for feminine hygiene products. I will never purchase them. They wasted their advertising dollar and my time. Its one step away from telemarketers interupting me and my pizza.

Ideally you can build the box yourself, choosing the functionality you want and need (Don't want a tuner? click a checkbox during install, save $100 on the tuner card). The most expensive part would probably be the hard drives. Right now, 2 80 gig hard drives would be the best place to start, and thats going to run $500. The PC might only run another 500, but we'll need things like a Tuner, an mpeg encoder and decoder, a DVD Player. Ideally sources exist for getting a pre-fabbed box. I don't think my dad wants to build his own, but he sure loves his tivo.

Conclusion

People talk so much about the inevitable convergence of all media. But it sure is taking a long time. The device I describe is an undertaking on the scale of a project like the kernel or GNOME. So many bits and pieces of the puzzle are available: we have IR reading software, rippers, mpeg encoders and decoders. Its just a matter of time before someone puts the parts together. It could be built using GPLd parts, but if nobody does it, it won't be. Many companies have started down this road: Indrema bottomed out, Tivo sales continue to be lackluster, ZapStation will most likely never ship anything more then a press release. But none of them have truly addressed the big picture... I only have time to talk about it. Does anyone have the time to actually do it?

New Mail RFCs Released | xMach Announces Core Team  >

  
Slashdot Login
Nickname:

Password:

Don't have an account yet? Go Create One. A user account will allow you to customize all these nutty little boxes, tailor the stories you see, as well as remember your comment viewing preferences.

Related Links
  • Linux
  • Slashdot
  • FreeAmp
  • VideoLAN
  • Tivo
  • anime
  • More on Technology
  • Also by CmdrTaco
  • Features

    The latest installment of Geeks in Space is up at The Sync. Listen to CmdrTaco, Hemos, and Nate talk about the latest events to happen - or not happen in the computer world.

    If you enjoy YRO or Ask Slashdot stories, remember there are many in the subsection that you probably haven't read.

    Check out Katz's piece on Rethinking the Virtual Community or else 1010011010's The Landscape of Palmtop GUIs. Perhaps you are interested in They Might Be Giants or Mark Edels answers to their Slashdot Interview.

    Update: 01/02 10:00 by CmdrTaco:

    Past Features

    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    Hmm (Score:1)
    by PovRayMan (Heh) on Wednesday April 25, @11:15AM EST (#6)
    (User #31900 Info) http://beowulf.alignment.net/
    I always called that Mac G4 cube computer "the borg box" because it reminded me of the Borg Cubes.

    shrug.

    ----------
    "HAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAH HOW DO YUO LIEK THEM APPALS FELLOWS?!? GRABUALsA!!!!" -- Jeff K.
    I'm ready... (Score:1)
    by Leghorn (leghorn@hosemore.net) on Wednesday April 25, @11:17AM EST (#11)
    (User #44886 Info)
    Just let me know where I can buy one!

    ----- Leghorn "Not responsible for program content"
    Re:I'm ready... (Score:1)
    by Ashran (ashran@GOD.rootonfire.org) on Wednesday April 25, @12:05PM EST (#102)
    (User #107876 Info) http://www.hackersquest.gomp.ch
    just go to asia, there you can get dvd players that play also divx movies ;)
    you dont need more

    Before you email me, remember: "There is no god!"
    Convergence... (Score:2)
    by sllort (save_schaeffer_farms@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @11:20AM EST (#15)
    (User #442574 Info) http://www.msn.com
    ...may it never reach my house.

    Convergence usually implies corporate control

    No thanks. Keep my meat well cooked and my hardware open and free.

    Stickman can kick your ass.
    What is the point of living... (Score:2)
    by GoofyBoy on Wednesday April 25, @11:50AM EST (#70)
    (User #44399 Info)
    ... if you don't eat your meat "medium-rare".

    (Besides, you get a worse cut/quality of meat because they know that you could never tell with well done.)
    OT: Rant from a self-styled gourmet (Score:1)
    by Nexx (unfuvx@pf.ecv.rqh) on Wednesday April 25, @12:30PM EST (#135)
    (User #75873 Info)
    What's up with most restaurants giving you a medium to medium-well when you order medium-rare? What's up with their unwillingness/inability to distinguish between "raw" and "rare"? *grumble*, and my fiancée wonders why we don't go to steak places anymore.
    --
    rot13 is my friend. Single for my email, double on my comments for more security....
    Re:OT: Rant from a self-styled gourmet (Score:1)
    by UncleFluffy (fluffys_slashdot_mail@altavista.com) on Wednesday April 25, @12:56PM EST (#164)
    (User #164860 Info)
    I find it best to be explicit. Asking for "black on the outside, still bleeding in the middle" usually gets me a steak just how I like it.

    ---

    This is /. not Quake. Use brain not spinal cord.

    Re:OT: Rant from a self-styled gourmet (Score:1)
    by GoofyBoy on Wednesday April 25, @01:02PM EST (#169)
    (User #44399 Info)
    Great, consistant meat is really hard to find but its worth it.

    Raw/rare depends on the individual grill-man. If he is good, then you will get the exact, same doneness/quality of meat everytime you go, no matter what the day or time.

    My suggestion: pick a resturant. Ask for medium-rare. If its too raw, talk the the manager. You don't have to return it, but maybe next time come to an understanding that you should ask for medium. Next time if it comes out too burnt, talk to the manager again. Repeat until you are happy.

    Its worth it for a nice, flavourful piece of prime roast.

    http://www.baygourmet.com/primerib.html
    Re:Convergence... (Score:2)
    by Puk on Wednesday April 25, @02:17PM EST (#224)
    (User #80503 Info)
    Why does it usually imply corporate control? Why can't some open-OS based piece of hardware with completely free (in both senses) software give us convergent tools? Why not have the hardware open too?

    I can build a reasonably open (yes, it relies on corporations for chips, etc, but there are limits) system which does a whole LOT of this stuff right now. Of course, it'd be big, unweildy, expensive, and incomplete, but those are the things time has shown itself to be good at fixing. Why do I need to rely on corporations? I can buy a Rio, or build an equivalent on my own right now. I think this will be true of the next steps of evolution as well.

    -Puk
    Re:Convergence... (Score:1)
    by aarondyck (aarondyck@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @04:18PM EST (#273)
    (User #415387 Info)
    You may be able to build it, but who would market it? And then, who would provide the service? The applications? The support? It all boils down to a situation of economies of scale. Big business has the money and size to unertake any project they like, and to crush anything that looks like it could compete with them. We are just too small to successfuly pull something off. Not only do we not have the size, but we don't have the time either. It would take years to get a technology of that magnitude into something that would be acceptable to have sitting in your living room if just a few people were working on it. Of course, if Microsoft put their team of professionals on the job, it could be done inside a year. I'm not defending big business here, but I'm recognizing that there really isn't any way to compete against them.
    Re:Convergence... (Score:2)
    by AxelBoldt (axel@uni-paderborn.de) on Wednesday April 25, @06:05PM EST (#290)
    (User #1490 Info) http://math-www.uni-paderborn.de/~axel/
    I'm not defending big business here, but I'm recognizing that there really isn't any way to compete against them.

    Consider the web server situation.

    --
    GNU Maxima: free computer algebra system.

    You're wrong: dedicated devices==corporate control (Score:1)
    by Dr. Spork (spork@clerk.com) on Wednesday April 25, @06:17PM EST (#293)
    (User #142693 Info)
    Big companies are pretending that the convergence device is something that was rejected by consumers. I don't believe it for a second.

    First, my vision of the convergence future

    People would love it if they could just hit "record" on their TV and a show would start saving to your computer's hard drive, and when there are spare cycles it would compress into DIVX. New SMP computers can already compress DTV into DIVX in real time, and it won't be long before they can also do HDTV. For playback you would just call up a simple file browswer on your TV and start watching. Then you could post the shows to usenet with your cable modem so that even people who don't get those channels can see them... or you can just run an FTP server from the same machine. Your music collection would all be on your hard drives but could be accessed anywhere because it would be fed out in digital format through your power lines, and your stereo amplifier would just have a decoder. No sound degredation, no stacks of CDs, no messy cables, etc. When you want to play video games in the living room you can, though they would also run off your computer's DVD-ROM. Of course you could burn a backup of all your games on that machine...

    Because the architecture of the machine would be almost indefinitely extensible (you can always keep adding scuzzy hard drives) or at least partwise upgradable you wouldn't hit the artificial limits that TIVO or even PS2 impose on you (memory, processing power, etc).

    Now this is important: nothing that connects to the computer is hackproof. Notice that we don't pirate music using our stereo equipment like we used to; we use the computer. Now we also pirate game disks and DVDs. On the computer. No copy protection will stand up to crackers when directly accessible to a computer. Whatever hardware copy protection needs to be in place in a standalone device to play media can be emulated in software if that sort of media is mechanically readable by the computer (as Dreamcast disks or DVDs are). So the lesson is: whatever media touches the computer will be hacked and copied and distributed on the internet if it's worth anything. (Notice that people aren't posting shows they captured on their TIVOs; they're just watching them.) Now it's obvious why copyright-holding companies are fighting to kill the convergence device. Once there is a general home media server there will always be legal hardware plus (sometimes) illegal software that allows for easy duplication, archiving and distribution of that media. If there were no computers there would be (almost) no CD piracy, no PSX game piracy, no Napster-style piracy, no DVD-to-DIVX stuff... There would just be a bunch of single-use devices with no "record" privilidges. This is how the media companies want us to play their media. They wish we would save the computer for computing. And this is why they will resist any move that makes us want to stick their media into a computer.

    Problems... (Score:2)
    by wowbagger (wowbaggeratsierrakilotangocharliedotnovemberechota) on Wednesday April 25, @11:20AM EST (#16)
    (User #69688 Info)
    Uhh, Rob, why do you care what the weather is like outside? Do you even go outside? ;^)

    However, the biggest problem with this sort of dream is that it means the manufacturers must surrender control: the video manufacturers must surrender control to you of their content, the various hardware manufacturers must surrender control to you of their hardware. They no longer can lock you into their hardware (You must have a Sony TV and Sony VCR and Sony DirectTivo and Sony Stereo and Sony....).

    Furthur, what happens when a bunch of people set up a system whereby you can distribute when the commercials start and stop in a program. Then, skipping commercials becomes automatic.

    Unless the sheeple demand these features (like that will happen: "What's perl?"), it won't happen.

    Moderating trolls and flames as "Offtopic" is Unfair and will be metamoderated as such. How the trolls attack me now....
    this shouldn't be one box. (Score:2, Insightful)
    by random735 on Wednesday April 25, @11:21AM EST (#17)
    (User #102808 Info) http://www.personal.psu.edu/~bmp131
    Taco was right on when he said "Framework", because that's what this needs to be. A bunch of devices with a common interface. A central cpu which delegates tasks. "oops, time to record tenchi...better notify the Tivo". I don't want to spend $2000 on a box that does it all. Because now i'm going to have to decide if i want the one from Company A with really good audio output, or the one from company B with really good video output. I want to pick my Tivo-unit from one company, my Audio unit from another, and have them work together with my main CPU from Company C that makes a really great interface. I want to be able to replace my Tivo with the next great version without spending another $2000 to replace my entire Borg-unit. This has to be componentized, it just needs a better framework/communication backend.
    Re:this shouldn't be one box. (Score:1)
    by Shoten on Wednesday April 25, @12:29PM EST (#134)
    (User #260439 Info)
    Exactly...and this is the exact thing that could be sparked by short-range high-bandwidth networking systems like (if they ever get it interoperating correctly) Bluetooth. Furthermore, some of the problems with having all of this melded together into one box (someone comes up with a good idea, but TOO BAD, because the box already exists, too hard to add things...sorry!) would go away.

    On top of that, conceivably, with enough improvement in wireless networking (hey, we're talking about portable terabyte drives...I can dream) some of the functions of the system could remain at home. What if you didn't need the TiVo part to follow you around, just the ability to connect to it and see what you want?

    One last thing...could someone snag the source code behind the Speech-To-Text translation in Echelon for inclusion into this? I'd really dig being able to index all that radio/movie/tv stuff with a localized search engine, so I can easily find that scene from "The Ref" where Dennis Leary is commenting on why Gus should be so upset :)

    A fool and his money are soon venture capital.
    Re:this shouldn't be one box. (Score:1)
    by Dialithis on Wednesday April 25, @01:34PM EST (#195)
    (User #33532 Info)
    Um,

    You might like to check out the specs on Bluetooth a little more carefully. It is so low-bandwidth you'd be lucky to stream a high quality MP3 over it.
    Re:this shouldn't be one box. (Score:2)
    by outlier on Wednesday April 25, @04:03PM EST (#266)
    (User #64928 Info)
    One last thing...could someone snag the source code behind the Speech-To-Text translation in Echelon for inclusion into this? I'd really dig being able to index all that radio/movie/tv stuff with a localized search engine, so I can easily find that scene from "The Ref" where Dennis Leary is commenting on why Gus should be so upset :)

    Why waste your time (and cycles) with speech reco, use closed caption data.

    I'd love to have a Tivo-like box that monitored a few channels for certain key terms in the closed captions, then recorded relevant shows (of course it would have to be buffering the previous x minutes like Tivo). For example, say you're interested in censorware, you could scan CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, TechTV, etc. for words like "filtering software" "Net Nanny" etc.

    Tivo's wishlist feature kind of approaches this by allowing you to search TV show descriptions for actors, keywords, and directors. But I want more!

    Re:this shouldn't be one box. (Score:1)
    by Sloppy (sloppy@spam^H^H^H^Hrt66.com) on Wednesday April 25, @04:27PM EST (#276)
    (User #14984 Info)
    Maybe you can FOIA the software from the FBI. ;-)
    ---
    Have a Sloppy night!
    Re:this shouldn't be one box. (Score:2)
    by Erasmus Darwin on Wednesday April 25, @01:45PM EST (#204)
    (User #183180 Info)
    I don't want to spend $2000 on a box that does it all. Because now i'm going to have to decide if i want the one from Company A with really good audio output, or the one from company B with really good video output.

    I actually have a different reason for not wanting an all-in-one box. I'd hate to have to worry about whether or not listening to mp3s and watching DVDs steals too many cycles from the PVR component that's busy recording a Very Important show. I'd really hate to be doing other stuff, only to go play the program back and discover that every 3rd second of the show got dropped because the CPU couldn't keep up with driving the MPEG-encoding chip.

    Re:this shouldn't be one box. (Score:2)
    by nublord (lentil234@netscape(black dot)net) on Wednesday April 25, @01:49PM EST (#206)
    (User #88026 Info)
    In addition to replacing a single item, having seperate boxes allows you to send one of them to the repair shop and still enjoy the benefits of all the other devices. It would really suck to loose e-mail, phone, radio, games, movies, web, stock reports, irc and music just becuase the damn power cord whas chewed up by the cat.
    Re:this shouldn't be one box. (Score:1)
    by AndyChrist (andy_christ@mailcity.com) on Thursday April 26, @01:13AM EST (#317)
    (User #161262 Info)
    I find animals are far more likely to chew on cables if there is a big tangle of them than if there is just one.
    Check out the slink-e! (Score:1)
    by alouts (alouts@hotmail) on Wednesday April 25, @04:53PM EST (#281)
    (User #446764 Info)
    ( start happy customer rant )

    If you're not sure you want a single box, but just want a PC to control all your TV/Stereo/etc., there's a not so expensive but very cool solution available right now.

    I have a couple of those Sony CD changers, and was looking for a way to organize/catalog all my discs... A few months ago I bought a "slink-e" from a company called nirvis that works like this:

    There's a serial port on this little box that connects to your PC, and jacks out to the s-link ports on Sony products, in addition, there's an IR bus in the box so you can control anything that uses a remote. Some (currently windows only) software on the machine controls this box and has a published API if you want to write your own wrapper/GUI software to run things, you can. It comes with a free CD jukebox that can read all your discs from the player, catalog them in a local access DB, do CDDB/lyrics/cover art lookups, keyword/genre searches, etc...

    I know that's not the most coherent message I've ever written, but the little gadget is one of the coolest toys I've ever owned. I can control my TV, TiVo, DVD, receiver, and two CD changers, all through a wireless mouse on my coffee table with the PC's video out going to my TV. It runs about $250, if I remember right, but the guys runnign the show are really cool, listen to suggestions on their message boards and modify their software to add user requested features...

    ( end happy customer rant )


    Re:this shouldn't be one box. (Score:1)
    by coastwalker on Thursday April 26, @07:18AM EST (#336)
    (User #307620 Info)
    Framework sums it up nicely. With wireless home networking comming along we need a protocol to enable all these devices to work together. The thin client never got very far because we do not want everything piled into one vendors box. I agree we want to be able to choose the best of breed components and bolt on anything new that turns up.

    802.11 and Bluetooth support in Linux should be the first step, what we need is for appliances to come with not just the remote control to operate them but the ability to stream or read the information they handle to your "Borg unit" which will be an application that can do the remote control salutes and then switch the data between your personal network storage device and whatever sources and outputs you happen to own.

    When there are no more wires we will have moved the information into a channel that is open to control by software. We need to start dreaming about how that software should work.

    We are not what we think we are, but what we think, we are
    Just a note taco...... (Score:1)
    by slashdoter ((mikebrown)@(cfl).(rr).(com)) on Wednesday April 25, @11:22AM EST (#20)
    (User #151641 Info) http://slashdot.org
    I have only read some of the story (still working on it)but you need to keep something in prospective, A hundred here and there for this and that adds up, you should start worring about this too, just look at Va's stock price, ;p


    ________

    Damn, now where did I put that really funny .sig ?

    You forgot... (Score:1)
    by junklight on Wednesday April 25, @11:22AM EST (#21)
    (User #183583 Info) http://www.junklight.com
    The DMCA chip so that none of the bits will talk to each other (not without issuing a law suit anyway). Naturally it will also need your credit card so that it can empty your bank account into the coffers of the huge media companies.... cynical? me
    Sounds like what the Indrema was aiming for (Score:1)
    by BIGJIMSLATE (pyramid@ftc.gov) on Wednesday April 25, @11:22AM EST (#22)
    (User #314762 Info)
    This sounds (somewhat) like what the Indrema was aiming for, but then again, something would have to actually be RELEASED, not swept under the rug due to high development costs. Vaporware doesn't exactly fit under the category of "convergence".
    MPEG4 (Score:1)
    by Shivetya on Wednesday April 25, @11:23AM EST (#25)
    (User #243324 Info)
    I am pretty sure you can reduce your DVD storage requirements significantly.

    I would also think it best to wait till we have non-volatile no-moving parts storage. The current harddisk is really only safe for transient data.

    I would not want to have to reload all the stuff I load into this because some brat knocked it over and crashed the heads on the drive.

    Mag Ram if it can be made super cheap, which may come if we buy enough, or maybe finally some form of holographic or biological storage would make this dream machine better.


    Re:MPEG4 (Score:1)
    by Darth Yoshi on Wednesday April 25, @11:35AM EST (#45)
    (User #91228 Info)
    I would also think it best to wait till we have non-volatile no-moving parts storage. The current harddisk is really only safe for transient data.

    The only problem is that every time SSD (solid state disk) technology gets within spitting distance of hard-drive technology, the hard-drive double or triple their capacity and keep ahead.

    I would not want to have to reload all the stuff I load into this because some brat knocked it over and crashed the heads on the drive.

    That's why they make RAID controllers. :-)


    integration good? (Score:1)
    by HaiLHaiL ( n i c k @ d i g i v i s . c o m) on Wednesday April 25, @11:25AM EST (#28)
    (User #250648 Info) http://www.you-phoria.com
    do we really want one piece of hardware that could do all this? you're basically talking about something with the complexity of a PC that you're dependant on for a large number of resources in your household... what if its power supply blows? or some other essential component. you've lost all those services in one punch.

    it seems to me that a better solution would be a Jini-type structure.... each device provides a service, and knows how to use the services provided by other devices... granted, you'd still be pretty fuX0red if your storage device goes out, but you'd still be able to enjoy your CDs/DVDs from disc...
    Re:SDMI crack. (Score:1)
    by Zurk (zurk@SPAMSUCKSusa.net) on Wednesday April 25, @11:35AM EST (#46)
    (User #37028 Info)
    ok. slightly offtopic here. but for those who missed it -- the SDMI crack is here : http://www.theregister.co.uk/extra/sdmi-attack.htm
    ..now all those CDs/DVDs can easily be ripped again.
    All this crap (Score:1)
    by sudotcsh (scrow[at]www[dot]net[dash]alert[dot]com) on Wednesday April 25, @11:26AM EST (#30)
    (User #95997 Info) http://cricketmachine.com/sc/
    Things like this are the reason I don't buy those all-in-one scanner/fax/copier office doodads - what if it breaks?

    I mean, seriously, what good is having all this wonderful componentry all in one box when if one thing breaks it takes the whole system down with it? Sure, it's not a printer, so there are few moving parts like rollers to get screwed up and gum the whole works, but still...

    I prefer to keep all my pieces seperate, thank you very much. That way I can fix, upgrade, or toss them at will instead of having to worry about getting a whole new box.


    Re:All this crap (Score:1)
    by xy on Wednesday April 25, @12:33PM EST (#141)
    (User #49954 Info) http://www.evilblobbie.com/
    You could make it safe, though...of course, this would raise the cost:

    Build it on a telecomm-industry type passive PCI backplane -- 10 PCI slots, 1 CPU slot -- that sort of thing.

    Use redundant power supplies.

    And use RAID 5 for your storage.

    run all your a/v wiring into a closet with a rack with this beast in it, and control it from your living room with a wireless keyboard and mouse...
    Re:All this crap (Score:1)
    by Tech187 on Wednesday April 25, @02:27PM EST (#228)
    (User #416303 Info)
    Whoops! The price just went up by $3000. And honey, who left this 19" rack in the living room??

    Re:All this crap (Score:2, Insightful)
    by tzanger (tzanger@spam.blows.mixdown.org) on Wednesday April 25, @12:37PM EST (#145)
    (User #1575 Info) http://www.mixdown.org

    Things like this are the reason I don't buy those all-in-one scanner/fax/copier office doodads - what if it breaks?

    I envision a chassis system: Bare chassis gives you RCA A/V and the good ole' modulated out. Then you buy modules: DVD module. CPU module. RF remote module. VCR module. Optical audio module. Dolby 5.1 module. Component Video module. Satellite module. Storage modules. Networking (100bT, 100bF, 1G, etc.) The list goes on and on.

    Now if something breaks the chassis powers down the section and the rest works. No need for hot-swap although that'd be cool. I'd love to design something like this a module at a time but some big company would eat me for lunch and have it out earlier simply because they have far more resources.


    And When Someone Breaks Into Your House? (Score:1)
    by daveym on Wednesday April 25, @11:26AM EST (#31)
    (User #258550 Info)
    And steals this baby....

    You're fucked!


    "Chill, Orrin!"---Trent Lott
    why not to own a 300 disc cd changer (Score:1)
    by acomj on Wednesday April 25, @11:58AM EST (#89)
    (User #20611 Info) http://www.plocp.com
    I will not but one, because although 300 cds weigh a little bit, if someone steals you stereo they have all your music.
    "Sit back and enjoy the chaos" -Unknown
    Re:And When Someone Breaks Into Your House? (Score:1)
    by Jaysyn (Jaysyn_0@THINKyahoo.com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:27PM EST (#191)
    (User #203771 Info)
    That's what the GPS is for....

    Jaysyn

    "Politicians are cheaper when bought in bulk"
    Re:And When Someone Breaks Into Your House? (Score:1)
    by daveym on Wednesday April 25, @02:15PM EST (#220)
    (User #258550 Info)
    No, more like when they break into your house and steal your Car and throw the TV and the VCR and the DVD player and the Stereo and the PC's in the back.....


    "Chill, Orrin!"---Trent Lott
    Of course no one has time (Score:2)
    by Logic Bomb on Wednesday April 25, @11:30AM EST (#34)
    (User #122875 Info)
    Part of the idea of "convergence" is that the magical box won't need to do so many different things. We shouldn't need equipment to handle 5 different types of or sources for video. DVDs (or something similar representing physical distribution) and streamed MPEG5 ;-) (something for wire or satellite distribution) should be all that's needed. Similar principles apply for audio. "Convergence" will only be worthwhile if the sources for media are consolidated too (I mean, of course, through common formats, not AOL-TimeWarner-CNN-Disney-Etc). Otherwise we just end up with, as Taco discusses, the need for a "do everything" box of nightmarish complexity.
    remote interface (Score:1)
    by jgilbert (spam@doozer.com) on Wednesday April 25, @11:31AM EST (#37)
    (User #29889 Info) http://www.doozer.com/~jason/
    the remote control interface should be a palm pilot or an ipaq with 802.11b wireless lan connection to access the device. You could have the option of having the wireless LAN built into the device or have hook the device over gigabit ethernet (maybe just 10bt;^)) into you local home network. The whole thing should definitely be configurable over the network with any webbrowser.

    jason
    Re:remote interface (Score:1)
    by Steve Newall (steve.newall@alphanet.net) on Thursday April 26, @10:43PM EST (#347)
    (User #24926 Info)
    I was going to use a $179 Linux based Agenda PDA as a universal programmable remote control. It already contains a consumer infrared remote (CIR) interface along with the IRDA interface. Although it is still a lot more expensive than the preprogrammed remotes, it is significantly cheaper than the other LCD based universal remotes (Sony, Phillips, etc..)
    Suggestions (Score:2)
    by Have Blue (mac.com@haveblue(figure it out)) on Wednesday April 25, @11:31AM EST (#38)
    (User #616 Info)
    • Is ripping DVDs really necessary? I mean, is it really that much of a pain in the ass to find a DVD if you're properly organized? I'd much rather cut $300 off the price by dropping the 200-gig HD and buying a $20 DVD rack.
    • What about the ability to burn DVDs? Apple already has a cheap DVD burner, it can't be too long before the technology (which was developed by another company, I forget which) appears in other devices, or on the parts market. A DVD-based box with the functionality of a VCR would sell like hotcakes.
    • Built-in networkable user interface. Let me access the MP3 library from any computer in the house or anywhere, or order it to tape a show I forgot about from work.
    • iMovie-style camcorder interface and DVD authoring. Something simple like that. This would also require a FireWire port to be added.
    • The device is way overfeatured for its job. We've seen this sort of thing before, it was called WebTV. The geeks you are targeting it at could build the equivalent for half the price, put it together themselves, get something better, have more fun doing it, and already have a real computer anyway. The consumers, who are, conservatively, 100 times more numerous, would have no use for most of these options and no inclination to spend huge amounts of time tinkering with it to customize it properly. If it doesn't work as well or as fast as the devices it replaces (VCR, DVD, TiVo, radio) it won't be popular.



    pak choiee unf
    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by Darth Yoshi on Wednesday April 25, @11:46AM EST (#60)
    (User #91228 Info)
    Is ripping DVDs really necessary?

    Like xtal suggested. Time-shift DVD rentals, rent a DVD movie during the week, rip it to disk, and watch it on the weekend. :-)

    The device is way overfeatured for its job. We've seen this sort of thing before, it was called WebTV.

    Ummm, WebTV had about 1/100 of these features. And the principle feature of WebTV (surfing the web), isn't even mentioned in CmdrTaco's fantasy.


    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by Computer! (mccallcATrappcollinsDOTcom) on Wednesday April 25, @01:52PM EST (#209)
    (User #412422 Info) http://etv.nbc.com
    Wrong. Microsoft and others (AOL) are already well on their way to putting together this device minus DVD ripping (cough. MPAA. cough.). Check out The Microsoft TV Platform for more info. WebTV never "had" anything, since it's still in more than a million households, and is the most successful "convergence" platform ever. How do I know this? Because I helped build enhanced content for NBC. Part of the Enhanced Broadcast Group's responsibilities included HDTV and convergence. With the 9Mbs data channel of the HDTV feed, users have their downstream net connection built into the signal. They can use a modem for upstream if necessary. See the ATVEF site for news on what is probably the coolest thing in computing ever.

    If I were designing it, I'd use a $99 WebTV+ box (or interface card) to allow an HTML interface to be laid over TV content. WebTV even has a CLI that can run basic hardware and serial port functionality in script. Also, WebTV's serial port could be used to communicate with and control a rack of devices, each of which could be used to implement any of the functionality described in the article when it is developed. Except for, of course, DVD ripping, which will arrive on a cold day in Hell. Why not just get a 500 CD/DVD changer/burner and screw the magnetic storage altogether?


    I got a gold .sig that says "I WISH YOU WOULD".
    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by Darth Yoshi on Wednesday April 25, @02:29PM EST (#230)
    (User #91228 Info)
    Wrong. Microsoft and others (AOL) are already well on their way to putting together this device minus DVD ripping (cough. MPAA. cough.).

    Ummm, wrong? Shrug, they can "talk" about putting something like this together all they want, but the WebTVs I've seen for sale are just for web surfing.

    WebTV never "had" anything, since it's still in more than a million households, and is the most successful "convergence" platform ever.

    Ummm, so what? It still can't do anything mentioned in CmdrTaco's fantasy.

    Aside from some links to some cool technology that will never see the light of day (sorry, that's just my opinion), I'm not sure what your point is.


    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by Computer! (mccallcATrappcollinsDOTcom) on Wednesday April 25, @05:41PM EST (#287)
    (User #412422 Info) http://etv.nbc.com
    Ummm, wrong? Shrug, they can "talk" about putting something like this together all they want, but the WebTVs I've seen for sale are just for web surfing.

    OK, then you're wrong too. Look here for info on a device that receives DirectTV signals, records video, cruises the web, and displays interactive TV content. Maybe it's not everything that was in the article, but it certainly isn't just for surfing. Especially the interactive TV part. Have you ever seen enhanced TV programming? I don't think you have. I did the NBA on NBC last year, and it rocked, if I do say so myself. Live stats during the game, player profiles, in-game chat with other users watching the same TV program. Go back to the NBC ETV link to see about a dozen shows that made the "light of day". Once you get a WebTV+ box, you can also watch E! 24 hours enhanced, datelineNBC enhanced, Comedy Central enhanced, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, 24 hour Game Show network, etc, etc. Is that enough "light of day" for you?

    Ummm, so what? It still can't do anything mentioned in CmdrTaco's fantasy.

    "So what"? The most successful convergence platform ever gets a "so what"? I already proved that the WebTV platform can do some of the stuff in the article by itself, and act as a GUI/controller for the rest, and that it's already in a million homes and costs way less than it could, and your reply is "so what?"? If that was flame bait, then let me just take the bait real quick:

    One of less than 100 industry insiders in producing enhanced television content posts insider information on a possible solution to the problem posed, and you reply that you don't get his point. You should be ashamed of yourself, seriously. Stop getting your opinions on consumer television products from consumer television product sales brochures before you post a reply to an expert, dude. Next time, follow the links past the homepage, and don't waste my time creating anchors. If you don't see my point, just assume it's because you don't get it, which is probably the case more often than you know.


    I got a gold .sig that says "I WISH YOU WOULD".
    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by Darth Yoshi on Wednesday April 25, @07:27PM EST (#299)
    (User #91228 Info)
    Ok, ok, calm down, you're right, I'm wrong.

    Except this seems to be a link to something called an "Ultimate TV", not WebTV (which is what I was talking about). But I'm impressed they've sold a million units already.
    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by _Upsilon_ on Wednesday April 25, @11:53AM EST (#75)
    (User #97438 Info) http://www.deepthought2000.com
    Another suggestion/addition would be to add the reciever to this "Borg Box". Why not have a reciever that does Dolby Digital, DTS, etc. build right in and have speaker/subwoofer outputs on it?
    Re:Suggestions (Score:2)
    by klund on Wednesday April 25, @12:07PM EST (#104)
    (User #53347 Info)
    • What about the ability to burn DVDs? Apple already has a cheap DVD burner, it can't be too long before the technology (which was developed by another company, I forget which) appears in other devices, or on the parts market. A DVD-based box with the functionality of a VCR would sell like hotcakes.
    • iMovie-style camcorder interface and DVD authoring.


    Please note that Apple's DVD burner, and the concept of "DVD authoring" are mutually exclusive. From John Gilmore's What Wrong with Copy Protection:


    Apple's recent happy-happy web pages on their new DVD-writing drive, announced this month (http://www.apple.com/idvd/). It's full of glowing info about how you can write DVDs based on your own DV movie recordings, etc. What it quietly neglects to say is that you can't use it to copy or time-shift or record any audio or video copyrighted by major companies. Even if you have the legal right to do so, the technology will prevent you. They don't say that you can't use it to mix and match video tracks from various artists, the way your CD burner will. It doesn't say that you can't copy-protect your own disks that it burns; that's a right the big manufacturers have reserved to themselves. They're not selling you a DVD-Authoring drive, which is for "professional use only". They're selling you a DVD-General drive, which cannot record the key-blocks needed to copy-protect your own recordings, nor can a DVD-General disc be used as a master to press your own DVDs in quantity. These distinctions are not even glossed over; they are simply ignored, not mentioned, invisible until after you buy the product.

    --
    My word processor was written by Stanford Professor Donald Knuth. Who wrote yours?
    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by Tech187 on Wednesday April 25, @02:35PM EST (#231)
    (User #416303 Info)
    Ah, John Gilmore, the steadfast defender of the right to copy protection. Speaking out on the behalf of 'people's copy protection.' Hmmm....

    Two issues you may not have considered (Score:2)
    by Spamalamadingdong on Wednesday April 25, @12:33PM EST (#139)
    (User #323207 Info)
    Is ripping DVDs really necessary? I mean, is it really that much of a pain in the ass to find a DVD if you're properly organized? I'd much rather cut $300 off the price by dropping the 200-gig HD and buying a $20 DVD rack.
    Suppose you have small children.  Do you really want to:
    1. Have to keep track of DVDs in a household where everything is being continuously scrambled by noisy agents of entropy, and
    2. Have to depend on them still being in playable condition when you can find them?
    Ripping to disk would be a godsend for parents.  The originals go on a high shelf, the copies can't be lost (they're inside the machine), and the kidlets might even be able to play their own movies by pointing at icons on the screen instead of having to ask mommy and daddy to do it for them.
    --
    spam spam spam spam spam spam
    No one expects the Spammish Repetition!
    spam spam spam spam spam spam
    Re:Two issues you may not have considered (Score:1)
    by plsander on Wednesday April 25, @12:46PM EST (#154)
    (User #30907 Info)

    Or add a dvd/cd changer -- tied to the system with a database. Why store the data on spinning iron oxide when you could just tell the changer to mount the right disk?

    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by azac on Wednesday April 25, @01:20PM EST (#184)
    (User #87064 Info)
    > A DVD-based box with the functionality of a VCR would sell like hotcakes.

    Philips showed one at CeBit. It's supposed to start shipping around September this year for DM 5000.
    Re:Suggestions (Score:2)
    by Sloppy (sloppy@spam^H^H^H^Hrt66.com) on Wednesday April 25, @03:25PM EST (#251)
    (User #14984 Info)

    Is ripping DVDs really necessary? I mean, is it really that much of a pain in the ass to find a DVD if you're properly organized?

    It is if you have a lot of them. My CD collection became completely unmanagable and ripping was the only practical way I could get back to listening to whatever I want, whenever I want to. I only have 2 DVDs right now, but if that ever got up into the hundreds or thousands, ripping would be a must.


    ---
    Have a Sloppy night!
    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by Have Blue (mac.com@haveblue(figure it out)) on Wednesday April 25, @04:19PM EST (#274)
    (User #616 Info)
    That's because your CDs are random-access, while DVDs are not. You typically want to shuffle your entire collection and perform operations that cross many disks (usually shuffling). Whereas, for a DVD (at least every DVD I've ever seen) you would want to watch the whole disk, and only 1 disk, per sitting.


    pak choiee unf
    Re:Suggestions (Score:1)
    by zuck on Wednesday April 25, @05:52PM EST (#289)
    (User #183497 Info)
    If you're going to get one... get the Pioneer DVf07- the only one on the market with an RS-232 port. i have one and LOVE it.... all my CD's and DVD's in one place- no jewl cases laying around.. price is kind of steep, but it's worth it IMHO.
    Brainchild of the PS2 (Score:1)
    by BierGuzzl (carl-@-heavy-bias.-com(remove-hyphens)) on Wednesday April 25, @11:34AM EST (#41)
    (User #92635 Info) http://www.heavybias.com/
    The PS2 has got us all wanting to make something better, take the next step, make that gargantuous leap into the unknown and incorporate the microwave, dishwasher, tv, vcr, and phone into the vcr somehow.

    Well I for one prefer to buy those things seperately, not at all unlike the way I like to buy my computer parts separately, or at least specifically itemized -- none of that bundle crap. Once you start to do that you get people paying money for low quality shit they didn't even need or want in the first place!

    - Say something controversial: www.heavybias.com -

    Um, it's called a PC (Score:4, Funny)
    by xtal (smanley@nyx.net) on Wednesday April 25, @11:34AM EST (#42)
    (User #49134 Info) http://www.nyx.net/~smanley

    Go buy a cheapass PC like a duron. Add the following:

    • 128M RAM
    • DVD-ROM Drive (Plays CD's, too)
    • Hardware DVD card if you want quality++
    • ATI TV-Wonder PCI Tuner (Linux compatible, even)
    • TV out video card - ATI, or a TNT2.. cheap.. Geforce2MX, cheap.
    • Sound card. I use a cheap ass soundblaster.
    • Wireless keyboard and mouse (logitech)
    • A huge-ass HD (Nx80gb+, $300xN). Or NFS mount your linux server.
    • Think lusty thoughts about a wireless USB hub

    Now, mix in the following software:

    • MAME. Enough said.
    • DVD software (Creative DXR kit works in linux)
    • Some TV recording software (lots out there)
    • Game-of-the-week (NFS looks nice on a quality TV)
    • What computer DOESN'T pay MP3s or CDs..

    Now put it by your TV.

    There you go, more convergence than you can shake a bloody stick at. Perhaps you meant a nice, unitied, all in one interface? Well, there's a great project for the open source community to pick up on, heavens knows I'd use it, don't have time to write it now. I work all day with Motorola set-top boxes, and one of those would also make a great platform for this, although the tools aren't free (IIRC). A PC works fine, and it's CHEAP.

    Hell, one of the nifty things I've done is time-shift DVD rentals - rip it uncompressed and then play it back on the weekend (when you KNOW it won't be there .. heh). It doesn't look pretty, but it definately works, and IMHO smokes the hell out of anything available now. A hacked Xbox might change that though.

    ...don't panic

    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Sc00ter (travis@scootz.net) on Wednesday April 25, @11:53AM EST (#78)
    (User #99550 Info) http://www.scootz.net
    The trick is to now build a nice easy to use interface for all that. One that your mom or grandmother could use.


    --
    Fight the power at Slashduh

    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Darth Yoshi on Wednesday April 25, @04:36PM EST (#278)
    (User #91228 Info)
    The trick is to now build a nice easy to use interface for all that. One that your mom or grandmother could use.

    Like this (admittedly in development)?


    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Sc00ter (travis@scootz.net) on Thursday April 26, @09:41AM EST (#341)
    (User #99550 Info) http://www.scootz.net
    That is VERY cool, but very limited right now.. Also requires windows and that's a big bummer. :( Still very slick.

    Anybody know of anything like this for Linux?


    --
    Fight the power at Slashduh

    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:2)
    by GoofyBoy on Wednesday April 25, @11:55AM EST (#81)
    (User #44399 Info)
    I have to agree with you, as I was reading the article I was thinking the exact same thing.

    >Hardware DVD card if you want quality++
    >ATI TV-Wonder PCI Tuner (Linux compatible, even)

    Get the recent ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder.

    Excellent hardware-assisted DVD quality with TV-in.

    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Zarquon on Wednesday April 25, @09:57PM EST (#309)
    (User #1778 Info)
    Under windows (Sort of. Under Win2K, the software is better than usual for ATI, but it still is fairly unstable). Under linux, well, 3d is getting there, TV-in is working fairly well (no capture support; the proper API is lacking in X). TV-out has been reported to work with a framebuffer, the proper modeline settings, and an appropriate ritualistic sacrifice.

    Motion compensation and other DVD-acceleration techniques, well, don't hold your breath. Not only is an appropriate API lacking, but ATI doesn't seem to want to release specs. (Not suprising; considering how long motion compensation has been out there, it took a remarkably long time for _any_ vendor to release info on their motion compensation units.)

    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Darth Yoshi on Wednesday April 25, @11:59AM EST (#93)
    (User #91228 Info)
    Go buy a cheapass PC like a duron.

    It's not duron but... like this?

    ATI TV-Wonder PCI Tuner

    and this?

    Think lusty thoughts about a wireless USB hub

    and this and this?


    Mmm! (Score:2)
    by xtal (smanley@nyx.net) on Wednesday April 25, @12:16PM EST (#120)
    (User #49134 Info) http://www.nyx.net/~smanley

    *drool* thanks for the links.. next bonus I get I'll be doing some shopping, looks like!

    ...don't panic

    Re:Mmm! (Score:2)
    by barawn (barawn@psu.edu) on Wednesday April 25, @02:16PM EST (#221)
    (User #25691 Info) http://www.personal.psu.edu/~psa104/
    See my parallel post. Build a machine yourself, or try to find a different machine like this, but don't buy this one. PC Chips motherboards are horribly unreliable and just all around trash.

    Don't bother buying this unless you plan on throwing the rest of your money away.
    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:2)
    by barawn (barawn@psu.edu) on Wednesday April 25, @02:11PM EST (#218)
    (User #25691 Info) http://www.personal.psu.edu/~psa104/
    Aah! PC Chips! Aah!

    Notes: avoid this vendor like the plague. They're well known in the hardware industry as being the absolute worst (and I do mean the worst) motherboard manufacturer in the industry. I have bought or obtained 3 motherboards from this company, and those're the only 3 I'll ever have. 2 never worked in the first place, and the 3rd has serious BIOS problems (which I worked around, but it still can't keep the system clock on power off).

    Check out

    http://www.stud.fernuni-hagen.de/q3998142/pcchips/ usage.html
    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by | (tonydotarklesatskdotsympaticodotca) on Wednesday April 25, @09:55PM EST (#308)
    (User #155975 Info)
    We got the BookPC at our store in Canada, and it kicks ass! My boss took one home, and is constantly telling me how much it kicks ass! He did do a few modifications, like a Logitech Wireless Keyboard instead of the cheap IR, but besides that it is sweet. Integrated EVERYTHING! For a simple, off-the-shelf solution, this is THE perfect box!
    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:2)
    by klund on Wednesday April 25, @12:01PM EST (#96)
    (User #53347 Info)

    • Some TV recording software (lots out there)


    Can you point to one that works? The ATI card that you mention can only record AVI files without dropping frames. Same with the Hauppauge cards. And if you make the resolution anything better than "crap" then you bump up against the 2G file size limit on AVI files. ("A 32-bit pointer ought to be enough for anyone..." Thank you, Microsoft).

    To have useful TV recording software, you need something that will record a bunch of 1.99G files for you and stitch them together during playback, or you need an MPEG encorder card, which costs $500.

    You can't build a cheap TiVo yet.
     
    --
    My word processor was written by Stanford Professor Donald Knuth. Who wrote yours?
    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Sc00ter (travis@scootz.net) on Wednesday April 25, @12:04PM EST (#99)
    (User #99550 Info) http://www.scootz.net
    I always thought it would be cool to record the stuff in the res of VideoCDs (rather low, but still okay quality) then if you want to keep it you burn it to a VideoCD, that way you can give it to friends and whatnot and they can watch it on their DVD players. Plus no lame copy protection.
    --
    Fight the power at Slashduh
    No dropped frames here.. (Score:2)
    by xtal (smanley@nyx.net) on Wednesday April 25, @12:15PM EST (#117)
    (User #49134 Info) http://www.nyx.net/~smanley

    I always record to mpeg-1 with the ATI TV-Wonder, have never dropped a frame, and always get stellar quality. Your definition of crap quality might be the reason though - I'll be happy with "looks good in a window" and "good enough on my TV". Fwiw, that's on a $80cdn duron 600 running at 900mhz.

    Once I record the stuff, I post-process to mpeg4 for archiving.

    ...don't panic

    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Defiler on Wednesday April 25, @02:51PM EST (#240)
    (User #1693 Info)
    The 2GB AVI file size limit is dead. OpenDML killed that problem off.
    My intermediate files for SVHS output are routinely over 30GB each, single AVI files.
    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by joekool (joekool666@yahoo.com) on Wednesday April 25, @09:28PM EST (#304)
    (User #21359 Info) http://bang.dyn.dhs.org
    VCR
    does it in divx!--works great for me, so far--record a show, download it to work, watch at leisure!
    beats the black&white TV that I usually use!
    soon as I figure out how to stream divx, I will be set!

    I know all, I see all--guess which is the fun part!?
    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by tzanger (tzanger@spam.blows.mixdown.org) on Wednesday April 25, @12:40PM EST (#148)
    (User #1575 Info) http://www.mixdown.org

    ATI TV-Wonder PCI Tuner (Linux compatible, even) TV out video card - ATI, or a TNT2.. cheap.. Geforce2MX, cheap.

    I was under the impression that the various ATI cards had next to nil for Decent Linux support. I know my bro's ATI All-in-wonder has shit for support.


    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:2)
    by xtal (smanley@nyx.net) on Wednesday April 25, @01:06PM EST (#172)
    (User #49134 Info) http://www.nyx.net/~smanley

    So was I.. the ATI TV-Wonder PCI Tuner works 100% in linux now (as of the current kernel revision, how many before, I know not). The card uses the BT878 chipset and is well supported and has good quality, in my uneducated opinion. You need to insmod the tuner with a couple parameters though.

    No idea about all-in-wonder cards. I stay the hell away from all-in-anything. :)

    ...don't panic

    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by 32855136 on Wednesday April 25, @01:25PM EST (#188)
    (User #415448 Info)

    A PC works fine, and it's CHEAP

    Of course, the output quality will suck... these are PC components, not HiFi, and a PC box is a very noisy place.

    But as CmdrTaco wants to use lossy compression all over the place, I doubt he's too worried about output fidelity.


    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:2)
    by xtal (smanley@nyx.net) on Wednesday April 25, @01:39PM EST (#200)
    (User #49134 Info) http://www.nyx.net/~smanley

    Of course, the output quality will suck... these are PC components, not HiFi, and a PC box is a very noisy place.

    Yup, I listen to my crappy mp3s and watch my crummy divx movies all day. I guess I've been fooled by the loss of fidelity, bah. Good enough for me. You wanna drop $3000 on a stereo, fine! I'll drop that into the motor for my car. To each their own, in this case, ignorance is bliss.

    ...don't panic

    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Defiler on Wednesday April 25, @02:54PM EST (#242)
    (User #1693 Info)
    High-bitrate LAME MP3s sound great. High bitrate DivX files still suck. Max out the bitrate slider, and it still looks like crap compared to a DVD.
    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:2)
    by xtal (smanley@nyx.net) on Thursday April 26, @07:26AM EST (#337)
    (User #49134 Info) http://www.nyx.net/~smanley
    That's divx-old style. That was crap. The new OpenDivx stuff you can't tell from DVD.
    ...don't panic
    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Defiler on Thursday April 26, @03:21PM EST (#345)
    (User #1693 Info)
    Sorry, I've been using the OpenDivX code since day one, as well as SBC through Nandub, etc, etc, etc.. It's all still far far from being usable on a large display, like a TV.
    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by Silicon Avatar (zitz at erf dot net) on Wednesday April 25, @03:10PM EST (#247)
    (User #30968 Info) http://www.erf.net/~zitz
    >Go buy a cheapass PC like a duran. Add the following ...

    Well, I've got this setup mostly. The problem isn't in getting the PC to do something. The problem is in all the other components that the PC can't do quite yet. For instance, at its simplest, the cable tuner. I don't know of a way to tune those digital channels that Time Warner scrambles without using one of their Cable Boxes. Which means that integration now becomes the issue. There doesn't seem to be an agreed-upon standard for doing remote controls. (My living room is a testament to this messy remote-control issue ...)

    I don't know of a card or software that'll drive my 5.1 DTS system, either. I.e., no card has the digital-in and 6-speaker out. Which means I have to sacrifice audio quality.

    Just a few examples where the all-heralded PC won't completely meet the requirements.

    Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:1)
    by dogbowl (christian@vinelodge.yesspam!.com) on Wednesday April 25, @04:08PM EST (#269)
    (User #75870 Info) http://www.vinelodge.com
    This is exactly what I've done .. and it works great!!!
    It has totally changed my viewing habits. My VCR hasn't been plugged in since last year sometime, and I get to watch my shows when I want, and how I want.

    There is one step you forgot though.
  • Grab the DiVX:) codec and hit IRC/Usenet to load up on simpsons/seinfeld/dark angel/whatever

    Ahhh bliss!!!!!!


    These pretzels are making me thirsty.
  • Re:Um, it's called a PC (Score:2)
    by jafac on Wednesday April 25, @05:44PM EST (#288)
    (User #1449 Info)
    ... PLUS:
    Virtual Game Station. . .

    repeat after me: infringement!=theft
    Um, it's called a PC (Score:1, Redundant)
    by xtal (smanley@nyx.net) on Wednesday April 25, @11:34AM EST (#43)
    (User #49134 Info) http://www.nyx.net/~smanley

    Go buy a cheapass PC like a duron. Add the following:

    • 128M RAM
    • DVD-ROM Drive (Plays CD's, too)
    • Hardware DVD card if you want quality++
    • ATI TV-Wonder PCI Tuner (Linux compatible, even)
    • TV out video card - ATI, or a TNT2.. cheap.. Geforce2MX, cheap.
    • Sound card. I use a cheap ass soundblaster.
    • Wireless keyboard and mouse (logitech)
    • A huge-ass HD (Nx80gb+, $300xN). Or NFS mount your linux server.
    • Think lusty thoughts about a wireless USB hub

    Now, mix in the following software:

    • MAME. Enough said.
    • DVD software (Creative DXR kit works in linux)
    • Some TV recording software (lots out there)
    • Game-of-the-week (NFS looks nice on a quality TV)
    • What computer DOESN'T pay MP3s or CDs..

    Now put it by your TV.

    There you go, more convergence than you can shake a bloody stick at. Perhaps you meant a nice, unitied, all in one interface? Well, there's a great project for the open source community to pick up on, heavens knows I'd use it, don't have time to write it now. I work all day with Motorola set-top boxes, and one of those would also make a great platform for this, although the tools aren't free (IIRC). A PC works fine, and it's CHEAP.

    Hell, one of the nifty things I've done is time-shift DVD rentals - rip it uncompressed and then play it back on the weekend (when you KNOW it won't be there .. heh). It doesn't look pretty, but it definately works, and IMHO smokes the hell out of anything available now. A hacked Xbox might change that though.

    ...don't panic

    Indrema would have done a lot of this (Score:1)
    by cryptochrome on Wednesday April 25, @11:37AM EST (#49)
    (User #303529 Info) http://www.geocities.com/cryptochrome/char/index.html
    Indrema was supposed to do DVD playback, CD playback, Tivo-type recording, and internet browsing, plus games. Of course, that's dead now. Possibly some of what they have developed may make its way to the open-source TuxBox, but that remains to be seen.

    Apple has mentioned having the PC as a digital hub for various appliances - and they usually follow through on those sorts of pronouncements. They already have their own CD-ripping and DVD-making software and hardware too. (I wouldn't count on DVD ripping software from any company just yet though). It's not out of the question that we could see, at the very least, digital recievers/tuners/recorder/player combos that allow PC control and data exchange.

    cryptochrome
    If you can't trust a nerd, who can you trust?
    Convergence = being stuck with specific tech (Score:3, Insightful)
    by micromoog on Wednesday April 25, @11:37AM EST (#50)
    (User #206608 Info)
    I like the idea of having separate components to do everything. True, they could integrate better, but I like the idea of replacing just my VCR with the next big thing, then a year later, replacing just my CD player.

    Having it all integrated would be convenient, but would imply that all the technology would age at the same rate. Not so . . . my stereo receiver could be 15 years old and still kickin' fine, but my cable modem needs to be replaced every couple of years at least (as bandwidth improves).

    Maybe a "magic box" that has component cards that can be swapped in and out, much like a mainframe's architecture . . . but you'd still be stuck with one vendor.

    Overall, screw the magic box, and give me my closet full of gear.

    Convergence of Media, Not Hardware (Score:2)
    by Matthew Weigel (mcwst18+@pitt.edu) on Wednesday April 25, @01:28PM EST (#192)
    (User #888 Info)

    Yes exactly. There are two essential rules when it comes to do-it-yourself convergence versus convergence-in-a-box. One is, as you mentioned, reliability and upgradability - one box means one horribly expensive part to replace if something goes wrong. Component cards oppose the 'in a box' concept - you're not supposed to have to much around inside this box, are you?

    The other issue is quality. The quality of components will always have the potential to be higher - partially because someone designing a component doesn't have to trade quality in this part for quality in some other part, and partially because, well, the market for a component that just plays CDs can't be subdued by a poor CD player with a pretty good tape player attached. Also partially because you can't get away with no-name (or bad-name) parts the same way - in a shelf stereo, nobody notices prima facie the fact that the CD part was made by child labor in China; not so with a CD component - you're buying a CD component made by child labor in China, or you're not.

    To think that an 'in-a-box' system can have precisely the featureset that you want it to have is contrary to the experience of years and years in the PC industry - that a pre-built system may be good enough, but it's never cutting edge, optimal, or right for every circumstance.


    --Matthew
    Why not just update components on the BIG box? (Score:1)
    by Dr. Spork (spork@clerk.com) on Wednesday April 25, @06:29PM EST (#295)
    (User #142693 Info)
    I keep seeing this argument in the forum, but I think it's stupid. If you're worried about parts of your computer system becoming obsolete or braking, you can trade them out without having to mess with the rest of the components. Is it really that much easier to throw out and replace a standalone DVD player than it is to replace a DVD-ROM, for example? I'm sure TIVO2 will have a much bigger hard drive and all you TIVO1 owners will weep. If you had a computer that had TIVO funcionality you would just buy an extra hard drive. It seems like the more reasonable thing to do, don't you think?
    It's called a "Multimedia PC" (Score:1)
    by poot_rootbeer (poot@dork.com) on Wednesday April 25, @11:42AM EST (#55)
    (User #188613 Info)
    The PC I use everyday has most of the hardware of this mythical "convergence machine" already -- video card with a TV tuner and A/V in and out connectors, hardware MPEG encoding/decoding solution, DVD-ROM drive, an ethernet card that I can plug into a cable modem, IR reciever hanging off the serial port that lets me use a universal remote to perform any computer function, soundcard with digital output. I bought most of the hardware a couple years ago, you could probably assemble a similar machine for about $1500 these days.

    As C.Taco mentions, the tricky part is going to be the software that drives all the functionality, and in regards to mass consumer acceptance, the UI through which all the functionality is made available to the user.


    Available DVD-R. WAS: Re:It's called a "Multime (Score:1)
    by afedaken on Wednesday April 25, @01:10PM EST (#173)
    (User #263115 Info)
    http://www.proh.com/DVD_recorders_Pioneer_DVR-S201 _4.7GB_DVD-R-RW_drive_sales.shtml

    A link to an already available DVD-R. Cost is about $5400. According to thier price page, an IDE version should be available in may for about $900.
    Re:It's called a "Multimedia PC" (Score:1)
    by cmay666 on Thursday April 26, @03:01AM EST (#324)
    (User #202732 Info)
    Gateway (I know, I know) made a PC with a 36" monitor, wireless inputs, Boston Acoustics Dolby 5.1 SS back in 1997-1999. It was called the Destination. You can still find the monitors on Ebay. I have one, with CD-RW and a cable modem. Best of all, though, it has the multimedia software you described that unites the interface for my cable, VCR, & CD changer thru one menu program. It's the closest thing I've seen of REAL convergence yet.
    Hmmm (Score:1)
    by Compuser on Wednesday April 25, @11:45AM EST (#59)
    (User #14899 Info)
    >>I only have time to talk about it. Does anyone
    >>have the time to actually do it?

    Ahh, the spirit of open source...
    One part goes.... (Score:1)
    by BIGstan (BIGstan@NOSPAMjyhad.net) on Wednesday April 25, @11:46AM EST (#61)
    (User #308841 Info)
    The only problem with this piece of equipment that I can tell, is one part breaks, you lose them all while you fix it - or get it fixed. I learned my lesson when i got one of the first TV-VCR combos that came out. The VCR died - and suddenly i was left without either for that period of time it took to get a replacement. Gimme a good ol' frankensteiner machine - modular, easy to deal with, and while cantankerous at times, customizable to what I need - not what the manufacturer says I should have. BIGstan threws uup hiz hends it hes lowsey tyipng skilllz,.
    Enough of this argument! (Score:1)
    by Dr. Spork (spork@clerk.com) on Wednesday April 25, @06:37PM EST (#296)
    (User #142693 Info)
    I'm sure Taco's device wouldn't be stupidly designed like a TV/VCR box but be instead more like a computer. If the DVD-ROM fails you unplug it and replace it... and so with every other part. If the drive fails in your DVD component player you have to chuck the whole thing and pay a lot more for a replacement. And you don't have to pay an expert to fix a computer with a broken part, you just RTFM, find what's wrong and swap it out (not possible with any standalone device anymore). Isn't this more reasonable?
    Compressed DVD's? (Score:1)
    by Dusty on Wednesday April 25, @11:47AM EST (#62)
    (User #10872 Info) http://www.urquell.demon.co.uk

    It might take 50 gigs to store at a good compression rate

    I hate to tell you this, but the video and audio stored on a DVD is already compressed. While its possible another step of compression will make it smaller, its also possible the data added by the compression will make it larger. Its a bit like zipping jpeg's.


    Re:Compressed DVD's? (Score:2)
    by shyster on Wednesday April 25, @12:32PM EST (#138)
    (User #245228 Info)
    I hate to tell you this, but the video and audio stored on a DVD is already compressed. While its possible another step of compression will make it smaller, its also possible the data added by the compression will make it larger. Its a bit like zipping jpeg's.

    Fortunately, we don't have to aim for lossless compression. MPEG4 works wonders....

    Re:Compressed DVD's? (Score:1)
    by bigdavex (bigdavex@barf^H^H^H^Hyahoo.com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:27PM EST (#190)
    (User #155746 Info) http://www.nicoson.homepage.com
    Fortunately, we don't have to aim for lossless compression. MPEG4 works wonders....
    MPEG-4 is a Good Thing, but with the storage available in this hypothetical box I suspect that you'd want to keep the original quality. NTSC MPEG-4 at 6Mbps looks pretty much the same as NTSC MPEG-2 at 6Mbps. The payoff for MPEG-4 comes at the really low video bitrates at which MPEG-2 looks like crap.
    Be as a solution (Score:2)
    by firewort (victor AT ripal.co.il) on Wednesday April 25, @11:50AM EST (#66)
    (User #180062 Info)
    Be in the form of the HARP device, gets close to being able to do these things.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/15912.html

    It hasn't got the tuner or tivo functionality, but as Taco notes, there's nothing stopping anyone from adding that functionality. Adding the tuner and tivo functionality should be relatively easy for most hackers...

    And, the interface work has been done.

    The only thing it lacks are the magic slashdot words, GPL and Linux.

    A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close
    unless the host that isn't close
    Mod that sucker up. (Score:1)
    by mbourgon on Wednesday April 25, @12:45PM EST (#153)
    (User #186257 Info)
    From the Register article:

    HARP shows that Be, for one, is thinking beyond that very tight concept of what a Net appliance is. The code, essentially a sub-set of BeIA, will allow hi-fi vendors to build components and all-in-one systems that can access the Internet, pull down audio or video content, play it back to the listener and maybe even archive it for future use.

    Kit vendors are going to like it is as much as users will. HARP hooks into Be's BeIA Management and Administration Platform (MAP), which allows them to remotely manage users' equipment, transparently updating codecs and OS components, adding support for new data formats, and so on.

    Of course, on that last part, they could always change the codec so that you couldn't do certain things, and we'd all be screaming if M$ tried that.

    Pretty cool, though.
    It's Already Here ... (Score:4, Insightful)
    by StoryMan (kelsolundeen@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @11:50AM EST (#68)
    (User #130421 Info)
    The ideal "converged" box is already here. I have it, and I'm sure others do, too.

    It's the home-built PC, spec'd out to whatever needs doing at the present time -- TV tuner, MP3 jukebox, audio server (or satellite client), whatever.

    I'm surprised that people -- especially slashdot folks -- keep seeking this so-called "elusive" grail. It seems that people are looking for a "formally converged" box. Something like TIVO + ZapStation with a little bit of the late Indrema's attitude thrown in for good measure.

    But my question is -- and continues to be -- WHY? Why are folks seeking a formally converged box?

    The answer is this: anyone who complains about the lack of a converged box has yet to grasp the simple fact that "convergence" -- at least in its "formal" sense -- is a synonym for "corporate control."

    Why on earth -- and I mean this sincerely -- why on earth do we want to cede any more of our "entertainment enablement" to corporations?

    Convergence is a dangerous thing. It's not something we should look forward to, nor is it something we should theoretically support. (I say theoretically because, in practice, I do love my TIVO and I *do* lust after the ZapStation [if only because it's got a pretty cool case and would fit in my stereo rack nicely].)

    All the formally converged box will offer -- above and beyond our individually spec'd out home-built boxes -- is another way for corporations to impose their will (via their unending capital) upon consumers. The "will" is always masked as "choice" or "enablement." This is really a crucial point, and it's one I wish Katz would write about.

    The problem is that corporate will is *always* -- always, always, always -- at the expense (literally and metaphorically) of consumers. Consumers will pay good money to have their rights curtailed. I don't understand this, and while, yes, I admit that I, too, do this, I force myself to become aware that even the most reasoned and savvy consumer is liable to be hypnotized by the siren-song of the corporations.

    I'm still trying to understand how democracy is so easily usurped by capitalism -- and trying hard to see both sides of the globalization battles -- but what I see more and more is capitalism being used to undermine and eradicate the rights of citizens in democracies where the corporations are allowed to function. The problem area (for me, at least) is the role of corporations. (Take, for example, the doctrine of copyright and fair-use. Tell me -- seriously -- why so few politicians vocal about the concept of fair-use? Yeah, Hatch is worried about this -- but he remains cautious and will probably cede his concerns once the RIAA and MPAA convince him that in a digital age, there is no fair use.)

    Anyway, I could go on. I won't.

    But, please, don't worry about convergence. It's simply a pretty buzzword for a thing we don't want (but think we do -- this is the genius of democratic corporatization).

    If you want the grail -- the ideal box -- go out, for godsakes, and build it yourself. Use Linux, Windows, BE -- whatever floats your boat.

    Snag the hardware wherever you can find it cheapest.

    Paint your informally converged box to match your stereo.

    Whatever.

    But don't look to corporate interests for the answer. They'll give you an answer -- and will do it with a smile on their faces -- but it will cost you. (Windows XP, I suspect, will be the proof of this -- as if it needs proof.)


    Re:It's Already Here ... (Score:1)
    by philthechill on Wednesday April 25, @12:59PM EST (#166)
    (User #316949 Info)
    I'm still trying to understand how democracy is so easily usurped by capitalism

    Which part of campaign contribution don't you understand? Democracy is easily usurped because it costs money to get votes, and the capitalists have all the money. So the would-be policy-maker has to pander to the capitalists' twisted desires in order to win.

    Simple as that.

    Phil

    Re:It's Already Here ... (Score:2)
    by StoryMan (kelsolundeen@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:14PM EST (#177)
    (User #130421 Info)
    Which part of campaign contribution don't you understand? Democracy is easily usurped because it costs money to get votes, and the capitalists have all the money. So the would-be policy-maker has to pander to the capitalists' twisted desires in order to win.

    Yes, I understand this. And I agree with it.

    But then my question is this: is it because democracy provides the foundation for capitalism to thrive that capitalism and democracy are so often intertwined?

    (And if this is the case -- which I assume it is -- then why is capitalism allowed to so easily trounce democracy and mold it into the shape it -- capitalism -- wants? Is this one of the essential arguments of the anti-globalization protesters? That capitalism too often holds democracy hostage to corporate interests?)

    Off-topic, yes. But I'm genuinely curious especially if "convergence", as I argue above, is not so much the convergence of entertainment devices but is actually the convergence of democracy and capitalism to fool consumers into thinking that they've been empowered. (Maybe this is the Hegelian dialectic at work -- capitalism + democracy = synthesis of -- what?! -- electronic device that consumers believe (sincerely) that they cannot live without?


    Razor... (Score:1)
    by MoobY (moobyATalifeDOTorg) on Wednesday April 25, @11:51AM EST (#71)
    (User #207480 Info) http://alife.org
    Please include a shaving device into my mobile phone too! Or something that spreads perfume for the ladies (those who don't need to shave) is also a possibility...
    --- Sigmentation Fault - Comments Dumped MoobY at ALife dot Org
    Re:Razor... (Score:1)
    by Tech187 on Wednesday April 25, @02:51PM EST (#239)
    (User #416303 Info)
    Actually most ladies shave more skin surface area than most men.

    It's called the big blue room (Score:1)
    by GreyyGuy on Wednesday April 25, @11:51AM EST (#72)
    (User #91753 Info)
    Now I'm certainly not the proper person to say this, since my own social life is coming closer to being fantasy then reality, but who needs terabytes of movies/tv/radio for storage? If you need that much space when do you get caught up watching/listening to it? I was afraid that once I got cable I would become even more of a couch potatoe, but the truth is that I'm watching less tv then ever. It all sucks, and there are many more far more interesting things to do (games, programming, actually talking with people). I have three video tapes full of recored shows sitting next to my VCR from January and I have no real desire to sit down for the 15 hours it would take to wath the them.

    In my mind, the real value of convergence is not having to have a dozen remotes, or have to worry about arcane wiring between devices, or especially having to talk my dad through turing on the vcr, setting it to this station, then the DVD player, blah, blah, blah. Or not having to worry if I have enough time on the tape left to catch a show. It is making life easier.

    That said, it does sound cool :)
    my wish list (Score:1)
    by fgb on Wednesday April 25, @11:52AM EST (#73)
    (User #62123 Info)
    I think something a bit less ambitious would be extremely useful.

    If the "borg box" simply had
    - a cable and/or satellite receiver
    - a DVD player/recorder
    - a fast processor & video card
    - a big hard disk (around 100GB)
    - an ethernet connection

    Then it could be a tivo box, play and
    record DVDs and be a gaming console.
    The ethernet hookup would let it download schedules & software upgrades. I wouldn't care
    which OS ran on it either, as long as it boots
    up quickly and has a hardware reset button
    on the remote!

    This would meet all my home entertainment needs.
    I can hit the mute button myself when the phone rings.
    Every Silver Lining Comes With A Cloud! (Score:2)
    by The Dodger (dodger@2600.com) on Wednesday April 25, @11:53AM EST (#77)
    (User #10689 Info) http://www.2600.com/

    Personally I'm all for highly targetted advertising.

    Of course, the problem with targetted advertising is that, in order to be able to target you, the advertiser has to know something about you. Presumably, this info will be gathered automatically - e.g. the system will keep track of what films you watch on DVD/cable and if, for example, you watched Clerks, Mallrats and Chasking Amy, it would advertise Dogma to you.

    So, where does it end? Supermarkets already use loyalty cards to track what we buy. The credit card companies can look at our accounts to see what we buy and where. Our mobile phones betray our position to the mobile phone companies and their records details who we speak to and when.

    You might wonder 'So what if my supermarket, credit card issuer or mobile phone company has this information?' Or whether DoubleClick has data on all my watching, listening, browsing and online shopping habits. Well, to be perfectly honest, the possibility that someone, like a Government, or a cracker, could access this information and use it to profile me, isn't a very alluring prospect.

    In Robert A Heinlein's novel, Friday, one of the characters suggests that every individual has a duty to do what they can to disrupt the governments' data-gathering efforts - using cash, paying a little bit too much tax if you can't get away with paying less - anything to disrupt the system.

    Otherwise, you're guilty of complicity in violation of individuals' privacy on a massive scale. Worse than that, you're a sheep. And, in the end, sheep get slaughtered.

    Patrick McGoohan said it best - I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered.

    Be seeing you.


    D.


    Amen! (Score:1)
    by PopeAlien on Wednesday April 25, @12:17PM EST (#121)
    (User #164869 Info) http://www.PopeAlien.com
    ..Not to mention that as the databases grow and merge we're dealing with a fairly complete profile of what you like, what forms of advertising you'll respond to, where you go on vacation, how much you make, etc. etc.. Sounds a bit like me like we're headed towards the ideal consumer set into feed troughs and kept fat and slow.

    And then there's identity theft - So count me out - I try to add a bit to a database every day. Anita Prawduct, Don T. Botherme, Joe Shopper, etc. etc. etc. Let them track and market to the figments of my imagination!

    As far as a convergence device goes, my PC works great, and I'm in control of the individual components thank you very much.


    - PopeAlien.Comics - "Slightly better than drinking Drano™"
    Supermarket "loyalty" cards (Score:2)
    by BeBoxer (slashdot@themitchells.org) on Wednesday April 25, @01:42PM EST (#203)
    (User #14448 Info)
    Most people figure, what's the big deal with a supermarket knowing what I buy? Well, the reality is that the supermarket couldn't care less what you buy. But, other companies do care, and they buy that information. What companies might be interested? Well, the one that's really scary is the insurance companies. I bet that a person's food-buying habits provides some excellent information about their health, and the likely long-term cost of insuring their health care. I don't know of any companies doing this for sure, but the insurance companies really have both a legal and fiduciary responsibility to shareholders to at least investigate the predictive value of the data.

    So, next time you think those cards are just going to earn you a bunch of junk mail, think again.
    Who SPAM's Slashdot?
    Re:Every Silver Lining Comes With A Cloud! (Score:2)
    by SirSlud (garret@spam.sirsonic.com) on Wednesday April 25, @02:03PM EST (#214)
    (User #67381 Info) http://www.sirsonic.com/
    > So, where does it end?

    It certainly won't when you're culture-jamming with fake info. I realize the inherent dangers of the convergance of all this personal data, etc, and the loss of privacy that accompanies it .. and with all due respect, jamming just makes life more expensive (through loss of effeciency and the fact that decisions are based on provided and tracked information) for those of us who either play the game or boycott it altogether. I'm not much of a privacy freak, but judging from the number of people who 'claim' to have problems with it, even a mildly successful full-boycott of the mediums of technology that you feel abuses your right to privacy could probably make believers out of advertisers/etc. And at any rate, every single one of us wants at least one, if not more, companies (like, for me: tc electronics, Emagic, Digidesign) to operate leaner and more informed to the needs of their consumers. Like one mans trash is anothers treasure, you may enjoy jamming, but you're not doing /everyone/ a favour .. no worse than the companies/governments/alien races themselves who you claim will abuse it.

    And shit, I dont mind being known as a number; if it stops the 5 pounds of junk mail delivered to my house every week, stops the needless destruction of trees for blanket marketing, streamlines the amount of time you and I have to spend every week with the inevitable amount of corperate-supplied information we are bombarded with (ie, advertising) every week, what the hell is the problem with being a number, or stamp, or whatever? (which brings up another point .. words are dangerous .. being 'stamped' or 'indexed' sounds really scary! impersonal! yeah! orwellian! but seriously, you index your own friends in your head .. heck, we index all our customers using their names as the key. But if it was numbers, they'd never know, and I'd venture to say, they'd never care.) I'm my own unique person .. with my own special feelings, and emotions, and thoughts, but I certainly am not relying on company X to validate this! =) If you dont want to play the game, by all means, don't, but you're not doing anyone favours, and contrary to what you might think, that includes yourself.
    garret: exploiting the buffer overflow bug in /. sigs since the beginning of known
    The Network Is The TV (Score:2)
    by Drone-X (jonas.devuyst@advalvas.be) on Wednesday April 25, @11:56AM EST (#85)
    (User #148724 Info) http://het.belgische.net/~jdv/
    Nice idea but it disappoints me that there's almost no mentioning of a network (except for the cable modem that is).

    After all, people having multiple TVs wouldn't want to buy a box for every TV they have. A sollution would be to make all interaction with the box go via the network. If I want to program the box to do something I point my browser at it and have a nice interface, unlike what I would espect from an application running on a TV screen. If I want to copy files to/from the machine I could use FTP, if I want to hack the software I could use SSH :-).

    But of course it's not desirable to go to your computer every time you want to do something with the box. The perfect solution would be to have a network connection from the box to all TVs, and from all TVs to your PDA [1] (bluetooth anyone?). You could then do simple things like selecting a file to play or setting your alarm clock. If the PDA's screen would be to limitted then the TV screen could be used.

    If bluetooth or something simallar doesn't get integrated into TVs and/or PDA's by that time then small stations could be placed near all TVs. They would be connected via the cable to the box and would be able to tell the box to send a certain peace of audio on a certain frequention which they would then send to the TV via SCART. Simple remote controls could then be used to communicate with the stations.


    [1] Heck, all remote controls should be replaced by something like this.

    Re:The Network Is The TV (Score:1)
    by biglig2 (biglig@cyberdude.com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:24PM EST (#187)
    (User #89374 Info) http://www.bigwig.net/biglig/
    Indeed, this is perhaps a better Holy Grail than everything in one box; ubiquitous networking in the home.

    If all your devices can talk to each other and you have standards in place, presto.

    Your Tivo talks to your CD/MP3 device talks to your BeIA fridge talks to your IPaq etc. and they all talk to your NAT router and hence to everyone else's kit.

    Some of this is behind the ideas of Bluetooth, but of course for media you need something faster.

    You can see from this why IP v 6 is gonna be needed when every hose needs a class C!!
    Re:The Network Is The TV -- Tivo (Score:1)
    by LordKariya on Wednesday April 25, @03:26PM EST (#252)
    (User #195696 Info)
    If you have multiple Tivos in your household, you can configure them to resolve conflicts with each other. This enables you to record twice as many shows, including two shows which happen to be on at the same time. Why not have a network of Tivos connected by broadband, or whatever ? Every tv show of the past month, year indexed by a central server, in much the same way Napster indexes music. No more missing those episodes of Iron Chef because Futurama is on.
    Cool, therefore it won't work (Score:1)
    by Dstrct0 on Wednesday April 25, @11:57AM EST (#87)
    (User #442821 Info)
    Sounds like a pretty wild box, I'm sure most people on here would love to have one. I'm also sure something like this constitues thoughtcrime in the evil watching eyes of the RIAA and their friends, and it seems that them and the gas companies own the world lately... One question: What about games??
    Re:Cool, therefore it won't work (Score:1)
    by Tech187 on Wednesday April 25, @02:55PM EST (#243)
    (User #416303 Info)
    What about games??

    I suppose there could be drawer at the bottom to store a deck of cards, the cribbage board, some dice and checkers, if need be. For people who don't play games it could double as auxillary storage for disks, etc.

    Be as a solution (Score:2)
    by firewort (victor AT ripal.co.il) on Wednesday April 25, @11:58AM EST (#91)
    (User #180062 Info)
    Be in the form of the HARP device, gets close to being able to do these things.

    Look HERE for a picture of just such a device.

    A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close
    unless the host that isn't close

    computer? (Score:1)
    by ironfroggy on Wednesday April 25, @12:00PM EST (#95)
    (User #262096 Info) http://www.ironfroggy.com
    a little work and money and what you described is really just a computer with alot of multimedia thought put into it.
    crApple. (Score:2)
    by supabeast! (supabeast@supabeast.org) on Wednesday April 25, @12:01PM EST (#98)
    (User #84658 Info)
    I think Taco just described what an iMac will be in two years.
    Unite! Join NORML and support re-criminalizing prisons!
    Re:crApple. (Score:1)
    by Dstrct0 on Wednesday April 25, @12:10PM EST (#110)
    (User #442821 Info)
    I sincerely hope that someone besides Apple releases this though (not that I doubt Apple will bring it out, if not another large company). I'm a big supporter of the DIY concept on this one, I'd rather configure and build it myself than allow the companies to dictate what it's capable of. IMO highly documented and broadly supported Open Source is the solution for this one.
    Re:crApple. (Score:2)
    by supabeast! (supabeast@supabeast.org) on Wednesday April 25, @02:57PM EST (#246)
    (User #84658 Info)
    DIY is cool, but I'm more concerned with opening the box, turning it on, and having it actually work with minimal effort on my part. No point having the damned thing if I have to fuck around with it to make it work. I do enough of that just getting Tribes 2, EverQuest, Quake ]|[ to all run on the same Windows box.
    Unite! Join NORML and support re-criminalizing prisons!
    Re:crApple. (Score:1)
    by mlilback on Thursday April 26, @12:19PM EST (#343)
    (User #134172 Info) http://www.lilback.com/
    Anything Apple does in the future will be Mac OS X, which lets you hack around to your hearts content.

    Now that you can get Apple hardware integration, Apple GUI, and open source software working all together, there isn't much need for anything else.

    Convergence is irrelevant (Score:1)
    by Fred O. Rue on Wednesday April 25, @12:04PM EST (#100)
    (User #446430 Info)
    If you're simply talking about taking the elements of mass media and bringing them together in a single unit, you haven't progressed at all. Watching television with more vigor is an extremely morally bankrupt activity anyway, and shouldn't be encouraged.

    Americans' shocking attitude towards defining their own culture with products is alarming, racist, and xenophobic. It creates a general lack of spiritual awareness with a cultural "dumbing down". Deconstructionism couldn't have done the job more thoroughly.

    We should look at how the tribes of western africa are dealing with convergence, and take our cue from them. CmdrTaco is talking about toys and promoting a consumerist attitude, when toys such as this have led to bigger and faster wars than any other single aspect of civilization.

    --
    1492 - Never remember: SMTP.

    UID< 446430? Bugger.

    As long as we're fantasizing... (Score:2)
    by Stavr0 (ten.gnilhtrae@dyolf) on Wednesday April 25, @12:04PM EST (#101)
    (User #35032 Info) http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=Stavr0
    • No Macrovision
    • Macrovision immunity
    • No region code checking
    • Universal Broadcast Standard (PAL,NTSC,SECAM,HDTV)

     - - -
    F0 0F C7 C8
    Re:As long as we're fantasizing... (Score:2, Informative)
    by rudiger (foobar@roadrunner.nf.net) on Wednesday April 25, @12:21PM EST (#124)
    (User #35571 Info)
    since it will probably be a pc-dvd drive in there, bios hacks already exist to ignore region codes. check http://www.inmatrix.com/
    Stuff takes time. (Score:2)
    by American AC in Paris (toZIGm@snZIGowploZIGw.oZIGrg) on Wednesday April 25, @12:08PM EST (#105)
    (User #230456 Info) http://www.snowplow.org
    People talk so much about the inevitable convergence of all media. But it sure is taking a long time.

    Rob, not to sound old-fashioned or anything, but you've got a wicked skewed sense of 'long time'. Useable portable MP3 players have only been around for a few years; the Tivo is even younger. These things are developing at breakneck speeds; the odds that within five years your coveted "Borg Box" won't exist as you imagine it today are pretty low.

    Five years from now, when you're holding the "Ultimate" (by today's standards) Borg Box in your hands, you're going to be wondering, "Yeah, but why haven't they developed one of these that integrates <insert hottest technology here> yet? And how come it only holds 12,000 hours of video? My computer can do six times that!"

    Technology takes time to mature, and quite frankly, I'd call the pace at which this stuff is developing at nothing short of blazing. Bear in mind that only a decade ago, having anything over 256 colors for your PC was something to brag about, and that a decent SGI workstation from five years ago would be hard-pressed to handle a game of Tribes 2, and that just two years ago you would've had to have used an old-fashined VCR to record the N'Sync Marathon.

    Give it some time.

    Take off every 'ZIG' for great e-mail!

    Re:Stuff takes time. (Score:2)
    by gorilla on Wednesday April 25, @02:09PM EST (#215)
    (User #36491 Info)
    I'd disagree. Yes MP3 players are new, but cable boxes aren't. Try and find a VCR which will talk to an external cable box.
    Voice is closer than you think (Score:1)
    by dropdead on Wednesday April 25, @12:09PM EST (#106)
    (User #201019 Info)
    Voice recognition in medical informatics has reached a point where they need standards for voice reporting. The newer systems out now can handle most accent's with no real problem. And the standard for accuracy in medical devices far exceeds any consumer product.


    By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more. - Albert Camus
    And this solves problems how...? (Score:1)
    by travail_jgd (travail_jgd@EVERYONE.HATES.SPAM.yahoo.com) on Wednesday April 25, @12:10PM EST (#107)
    (User #80602 Info)
    CmdrTaco said he wants a flexible, easy-to-use media convergence box that's not a PC. Let's look at what he asks for:

    User scripting: It's a nice idea, but how does a person key a script using a Universal TV remote? You either need a keyboard/USB port or a PC to work on. Let's not forget that user scripting creates a big security hole for non-technical users -- a trojan horse might not be able to upload data to the net or delete your checking account, but it could ruin the work you've done with your system. Ripped CD's, TV listings, preferences... all deleted.

    Networking: There are three primary means of connecting a network for home users: phone-line, Ethernet, and wireless. Rather than builing a box with three different kinds of adapters, it would be easier (and cheaper!) for the manufacturer to just have some kind of generic connector (like USB). Since there's a large hard drive and CD/DVD player, installing drivers would be simple even for non-technical users.

    Expansion: For the unit to be "future-proof", it would need the ability to use new hardware and software. Firewire, USB, Serial ATA, etc would solve the hardware side of things, and standardized drivers and open specifications would assist on the software side.

    What we've got is a media box with open hardware expansion (Firewire and USB, or some other standard), networking capability, high-resolution display, high-end audio, large amounts of processing power and massive storage capabilities. I'm not seeing how this is different from a PC -- just with a friendly, unified interface and a nifty remote.


    Tivo + a dvd burner (Score:1)
    by bokmann on Wednesday April 25, @12:10PM EST (#108)
    (User #323771 Info) http://www.javaguy.org
    The only convergence I want is a DVD/RW Drive and an ethernet port on my Tivo.

    If my Tivo had the ability to play CDs and DVDs, as well as let me take my episodes of Buffy and burn them onto DVD for safe-keeping, I'd never leave my house (uh, except to buy blank DVDs)

    I want the ethernet port so I can stream video to the TV built on linux that slashdot featured about a month ago.d

    -db
    People will WANT component systems for a reason (Score:2)
    by hardaker on Wednesday April 25, @12:11PM EST (#112)
    (User #32597 Info) http://dcas.ucdavis.edu/~hardaker
    Much of what you're talking about is a mere extension of the simple boombox type systems. Cheap stereo equipment has been available for ages now that have combined receivers, amps, turn tables, cd players, tape decks, etc for a long time.

    However, go to anyone's house with a good sound system and you'll find that individual components still provide better sound. The reasons are simple:

    1. Producing one box that does everything is not cheap, so companies will try to make it cheap by sacrificing quality.
    2. Producing one box that does everything requires a whole slew of specilization and it's unlikely that a box that does everything will have the quality with respect to design than a box who's sole purpose is to implement that single functionality will have.

    Will they be popular and useful? Certainly.

    Will I buy one? Doubtful.

    Re:People will WANT component systems for a reason (Score:1)
    by AvatarADV on Wednesday April 25, @12:49PM EST (#161)
    (User #411445 Info)

    Not to mention the biggest reason - component failure!

    When my VCR goes out, I can swap another one in and keep going. Same with a TV or a DVD player or a stereo or whatever. With a nifty all-in-one box, however, if my "super entertainment confluence" is at Sony or JVC awaiting desperately needed repairs due to the forced introduction of a peanut butter sandwich into the heads or something... then what am I doing in the meantime?

    Other posters have spoken to the problems with vertical integration (i.e., that the manufacturer gains all sorts of abilities to discourage you from using standardized components, as they can make their main box compatible only with proprietary hardware).

    Re:People will WANT component systems for a reason (Score:1)
    by Trekologer (bucko@eden.nospam.rutgers.edu) on Wednesday April 25, @01:40PM EST (#201)
    (User #86619 Info) http://www.eden.rutgers.edu/~bucko
    I think that Taco was hinting at hobbiests doing something like this using off-the-shelf components, like building their own PC. If that is the case, you don't need to have everything on one PCB, each device plugs into the motherboard, and is held together with a nifty software hack. Sure someone would sell these devices as one piece, but I'd imagine being able to build a clone (complete with open source software) yourself. Besides, with the improvements in manufacturing technology, we're almost to the point with electroncs that if it works the first time, its going to work for a very long time.

    alt.startrek.role-playing FAQ Keeper
    What I want is wired components and MPEG data. (Score:2)
    by Thag on Wednesday April 25, @12:11PM EST (#113)
    (User #8436 Info) http://www.users.fast.net/~acheson/
    My ideal convergence system has individual a/v components, each with a single data/control port in the back. These go into either a router or the back of the Borg Box. The analog sources all go into the components, not the Borg Box.

    The borg box then becomes all about issuing commands and manipulating data streams, something that Linux should be well suited for, and not about tons of specialized hardware doing endless conversions between analog signals. It also lets me swap out and upgrade a/v components, and choose the ones that fit my needs and price range.

    Then, only the Borg Box gets to talk to the screen, the keyboard, the mouse and the speaker amps.

    I don't have a lot of hope for consumer-grade components with FireWire ports in them any time soon, though.

    Jon Acheson

    All opinions expressed herein are my own, and not those of my employers, who are appalled.
    Single point of failure? (Score:1)
    by cnkeller on Wednesday April 25, @12:12PM EST (#114)
    (User #181482 Info)
    So when it fails, the entire uber-device goes into the repair shop. It's like your living in the stone age again.

    It's a neat idea, but no thanks, I'll keep everything in separate components....

    Patience...Apple is blazing this trail for us (Score:2)
    by tylerh (garbage1@home.com_nospam) on Wednesday April 25, @12:12PM EST (#115)
    (User #137246 Info)

    Taco, not too worry.

    Steve Jobs has the identical vision and is working hard to make it come true. Although a colossal failure, this is what the Cube was trying to be. Remember the Lisa? Steve will be back.

    Mind you, I'm not saying "buy Apple." Apple is mostly closed and Steve is an arse. But this large company with a proven record rolling out (consumer) innovations is working hard on your dream -- all built up from BSD

    Just as Open Source has coopted so much from UNIX and Windows, so Open Source will coopt "convergence" from Apple -- with little of the corporate control other posters (rightly) fear so much.

    All good things come to those who wait


    "one treats others with courtesy not because they are gentlemen or gentlewomen, but because you are" --G. Henrichs
    Dont know if anyone outside the UK has seen this.. (Score:1)
    by rob.sharp on Wednesday April 25, @12:20PM EST (#123)
    (User #215152 Info)
    http://www.tinytakami.com/

    A commericial "digital media convergence" PC.

    Interesting!
    Members of the "Scooby Doo" gang will ALWAYS shout "ggghost!" when faced with an unusual phenomenon, despite having
    More HDTV (Score:1)
    by -tji (webmail@weaselworkz.com) on Wednesday April 25, @12:23PM EST (#125)
    (User #139690 Info) http://weaselworkz.com
    Obviously, this device is in the future.. Hopefully in the near future broadcast digital TV will be the norm. So, the box needs to be able to output 720p and 1080i via component video or RGB outputs. Also, the recording of video MUST be able to handle HDTV sources. The Telemann DTV-200 already does this.

    There are almost no HDTV stories on /.
    Maybe because in West Michigan, only one channel has gone digital, WOOD-8 (NBC). Rob: beg/borrow/steal an HDTV decoder & check out the tonight show (the ONLY thing NBC shows in HD.. CBS is much better) using a cheap UHF antenna. This free, off the air broadcast, is amazing in quality.

    convergence is not UNIX (Score:1)
    by krb (bg07ew4i4001@sneakemail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @12:23PM EST (#126)
    (User #15012 Info)
    I find it hilarious that a site like this which is notably linux (and thus unix) oriented is so fucking obsessed with this convergence thing... it's a concept totally at odds with the unix philosophy. I read the Unix in a nutshell book many years agao (edition 2 maybe) and I recall being totally drawn to the design philosophy of many small programs that do just one thing well but and interact in an intelligent way so they can be joined simply to do complex things. That's the beauty of the system... I don't need one program to do everything... i just run this file through this filter or that and pipe it over here and it does what i want.

    I look for hardware to be the same way, which is why i like the visor and it's springboard system so much (not that i own one, i'm speaking conceptually)... by itself it doesn't do terribly much more than any old leather bound DayRunner, but if i want it to be gps, i pop in a little card (via an intelligent interface) and i have a gps. cell phone? same deal, different card. mp3 player? no problem... why would i want one device which does everything and if one part breaks i'm fucked. and i can't upgrade any parts if say, somone beats mp3, i have to replace the whole device instead of just the mp3 module...

    1 general device with a well known interface. many little addons which do One thing adn do it well. this is the way it should be and I'm surprised more unix types don't say so more often.

    my $3.50 or whatever...

    -k
    >s>i>g> information != knowledge
    Re:convergence is not UNIX (Score:1)
    by jargoone on Wednesday April 25, @02:40PM EST (#234)
    (User #166102 Info)
    I don't need one program to do everything

    Agreed. That's why Emacs users amuse me. (ducking)

    I look for hardware to be the same way, which is why i like the visor and it's springboard system so much (...) why would i want one device which does everything and if one part breaks i'm fucked

    A Visor with a bunch of modules is something else entirely. Visor breaks, you're fucked. Comparing it to the kernel might be more accurate.

    Why restrict it to just one TV? (Score:1)
    by Smitty on Wednesday April 25, @12:23PM EST (#127)
    (User #15702 Info)
    With a wired or wireless Ethernet adapter, you could send compressed video and audio streams to any TV or computer in the house that has the appropriate playback hardware and software.

    Also, add a web site to the box so you can schedule recordings from work or on the road.
    Re:Why restrict it to just one TV? (Score:1)
    by rakeshagrawal (rakesh@snapstream.com) on Wednesday April 25, @11:49PM EST (#315)
    (User #252260 Info) http://www.snapstream.com/
    we do this -- SnapStream PVS
    Rob, most of your software is already done, man (Score:1)
    by Asim (asim_AT_mindspring.NOSPAM.com) on Wednesday April 25, @12:25PM EST (#128)
    (User #20552 Info) http://www.mindspring.com/~whill

    Hop over to the main web site at http://misterhouse.net or the sourceforge web site at http://sourceforge.net/projects/misterhouse/ -- this guy's been working on this for years. It's all done in Perl, works on *inx and Win32 platforms, with open-sourced code. Misterhouse does all the X10 stuff, can be voice driven and speaks itself, play mp3s, etc., etc.

    He has a number of interfaces, including a Tk and a HTML version. This is an important point, because a lot of folks commenting mention most of this can be done, but I think Rob's point is that such a box should be accessable to the average consumer. A home-built brew isn't that, and the confluence of tech needed to make it happen is way out of the reach of the average consumer as well. Projects like Misterhouse aren't perfect, but make it a lot closer.

    NOTE: Try the SourceForge site if the first one, misterhouse.net, doesn't respond, like it isn't for me.
    They'll never let you get away with it (Score:1)
    by jchristopher on Wednesday April 25, @12:25PM EST (#129)
    (User #198929 Info)
    Like our music, we should automatically rip, catalog, and store our DVDs.

    The MPAA will never let you get away with that. They'll get ISP's to block access to the website where you hype your Box. You'll be sued under the DCMA for providing a "circumvention device", and you'll lose your job when your employer finds out you're a "pirate" in your spare time.

    When you call the local news to try to get your story on the air, they will laugh, because they are owned by AOL/TimeWarner/ABC/Disney, Inc.

    You'll start a campaign to write your congressman, but will get cut off at the knees, because everytime you try to use the internet to gain interest in your cause, your ISP account is cancelled.

    When you get smart and try to run your own website and mail server, your connectivity (cable, DSL, T1, etc. get cancelled because your upstream provider gets a threatening letter and buckles.)

    I think people are finally starting to get it - it's all over. America is owned by megacorps, and they aren't letting go.

    Because of this, your "box" will never happen.

    What's hard about this (Score:1)
    by Phredward on Wednesday April 25, @12:25PM EST (#130)
    (User #254393 Info)
    The problem is, you don't want one box that does everything, you want a bunch of things that play nice with each other.

    Take your stereo for instance. Good stereos don't have integrated speakers, because then you can't upgrade one without the other. But all stereos know how to talk to speakers (for the most part).

    Same with your cd player. It sends audio data to your stereo.

    The problem is, what you really want is a standard that a/v equipment uses to communicate with each other, and a really REALLY good UI around the whole thing. Everything should be modular, but your cd player should tell your 'main unit' that a new cd has been inserted, and it should instruct the cd player to rip it, and send the data to it (maybe while simultaniously playing it). But the interface will need to be standardized, so that components can talk to each other, but ALSO flexable enough to handle new types of recording, indexing, and playback technology. Did I mention it needs to be simple enough for your grandmother to use, and not invade your privacy?

    nice dream/nighmare (Score:1)
    by Lumpy (spamsucks.timgray@lambdanet.com) on Wednesday April 25, @12:29PM EST (#133)
    (User #12016 Info) http://www.lambdanet.com
    If it comes from thew Open source community it will be a dream come true. If it comes from Microsoft or other gestapo members of the closed source mafia (colorful words added to invoke emotions.) then it will be a nightmare.

    Microsoft hates mp3, and it will hate ogg/vorbis even more. (in fact it hates any format that doesnt have content control or is under thier ownership (html is forced upon them and they dont like it, they'd love htMSml (compiled of course!))

    The record industry and movie conglomerates OWN the hardware and software megaliths. If anything comes out of phillips or sony it should be looked at as if it was looking back at you.

    now... what you dream of can exist now. you could build it now. linux can do all of that, including control of devices that are not "compliant"...

    Problems arise when you start wanting things more specific... like super high fedility. I assume you want your audio to be un-frigging-believeable.. foundation cracking bass, mid's clearer than the actual instrument plugged into your head, and high's that shatter all the glass in clairity and strength. Start integrating things and you lose quality. Would you like a nice example?

    The AVID video production studio. instead of having the encoder and decoder as combined/integrated units, they are seperate, the TBC is seperate, the audio mixer and processing boxes are seperate... why? for quality. Then the software is seperate also.

    Why? you ask... well, what is better... a film produced by an expert that uses all those discreet tools or a moron that pushes the "make movie button". if spielberg did things the easy way then he would have been forever unknown.

    now granted we are talking home entertainment. and if you buy a real home automation system then the ease of using all these items and your dreams would be mostly complete. ( I can have my tuner tune to howard stern and have the dat recorder start and record from that source with a simple function from my home's central computer.. and changing that to mp3 storage would be trivial) but does anyone really want this? home automation installs are rare, resale of a connected home with a HA system is the same as a normal house (no value for the HA system) therefore the public doesn't want it, otherwise I'd be selling a helluva lot more of these and not just to the disgustingly rich. (anyone can afford some level of home automation) and I wouldn't be asked to rip out systems for people moving because people wont pay an extra dime for an automated home.

    it's a nice dream that is a reality for some of us, but it will never become a standard.

    --If you're being screwed, leave. --If you're watching someone be screwed, leave. --Don't take crap from anyone.
    Everything in one box.... (Score:1)
    by no names left!!! on Wednesday April 25, @12:33PM EST (#140)
    (User #323949 Info)
    Well, it gets worse and worse - the amount of logging that goes on, logging which urls you go to, scanning your emails - how long before there is a 'need' to scan for consumer habbits instead of just threats to national and international security - scanning your phone calls, logging your downloads from the internet, applying all this information together with the info of your interests from the mailing list you had to sign up to to get your email from bigsite.com, all of this - well now, with a box full of neat tricks - they could even know what you watch, what you order, what you listen to (although my guess is that this is logged too), who you talk to, what time you get up , what time you go out, what time your house is empty, what time your heating comes on (???) - and much more - and what happens WHEN this infomation is sold to other companies - imagine the junk mail - but worse - instead of junk mail that you just arent interested in - it will be junk mail that you are interested in!!! imagine actually wanting to read all the spam that you get every day!!!! because you couldnt help but be genuinly interested in it!!!!! nightmare!!! you'd never get anything done!! just a thought "The world is made for people who do not think"
    So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:5, Insightful)
    by brianvan on Wednesday April 25, @12:35PM EST (#143)
    (User #42539 Info)
    As far as I know, with any operating system or application, there is NO software that:

    * Automatically catalogues media clips (BeOS does this to an extent, I've heard)
    * Replicates TiVO functionality to an acceptable degree
    * Does a decent job at being a convenient radio tuner
    * Does a decent job at being an alarm clock
    * Streams decent-quality (visual and production) video from the Net on a channel-lookup system
    * Plays HDTV signals
    * Does a decent job of being a voicemail/phone answering/notification system for incoming calls - or for that matter, does any decent voice functionality over voice lines at all
    * Triggers events via anything other than timers, keyboard taps, and mouse clicks
    * Displays information services in an acceptable format on a TV screen
    * Crossfades or partitions anything via automatic windowing (yea I know you can drag titlebars and window boundaries to your heart's content, but your good old "tile windows" command is usually not good enough for practical usage)
    * Decently controls events on a PC via a remote control

    ... and so on.

    There is a great need for this stuff, no doubt... I'm sure many of us spend countless hours performing manual tasks related to entertainment that represent work more than entertainment... an irony if I've ever seen one. And I believe much of it exists... albeit in primitive, obscure, or component form. There are a lot of the things on Taco's list that are here today - the CD/DVD player, the remote controls and IR ports, the X10 systems, good file compression, TiVO and its consumer electronics counterparts, and so on.

    The task is wrapping it all up. And it's much harder to construct a consumer electronic system that works on TV technology, that has a simple user interface, and that meets the processing/hardware requirements of all this functionality. This is why the PS2 doesn't do all of this... it's too much to build in at once without driving the price through the roof. PCs can do it much easier, though - they're expandable, they're versatile, and they're not as expensive as consumer electronics.

    Now, you must think I'm on crack for saying "not as expensive as consumer electronics". But honestly, PCs are component systems that don't have to be bought all at once. The initial shell-out is high, and the overall cost can be staggering on a small budget... but over time, it's not a bad thing at all. I've never had $3000 to spend on a computer at once, yet that's easily what my computer cost altogether (the SCSI subsystem alone breaks $1000). Stereo systems are like this as well - but you can easily spend $1500 the first time out on one of those as well. Most consumer electronics are either too dumb to cooperate in the manner suggested here, or can be a royal pain in the ass when they're integrated - TV/VCR combos come to mind.

    Before this gets way too long, I think the correct approach is to:

    1. Use existing PC hardware and write flexible, well-interfaced software packages for separate media functions. Not just your typical poorly-written driver software to watch TV, use a remote, or capture video - but software that does these things good and with greater power. The ideas are out there, typically the functionality is not.

    2. Encourage new PC hardware to fill in the functionality gaps (HDTV tuners, USB plug-n-play IR receivers, radio tuners, big ass hard drives) and write quality software packages for those as well. Not to forget, the hardware needs OPEN STANDARD INTERFACES... not a separate programming interface or application for each brand of tuner, media player, etc., but something like the way all sound cards are SoundBlaster compatible or 3D cards have DirectX/OpenGL functionality.

    3. Finally, someone builds a system with existing, well established hardware and software, that accomplishes the task of integrating all these components seamlessly, with an easy to use interface, that just plugs into the TV and the phone/cable line, and does all this stuff for you in your living room.

    So... improve what we have, create what we need, and bring it all together when it's ready. But as it is now, it's not ready yet.
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:2)
    by blair1q on Wednesday April 25, @01:41PM EST (#202)
    (User #305137 Info)
    Because the people who QFD the functionality of mass-market software aren't interested in giving you good things, they're interested in giving you things with (price/effort)*e^(-ttm) maximized.

    If the most popular UI (Windows) and Multi-media lib (DirectX) were open-source, no doubt you'd see the things you talk about.

    And its competition (Mac) is too busy hoarding the toilet paper to provide more than basically marketable functionality, as smooth and blue as it is.

    Meanwhile, their open competition (Linux/X/BSD/etc.) is too busy trying to figure out how this week's herd of distro drops works to do any plush development, and can't normalize the HW interface tightly enough to achieve critical mass.

    --Blair
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:1)
    by Fat Cow (rehankhwaja@yahoo.com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:48PM EST (#205)
    (User #13247 Info)
    I think what I'd like to see is a linux distribution focussed on entertainment and ease of use. then you could buy whatever hardware you want and feel you can afford, install the distro and it would catalog your hardware and attempt to fit it all together into it's UI.

    so _if_ you've bought a DVD player, it'll to rip your DVDs. _if_ you've bought a consumer IR receiver, it'll accept commands from it. _if_ you've got an internet connection, it'll get the TV schedules and do the TIVO stuff. and so on.

    all this stuff is available, what would be a leap would be to make it easy to install and tie it all together. and making it a distro means that your hardware remains modular.
    stay frosty and alert
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:1)
    by Burning1 (burningIHAVEENOUGHSPAMALREADYone@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:56PM EST (#211)
    (User #204959 Info) http://www.nodachi.net
    * Does a decent job at being an alarm clock
    Wha? Wha?

    30 6 * * * /usr/local/bin/mpg123 ~/mp3s/Tool-Aenima/*.mp3

    Guarentieed to wake you up in the morning. =)

    (IMO, this is a much better way to wake up, than any damned radio alarm clock. I rigged this solution after a late coding session at work forced me to sleep under my desk. -_-)
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:2)
    by Zaph (zaph@rochester.rr.please-no-spam.com) on Wednesday April 25, @02:57PM EST (#244)
    (User #36677 Info)

    30 6 * * * /usr/local/bin/mpg123 ~/mp3s/Tool-Aenima/*.mp3

    Don't you sleep in on the weekends?

    -- Quoth the Penguin, "pipe grep more!"
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:1)
    by Burning1 (burningIHAVEENOUGHSPAMALREADYone@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @03:43PM EST (#258)
    (User #204959 Info) http://www.nodachi.net
    I had already posted when I thought of that. -_-

    Um... Real geeks know no weekend.

    Yeah...

    30 6 * * 1-5 /usr/local/bin/mpg123 ~/mp3s/Tool-Aenima/*.mp3
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:2)
    by dachshund on Wednesday April 25, @02:14PM EST (#219)
    (User #300733 Info)
    Finally, someone builds a system with existing, well established hardware and software, that accomplishes the task of integrating all these components seamlessly, with an easy to use interface

    Actually, all you really need is a set of really good (and readable) user-interface guidelines for designing TV-based applications, sort of like the Mac interface guidelines. A library of standard layout tools for displaying menus/pop-up boxes/program grids, and handling text input via a remote etc. would make it easy to follow the guidelines and make usable apps.

    This would really just be another graphical shell. You might include standard APIs for all sorts of video and audio playback, along with a bunch of driver code. Within that framework, it would be very easy to get cool TV-based apps up and running (without reinventing the wheel each time.) Eventually when the hardware starts to catch up, this would be a viable choice for any set-top box manufacturer. A linux-based shell, with a large library of portable applications might be really attractive to them.

    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:2, Interesting)
    by zootie on Wednesday April 25, @02:25PM EST (#227)
    (User #190797 Info)
    Some of the functions can be done, but unfortunately, most depend on using each HW manufacturer's API/SW, and most only work under Windows.

    The best place I've found for information on the current state of this "Borg PC" is the AVSForum HTPC board. Some of the forum members have customized their PCs to a degree that comes pretty close. They aren't an every user, dumb down PC, but some come pretty close at being user friendly... The problem remains being the cost. The Gateway Destination came pretty close to bringing it all togheter, but it was underpowered, and very few people would pay for it (so it was discontinued)...

    Some manufacturers are starting to come around and to provide automation features, that enable some customization (like ATI, which now has an API for remotes). Girder seems to be a great hub for programmability features, where several Open Source projects converge in controlling the HTPC.

    A few general comments: * 560 GB of storage is almost affordable for personal use. Just use 8 80 GB HD with a RAID 5 controller (like the 3Ware 6800). It'd cost ~$2300, which isn't cheap, but you'd have plenty of storage, and you even get some redundancy...

    * UltimateTV and the XBox are going this way. The XBox will be HDTV compatible, and future generations might include a HDTV tuner. And then using USB you might get additional funcitonality. A merging of UTB and XBox might also be possible. Probably the biggest objection would be that this is a MS solution...

    * There at at least 3 HDTV PC Tuner cards available (Telemann HiPix, Hauppage WinTV-HD, and AccessDTV). All the manufacturers are working into building digital PVR functions into their products, which will make HDTV tuners a Tivo alternative (at least for OTA broadcasts).

    * SnapStream is working to provide PVR features on your PC (there was another, but I don't have a name handy), and the company is very open to user feedback and open source development (as the IRTuner Project shows).

    * Don't forget PDA's and mobile multimedia devices. As more multimedia is available, the box will make it accesible on the go, so you can take movies with you when you commute, or access music from anywhere in your house (using 802.11b) w/o requiring a PC or a full blown device, just your PDA. SnapStream recognizes the potential of PDAs, and is offering PocketPVS so you can transcode video and play it back on your PPC.

    HDTV might be the catalyst that pushes the HTPC out of obscurity, and that creates the borg box. With every US household having to replace their TV in the next few years, more will start to consider cheap HDTV PC Tuners, using existing big screen displays and/or large screen Monitors (and VGA compatible TVs).

    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:2)
    by sheldon on Wednesday April 25, @03:52PM EST (#262)
    (User #2322 Info) http://www.sodablue.org
    * Automatically catalogues media clips (BeOS does this to an extent, I've heard)

    Do not understand... Please describer further as to why this is important.

    * Replicates TiVO functionality to an acceptable degree

    According to hauppage web site, WinVCR from Cinax is available for my WinTV card.

    * Does a decent job at being a convenient radio tuner

    WinTV-FM card

    * Does a decent job at being an alarm clock

    This has been easy with every computer with a built in clock.

    * Streams decent-quality (visual and production) video from the Net on a channel-lookup system

    Realplayer

    * Plays HDTV signals

    WinTV-HD

    * Does a decent job of being a voicemail/phone answering/notification system for incoming calls - or for that matter, does any decent voice functionality over voice lines at all

    This software has been available for years. I had a USR Voice modem back in 1995. One of my friends at work has a whole phone system attached via USB to his PC. He can retrieve email via his phone, etc. Unfortunately that vendor did go out of business, but there are some others.

    * Triggers events via anything other than timers, keyboard taps, and mouse clicks

    What do you want to trigger off of? There is plenty of home automation software out there to trigger events from a variety of sources.

    * Displays information services in an acceptable format on a TV screen

    Have not tried this.

    * Crossfades or partitions anything via automatic windowing (yea I know you can drag titlebars and window boundaries to your heart's content, but your good old "tile windows" command is usually not good enough for practical usage)

    Please provide more detail.

    * Decently controls events on a PC via a remote control

    Once again that home automation software is readily available that will do this.

    Why limit yourself to remote? I would rather control my computer via voice commands, which I can do although not very far advanced.

    I don't know, I'm pretty amazed at all the stuff I do with my computers at home. I have a WinTV card, so I watch TV in a window. My scanner photocopies to my laser printer at the touch of a button, etc.

    It's improving. I don't think we are there yet.

    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:2)
    by dasunt on Wednesday April 25, @07:12PM EST (#298)
    (User #249686 Info)

    You answered the points well, but I just want to add my $.02 to the discussion.

    Automatically catalogues media clips (BeOS does this to an extent, I've heard)

    The problem with this is that media clips can be in several different formats, and at several different sampling rates, plus they might have different lengths. If we have the raw data in a known format always arranged in the same way, we have a good chance of building up a databaase to catalog the data, as long as there is a large demand for it. The CDDB is a good example of this. However, there is no equivelent way to classify mp3s. My computer has a hard time going through my mp3 collection and telling me when two songs sound familiar.

    However, for a lot of formats, it doesn't really matter. Having to manually enter the name of an movie when I rip it from a DVD isn't a great difficulty for me.

    Displays information services in an acceptable format on a TV screen.

    I haven't tried this in linux, but windows 98 (and I believe windows ME) has dual monitor support, and its possible to send output of one program to a different monitor. It probably wouldn't be that hard to set up the second video card to use TV-out and just connect it to a TV. I'm looking into doing something simular for a more "classic" feel for my console/arcade game emulation collection.

    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:1)
    by joekool (joekool666@yahoo.com) on Wednesday April 25, @09:46PM EST (#307)
    (User #21359 Info) http://bang.dyn.dhs.org
    Displays information services in an acceptable format on a TV screen.

    I am looking into the matrox 450 for just this!--seems to be available for 70 bucks, but I can't figure out how the support for it in linux is yet(as in how well is dual head supported, and does xawtv display fullscreen properly on the tv head)

    I know all, I see all--guess which is the fun part!?
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:2)
    by brianvan on Wednesday April 25, @08:28PM EST (#303)
    (User #42539 Info)
    * Media Clip cataloging

    Simply put, 256 character filenames are not fully descriptive of an underlying file and I could use more in terms of storage. Unfortunately, without building a custom app, the only thing I use now to browse MP3s, video files, images, etc. is Windows Explorer. Browsing media content on a filename basis is dumb (like dumb terminal dumb). I heard BeOS uses ID3 tags in the filesystem for MP3 catalogs - good but not quite there yet. I want the interface to ALL the media clips on my computer by any way I choose - in terms of sorting, grouping, ordering, hierarchies, etc. It isn't that hard to do for something like MP3 but it gets harder as you include multiple media formats. Everything physically should sit in one directory, and filenames should be irrelevant (perhaps GUIDs would be nice). Oh, and I want the media player to be like Winamp.

    * TiVO functionality

    WinVCR is NOT like TiVO. TiVO is a lot smarter about recording things than WinVCR is. WinVCR is more like... a VCR. And note, no one (including me) asked for VCR functionality built into this system. Gee, I wonder why... (hint: big bulky mediocre-quality tapes)

    * (anything answered with a Win-TV product)

    Do you work for Hauppauge? ;) No, seriously, I should look into that product again... but it seems to me that you'd need to pick from HDTV and a radio tuner at the moment from the Win-TV line. Not to mention that they're so friggen expensive, and that I can't find any product reviews on the Net (I need some kind of product comparison before I buy ANYTHING). There's a WinTV DVR now that does TiVO stuff, but again I couldn't find a product review. So I take these recommendations with a grain of salt for now. As for most other products... well, shitty drivers and viewers are to blame for my reluctance to jump further into this arena. I noticed most programs that try to mess with video overlays fail very badly... and this is the fault of the OS and the video card drivers. And this is under Windows, too... there probably is non-existent support for some of the better stuff under Linux.

    * Clock

    Yea every computer has a built in clock... but no alarm program in the OS. And I haven't found a truly useful alarm application that doesn't get in your way too much. It's got to be easy to use, not some monstrosity that wants lots of system tray room and has too many options but not enough features (snooze, decent event triggering with enough options for popular programs, maybe remote-control compatibility, etc.)...

    * Streaming video via Realplayer

    Hahahaha! Sorry to call you out on this one, but this is pretty funny to me. Real Player is an application that I've been trying to avoid for the past three years. And it never works right for me anymore, either. I think I need to reinstall it... but anyway, it's one of the worse media formats out there, and one of the worst media players by far just for being a big nuisance...

    * Phone functionality

    There aren't any popular phone products for computers cause there aren't any good ones. Again, we get into the problem of too many features and not enough functionality... and most voicemail programs are also a nuisance as well. Don't forget shitty drivers. It's about time someone wrote a better phone program. Don't look at me, I hate programming. :)

    * Home Automation software

    Beyond X10, haven't seen anything worth considering. Besides, I don't want a computer to be another light switch... I want it to be a BETTER light switch. X10 isn't better, it's just another one as far as I'm concerned. And I already have light switches. Also, I want SOFTWARE events to be triggered as well as household appliances. Again, it's time someone wrote a better event-trigger software system that works well with popular applications.

    * Crossfading or partitioning windows

    Taco mentioned the crossfading, kind of like overlaying or having two displays on the same screen space... like double transparency. Window partitioning... well, I'm tired of what Windows and XWindows look like now... window management should be smarter and should have more formats/choices. Sonique is a good example of a program that does interesting things with its own screen space... but it needs to go further than that. I say, chop about 1/8th of the screen off the right side and make it a universal status/functional area of the screen so that we can put things into dim focus (word doc taking up most of the screen but TV playing upper right hand small window, winamp sliding in just below that, a remote control panel onscreen below that... but with options for where things go. This is a UI thing.

    * Remote control the PC

    The opposite of above - I need a program to remote control the PC, not a program to have the PC act as a remote control. Again, nothing useable and non-pesky enough out there that I know of. Same thing for voice commands...

    I think it's good that all these products are out there in some form, but I'm saying none of them are quite ready for prime time yet. The states of media catalogs, TV tuners, real life event-triggering and event-triggered software, user interfaces, display technology, bandwidth, and media applications are all not what they could be, and where they should be. I'm hardly one to talk because I contribute nothing to that area, but I just see it as a tremendous opportunity. Then again, it's the irony of putting a lot of work into being entertained... you have to wonder if it's worth the effort.
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:1)
    by joekool (joekool666@yahoo.com) on Wednesday April 25, @09:58PM EST (#310)
    (User #21359 Info) http://bang.dyn.dhs.org
    First, like I said above, I am working on the phone thing, now as to home automation: see mrhouse, on freshmeat.

    As to Crossfading or partitioning windows: I think you(or I) have the wrong idea about what he meant by crossfading--I believe he meant more of in the style of audio--for instanve he used the example of dropping the volume on the mp3's to hear the caller id talk to you via festival--this happens to be exactly my project at the moment, so I know exactly what he means it's the idea that you drop something to the background when something else (like the phone) needs your attention.

    Now as to remote control-their is an application in linux that translates a remotes signal's to keypresses--people want this to control functions of the pc(such as video viewing,etc) via a regular remote--from what I hear, they work pretty flawlessly

    I know all, I see all--guess which is the fun part!?
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:2)
    by sheldon on Thursday April 26, @05:52PM EST (#346)
    (User #2322 Info) http://www.sodablue.org
    The only reason I mentioned Hauppage and WinTV products is that I bought a WinTV-Go card last year for only like $40 and I find it to be the most amazing piece of hardware I have ever owned.

    Now granted, while I've been able to get it to record video I have had some problems capturing sound at the same time... But my main purpose is really just to watch TV in a window on my monitor.

    As far as TiVo goes... The technically challenging part of TiVo is the video recording and playback system. Everything from then on is just controlling that subsystem.

    Honestly, the only thing I would ever want out of Tivo is VCR like functionality. I want to tell some device to record Star Trek at 8pm on channel 38 on Saturday, and not have to worry about putting a tape in the machine.

    As far as home automation goes. Ok, the software I was looking at is Homeseer. It is relatively trivial for me to activate software based on some triggered event.

    The door opens, the system can trigger my televion to turn on, change to CNN. A web browser to open on my desktop and browse to the local weather, and oh I don't know maybe an MP3 player playing some music.

    The options are rather endless considering the system is easily interfaceable, and there is a lot of home automation equipment out there. X10 is not the best way to go, the devices have slow response and are not realiable, there are others.

    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:1)
    by brianvan on Friday April 27, @11:10AM EST (#348)
    (User #42539 Info)
    Win-TV products seem nice, but they don't entirely meet my expectations in terms of quality, interface, and functionality. I myself have an ATI All-in-Wonder 128; the thing is amazing when you consider the number and quality of the functions it provides. Of course, it does nothing quite spectacularly (it does a lot of things well, some things mediocre considering the time it was released) but overall, it's still impressive. And I only got it for $100 over a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, the drivers and included programs SUCK A LOT, and it's starting to show its age. I could go with the AIW Radeon, but I have a feeling that won't show enough improvement for the cost. Plus, my processor is a bit old too, so a better video card won't speed up games THAT much...

    The moral of the story is: generally these consumer TV tuner products can be amazing, but underwhelming as well. And I mean the quality of video capture, the options for capture, the coding functions built into the card, the software included, etc.

    Plus, TiVO is a lot more than just VCR functions; it does a lot for you automatically. You don't even have to tell it when something's on; if you just tell it to record "The Simpsons", it'll find out when it's on and record it EVERY SINGLE TIME. Some cable systems have it set up such that shows like "Friends", "Seinfeld", "The Simpsons", etc. are on like 3-4 times a day; just telling it to record THOSE shows only will fill it up quickly. There are no computer programs that do that, period. And that is the exact capability that makes the TiVO amazing.

    The Homeseer stuff looks pretty good, but I don't have a need for it at the time. Nice to know it's there, though.
    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:2)
    by sheldon on Friday April 27, @09:24PM EST (#349)
    (User #2322 Info) http://www.sodablue.org
    I suppose. The WinTV card I have needs some refinement. When you switch channels there is a loud burst of noise through speakers which is annoying. Overall though the quality of video displayed is quite good, as is the video capture.

    It would be nice if such functions became standard on the computer, which would allow for improved software.

    As far as Tivo, I could care less about the TV listings. The piece of Tivo which excites me the most is the ability to pause TV while I'm watching it. This is technically challenging and required some signifigant amount of bandwidth available from the harddrive as you have to read and write video at the same time.

    The program listing controlling recording is not technically challenging. A computer program to do that would be incredibly easy to write once you have the capability of capturing video to a file.

    SELECT TIME, CHANNEL, LENGTH FROM LISTINGS WHERE NAME = "Simpsons"

    Now I just trigger record events at said times.

    Keeping the television listing database isn't even that hard, it just requires 12 trained monkeys. But monkey's cost a lot to feed, and I can't afford to keep them in my garage. :)

    Re:So why isn't this stuff available on a PC yet? (Score:1)
    by joekool (joekool666@yahoo.com) on Wednesday April 25, @09:41PM EST (#306)
    (User #21359 Info) http://bang.dyn.dhs.org
    * Does a decent job of being a voicemail/phone answering/notification system for incoming calls - or for that matter, does any decent voice functionality over voice lines at all
    yippeee!--I am working on it! so far I have got it talking to me on calls, now working on adding rules, and having it talk to the caller!--both are actually not to hard (I hope, looks good at the moment!)--started out modifying cid, and will be using vgetty for the answering machine parts!

    And just as a note, most of the other functions you are asking for are in(Tivo, radio, etc) are in similar 'almost finished'/working states--just give it a few months! especially the alarm clock -just cross mpg123 with cron!--duh!

    I know all, I see all--guess which is the fun part!?
    Microsoft's on it (Score:1)
    by hobbes17r on Wednesday April 25, @12:36PM EST (#144)
    (User #199196 Info)
    Interesting that Microsoft has specifically stated that it is avoiding this kind of functionality in the XBox, but I'll bet what's described here isn't too far off the mark from their ultimate strategy.

    Microsoft wants out of the dark corner of your apartment and into the living room. It will spend uberbucks to prevent Sony from taking the home integration spotlight.

    Look at what Microsoft's investing in... You've obviously got Xbox and UltimateTV now, each of which are being marketed to very specific audiences. But then you've got this talk about MS negotiating with movie studios to create on-demand, Internet-based music services... MS has big plans in the entertainment industry, and an intergrated do-it-all entertainment box would be a spiffy way to break in. Right now, they're targeting specific crowds to build up their name in home entertainment, but maybe when broadband connectivity improves in years ahead, they'll move to lump it all together and set up us the bomb.

    Wonder if the XBox will offer a hardware expansion to incorporate UltimateTV...


    I do NOT want a borg box. (Score:2, Insightful)
    by DonFreenut on Wednesday April 25, @12:41PM EST (#149)
    (User #130669 Info)

    I have a PC. I can make it do all these things, plus whatever the hell else I want. I fear the idea of do-it-all appliances; they spell the death of the all-purpose PC.

    Everything you wanted in a computer, but without the freedom!

    Re:I do NOT want a borg box. (Score:1)
    by animallogic on Wednesday April 25, @11:03PM EST (#312)
    (User #225329 Info)
    What one man knows as freedom another knows as mess...
    slashdot (Score:1)
    by Lord Omlette (ajain@digink.com) on Wednesday April 25, @12:42PM EST (#150)
    (User #124579 Info) http://www.omlettesoft.com/
    This is News for Nerds. Thanks for going back to your roots, if only briefly :)

    Peace,
    Amit
    ICQ 77863057

    .5e
    How about a switching network of devices? (Score:1)
    by Kisai on Wednesday April 25, @12:43PM EST (#151)
    (User #213879 Info)
    Why don't we take a few concepts we already have, and apply it to the Home Entertainment System?

    Take your standard gigabit ethernet or firewire, give it a switch(as opposed to a Hub), and connect all the A/V devices to it, or if you run out of plugs on the switch, buy a bigger one, or just buy another one.

    This way anyone who buys a A/V device, can hook it up anywhere there is a A/V plug, and magically all it's services are available to the A/V network, and all the A/V services already on the network are available to that device.

    So take something simple: An A/V network listening station (headphones and a "remote") is plugged in or activated by wireless. There is a "Audio Center" located on the A/V network, which contains months worth of audio in Ogg Vorbis format, so now the listener can just play that audio. Now if say a DVD drive was plugged into the network, now that listener can also listen to DVD-Audio,CD-Audio, DVD-Movies, and anything else audio related on that. Now add a Digital Cable Tuner, now that listener can listen to audio from any of the channels, plus now can access cable-internet and listen to any streaming audio broadcasts.

    Make sense?

    Now if any one of those devices kill themselves somehow, you just replace that one part, instead of having to replace everything.

    Convergence is a big mistake, look at those junky i810 systems with integrated video, audio network and modem. Any one of those componets die, you junk the entire machine.

    Back to the story...

    Now say we have a "watching" station, that features a monitor and surround speakers, now it can access any of the A/V network devices and watch video from any video source, and listen to audio from any audio source. So say a Digital Sattelite reciever was added, now you have the ability to watch movies from any of the channels on the sattelite dish, or listen to audio from any channel, etc.

    The idea here, is that to include only the minimum functionaliy in any one device, no duplication. This would keep costs down, since a "DVD" device only needs to have a DVD-ROM and a interface to the A/V network, no controls, maybe an eject button, but that's it. That DVD-ROM would be able to play anything(CD-Audio,VCD,CD-Data,DVD-Audio,DVD-Video, DVD-data) since the actual mpeg decompression would take place on the recieving end in software. There could be a "processor" black box that does nothing but process data like mpeg1/mpeg-2/ogg-vorbis/mpeg-4/descrabling. Hell, you should even be able to play games on the A/V network, just plug a game controller in and off you go.(Providing there was either a processor box or "game box")

    You lower the cost by only putting in the functionality you want, and nothing you get would include additional bells and whistles.

    So if you want to make a "CD Player", you just plug a listening station and a cd-unit together and that's it.

    One of the PITA's found with existing home entertainment units is the duplication of features. A DVD player can completely replace a CD-player. But a Digital Cable Box and a DVD player have decompression circuits and analog to digital converters that increased the price of both of them. If you only use one or the other at the same time, you don't need the duplication.

    Now look at the bigger picture... say you have listening stations everywhere in your house and outside... say you wanted to listen to the same thing in every room. Now you can, you just take your remote and set each listening station to the same "data broadcast", and that's it, every room has the same data going to it.

    Now to make things as simple as possible for consumers, you only have one cable(wired) or no cable (wireless), so you just plug into any switch and that's it. Any legacy interfaces would have their own connectors for the legacy interface in addition to the single a/v network interface.

    Say you want to plug your computer into the a/v network, now you have access to everything on the a/v network, plus the ability to utilize any "black boxes" to expand your processing capability. Why stop there? If you have two computers on the A/V network, and one is just sitting idle, the other computer can make use of that computers processing power too. Forget having to upgrade your "computer", just buy a faster one and leave the old one on the network. You wouldn't have to buy any new drives because they would already be on the a/v network.

    Speaking of drives, why even have large hard drives in your computer? you can have nice big external drives anywhere on the A/V network, and they can store anything. Your computer could get away with any size drive, and if it needs more space it just queries the a/v network for place to put things.

    Am I being way to optimistic or what? I've love to see something like that happen, but I bet you it wouldn't happen (especially if Microsoft had anything to do with it, they'd want to integrate as many bells and whistles into every box that they can, and duplicate functionality so they can wring more money out of you)

    Summarize: Take the existing switching network concept, and stick single-purpose devices on it, each device has only one real pupose (DVD-ROM's read discs, they don't do any mpeg decompression, they don't have any analog outputs,etc) and any device can talk to any other device.

    Yes I'm aware that firewire could theoretically do this, but I bet you the bandwidth is not wide enough to do this kind of thing.

    And best of all... no drivers, everything just works. Maybe if you had an internet device, you could peridocially look for firmware updates or something.
    Why use Vorbis if you have a 500GB drive? (Score:2)
    by raygundan on Wednesday April 25, @12:45PM EST (#152)
    (User #16760 Info)
    The author predicts 500GB hard drives in the future, which will most likely come to pass in some form or another-- and then goes on to suggest auto-ripping CDs to Ogg Vorbis files. Vorbis is great, but what the heck for? 500GB is about five times more than enough to store my entire music collection completely uncompressed. Add in a lossless compressor of some sort (musiczip? I don't know what else is available) to chop it in half if you like, but it's not really necessary at that sort of drive size.

    Also... why is the VCR obsolete? Until my Tivo will spit out a VCD or DVD with a recorded show on it, it can't completely replace my VCR. In fact, the Tivo actually *uses* the VCR as its only method of producing a portable copy of a recorded show.
    Re:Why use Vorbis if you have a 500GB drive? (Score:1)
    by donglekey on Wednesday April 25, @01:36PM EST (#198)
    (User #124433 Info)
    lossless compression for music is just silly. There are alot of factors when dealing with sound that make lossless compression a very poor option. One example is frequencies above and below the human hearing range. That is information that does not matter at all and doesn't need to be thrown in there and waste space.

    DTA - Death To Acronyms
    Re:Why use Vorbis if you have a 500GB drive? (Score:2)
    by Keith Russell (krussell@PINK-MEAT-LIKE-STUFF.sgi.net) on Wednesday April 25, @02:16PM EST (#222)
    (User #4440 Info)
    I can think of a few reasons:
    1. You can never have too much hard drive space. It never fails that, as soon as somebody makes a leap in hard drive capacity, something comes along to fill it, even if it's just more bloat from $FAVORITE_OFFICE_SUITE. That something could be HDTV. TiVo gets 30 hours by recording analog TV at low ("VHS") quality. How much 780p or 1080i do you think the same size hard drive could handle, even at low quality? And after seeing part of an NHL game in HD*, I wouldn't want low quality.
    2. Data is Bandwidth is Time is Money. If my lossless-compressed media files never leave the box the hard drive is in, it's no problem. Performance is only bound by throughput on the system bus. But I don't see much value in having a massive BorgBox for each and every display/speaker set in my house. I'd much rather have a mofo-huge BorgServer in the basement/closet, serving any number of thin BorgBoxen set-top devices, all connected by cheap, plentiful Cat 5. Until something faster and cheaper comes along, or I start pulling down Sultan of Brunei money, I'll err on the side of efficiency.
    3. Do you need your entire music collection to be CD/SACD/DVD Audio quality? Really, are you losing any subtleties by ripping Dokken at 128 Kbps? :-) Whenever I get around to it, I'll re-rip Dvorak's 9th Symphony at 320Kbps, but I don't need that much bitrate for hair bands.
    You're right that the VCR isn't obsolete. Not yet, at least. I don't think people will go for DVD burners until they can get rid of that intellectual-property-lawyer smell.

    *: One of Best Buy's old demo recordings included a Buffalo Sabres game. I don't recall the format, but I think it was 780p. On a ~61" screen, you could read the names on the players' backs clearly, and the puck was far easier to follow than on analog TV, even without any lame FoxTrax comet trails.

    We're not scare-mongering/This is really happening - Radiohead
    Implements IStdDisclaimer
    Two things. (Score:2)
    by blair1q on Wednesday April 25, @12:47PM EST (#155)
    (User #305137 Info)
    1. Wouldn't a PC with the right peripherals and SW do what is being proposed?

    2. The handheld industry is borging up a storm, combining cell-phone, PDA, personal music player, personal voice recorder, still camera, video camera, wireless web, PC, radio, tv, etc. functions in all 2^N-1 combinations into spaces smaller than the Apple Newton.

    --Blair

    P.S. The 2^Nth combo is just you and your imagination, sunshine.
    Modularity is often overlooked, but is KEY. (Score:5, Insightful)
    by drenehtsral (larsfrnd@lightlink./*nospam*/com) on Wednesday April 25, @12:48PM EST (#156)
    (User #29789 Info) http://www.hooliganhangout.net
    I think in this debate, the biggest setback is that everybody is trying to design the be all and end all home automation/entertainment/information center, and that is just not going to happen. The design cycle is too long, and people to make a device that does it all is going to cost an arm and a leg.
        If there were some published open standard for modules that could perform some set of defined functions through a published interface, we would be a lot closer. I'm working under the assuption that an industry standard would develop for say video devices that would deal with thigs like seeking, playing, recording (if it's an rw device), and any other cleverness like naming tracks, etc... and each device could opt in with each of it's capabilities, publishing them to the "hub" device that would handle communication between devices.
        This is important for several reasons, first, if a technology gets phased out, you can swap parts (or just add a new module) to keep up with things, rather than having to replace your entire system to deal with one standards revision or new media type.
        The other reason off the top of my head is that a modular system would allow competition between manufacturers to produce the best module of a certain type, therefore raising the bar for quality, and also allowing users who need a less spiffy module of one type to buy a lower-spec'd but inexpensive one (for instance users on a budget could get the ntsc tv set instead of s-video for their home system, and be able to upgrade later).
        As new device types are added, new control API's will probably be needed (i.e. MakeCoffee() ), to keep this from killing users, each device should also publish a default api->ui wrapper, so when they plug in their coffee maker they can use it right off the bat without any software installs, and then later when they want to install a module that automatically make coffee whenever there is a twilight zone marathon scheduled on the sci-fi channel they can do so.

        Now i recognize that for the most part i'm just pissing in the wind here, because to get this started you'd need a non-profit organization willing to be the guardian of the standard (something like the w3c, but with teeth, so that incompatible systems could not be marketed as compatible (to keep bastards like microsoft and netscape running one-up wars of proprietary extensions developed for the sole reason of shitting on the other guy's picnic..))
       
        The trick is the following:

        Any company (or even an end user with the tools) should be able to produce a compatible device without paying expensive licencing fees. The fees should be on a volume scaled per-unit-shipped basis, so that the small players aren't killed by huge up-front licencing fees.

        Every device should include the data necesary for no-frills full-functionality operation so that even the densest of users can plug the connector into their hub and all the right menus or icons will just be there when they next use the system.
    Re:Modularity is often overlooked, but is KEY. (Score:1)
    by wytcld on Wednesday April 25, @04:40PM EST (#279)
    (User #179112 Info)
    Yeah, this would be precisely the place for the 00 fanatics hereabouts to design a few key modules that everything else could hang off of. As for the original post's recognition that the rarest skills are those of the human interface designer - design a solid modular back-end and the interface aces will show up to show off by putting their own pretty face on all your hard work. As an until-no-uncredited father of the H Bomb ws told early in his career, "You can get the project done, or you can get the credit, but you can't get both." The real work is on the back end, but do that so it's easy enough for some design queen to come in and do the front, the showiest-off stuff, and that'll happen.
    Re:Modularity is often overlooked, but is KEY. (Score:2)
    by jafac on Wednesday April 25, @05:32PM EST (#285)
    (User #1449 Info)
    Cost an arm and a leg?

    Lessee,
    Decent rear projection TV - $3k
    TiVo - $500 + service
    Decent Tuner - $1k
    Decent Speakers - $1k
    Decent DVD player - $1k

    This is not a market that is shy about spending a buttload of money for fancy entertainment gadgets.

    Maybe a year ago the market for this device was fairly large, lots of stock-options-rich dotcommers out there. Not so many right about now, but still SOME people out there have the money, the nerdiness to deal with the inevitable UI gaps such complexity demands, I really think that such a system should be doable. I mean, if TiVo was doable, this is.

    But it should be based on Satellite feeds and DSL for networking. Not Cable. Cable is evil.

    repeat after me: infringement!=theft
    in a few years discs will become obsolete (Score:2)
    by jilles (jilles@cs.rug.nl.PLEASEDONOTSPAMME) on Wednesday April 25, @12:48PM EST (#157)
    (User #20976 Info) http://www.xs4all.nl/~jgurp
    The mistake in this article is all to common it assumes more of the same. However, my dsl connection (512 kbps) is already capable of streaming very high quality audio and vhs quality video. The only reason I don't use this capability is because there's not much content to stream right now. However, it is only a matter of time before somebody figures out that streaming audio/video content is something worthwhile. My guess is this will happen somewhere in the next few years as storage, networking and processor capacity keep growing. Once it happens, what am I going to do with those discs? We'll no longer need them. The whole concept of a backup/local storage of data is going to go away. I'd rather rent/buy a few terabytes on a fast server and use my ultra fast network connection (wireless? why not?) to access it from anywhere on this planet than keep fiddling with faulty discs, failing hard drives and so on.

    Meanwhile, I'll keep saving money to buy me a dvdr :-).

    Greetings, Jilles
    Re:in a few years discs will become obsolete (Score:1)
    by animallogic on Wednesday April 25, @11:06PM EST (#313)
    (User #225329 Info)
    Media is the closest thing left to anything we can actually OWN these days. The rest is being rented, licensed and prostituted online. Let's not get rid of that too...
    What about.... (Score:1)
    by BradleyUffner (bradley@@nbn.net) on Wednesday April 25, @12:48PM EST (#158)
    (User #103496 Info)
    When the CD player in this box goes out, or the hard drive. You will end up with a pretty useless box. Sure we geeks could probably fix it with ease. But what about everyone else? If one component dies then the entire box has to be shipped out for repair, taking everything else with it. One good lightning strike and every piece of your entertainment system is one smoking hulk. I don't want everything to be built into one unit. I like modularity, I like having cables that I can run from one box to another, controlling the way things talk to each other.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\
    Yeah, Windows is great... I used it to download Linux.
    A few thoughts.... (Score:2)
    by shyster on Wednesday April 25, @12:49PM EST (#160)
    (User #245228 Info)
    Really, this could all be implemented as a PC right now. The only thing missing is a UI design, which with some decent programming skills and a lot of time, should be able to be hacked together. Of course, this Borg box is only part of my household fantasy.

    You'd need it to be able to independently run 2 or more television monitors, or sets of speakers in seperate rooms, with an IR port for control.

    It should be able to be programmed to record something or control household X10 devices via HTTP, and have FTP transferring capabilities.

    Instead of an IR remote, how about a RF or, even better, 802.11b or Bluetooth, remote?

    While we're at it, and I'm envisioning this as the hub of a household's technology, it should handle your voice mail and email communications (including options to page/call you when an important message is rec'd), as well as be your DHCP/DNS/File/Print server for a small home LAN.

    Don't forget AMPLIFIED Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1 outputs and inputs.

    Dual tuner inputs would make the magic of Picture in Picture possible. Take it one step further, and have web/headlines/menu/etc. as one of the pictures.

    Don't forget the CD burner to make a CD from those OV files, as well as MPEG4 compressed DVD movies on CD.

    And, of course, what about the games?!? We wanna play games, don't we? On the big screen TV? Of course we do. So, it should be able to play computer games, but also have video inputs for console systems, which it would do video switching for.

    Oh yeah, and it should be available on an easy monthly payment plan! =)

    Obviously, this sort of thing can be implemented in a PC, minus an elegant UI. But it's just too much damn work! I want one of these things so I can be lazy...not so I can hack around with it! This is a lazy man's device...it's gotta come preassembled. =)

    Conflict of interest? (Score:1)
    by vslashg (vslashg@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @12:52PM EST (#162)
    (User #209560 Info)
    The DVD storage leads me into what is the new essential video component: Tivo. Anyone who uses a Personal Video Recorder for more then a few weeks knows that going back is just not an acceptable solution.
    While I personally agree with this statement, is anyone else bothered by editorial comments like this while TiVo is advertising on /.?
    The hardware exists (Score:1)
    by richardbowers on Wednesday April 25, @12:53PM EST (#163)
    (User #143034 Info)
    Here is something I keep considering. A friend of mine used one of their lower-end models to build a car-mounted mp3 player.

    For the link-challenged, their product costs under $300, and includes a PC meant to be mounted in a home-theater environment, with wireless keyboard, optical sound in/out, a DVD player, sound card, and various provided drivers for using it as a DVD player/MP3 player. You need to supply the hard drives, processor, and memory, but that's all fairly cheap right now if you don't try to make it a game machine.

    Two things stop you from having the "borg box" today - software, and the .us service-based economy. One is fixable by hackers, the other is a bigger problem.

    The software isn't there yet to fulfill the vision, but even if it was, you couldn't do the full Tivo thing without cooperating with cable and satellite box providers. The latter means challenging their revenue stream - remember, they don't view time-shifting as legal for pay channels, so they aren't likely to cooperate with your visions.

    You might be able to make the cable/satellite box irrelevant by doing it in software, but that gets into illegal territory real quick. The satellite people know what the DVDCCA never figured out, that doing things in software means an end to security, so I imagine they would shout DMCA. The computer illiterate masses would be treated to more pictures of hackers "stealing" programming, and all that software would have to be traded on Gnutella.

    Unless someone can tackle the related problem - service-based industries with legislative protection - I don't see us having converged boxes in everyone's home entertainment center.
    ==========================

    Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained. -- Aaron Burr

    Come on Taco, what about the Emulators! (Score:1)
    by zTTTz on Wednesday April 25, @12:59PM EST (#165)
    (User #176815 Info)
    If you've got a box with the power to rip DVD's and store them on it's massive hard-disk, we must remember the emulators! My almost complete collection of ROMS for the NES, SNES, Gameboy, and Genisis fits on two CDR's. With a 200 GB drive, no problem! PC-based we can throw Bleem! and store the ISO's of the game as well. You just put down the Keyboard and pick up your wireless SNES joystick and let it rip!!! The only thing I have EVER soldiered in my life was my SNES controller I use for my Web Surfer Pro. You gotta add this to the box Taco!!!
    It's called a PC (Score:2)
    by Stiletto (stiletto_NO@SPAM_.mediaone.net) on Wednesday April 25, @12:59PM EST (#167)
    (User #12066 Info) http://www.pompano.net/~stiletto

    I heard this "uber-box" has already arrived. Some people call it a "PC", or "personal computer". These "PC's" can be purchased anywhere, and are relatively inexpensive! Anyone can use a "PC". There's a wide range of applications available for "PC's" already. Some people may not have heard of "PC" but hopefully someone can clue them in before yet another wheel is re-invented....

    Ryan Drake

    Re:It's called a PC (Score:1)
    by donglekey on Wednesday April 25, @01:27PM EST (#189)
    (User #124433 Info)
    I guess you didn't understand the point of the article, maybe you should try actually reading it and then read you post again and realize that you completley missed the point.

    DTA - Death To Acronyms
    Management of shows. (Score:1)
    by IdeaMan on Wednesday April 25, @01:00PM EST (#168)
    (User #216340 Info) http://kevinairy.com
    The management of the box should be handled by Hints and Directives. A Hint is a category you like, as evidenced by viewing time, voting etc. A Directive is explicit instructions about what to save.

    Peer-to-Peer
    The other thing needed is moderate bandwith between devices, so that peer to peer works. I.e. You missed a show, so you click on it & hit Get This, & probably some box has it on the net, & it'll be streamed to you to play. In fact, a schedule could be set up so that boxes with extra space would archive selected (or random) portions for just such requests.
    There are some rights money can't buy. For everything else, there's Mastercard's lawyers. - Brad Templeton @ netfunny.c

    IR? R U NUTZ? RF! (Score:1)
    by djneko (lain thewired com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:03PM EST (#170)
    (User #50099 Info) http://www.clubneko.net/
    I mean, PLEASE! IR is such a pain in the ass most of the time. I'm sure anyone who's ever had to get up and move to use a remote will agree with me on this one. I was so mad when cable boxes went from RF to IR. I have a RF Logitech Keyboard, and I can use it just about anywhere. Not so with IR. Line of sight sucks for remotes. Who's with me here? And if no one's ever snuck something (like electric tape) over your IR sensor and it took you a while to notice while you were screaming at your remote, you don't know what remote rage is like.

    neko

    Check out LinuxTV, it's exactly the box you want (Score:1)
    by Scarabaeus on Wednesday April 25, @01:11PM EST (#174)
    (User #22637 Info) http://www.scarabaeus.org/
    If you're at the NAB, check out the LinuxTV Box at booth E-2333/07. We have a linux based box with DVB reception (Digital TV standard in the rest of the world), a PVR, DVD-Player, MP3 and Audio CD playback, a fast graphics library (DirectFB, http://directfb.org) that allowes true transparent windowing with GTK support, a MHP (multimedia home platform) stack and of course the variety of network access you are used to from a linux box. On top of that we have a nice user interface that glues it all together.

    We are a german company, convergence integrated media, with offices in berlin, san francisco and amsterdam. Most of the software is open source, check out http://linuxtv.org for more info.

        Have fun,
            Christian Wolff.

    Uh huh (Score:1)
    by jimlintott on Wednesday April 25, @01:12PM EST (#175)
    (User #317783 Info) http://www.jlintott.ca

    Somebody put too much sugar in their coffee.

    (Though it does sound cool.)

    Back Off, Eh.

    the key to borg: universal interface (Score:1)
    by criticalrealist (nakanaka@naka.naka) on Wednesday April 25, @01:14PM EST (#178)
    (User #111008 Info)
    I think a lot of people are missing the point. It doesn't really matter if the components are physically separate, as long as there's a universal UI for all of them that Grandma can figure out. For this you need some kind of centralizing or unifying device. In short, you need a server. The TV, the CD player, the speakers, and the other devices all need to be controlled by the central hub directly. This server would be like a "receiver" in the typical stereo system, except that it would be a Linux box.

    There are two main problems. One, the Linux box needs to be able to control the various components, such as TV's, the amp (assuming it was a separate device), hard drives, DVD players, and the like. Second, the user has to be able to figure out what is going on quickly. In short, a CLI environment is not optimal. What you want is a small Linux box with two video output devices.

    First, you need an NTSC/PAL interface for putting the display onto the television. This might be called "expert mode" and be accessible only to those who RTFM.

    Second, there would be a small, color LCD on the front of the box that displays a distinct icon to indicate what is going on (it changes when a program is being recorded, when a program is played back, etc....)

    Finally, you need a way to peruse the online library. The database would be implemented by just a simple text file and a series of perl scripts.

    Unfortunately, this would involve creating new industry-wide standards for televisions and other devices for accepting control signals over a wire. That's rather inconvenient.

    As an alternative, use a simple wireless protocol to connect the Linux server to a small box, mounted on a wall that points to the TV and the other components. This second box would send the control signals it gets from the server over infrared to the components, like how a regular remote control works. The trick would be telling Linux what components you had, so it would know what the capabilities were and how to implement them. (If there's no DVD Recorder, then there's no way to program the DVD Recorder to record X-Files. And of course it matters what company made the DVD Recorder, and what model it is, for purposes of controlling that device.) This would be cumbersome as well, but it would be a great interim solution for people not willing to spend five grand on a home entertainment center with all new components. As time wore on and the prices of the new components came down, this temporary solution would fall by the wayside.

    Simple enough?

    Common Interface (Score:1)
    by Tull on Wednesday April 25, @01:17PM EST (#180)
    (User #181002 Info) http://www.ians-net.co.uk

    I think the first step on the road to this kind of convergence is to fit all consumer electronics with a common interface. Obviously it's a long way off what with the manufacturers constantly bickering but it would be the first step.

    That way, your video can tell your satellite tuner to change channels when it's needed, your amp can switch between the digital out from the decoder box and the standard Stereo from the tuner as you change between terrestial and satellite/cable.

    In the longer run, we can throw a PC into this mix. You have an handheld which gets TV schedules from your PC via wireless, and you can use it to control all your equipment, reconfiguring as you move between rooms.

    And we can write nifty programs to control it all.
    Yes! (Score:2)
    by AtariDatacenter (jmccorm@galstar.com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:17PM EST (#181)
    (User #31657 Info) http://arcade.gameshop.com/index.shtml
    I'd be willing to spend time working on the project. In fact, I'd be willing to spend time on the UI, specifically.

    From the HW/SW/Interface side, it is quite apparent (and hopefully obvious) that modularity is the key. This allows a 'simple' frame box to be sold, and upgraded with the parts the user wants. It also means that going from Technology 1.0 to Technology 2.0 is less painful.

    This allows some legal issues to be skirted (since they can plug in modules from third parties to do special 'tricks'), and heavily follows the PC hardware model (company A provides the frame, but companies C, D, E provide components).

    There's just something RIGHT about all this, even if Commander Taco's message goes too far. :)

    Proud owner of a Sega Aero City 26" sit-at Sun Workstation with refrigerator.
    Hey wait... I think this has been done! (Score:1)
    by antiher0 on Wednesday April 25, @01:20PM EST (#185)
    (User #41258 Info) http://www.sig9.com/
    It looks like The Onion beat you to the punch.
    What I want... (Score:1)
    by WyldOne (ROT13: pjlyrf@hfjrfg.arg) on Wednesday April 25, @01:29PM EST (#193)
    (User #29955 Info) http://www.geocities.com/cwyles/
    I would like a modular system. You could mix and match the systems as needed. (Hm rack mount) Base system would be the control system (irDa, Hard drives, operation controller) One system per each tuner you wanted, mix and match in multiples (Tv, MP3, VHS/DAT. CD-RW) Should have VCD capablility (playing/recording) Game box.

    All should be networked on a 100mb (or better) backbone. (maybe several)

    Then grab a generic module (pc's-r-us) plug in a pre-built linux cdrom and Viola! a MP3 unit. You get the picture. That way you could add and improve as you go. Hm... I smell a new RFC on the way.

    I'm getting tired of the massive cable snarl to hook up all my components together, and the signal loss problems!

    make Linux, not Microsoft. sin(of the beast) = -0.809016994374947424102293417182819

    So everything is tied up a neat little package! (Score:2)
    by dasmegabyte (dasmegabyte@YOUR_SISTER_HATES_SPAMmindless.com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:31PM EST (#194)
    (User #267018 Info) http://www.dasmegabyte.org
    Look, preach integration of media components all you like (BTW: you have it already and its called a goddamn laptop) but you're not going to cause any great herding towards the inevitable failure of this idea. Let us look at the facts: people who want an integrated box don't want to pay much for it. People who want this kind of quality want to be able to switch out parts when they become obsolete (my friend's $800 DVD player from 1997, for example, is inferior to today's $150 Panaphonics, Magnetboxes and Sornys) If they don't want to pay much for it, the components can't be well made or well designed, because good parts and good design cost good money. And if it isn't well designed, nobody will buy it, or at least not at the price point you'd need to support it. It's a viscious cycle that results only in mediocrity. Case in point: the Apex AD-600a DVD player. This thing did DVDs, MP3s, SVCDs and XVCDs and had great zoom and multiregion features. It also had the fastest scan time of any dvd player i've used, component or not. But it sucks. The quality of every function of the AD-600a is inferior, from the chipset which is prone to overheating to the MP3 playback which clips and has a terrible interface. Sure, they sold a lot of them, but when the AD-660 came out, none of the features were improved. In face, Apex increased stability only at the expense of some of the neatest features of the AD-600, mainly the hacked menu. Other combo boxes like the UltimateTV and the Playstation 2 have similarly cut corners, and see sagging sales and practically no profitability.

    And yet, at the same time, you can't find an A-V shoppe that can hold the $800 Pioneer DV-09 in stock. This thing is flying off the shelves. It doesn't play MP3s or dial the internet. But it does do one thing better than any other player on earth: it plays DVDs. No progressive scan features, no fancy disc flipping or changer. It's a single play DVD player (okay, it's also a bangin' CD player but that's a symptom of the high quality 24 bit DAC, not a feature they set out to design).

    When I started organizing a list of components for my new stereo, this was the thought I had going into it: wouldn't it be great if one box did everything I wanted it to with perfect quality and it was inexpensive and painted the guest room if I asked it to and put away its toys when it was done with them? The answer is yes, of course, but that's about as realistic as saying "were going to ban all guns because criminals can play nice." The reality is that mutliplayers are always of substandard quality to moderately priced component equivalents. So I cooled it...I replaced my AD-600a with a Pioneer DV-434, a relatively inexpensive DVD player that had better playback but no MP3. For the MP3s, I picked up a Rio handheld mp3 player, and though I lament the loss of SP/DIF, it wasn't as important to me as having a nice display and decent playback. For a receiver, I nabbed a sweet Sherwood and a pair of Energies; for digital recording, I use my old Buz box hooked up to a small BSD machine. For games and internet, I have the mac and the athlon. For progressive scan, a Sony WEGA XBR which is the jewel of my collection. Price for all this is of course moderate to huge, but it's nice stuff. When you buy nice stuff, you feel better while using it and keep it longer...hell, I don't know if I'll ever get rid of my Energy eXL-16s, they're sweet speakers for under $300. And when it becomes outdated, I can replace them...if I had some massive "box" i'd be stuck with what I had. Finally, because of the seperation of my components, I can use them in ways you couldn't use this magic box. If I want to switch between the laserdisc of star wars and an SVCD i built of it to check the quality, i don't have to start and stop the box. If I want to watch the kung fu on my VCD of Project A while playing the Clerks soundtrack, I can do that. If I want to watch the news and tape McGuyver, i'm cool. In face, if you think about it, what you want this magic box to do, the freedom you'd need it to have, you can only get from components. And if you don't like all the wires, you can learn to deal.
    Re:So everything is tied up a neat little package! (Score:1)
    by Sloppy (sloppy@spam^H^H^H^Hrt66.com) on Wednesday April 25, @04:04PM EST (#267)
    (User #14984 Info)

    And when it becomes outdated, I can replace them...if I had some massive "box" i'd be stuck with what I had.

    Ah, but that depends on exactly what has become outdated. In many cases, the reason something has to be scrapped and replaced is because it can only do what they thought of at the time they burned the ROM. A PC with Free Software doesn't become obsolete nearly so easily. Don't like how your do-everything box misses a frame now and then when playing DVDs, clips audio, or doesn't know how to play the latest trendy codec? Download a patch. That's a lot more efficient than replacing a component.


    ---
    Have a Sloppy night!
    Re:So everything is tied up a neat little package! (Score:2)
    by dasmegabyte (dasmegabyte@YOUR_SISTER_HATES_SPAMmindless.com) on Thursday April 26, @07:36AM EST (#338)
    (User #267018 Info) http://www.dasmegabyte.org
    My argument is that great electronics would never need that patch. Besides, nothing says that each individual component can't be upgradable -- all pioneers have a boot mechanism that allows technicians to insert a cd, boot the device and flash the firmware. Furthurmore, my LD player didn't originally have dolby out...I added that aftermarket with some clever hardware hacking and help from the web...same with the comb filter on my shitty sharp VCR I never use.
    Well, nice idea, but... (Score:1)
    by CoolVibe (rot13://pbbyivor@unpxreurnira.bet) on Wednesday April 25, @01:35PM EST (#197)
    (User #11466 Info) http://www.hackerheaven.org
    I won't buy it unless it can make me coffee and do my laundry... Although the X10 interface sounds promising to that respect :)
    --
    Slashdot didn't accept your submission? hackerheaven.org will!
    More interfaces (Score:1)
    by Snotnose on Wednesday April 25, @01:50PM EST (#207)
    (User #212196 Info)
    Hardware Interfaces:

  • Firewire: Lets folks hook up their camcorder.
  • 802.11a: High speed wireless interface.
  • Bluetooth/802.11b: Low speed wireless.
  • Cardbus slot: For whatever floats your boat, possibly your wireless interface mentioned above.

    Software:

  • Web Browser: Cuz know-nothings whine if you don't include one.
  • Video editing tools, for that camcorder input (wink wink)
  • Why this will not happen... (Score:1)
    by SlaveInRubber on Wednesday April 25, @01:50PM EST (#208)
    (User #445947 Info)
    From previous articles and personal tribulations, we know that big companies know that patents == money...

    Imagine if you were a large enough company to make this dream come true. You would not touch it... why? Because Slashdot has just provided information that would invalidate any patent you attempt to get on this -- prior art and all that...

    Now, while there may be some companies willing to make a device that they can not patent, I seriously doubt that these companies would have enough starter money to actually make this device...

    C'est Vrai?
    ----------

    ----------- You look at life differently while suspended upside down and gagged.
    I hope... (Score:1)
    by whizzard on Wednesday April 25, @01:55PM EST (#210)
    (User #177251 Info)
    hot lusty dreams that we wouldn't admit to our mothers

    that your mother doesn't read slashdot.

    Like Indreama console (Score:1)
    by Hoo00 on Wednesday April 25, @01:58PM EST (#213)
    (User #123566 Info)
    accept it won't play games, but play the TV and radio. If Indreama hadn't flop, we could talk about Indreama II or something - a borg box that plays games too!
    Home Theater PC (Score:1)
    by DCheesi (dcheesi@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @02:11PM EST (#216)
    (User #150068 Info)

    What's being described here is is known as a HTPC: Home Theater PC. People are already building these, although setup and ease of use are still major issues.

    For more information on setting up this type of device, go to the AV Science Forum and check out the Home Theater Computers forum.


    No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always boom tomorrow. -Ivanova, B5
    Re:Home Theater PC (Score:1)
    by DCheesi (dcheesi@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @02:38PM EST (#233)
    (User #150068 Info)
    And now that I've gotten the obligatory link out of the way, here's my experience:

    The main problem with an all-in-Won--err,one, solution is that for full functionality, certain things need to happen in the background, even while you're doing something else.

    The biggest example I can think of is recording. To get TiVo-like ease of use, the recording program needs to startup and run adequately no matter what else is going on. On my system, the recording function is tied to the main graphics card. If I'm playing a game when it's time to tape Buffy, the recorder tries to take over and usually both programs crash. Even if things were set up better, you'd still have to deal with an inherent bottleneck either in the GPU or the system bus.

    Also, don't even think about doing this with your primary system unless you've got an HD-ready set (or better yet a hi-res projector). TV-out through S-Video just doesn't cut it for computer text. In my case, I'm still waiting for an adapter to convert VGA to component (YPbPr); it's on backorder everywhere I've looked.

    IMHO, the solution is to make separate components/peripherals that have a standard, computer controlled interface, preferrably with a data bus. Then you can have separate resources for those devices that need them, and share resources between functions that are mutually exclusive (eg. watching a DVD and playing games; both require your full attention).

    (Hmm, wait, that sounds like an XBox and a TiVo, doesn't it? ;-)

    No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always boom tomorrow. -Ivanova, B5
    How about digital quality? (Score:2)
    by not_cub on Wednesday April 25, @02:21PM EST (#225)
    (User #133206 Info)
    Recently, there seems to be a trend to get digital devices to do more than their analogue equivalents. In Britain, we have seen the introduction of digital tv (terrestrial and satellite), and digital radio is starting to come in. Both of these have been used not to increase the quality of transmissions, but to increase the number of things that can be transmitted. If you don't believe me, take a look at MTV on OnDigital and look at all the fuzziness in areas of high contrast (satellite is admittedly better but still shows the same faults). Similarly, mp3 players allow people to carry round hours of music, replacing CD players before them. Same deal with loss of quality.

    What I want to see is not an increase in quantity going from analogue to digital, but an increase in quality. When CDs replaced tape, the killer feature was the higher sound quality, rather than the fact that you could store 1000 hours of musical fuzz. Taco's box, and most consumer electronics these days, do exactly that. Because "1000 hours of music and it's digital with gizmos" sounds a lot better than "1 hour of music and it's digital and good". I'd rather buy all my music again on SACD than have some whiz-bang box download it off napster.

    Anyway, rant over.

    not_cub

    Why not control all existing components? (Score:1)
    by code addict on Wednesday April 25, @02:25PM EST (#226)
    (User #312283 Info)
    Many different control protocols already exist out there (Sony, Pioneer, JVC, etc. all have proprietary inter-component control mechanisms).

    I'm sure the open source community could reverse-engineer those control signals and build the hardware/software necessary to control all kinds of already existing components. Imagine your PC sending signals to turn on your Sony TV and switch it to video, turn on your Pioneer DVD player and start the DVD playing, turn on your JVC Receiver and switch it to the correct input modes, etc. MUCH better than trying to create those individual components yourself, and it gives the consumer a lot more choice.


    Toaster/blender too! (Score:1)
    by ndege (.--. .--- .-.. ..- -.-. .- ... @southern.edu) on Wednesday April 25, @02:37PM EST (#232)
    (User #12658 Info)
    Well, if you are going this far, why not make it a toaster too? I mean, heck, throw a blender too. That way, you can have it be ripping a DVD while it produces a milk shake. Isn't that what everybody wants?

    BLAR...
    ---
    Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. - Ferris Bueller
    Here's What We Really Need (Score:1)
    by bladel on Wednesday April 25, @02:40PM EST (#235)
    (User #104002 Info)
    A peer-to-peer Tivo swapping network.

    ("Honey, get online and find out if anyone taped the Sopranos last night.")

    J.
    Not to nitpick... (Score:2)
    by Squirrel Killer on Wednesday April 25, @02:40PM EST (#236)
    (User #23450 Info) http://www.geocities.com/michaelpatrickryan
    We could probably do this the same way the Playstation 2 does: a nice little dongle gives us all the options necessary even for older sets, without cluttering the actual device.
    Shouldn't that be a "pigtail", instead of a "dongle"? A dongle serves a copy-protection function, where pigtails allow differing connector types. My boss gets this wrong all the time, and it drives me nuts when he calls his ethernet pigtail his "network dongle". If only I could copy protect his network connection...

    -sk

    This is actually quite a good idea (Score:1)
    by uriyan on Wednesday April 25, @02:41PM EST (#237)
    (User #176677 Info) http://www.workspot.net/~uriyan

    Although for most of us it sounds like a fantasy, I think it is more than that. It is feasible, and the way things are going now, it will be implemented shortly.

    All the hardware and software discussed here is available now. In 5 years it will be as cheap as original Pentiums now (that is, those for which 2/2.0000001 is not 1.5). As for the customer demand, it is obvious that home appliances will dominate the home market for the next decade. IP toasters are definitely becoming real these days.

    I think that the right conclusion from the above is to establish an Open-Source (and possibly Open-Hardware) initiative to create such a solution. Open-Source has been trying to emulate commercial products for almost two decades now. It is time for us to be the innovators.


    nightmarish (Score:1)
    by vecna_99 (vecna_99@EEEEEPyahoo.com) on Wednesday April 25, @02:52PM EST (#241)
    (User #78228 Info) http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~yaz/en/squirrel_fishing.html
    this sounds like a bona fide nightmare.

    i'm not looking forward to the day where i have to pay "audiophile" prices to get a standalone stereo receiver, because the only devices targeted at the consumer market are these Frankensteins.

    think that's unlikely? seven years ago i was shopping for a stereo receiver at my local neighborhood Circuit City. i couldn't afford anything in the NAD/harman-kardon/Marantz range (and i honestly didn't need that level of quality anyway), but i did want decent wattage per channel, enough inputs for a wide range of devices, and enough speaker outs that i'd be able to deliver sound to two separate rooms.

    i looked in the "home audio" section of the store, but i couldn't find anything that fit the bill. then i wandered over to the "home theater" section; the receivers there had everything i wanted, but also wanted me to pay $100+ more for the Dolby 5.1 processor, the three video inputs, and all the stupid home-theater-oriented crap.

    despite the fact that at the time, i didn't own a TV and couldn't have been less interested in "home theater", the only way i could get what i wanted was to buy a Sony receiver that had been discontinued the previous year and was sitting on the scratch-and-dent shelf.

    when i see this mindset being extended to the rest of media, it fills me with a nameless dread. how long will it be before i go to buy a VCR for home movie viewing and am faced with the choice between a craptastic, feature-starved POS and a decent, fully-functional model whose price has been jacked up an extra $100 because it's saddled with stupid TiVo functionality?

    -vecna_99
    --- "We also were guided by the unlikelihood that anyone would face supernatural evil armed only with technology."
    Interface first, functionality second (Score:2)
    by JWhitlock (John-Whitlock@nospaaam.ieee.org) on Wednesday April 25, @02:57PM EST (#245)
    (User #201845 Info)
    The thing that seperates the uber-geek system from the consumer electronics system is the interface. A geek doesn't mind hammering away at a command line, piping commands through 6 different utilities, or other gymnastics, while a consumer wants to point and click, or something even better.

    The very fact that we think functionality before interface means we will fail in creating a consumer product. An interface is always restrictive, in the name of simplicity, while we desire full functionality. Just look at the VCR - all households (I hope) have learned how to play and eject a tape, some know how to set the clock, and many don't even know how to set up a timed recording. It is popular, not because of the 26-page man file for play(1), but because you play a tape by pressing a big green arrow.

    So, what would the interface be? We're looking at database searching, which has always meant typing or long lists before. Remote controls are not made for alphabetical entry, and I've seem some good hacks, but not great hacks. This leaves a keyboard interfacer, or a voice interface. How far are we from that? We haven't even talked about what the display looks like, or if it has a CLI yet.

    What about wires? This is where even consumer electronics leave room to be desired - the backs of these things look ugly, and air-flow requirements mean that they can't be shoved in a pretty, fully enclosed cabinet. A unified interface between subsystems, like 100 base T ethernet, may make things prettier, but begs for a home network. My 1930's house isn't quite ready for that.

    And yes, you will want subsystems. CD's won't be around forever, and a seperate subsystems allows for removal and additions. I don't want to buy another $3000 system just because the replacement for DVDs has arrived. And Hollywood will probably come out with a new format every 5 years, when the previous copyright protection hack has become trivially breakable.

    This isn't a small matter of money or programming. It's designing across disciplines. Is it OK to send audio over ethernet, and decode it at the speakers? That would reduce wires, but may not please audiphiles, and make for expensive speakers. Is the system a rack-mounted system, too ugly to keep in the main room? Do you require a off-line computer, or have a full system running on the borg box, with perhaps a wireless keyboard? Note, I haven't even gotten to the software, and it already looks pretty hairy.

    Still, I'm salivating over the possibilities. I think I'll make a research budget...

    Sig currently unavailible - undergoing "funny" treatment

    Here's ReplayTV's vision (Score:1)
    by jbarr on Wednesday April 25, @03:15PM EST (#248)
    (User #2233 Info) http://jim.barr.net
    Check out an interesting solution from ReplayTV, TiVo's often overlooked competitor. It's a Home Media Server idea that is quite intriguing. Of course, it's currently vaporware, but for those of us who have ReplayTV, this could be a the dream-come-true!
    What about power consumption? (Score:1)
    by Monte (docSPAMTRAPtechnical@voyager.net) on Wednesday April 25, @03:19PM EST (#249)
    (User #48723 Info)
    Once your mega-borg-box is built, how many watts do you think it'll pull while (a) in standby, (b) ripping a CD/DVD, (c) recording a broadcast, (d) playing video/audio, (e) mix-and-match any or all of the above.

    And how many fans will it need to dissipate the heat build-up? I don't think there's a single fan on any of my component systems (not even the Replay, if there is one it's darned quiet).

    Seems to me that a large capacity CD and/or DVD changer will wind up using less juice than having all those metal platters spinning all the time.

    What with California scrambling for the megawatts, it might be time for us geeks to start factoring power consumption into our gadget-desirability equations.

    -- "Ut!" -- Flaming Carrot
    It's not as far off as you might think... (Score:1)
    by Lazlo Nibble (lazlo@studio-nibble.com) on Wednesday April 25, @03:22PM EST (#250)
    (User #32560 Info) http://www.studio-nibble.com
    A significant chunk of this functionality is implemented in the Nokia Media Terminal. It doesn't have some of the hardware (no tray for CDs/DVDs) but there are certainly enough interfaces that you could plug in your own...and if they really open-source the software, the sky is the limit from there.
    Been there, sorta... and Taco's is weak for Audio (Score:1)
    by slaker on Wednesday April 25, @03:26PM EST (#253)
    (User #53818 Info)
    First thing: MP3/Ogg isn't good enough for real audio. It's fine if you're used to a boombox or your $30 computer speakers. MP3s played on my component system sound like crap. .AC3 files (ripped from DVDs of concert performances, or DTS-format audio CDs) sound really damn good on everything I've played them back on (including $30 computer speakers), and aren't a whole lot bigger than high-bitrate MP3 files (the audio from Fantasia lives in 300-something MB on my Windows box at home). Presently, there's only a limited subset of computer hardware/software to support AC3 audio. This will change, and you'll want it on the Borg Box too.

    DVD Audio is a next generation format. Yup. It's not presently possibly to copy DVD Audio to your PC. Nor does it work over the standard digital connections found on newer receivers (TOSLink or digital coax) - the bandwidth needed for 5 channels - topping out at 9.6Mbps is more than those connectors can handle, according to the DVD Audio FAQ (http://www.digitalaudioguide.com/faq/dvd-audio/ - no link for the goat impaired, sorry). Your borg box will therefore need Firewire or some additional high-speed data connections as well (in a perfect world, the box would have several ports that would allow me to run full, multichannel audio AND high-res video AND relay control information back to the box from locations other than the closet or rack where it lived, but I don't know of any way to make THAT work at all).

    Personally, I'd rather have - at minimum - a mega-changer that supports a number of formats (DVD Audio, DVD Video, CD, (S)VCD, MP3 CD). I would rather have this than deal with copying/ripping huge amounts of data (multiples of GBs for a DVD, and it's easier from an interface standpoint, anyway. Besides, assuming you own most of the media you use - ie, you aren't a napster leach, you have to do SOMETHING with it all... )

    Audiophiles - and I'm not - will also tell you that TOSLink is not the digital audio connection of choice, due to the fact that minute fluxuations in current to your audio gear apparently cause small additional imperfections in the audio output. Oh well. TOSLink still sounds a lot better than plain ol' phono jacks.

    Last thing is, with all the drives, and presumably a decent enough processor to handle DD decoding, divx encoding, you're gonna need some decent cooling. And it'll have to be quiet.

    I've got "my" borg box now. Only thing is, at the moment it's in ten different boxes and cost the better part of ten grand.

    My setup follows these lines, more or less, with a Sony V444ES receiver hooked up via optical connectors to a pair of 200-CD changers, via digital coax to a water-cooled (for noise reasons. It's barely overclocked at all) 1.2GHz Windows 98 box with 320GB of disk space, a TV/radio Tuner, a Pinnacle external vidcap device hooked up to a JVC SVHS VCR (which is ALSO connected to the receiver directly), and a DVD-ROM, and a JVC DVD Audio player via 5.1 analog connections (for which I have a whopping TWO discs at the moment - telarc needs to get offs its ass). I use a Sony 25" monitor run through the computer, rather than the video I/O on my receiver, for video output @ 1024x768, which is just fine. This system would be outrageously expensive, though, if I hadn't bought it a piece at a time over about 2.5 years. I'm estimating it at around $8,500. My next purchase: A better $#%$-ing remote, then probably a good computer projector to replace the beige monolith that is my display.

    I use the TV/Radio tuner to record episodes of "Futurama" and some things on NPR. I rent DVDs and make them into divx .AVIs (or .ac3 files, if that's the part I care about - it takes forever, which is why I like the changer idea better). I have a cordless mouse and keyboard, and a couple of different remotes, so I can do it all from my couch. It's really very nice, except that cabling it was harder than cabling the whole rest of my LAN...

    -- I wanna decide who lives and who dies - Crow T. Robot, MST3K
    I have one! (Score:1)
    by MrResistor (mrresistor@hotmail.com) on Wednesday April 25, @03:31PM EST (#254)
    (User #120588 Info)
    It's sitting on my desk. It's called a "computer". Soon I will be getting another one for my living room. The really great thing about these is that they can communicate with each other, so one can access the stuff that's stored on another through a technique called "networking". Check around your house, you may have one of these cool devices laying around as well...


    Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism it's the other way around.

    500 GB? (Score:2)
    by rnturn on Wednesday April 25, @03:44PM EST (#260)
    (User #11092 Info)

    This box sounds like a product in search of a market (or perhaps it's just looking for suckers).

    Maybe it's just me, but I have trouble believing that Joe Consumer is going to be terribly happy when he loses 500 GB of movies on his Borg box when the hard disk goes bad (as it eventually will). Unless they do something like RAID5 and make it easy for Joe to locate and change out the failed disk and for RAID reconstruction to begin automagically, I doubt that such a box is going to fly. If they do do RAID, what's this thing going to sound like when it's sitting on top of your TV? Anyone who's stuffed a half dozen disks in a PC and put it under their desk knows that the noise isn't something you want to listen to while you're watching TV. If they don't do RAID, how are they going to convince Joe that he's suppose to buy a carton of DLT tapes and a $2K tape drive to back up his Borg box on a regular basis? (Oh, right. Once it takes off, all these costs will come down. Har har har.)

    Like I said, maybe it's just me, but I can't see this as a successful product until the vendors provide some means of ensuring the integrity of the stuff you place on all that disk storage. And the solution can't force the consumer to become a data center manager. What's all that inconvenient about CDs/DVDs anyway? (Besides the cool factor of downloading, that is.) And where's the bandwidth to allow all this downloading to happen? Heck, I've been trying for the better part of two years to get broadband where I live -- near one of the largest cities in the U.S. -- and if it can't get done here, how's it going to be available to a wide enough extent to make this borg box worthwhile?



    --
    CUR ALLOC      20195.....5805M

    Re:500 GB? (Score:1)
    by slaker on Wednesday April 25, @04:29PM EST (#277)
    (User #53818 Info)
    Nobody ever said the thing had to have 500GB as one logical volume.
    Personally, I keep the stuff on my media PC organized by the borders of its disk drives (MP3s on one disk, divx files on another, porno on a third (and yes, I AM using all 75GB of that disk, dammit) , and the fourth as temp space and porno-overflow.

    It's a lot easier to back up that way, too. =)

    Water cooling solves the lion's share of PC-loudness problems, unless you're overfond of high-rpm SCSI disks, and is getting less expensive (hardocp reviewed a commercially available $200 water-cooled chassis about a week ago).

    I live in an area near a major US city (Chicago). I can't get a 33.6 modem connection, let alone broadband. I have a media box that's similar to what taco describes. Broadband is an afterthought for me, though, and probably will be until I can download a movie in an amount of time similar to that of downloading a song from napster now (note to people who can do that now: I hate you. I hate all of you. Every stinking one of you.). Streaming is unappealing anyway, for the same reason that listening to the radio is unappealing - I'd rather have the additional control over what I'm watching or listening to.
    -- I wanna decide who lives and who dies - Crow T. Robot, MST3K
    But it will... (Score:2)
    by rnturn on Wednesday April 25, @05:17PM EST (#284)
    (User #11092 Info)
    ``Nobody ever said the thing had to have 500GB as one logical volume.''

    Well, Joe Consumer buys his PC with a single 40GB disk in it -- and a backup device is always, always, an expensive option that consumers rarely buy. The mentality is ``I need a bigger disk'' and not ``I need a second disk''. Geez, I mention to frinds that they can add another hard disk to their PC and the reaction is similar to what you'd expect when showing fire to a cave man. I can't imagine the consumer electronics industry developing something like this that'll deal with multiple disks. Heck, I doubt that they'll even have a good solution for dealing with a single big disk.

    ``Water cooling solves the lion's share of PC-loudness problems, unless you're overfond of high-rpm SCSI disks, and is getting less expensive (hardocp reviewed a commercially available $200 water-cooled chassis about a week ago).''

    Well, as a matter of fact, I am fond of those fast SCSI drives. :-) Personally, I'd have real strong reservations about anything that brings water and computer equipment together in the same box and only costs $200. What was the URL of that review again?

    ``I live in an area near a major US city (Chicago). I can't get a 33.6 modem connection, let alone broadband.''

    That's the city I was talking about. (I'm up near the Ill/Wis border but I may as well live in a third world country as far as Internet access is concerned.) I really couldn't care less about downloading music and, especially, movies. I just want to get Internet access, dammitall, and access that doesn't assume that all I want to do is connect via AOL so I can insert smileys into my chat sessions using a drop-down menu.

    All in all, though, I see these borg boxes as being the same thing as the combination fax/printer/modem/etc units that are popular with some home office users. I just am not looking for a piece of equipment that, when one component dies, I can't do anything. Just like I'll keep my computer and entertainment systems separate, thank you.
    --
    CUR ALLOC      20195.....5805M

    What a waste!! (Score:1)
    by 7-Vodka (overvolting//hotmail/com) on Wednesday April 25, @03:51PM EST (#261)
    (User #195504 Info)

    God Cmdr taco, you are so damn wasteful. How are you going to just include EVERYTHING and the kitchen sink? You know, a lot of people don't have cable, therefore the cable modem would be a waste of money. A lot of people would never use certain functions and they would be a waste of money and space. The radio for example, I would never touch that thing. Each person is different and most people would hardly be using any of that monstrocity.

    Why not just work on each individual parts or software, make them modular and base the entire thing on the PC. For most of these things you can just use extra cards anyway.

    If you wanted one of these boxes, you'd go out and buy a PC, plug in the cards you need and install the software. For people who aren't knowledgeable about such things, they would go to a small opensource computer shop and buy one taylor made for them there.

    I mean, all the hardware features you meantioned are already available on PC's. TV tuner cards, radio tuner, input, cdrom, dvdrom etc etc. We need the software to put this all to work not a big hardware monstrocity.

    I already have a TV card in my PC... WHY can't I have tivo functionality yet? why can't I descramble cable channels at will? I already have a dvd player etc etc etc.

    "just connect this to..."
    BZZT.
    "ahrg! You didn't unplug it?"

    Componentizing it makes sense, but... (Score:1)
    by zor_prime on Wednesday April 25, @03:52PM EST (#263)
    (User #42665 Info)
    the major issue in a component system becomes the protocol that devices use to communicate. Sony has done some work in this area, but unfortunately their protocol is proprietary. A standard protocol for communicating between devices would allow multiple vendors to build components that all adhered to the standard, and allowed control to be administered by a computer controller. Even more interesting would be a peer arrangement where any device with the processing power could act as the controller and could talk to its peer components to express the user's wishes. Still just dreaming, but I think the protocol would be key to actually seeing devices that can interoperate at the desired level.

    The abbreviated Laws of Thermodynamics:
    1)You can't win.
    2)You can't break even.
    3)You can't leave the game.
    AVS PC Forum (Score:1)
    by bgraziano (billgraziano[at]yahoo[dot]com) on Wednesday April 25, @04:01PM EST (#265)
    (User #79486 Info)
    This subject has been kicked around quite a bit at the AVS PC convergence forum.
    Give me totally digital media, or give me death! (Score:1)
    by velebak on Wednesday April 25, @04:06PM EST (#268)
    (User #415099 Info)
    Convergence will exist when all signals(TV, radio, etc.) are digital. Who cares if you have some cheapo PC with all this media support, when the quality of the signals, especially TV and radio, are not worth compressing to begin with. Garbage in, garbage out. Unified interface: good, but really not necessary until signal convergence happens. Buy an UltimateTV or a TiVo, a DVD player, and save the unified stuff for when all audio is digitally delivered. Your time would better be spent working on an open-source TiVo and better TV tuner support. (the tuner thing might be solved by using that obsolete VCR and controlling it via IrMan or something.) Just my 1/50th of a dollar.
    Broadcomm (Score:1)
    by 4what4 on Wednesday April 25, @04:09PM EST (#270)
    (User #196829 Info)
    Why not though this in the mix. http://www.broadcom.com/ Let's just get like 500 of us together sign a contract for them to build, we will write the source code and GUI if they will build this in one desktop box, and resell it to all the masses. Just think, we could be the next sony.. "When I'm good, I'm good. When bad, I'm better."
    You can do most of what you want NOW!!! (Score:1)
    by GMac on Wednesday April 25, @04:14PM EST (#272)
    (User #103618 Info) http://www.slip.net/~gmd

    Why try and pile everything in one box? If you just want to use your Linux box you can make it a "Media Mestro" right now! I currently do all my Audio/Video from my RH systems. That includes MP3 playing, TV/PVR/DVD/VCR watching, net browsing, here is a 3D'eyesed image! I use external components controled by a serial port based IR learning remote. Add some easy custom control panels and voila, instantly you become the master and conductor of your media devices!!!


    Apple's Pippin (Score:1)
    by kescom (UPPERCASEISSPAMbHDHeKJHnD@kWeJNKscJoJKm.AOnQePPt) on Wednesday April 25, @04:44PM EST (#280)
    (User #45565 Info) http://www.kescom.net
    I just learned about this a few days ago, but Apple was working on - and did finally produce - a game console called "Pippin." It was essentially a 66mhz Mac with lots of funktastic hardware. It could run MacOS though (or at least supported a huge chunk of MacOS Toolbox), so there were internet plans and all. Check out some info at:
    http://assembler.roarvgm.com/Apple_Bandai_pippin/a pple_bandai_pippin.html

    If I had more info, I'd provide it. Do a search on your favorite search engine to find more info.
    "Reading Slashdot again?" "Who knows, the world may have blown up!"
    maybe have some expansion "ports" (Score:1)
    by l0tekneq on Wednesday April 25, @04:57PM EST (#282)
    (User #446768 Info) http://www.badmofo.net/l0tekneq
    My borg box idea would probably have...

    • TV tuner
    • Tivo (or something similar)
    • DVD.. that could play mp3s/DVDs/CDs
    • 80gig HD
    • Fire Wire (for digital cam)
    • VHS, maybe in the side :P
    • VGA/stereo input.. for DiVX:-) and vids
    But it should also have some..
    • RCA ports for your Dreamcast.. PSII or to add more video devices.
    • Maybe for the audio out stereo or duel channel stereo.
    • And the video out should be either RCA or S-video.

    Of course this wouldn't be something you could make yourself but it would look hella schweet in my komputer room :P


    PC architecture won't cut it. (Score:2)
    by ikekrull (pblacknospam@paradise.net.nz) on Wednesday April 25, @05:40PM EST (#286)
    (User #59661 Info) http://members.xoom.com/ikekrull/
    I doubt you'll ever be able to do this properly with an x86 machine.

    Theres just no way that you fit all the consumer PCI cards you need to do this in a box and have it work properly under Linux (and theres no way in hell it will work properly under Windows).

    Hardware conflicts, crappy drivers and OS issues will conspire to screw you up royally at every turn.

    What would be necessary is a hulking great video card - possibly based on the NewTek Video Toaster NT, that integrated realtime multi-stream full duplex playback and recording of MPEG-2 and uncompressed (for subsequent software MPEG-4 compression for the DVD ripping) video. You get MPEG-1 hardware acceleration for free with this setup, so MP3 encoding/decoding would all be in hardware too.

    A Tuner module would be easy enough to add, and could happily incorporate both FM and TV tuning - just route the output to one of the VT's ins.

    Preferably everything would be synced with a global timer, and the OS used would feature minimal latency for these time-critical applications.

    The UI for this system might not go out a VGA card at all, and could be sent out through the Toaster as a realtime video overlay.

    If you opted for a the 'games module', you could get a GeForce card and use that, it's TV out routed to one of the Toaster's uncompressed inputs.

    Ogg Vorbis? I want to be able to download my tracks to my portable player too, so unless space is at a premium, then MP3 is good enuff for me.

    However, there would be the option to bypass the hardware compression and get the 'uncompressed' audio for software compression, so you could use OggVorbis, or even WMA if you wanted.

    Combine this with a RAID array of 10000 RPM hard drives which come in a separate case for deployment in the closet, rather than next to the TV, and hook it up to the front-end unit with fibre channel.

    Then you'd have convergence. I think I'd get a standard PAL/NTSC/SECAM version working before i attempted HDTV though.

    No software/consumer-component solution will be up to handling the demands of doing this kind of stuff 24x7 without breaking.

    We can't even write a decent, crash-free web browser in a reasonable amount of time, and a project like this is way more complex than that.

    I'll check back in 5 years when the Sony PS3 and Apple iHub are getting on with the job of doing this type of stuff, making Apple and Sony rich beyond belief and everyone is still fighting over whether to base their 'Convergent Solution' around KDE or GNOME.


    I gots ta ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long
    Media Box (Score:1)
    by Taboo on Wednesday April 25, @06:11PM EST (#292)
    (User #263223 Info)

    Media Box

    I wish (Score:1)
    by prelelat on Wednesday April 25, @07:02PM EST (#297)
    (User #201821 Info)
    -Some obsolete (VCR?), and some of it is critical to survival (Tivo). I wish I had your closet dude man it would be nice to have Tivo and a vcr in there.
    pscth... small thinkers (Score:1)
    by tephlon on Wednesday April 25, @07:39PM EST (#302)
    (User #446820 Info)
    Hehe,
    I've had a convergance fantisy for quite awhile now....
    Only i'm not thinking about tying to bend a box to todays technology, thusly hampering the box's usefullness in the long run.
    Why not (for the sake of avoiding a massive kludge) build the entire system from the ground up with the end result in mind.

    Centerlized architecture, focused control points, and a tricked out UI. THEN integrate with your already existing home, and wireless lans. You now end up with a usefull system that will actually get USED and APPRICIEATED. (currently in the works) ;)

    just my $.02
    TePHLON
    This exists as open source (Score:3, Interesting)
    by K8Fan (ID cdw AT enteract DOT com) on Thursday April 26, @01:10AM EST (#316)
    (User #37875 Info)
    De-Interlacers are somewhat expensive devices that could probably be reasonably implemented as part of the playback. I'm sure it wouldn't be as top notch as a dedicated processor or high end progressive DVD Player, but it seems like this could be done nicely, and then we could pull one more component out of the chain.

    See the perfectly functional DTV over at SourceForge. I've dumped my DVDO iScan in favor of this free program. The folks at AVS Forum are very interested in this area and have been hacking the Tivo. It's a great site.


    "How perfectly Goddamn delightful it all is, to be sure" Charles Crumb
    Borg box exists, convergence fantasies satisfied (Score:1)
    by alecbrown on Thursday April 26, @04:05AM EST (#327)
    (User #66952 Info)
    I think what Rob wants already exists here in the UK, Tiny Computers have released a product called the Takami TV that does what Rob is asking for, so Rob, your not the only one thinking along these lines.
    I'm working on this right now (Score:2)
    by Yarn (yarn@b0rk.co.uk) on Thursday April 26, @06:08AM EST (#333)
    (User #75 Info) http://www.yarn.org.uk/
    I have a spare Celeron processor, and just picked up a second hand motherboard on the cheap. What I plan to add is:

    A Hauppauge WinTV PVR, saves to 704x480, MPEG2
    DVD reader
    As much hard disk as I can afford
    My TNT2u, when it's superceeded by something else,
      until then, my ancient Riva128 with TV out.
    Add RAM to taste, and serve hot!
    DivX, flaskmpeg, virtualdub

    I'm not really expecting the wintv card to work in linux, but that'd be an added bonus.

    -Yarn (Vote Moo!) [I have given up on moderation]
    OS (Score:1)
    by Nick_Psyko (Nick_Psyko@SPAM.ME.AND.DIE.hotmail.com) on Thursday April 26, @02:03PM EST (#344)
    (User #18708 Info) http://lilnick.co.uk
    What about using BE as the OS, it's multimedia enhancements are absoultly awesome, this would create a revenue for people at BE.

    The GUI is quick to load, the filesystem is designed to handle extremely large files, multiprocessor support, lots of not so fast processors (not neccessarily intel) would be affordable and would increase cheaply the clock cycles.

    Available in a rack mount, but a pretty one in diffrent colours to attempt to fit in with the living room, it would just look like a cupboard or they could be separated and could be scattered around the living room dvd player by the telly, cd player by the cd rack, these things don't have to be big, the CD/DVD-RW could be no bigger than a portable DVD player, take yer storage device (number 2 100Gb) to your mates house to watch a movie on his 52" LGP screen.

    Interconectivity, somesort of extremly quick wireless interface betwen components, could cause issues with next door neighbours with a similar setup, (that would be another topic though).
    I think firewire or usb2 would be clever and a cheaper option.

    As an added bonus the device(s) could have the drivers intergrated on a rom, when it is plugged in or brought near, it broadcasts that it is here and needs installing.

    Mabye each item with it's own processor, so the 'unit' made up of individual devices is not crippled when the PSU module goes down.

    Automatic updates (optional) for all software, inc flash rom chips.

    .....and yes if you like you can browse the net/send emails.


    'Microsoft - Are they just Coming Down??' > Me
    Search through DVDs? (Score:1)
    by MulluskO on Sunday May 06, @12:59PM EST (#350)
    (User #305219 Info)
    You mentioned something about `rummaging through all your DVDs' when a friend comes over.

    Maybe the box could also function as a DVD jukebox, or include a port that could connect to a DVD jukebox, so one could merely select a DVD in the index on the box, and the jukebox could play it, this is probably expensive, but what about the box isn't?
    Re:If you want it.... build it. (Score:1)
    by slashdoter ((mikebrown)@(cfl).(rr).(com)) on Wednesday April 25, @11:32AM EST (#40)
    (User #151641 Info) http://slashdot.org
    This AC has a good point, Taco has capital, an idea and a market. This type of thing IMHO will only happen with geek leadership, most Big corps want dumb downed mass marketed shit. GO FOR IT! Just my $0.02


    ________

    Damn, now where did I put that really funny .sig ?

    Re:It exists. (Score:1)
    by ackthpt (wombat@wombat.wombat) on Wednesday April 25, @12:13PM EST (#116)
    (User #218170 Info) http://www.dragonswest.com
    It's called Windows 2000.

    It was called Windows 95, then Windows NT, then Windows 98, then Windows ME, then Windows 2000, then Windows XP, etc.

    The closer you get to total convergience, the more there is to converge, you never get there, it's just a marketing driven illusion.

    I don't want convergience, I don't expect it, and if it ever comes about (in my lifetime), I'll just hit the History Eraser Button.

    --
    All your .sig are belong to us!

    Re:that was a pathetic article, sorry, no offense. (Score:1)
    by lairdb (lairdbspam@email.com) on Wednesday April 25, @01:19PM EST (#183)
    (User #244939 Info)
    Yaaargh! This is the epitome of what is so frustrating about much of the open source community; this is why so many of the efforts are doomed before they start.

    Taco even mentioned the issue: "Much of the functionality I've described already exists in various forms, but writing a consistant, well designed UI requires rare skills in the open source world. And a device like this is almost entirely about the UI. Many Slashdot readers could build this box, but its going to take special people to actually make the UI friendly enough to gain mass acceptance."

    Until is is usable, it does not exist.

    Sony's skill, or TiVo's, or any other "evil corporate entity" is not in putting he technology together, it's in making it usable. If you can't see past the technical issues to the adoption and use issues, then... then you're a perfect example of why open source efforts fail so regularly.
    --
    lairdb
    ...ihnp4!noscvax!crash!lairdb used to work; ah for the days when intelligence was required.

    I tell them to turn to the study of mathematics, for it is only there that they might escape the lusts of the flesh. -- Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain"

     



    Forgot your password?
    Working...