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Linux Hackers Offered Early Access to Next-Gen DVR 145

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the going-after-the-right-market-segment dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Linux hackers are being given the first crack at beta units and early release versions of a new Linux-powered DVR. The new device, available from Neuros Technology, is able to record MPEG-4 video from many media sources including cable, broadcast TV, and DVDs allowing the user to then transfer that video to portable media players or serve the media over a network. From the article: 'Neuros says "hundreds" of open source community members helped finalize the OSD's design. About two dozen purchased an early hardware prototype earlier this year. Partly to thank the community, and partly as a way of getting the device into the hands of highly critical users early on, Neuros will offer an initial "beta" production run exclusively to hackers.'"
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Linux Hackers Offered Early Access to Next-Gen DVR

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  • I'd love to have a DVR, but unfortunately my local Cable company has a monopoly and will not work with 3rd-party DVRs. And the one they sell costs $748, which is WAY out of my comfort zone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nos. (179609)
      What you do with the signal after it comes out of your digital cable box is up to you. Hook up myth or any of the other PVRs you can find out there. You can definitely put one together for less than $750.
      • by B3ryllium (571199)
        Can it remotely control the Digital Cable Box? It's some motorola brand thing ...
        • IR Blaster (Score:5, Informative)

          by Kadin2048 (468275) <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:47PM (#16148464) Homepage Journal
          I think most TiVO units have "IR Blasters" which are little dongles that go over the IR port on your cableco's box, and switch the channel and otherwise control it.

          So basically, you "watch" the output from the TiVO on your monitor/television, and do all your programming and stuff. When the TiVO wants to get a particular signal from the cable box, either so you can watch it live or so it can record it, it sends a signal via the IR blaster into the cable box, switching the channel.

          I don't know how reliable they are, and the whole thing reeks of 'kludge' to me, but I know some friends that swear by this setup.

          Personally, I think it's too bad that nobody thought to mandate some sort of standardized control interface for cable and TV tuners; a serial port on the back of those DTV boxes would make all the IR stuff unnecessary.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by russ1337 (938915)
            Yeah, I have a similar setup but without the IR Blaster. I manage OK. The biggest limitation is not being able to record one channel and watch another... but they replay crap so over-and-over that I just set it to record it at 1am or whatever.

            I have to set the DVR (mythtv) to record the show and also set the Set-Top-Box to 'auto-tune'. But it works out as I record the same shows every week. (auto-tune set to always switch to 'The Daily Show', Family Guy etc, and the mythtv always to record that show at
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by JoeBorn (625012)
            A lot of set-top tuners have serial controls as well, which is supported by the Neuros device. There's a serial cable included as well as IR Blaster...
            • Yeah; unfortunately the digi-cable boxes in my area don't have them. Apparently our local Comcast affiliate's theory is "if you were meant to have it, then the FCC would mandate that you get it."

              So we don't get anything that's not required by law, pretty much. I can't even get a HD box with a working FireWire output, and I'm almost certain that there's an FCC regulation which requires them to provide me with one on request.

              If I didn't get the cable TV for a very good price along with my internet service, I'
              • by JoeBorn (625012)
                Sure, like anything is a battle for critical mass. If there's enough demand for something it becomes a requirement. Obviously the cable companies will fight any loss of control tooth and nail (often under the guise of preventing piracy). At this point, they are getting away with the walled garden, and with the DMCA (and proposed analog hole/broadcast flag legislation) they will gain more control. That's why awareness campaigns like the FSF http://www.defectivebydesign.org/ [defectivebydesign.org] are so important. If citizens
          • by cens0r (655208)
            The problem with this is that the DVR comcast gives me allows me to record two channels at once. To do the same thing with a 3rd party DVR i'd need to rent two boxes from comcast and have two IR blasters. They've made it just difficult enough for me to just buy their system and be done with it.
          • by SeaFox (739806)
            I think most TiVO units have "IR Blasters" which are little dongles that go over the IR port on your cableco's box, and switch the channel and otherwise control it.

            I work for a cableco, and the impression I get is more use the s-video port and the TiVo is able to control the box through it.

          • by gatekeep (122108)
            You're right, the IR blasters are a bit of a kludge. They generally work, but can be subject to the environment and how much IR interference their is, etc.

            Tivo also supports using a serial cable to control the box. This works really well on my parents S2 Tivo. MUCH better than the IR Blaster.

            You can ALWAYS record analog cable broadcasts without a box. There's a dual tuner Series2 Tivo which allows tuning/recording/watching of two channels at once. Of course, only one of the two can be digital cable unl
          • by szrachen (913408)
            I'm currently using a setup where my DirecTV receiver (an old RCA box from probably 3 years ago) is hooked to my TiVo by a small data cable that looks like a miniature phone cable. They call it the home control cable on the TiVo Accessories Site [tivo.com]. It only cost about $7 and it works great!
        • by Nos. (179609)
          You can always do it via IR. In my case, I have a DCT2500 which it can control over the serial port. I'm sure other models work as well, but you'd have to look to see what you have and what is supported.
        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Can it remotely control the Digital Cable Box? It's some motorola brand thing ..."

          In addition to the IR 'blaster' method, I understand that you can often control these boxes through a serial or firewire connection. Either of those methods would seem more reliable.

          I'd say if you're interested in a Myth box...get the model number off your digital STB and do a little research.

          Personally, I got fed up with all the digital artifacts on my stb, and went and took it back and just went with analog. I still got

          • What's the hardware for encoding analogue HDTV? About six posters to this note expressed interest in that, not so much in the SD-only product under discussion.

            My commercial, (DRM-loving-and-obeying) Pioneer DVR meets about 90% of my needs, I can't be bothered making a MythTV box just to copy DVDs or video tapes (yes, it obeys even the old "ARM" on tapes).

            Nor do I want to "steal" HDTV content, by any reasonable definition, just do with it what I've been doing with VCR tapes for 20 years and my DVR (which c
              • by rbrander (73222)
                Nope. It has only S-Video inputs. HDTV output maybe, but not input.

                It can handle cable, but not digital cable. Which all HDTV is, AFAIK.

                So I'm still looking...
                • by tap (18562)
                  No, is can handle digital cable. It has an ATSC demodulator that can do QAM or VSB. What it can't handle is encrypted digital cable. In the US, that means only your HD local stations on cable can be received, since the FCC requires they be unencrypted, and everything else will be encrypted. In Canada there is no such regulation, and so it appears that everything is encrypted.
      • by pongo000 (97357)
        Hmm...I'm smart enough to put together a MythTV box (that works), but dumb enough not to be able to figure out why I'd need this piece of hardware after...well, building a Myth box!

        $750? Let's see...a PVR-350 off eBay cost me $150 (with the remote)...threw together a cheapo computer for under $200. I guess I'm just not clear on the concept of why I'd need a DVR for...my DVR!
        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          This DVR is $230 (prerelease price) and it's got a tiny box and no moving parts. I only wish I had that much money to spare, I'd buy one myself.
          • by Nos. (179609)
            True, but it also has no local storage for content unless maybe the flash is for that purpose, which means you spending a lot per MB. With a 350, you don't need much of a computer (I had a 350 running myth on a 600Mhz box w/129MB - ran fine). Not to mention all the features you get in Myth that this device doesn't have. Don't get me wrong, this device has some potential, but it does not directly compare to something like Myth.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)
              You don't need local storage, you can pipe it over the network. I'm starting to think that next time I actually build a network (I have only laptops right now, and I use them as I need them, and have no dedicated server) I'm only going to have one system with disks, and everything else will netboot. I'd like to take as much hardware out of my various systems as possible and GigE makes the elimination of local storage feasible if you have enough RAM - which is cheap.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hwyengr (839340)
      Actually, the FCC forces your cable company to provide access for 3rd party devices to work on their networks, via the CableCard mandate. Unfortunately for you, the only (non-discontinued) CableCard ready DVR was just released by TiVo, and costs $799.
      • by B3ryllium (571199)
        You assume that the FCC has any jurisdiction over my country.

        Perhaps the CRTC has a similar mandate. :)
        • by hwyengr (839340)
          D'oh. My apologies. Eagerness to reply to first post caught up with me.
          • by B3ryllium (571199)
            S'ok :) I suspect the policy at Shaw may not last much longer; they may have to give up their DVR monopoly if they want the CRTC to turn a blind eye to their burgeoning telephone business.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ucklak (755284)
      Do they make you buy the television and not allow good ole VCR hookup as well?
    • by rhyre417 (919946)
      There is a standard called 'cablecard', which FCC is supposed to be mandating. That lets you run the decryption on a card supplied by your cable provider, which plugs in to your Tivo (maybe certain models only). So if you're cable monopoly isn't complying, talk to the FCC and your local government cable authority
      • by B3ryllium (571199)
        My local government cable authority is the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. I'll look into it.
  • BTDT, anyone remember Agenda Computing?

    Oh, and while it did make it out of beta (officially if not functionally) the PrismIQ wasn't exactly a bundle of joy either.

    sdb
  • Almost worthy.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nicpottier (29824) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:41PM (#16148401)

    This is almost REALLY cool, but is missing a few big things.

    1) video inputs and outputs are analog.. lame, this isn't next gen, this is last gen.
    2) no display. Even a one line LCD would go a long way... I don't always want my TV on to play music for example.

    I love the business model though, and allowing the community to build things is great. Much like the Squeezebox.
    • I really like the design of the thing, but composite video out? Why even have S-Video in if you're going to output it composite?
      • Well I can only guess why it's that way; my thoughts were that perhaps the point of the S-Video on the input and not the output is so you can record at some semblance of quality (although S-Video really isn't that great), and then download the digital file out through the network port, and watch it somewhere else.

        Or, maybe they figure that by the time the signal gets compressed and played back, it'll be basically composite-video quality anyway, so that it's not necessary to have S-video output; it would jus
      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Of course, what I really want in a DVR is component analog input for high-def content. Thus far, nobody builds such a beast. Until I can get it, I'll probably be sticking with my series 1 TiVo.

        Unless the hard drive dies first.

    • by nicpottier (29824)

      Oh and no-wifi. Duh.
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:00PM (#16148593) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, I was surprised when I saw that it didn't have a DVI port. I mean, it's got everything else that it would need to be a really slick product ... except that it's analog only.

      So really it's just a glorified 480i ADC with a network card and a USB port. I'm somewhat unimpressed. The card reader slots really don't add anything for me, either. Except as storage for the machine itself, I can't ever foresee myself using them.

      But ... SVideo? I mean, hello, 1986 calling. What's the purpose of that, so I can connect it to my SVHS deck? How about my Laserdisc player?

      As I said in another comment, I find Neuros very intriguing as a company, and I hope that they sell enough of these things to stay afloat and make a better model that will do digital recording, preferably soon, before the media companies and their lackeys at the FCC push through a Broadcast Flag.
      • It's pretty obvious why there's no digital output: it can't record in HD, so why should it have digital outputs? It's a cheap, embedded system for recording (standard definition) TV content to portable devices or PC storage. It uses an embedded processor and an amount of RAM that isn't meant for HD content. I'm sure that if this is successful, they would consider producing an HD-version of the OSD. This is meant to work with Satellite and cable boxes that people have connected to their SDTVs.

        We, the te
        • I think your points are all correct; however when I was lamenting its lack of a DVI port, I meant as an input, not an output. Many HD sources have either a DVI port, or an HDMI port that can be converted to DVI (it's not using HDCP, in other words), so it would make a logical input on a device made to record HD content. The other logical digital input would be FireWire, since many HD STB's have a compressed output on that. Between those two inputs you would probably have all digital TV source devices covere
      • by Em Ellel (523581) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:07PM (#16150110)
        Yeah, I was surprised when I saw that it didn't have a DVI port. I mean, it's got everything else that it would need to be a really slick product ... except that it's analog only.

        Erm, outputing analog video source over DVI is completely pointless. Cudos to the company for not making it twice as expensive to give people an ILLUSION of quality while actually making it look worse.

        So really it's just a glorified 480i ADC with a network card and a USB port.

        Exactly. Except it also has a low power CPU capable of running its own code. Pretty much we are looking at AV equivalent of a linksys wi-fi router. Only unlike cisco they are encouraging people to write their own code.

        I'm somewhat unimpressed. The card reader slots really don't add anything for me, either. Except as storage for the machine itself, I can't ever foresee myself using them.

        The roots of this device is in capturing analog video into MPEG-4 for viewing on portable devices... you know, like the ones that READ flash media. The card slots ARE EXACTLY for storage for the machine.

        Given the cost of this device ($230) what they packed in there is pretty impressive.

        -Em
    • by viper66 (412839)
      What exactly is 'next gen' about this device anyway?
    • Re:Almost worthy.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by JoeBorn (625012) <jbornNO@SPAMneurosaudio.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:08PM (#16149164) Homepage Journal
      I'm from Neuros, we talked about a display but decided a small one wasn't worth much and a big one was too expensive. We've focused more on a two way wifi remote ala Sonos, or the Creative audio streamer. So we'll be addressing the "music without a TV" with a "remote" control like that.
  • DVR I/O (Score:4, Informative)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:41PM (#16148409) Homepage
    12Mbps USB 2.0 interface
    SD/MMC/MemoryStick, Pro, Duo socket
    CF socket supporting I/O mode
    RS-232 serial console port (also used for controlling tuner boxes)
    10/100 Mbps Ethernet
    Infrared detector for remote control
    Infrared blaster for controlling tuner boxes
    NTSC/PAL composite or S-Video input
    NTSC/PAL composite video output
    • by AaronW (33736)
      I'm surprised it doesn't offer component output. Even my old ReplayTV offers progressive component out. Component in would be awesome, as would HDMI. The thing I'm interested in is something that can record HDTV streams as well as the Open Cable (QAM) and have support for a smart card to handle the encryption.
      • it came out as a featured item in this week's think geek email. from the pictures it looks like it doesn't have anything but analog

        http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/drives/89ed/?cp g=37H [thinkgeek.com]
      • Conponent out shouldn't have been too hard. I've got a Unicorn media box that does it. HDMI (unencrypted video+audio) would have been a nice touch. HDTV component in would have been snazzy but killer for the cost - there's just too much data to suck in and recode. QAM might have been nice, but it seems that many cable systems are going away from in-the-clear, analog broadcasts. Smart card...well, that's just a pipe dream - the consortium that controls the hardware IP wouldn't even let TiVo have T2Go or box
        • by Blob Pet (86206)
          I suspect that it's only a matter of time before a USB cable card reader becomes available... even if it means that you'll have to import it from Hong Kong.
          • I don't know...

            There are some cable providers who will not give you cable cards - you have to allow them to install them in your equipment. Many TiVo S3 users are running into problems over this. Hopefully it will get better, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
      • Wrong Forest (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:07PM (#16149155) Homepage Journal

        Dude, stop looking at the trees — you're in the wrong forest. This device not only lacks an internal hard disk, its resolution choices are way below what you'd need to capture HD streams. Component outputs would be like tailfins on a Honda.

        Judging from their web site, Neuros is mainly interested in creating devices that use portable devices for playback. Hence the emphasis on flash memory for storage. When this product goes GA, I'll certainly consider buying one to use with my TV — but my TV is not only analog, it has maybe a 10-inch screen. This DVR is aimed at people like me, with shallow pockets and modest requirements, not high-end video lovers like you.

        • by Lumpy (12016)
          for the same amount of cash, I can build a PVR from newegg that can do far more. running either windows or linux. using mythtv or Mediaportal.

          same forest, just their product is late to the party and way over priced. at $140.00 I'd buy it. at $250.00 It's too expensive.
          • by fm6 (162816)
            If you know how to build a serious PVR for $250, please share your shopping list!
    • by wissape (1003065)
      Ok, ok... maybe I am misreading this from the article... but isn't USB 2.0 480 Mbps... not 12? That could most possibly confuse someone.
    • by illumin8 (148082)

      12Mbps USB 2.0 interface

      USB 2.0 is supposed to be 480mbps, not 12mbps, unless they're using the stupid hi-speed 2.0 specification which is actually just USB 1.1...

      How sucky does this device have to be if it can only read/write from the hard drive at 12mbps? At those data transfer rates, you might be able to record a TV show (assuming 4-5 mbps for video) and watch one at the same time if you're lucky, but good luck recording 2 shows and watching a 3rd, and good luck copying data to and from it across the ne

  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:44PM (#16148433) Homepage Journal
    Neuros seems like a really intriguing company. I haven't (yet) purchased any of their gear, mostly because I'm currently happy with my third-gen iPod and relatively ancient USB EyeTV tuner, but I like the way they seem to be developing products.

    The killer is going to be software, though; if they can't get a cohesive user experience down, the best software in the world isn't worth more than a VCR. With all the digital covergence stuff, interoperability and ease of use are the two main pillars that support everything else. By using open standards and free software, I'm confident they'll have interoperability on the technical side, but I wonder about the ease of use and vertical integration with other parts of the "user stack." (That is, the applications that let the users do particular tasks, like pull a recording from the STB and burn it to a DVD; will there be one integrated app to do that? Or will it require an awkward chain of tools?)

    But in general, I think they're on the right track, and it's refreshing to see a company produce a product that honestly looks neat. It's been a while since I've seen that.

    Now, if only they made one that would record DTV without dropping it to an analog signal first...an ADC is nice, but it seems a little late. TV is going digital, and I'd love to see an unencumbered recording device that worked there, before the FCC gets in there and starts crippling things.

    • by Otter (3800)
      The killer is going to be software, though; if they can't get a cohesive user experience down, the best software in the world isn't worth more than a VCR.

      I looked into Neuros when shopping for an MP3 player (although I've never seen one in real life). It seems like they're firmly in the hobbyist niche, where spending endless time in forums and IRC to keep up with a constant stream of patches, upgrades and marginal new features is part of the fun.

      I wish them luck with it, but I need fewer hobbies, not more,

    • Too bad you didn't mention them together. They have a model that simply records the raw data feed that most digital cable companies provide.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JoeBorn (625012)
      Speaking for Neuros, I think your comments are absolutely right regarding the "cohesive user experience." We know that hackers will add features and get all kinds of "proof of concept" stuff working, but at the end of the day, it's our job (as the manufacturer) to stitch it together to make it work for the average person, that "doesn't need another hobby," as someone else said here. The first stage of this product's life will be geeks and hackers, but we need to get the user experience right to broaden th
      • by dolmen.fr (583400)
        I've seen some posts on Neuros forums about the (bad) state of the development environment.
        It would probably be easier to hack your products if it was based on a platform that has package management. I'm thinking in particular to OpenEmbedded [openembedded.org].
  • Potential (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mkosmo (768069) * <mkosmo@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:46PM (#16148453) Homepage
    But how will the MPAA like that Linux hackers can go through and do whatever they want with a video stream? I think they will have a fit. But when has that ever stopped anybody from keeping backup copie(s) :)
    And more seriously, has anybody gotten their hands on one?
    • by dspyder (563303)
      But how will the MPAA like that Linux hackers can go through and do whatever they want with a video stream?

      Um... they won't. That's why it's so critical that WE have control over the software so that WE can do what WE want. A company that wrote such software would be put under immense pressure. I'm sure they'll receive some just for building the hardware.....
  • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:58PM (#16148588) Homepage
    This box is an asymmetric multiprocessor with one ARM and one TI DSP, so code has to be partitioned properly to run fast enough. The TI DSP has no free development tools (AFAIK), so most hackers will not be able to work on codecs or anything else in the "data path". Also AFAIK the codecs are not open source anyway. But I can imagine lots of cool uses for this if the complexity can be managed.
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anon-Admin (443764) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:59PM (#16148591) Homepage Journal
    What good is a DVR with out a hard drive?

    Sure you can USB it @ 12 MBPS I am sure that will work but that is another part to add. What about the CF/MMC card, have you seen the size of a movie in MPEG4 @ 800x600 D1 quality? it is in the range of 2gig an hour.

    Include an IDE or SATA drive bay and ill buy one.
    • I was thinking provide an external SATA connector so I can hook it up to an array... or even a second ethernet port. Gigabit ethernet into a NAS box sitting behind the TV would work.
    • by blankman (94269)
      It has an ethernet port... perhaps it can map a shared drive (SMB, etc) and record straight to your PC. If not, that'd be a very cool feature to add.
    • by Alterion (925335)
      although external hardrives that connect via USB are cheap as chips now heck even compact flash is cheapish... a harddrive is not a major thing to add to something like this what matters is the technology and idea behind it.. I hope they make a PAL (or whatever other compatability fix it would need) version for the UK.
    • If USB at 12 MBPS isn't fast enough for you, how about full-duplex 100bT? Choose your network file system and away you go... if you don't want the traffic on your main switch, spring an extra $10 for another port on the NAS and use a Cat-5 crossover wire.

      I would't want drives on a box like the Neuros, personally; I keep my drives in a big ol' RAID array in my nice cool basement instead of pumping out extra heat in my A/V center.
    • by evilviper (135110)
      have you seen the size of a movie in MPEG4 @ 800x600 D1 quality? it is in the range of 2gig an hour.

      D1 is broadcast resolution 720x480.

      MPEG-4 (AKA. Divx) is nowhere near 2GBs/hour, unless you're using seriously crappy software for the encoding. At very good quality, you're only talking 0.5GBs per hour. My old, crappy MPEG-2 capture card can do better than 2GBs/hour.
      • My Hardware MPEG4 card @ 800x600 25FPS NTSC runs 2gig an hour with compression off. I tend to turn the compression off because of quality.
        • by evilviper (135110)

          My Hardware MPEG4 card @ 800x600 25FPS NTSC

          I'm utterly confused. What is the brand and model of this card? Why is it capturing NTSC (which absolutely maxes out at 720x480) at 800x600? And why is it capturing 29.97fps NTSC material, at 25fps?

          runs 2gig an hour with compression off.

          AFAIK, there is no such thing as "uncompressed" MPEG-4. MPEG-4 is a compression format, so "uncompressed" makes no sense. Uncompressed video is RAW, and takes on the order of a hundred GBs per hour at these resolutions.

  • The new device, available from Neuros Technology, is able to record MPEG-4 video from many media sources including cable, broadcast TV, and DVDs

    Please allow firewire input... my cable boxes both allow raw firewire MPEG2 streams for SD and HD content. Currently I use MythTV with this, but would love the ability to buy cheap standalone boxes for ancillary TVs.

  • The OSD is already out, which you can see at their homepage. [neurosaudio.com]

    So I suppose even if you're not a hacker, you can still buy one...
    • Note that it says BETA release on the page you just linked... They're offering 200 of the BETA units for sale
      on ThinkGeek- and until it's out of beta, there probably won't be any more of them unless you rate one from
      Neuros directly.

      Budget permitting, if they still have any left now that /. knows about it, I'll be buying one. If they're
      out in the next couple of days, I'll probably still end up with one as I've got a few answers to their
      bounty problems already started- intended for other embedded devices th
  • Who of you really does have a 1080p 64" double wide screen plasma lcd television with HDCP and HDMI functionality? Anyone? No. DVD and analog are doing fine for most mainstream applications. HD-DVD or Blu-Ray are nice as an expensive temporary backup solution and for some nimwits that don't know any better. People just bought into the whole "flat-screen-is-better-hype" replacing their 2-10y old color tv. I think that major expense this and last year ($700-$2000) is going to have to hold up for at least 3-5 years before mothers-and-wifes or just hard-working honest people are going to allow another expense that big because now everything is digital.

    This product is aimed (by price ($150)) to the cheap nerd and his family who move their tv around in the house. The living room now has a nice and shiny LCD while the basement (or wherever you Slashdotters live) has the 25" flat-CRT and the bedrooms have the 20" standard CRT in most households.
    • by BrookHarty (9119)
      No. DVD and analog are doing fine for most mainstream applications.

      Fine is a rather broad viewpoint...

      Im viewing HDTV on my 32 inch LCD widescreen, and dvd's dont come close in quality.
      But I'm using comcast and their HDTV package which includes almost every primetime show in HD.

    • by westlake (615356)
      DVD and analog are doing fine for most mainstream applications. HD-DVD or Blu-Ray are nice as an expensive temporary backup solution and for some nimwits that don't know any better. People just bought into the whole "flat-screen-is-better-hype" replacing their 2-10y old color tv.

      TIME estimate is HD in 20% of American households today.

      I don't expect to buy another CRT monitor for home use nor do I expect to buy another 4:3 monitor for home use. The standard definition TV as a replacement for your primary

  • Corporate PR (Score:4, Informative)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:29PM (#16148837)

    Partly to thank the community, and partly as a way of getting the device into the hands of highly critical users early on, Neuros will offer an initial "beta" production run exclusively to hackers

    Bzzzt, I'll take "corporate PR lines" for $500, Alex.

    This is to:

    • "get the devices to highly technical users who will find all the bugs Neuros didn't before it gets shipped to the grandmas and grandpas of the world" Meanwhile, they get a lot of leeway for simply slapping a "beta" label on it.
    • get them around any brand-wide or device distribution agreements to garner them a bunch of direct sales (which are worth their weight in gold, since you're not paying a distributor- yes, even if you discount the "beta" version under the retail by a fair bit. Distributors take a BIG cut.)
    • get the bloggers posting (more like bragging) about how they got a device, how cool it is, etc. This gets everyone else reading the blogs whipped into a frenzy so that when they DO go on sale, everyone ignores the magazines if the thing isn't ACTUALLY the best device since the bread slicer. Apple's strategy (namely, a complete lockdown on ANY product details before it goes on sale) is similar; whip people into a pre-ordering frenzy and ship ship ship before anyone has so much as touched it.

    This is a calculated PR move first and foremost; anything a corporation does is motivated almost exclusively in self-interest (more appropriately, the interests of the shareholders.) Anything about "thanking the community" is a secondary (or lower) concern. If they wanted to thank the community, they'd fold back bug fixes, feature additions, and technical innovation into the open-source software they are (no doubt) using.

  • by Junior Samples (550792) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:29PM (#16148840)

    Detailed specifications can be found here http://wiki.neurostechnology.com/index.php/Neuros_ OSD [neurostechnology.com]

    I'm in the market for a High Defintiton media recorder / player. I want to be able to capture an ATSC broadcast stream and record it to hard drive and later to DVD in MPEG 2 or MPEG 4 format and play it back to my high definition monitor.

    This product is about 10 years behind the marketplace because it only supports NTSC and PAL.

    • by evilviper (135110)
      This product is about 10 years behind the marketplace because it only supports NTSC and PAL.

      Yeah, MPEG-4 DVRs were EVERYWHERE in 1996... 3 years before the first Tivo.
  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@@@pitabred...dyndns...org> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:33PM (#16148871) Homepage
    At ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] (apparently exclusively)
  • iTV? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mikeee (137160) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:35PM (#16148887)
    Is it just me, or is this pretty much what Apple's upcoming iTV will be? The hardware sounds like it's pretty similar.

    Useful mostly for streaming low-to-medium resolution video from PC to computer. Neuros adds the ability to record - maybe useful to an attached MP3/video player? (I guess you could NFS-mount a filesystem from elsewhere...?) In practice, I'd bet that's too much of a hassle to be worth the trouble.
    • I'd guess the OSD hardware is much less powerful than iTV, and the software is much less polished. But Neuros is probably banking on price and openness.
      • by mikeee (137160)
        (Obviously, I meant streaming PC->TV).

        The iTV was targeted at $299, so it isn't any cheaper. (On the other hand, the iTV doesn't exist yet, so this is a bit unfair to Neuros). And with a DSP you don't need much of a CPU, if video streaming is all you're doing. It'll be interesting to see what kind of processing Apple puts in (and it is OSX based, or a glorified iPod?) - I don't think there have been any reports about that at all.

        The Neuros could win some sales based on hackability, though...
  • To be considered for a modern TV, it should have DVI, and SPDIF outputs.

    Analog outputs ok for old TV's and stereos, I guess.

  • by TheMCP (121589) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:40PM (#16148923) Homepage
    So, the specs are nice, and the price isn't bad, and I even have an external hard disk I could slap onto it right now.

    I'm not buying it because nowhere in any of the material about it does it say it uses program guide information to manage recordings. After years of Tivo and MythTV, I'm used to not having to know when any show is on or what channel it's on. (When my Tivo died of old age, I was just helpless with the TV until I got my MythTV box running.) I'm not going to give up my MythTV box until I know the replacement is going to be able to schedule recordings based on nothing more than the name of the show. That means it has to have a schedule. That means it has to obtain a schedule. That means I have to know where it's going to obtain its schedule from, so I know if I will have to pay for it, and if so how much. (I'm willing to pay a reasonable amount, I didn't switch to MythTV from Tivo because it's free, I switched because it has better features.)

    I would like to switch to a device like this from my MythTV box. It would take up less space, it would be quieter, it might even save on my electric bill, and it would free up the computer I dedicated to MythTV for other purposes. (Like playing Spore when that comes out.) However, this device just doesn't seem like it's quite ready to really call itself a "PVR" yet. It sounds like it's just another video recorder that happens to use digital media.

    Oh, and while it's fine for me that it doesn't have an internal hard disk, Neuros should at least sell it with the option of coming with one, even if it's external. I know it's silly, but some people won't buy it unless they can know that they can get it with the disk and that the disk they get is manufacturer tested and approved.
  • Form factor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pe1chl (90186) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:46PM (#16148969)
    I have two big stacks of "set-top-boxes" and other A/V related equipment, and I would appreciate it when manufacturers, even if they do not want to stick to 17" cabinets, at least put their products into square boxes that allow some stacking.

    When everyone starts to use cases like this, space below my TV runs out very quickly...
    • I'm with you -- I don't mind that my Yamaha receiver requires space above it for cooling (see pictures [mikebabcock.ca]), but please, please would people try to stick to sane form factors for A/V gear? I know its neat to have little cubes here and little top-loading thingies there, but they are very inefficient to lay out.

      That's why I'd rather they build it into a nice ATX desktop-like case like this one from Antec [antec.com], which IMHO would be perfect.
  • It's nice to see this initiative, but it's going to be pretty worthless without digital support.

    There's the FCC mandate (although the date keeps fluctuating) to replace all over-the-air signals with digital only. I don't know if this covers cable providers as well, but most of them are following suit regardless. Without support for ATSC, the digital format that replaces the analog NTSC here in the US, this device won't receive any signal, encrypted or not, within the next few years. Same thing with DV
    • Without support for ATSC ... this device won't receive any signal, encrypted or not, within the next few years.

      The OSD doesn't have any tuner at all (analog or digital), so its tuner can never become obsolete. In a few years there will still be plenty of devices with S-video outputs.

      That could potentially be fixed with a softmod up the road, though.

      Er, no.

      CableCard is indeed a big problem, but it looks like it may kill off most of the CE industry, not just Neuros.
  • Both Svartalf (2997) and markwalling (863035) mention it, but, to re-iterate, this product is being offered exclusively through Thinkgeek.

    It seems slightly disingenuous to post a story from another website, http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS4532837874.html [linuxdevices.com], about the Neuros OSD DVR without mentioning that Thinkgeek and Slashdot are owned by the same company and that Thinkgeek is the sole distributor for now.

    A quick disclaimer would be probably be appropriate in the future.

  • No HD, no DVI = already obsolete.
  • by PRMan (959735) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:19PM (#16149805)

    I have one of the first Neuros Audio MP3 players and was promised a USB 2.0 upgrade as soon as the spec was finished and access to the loading software and the firmware as open source code.

    As far as the USB 2.0, I was supposed to know that when they offered an ALPHA version (not BETA, ALPHA) of the USB 2.0 dock online that I was supposed to jump on it. No e-mails, no notification, I was just supposed to know somehow that the ALPHA version was my free upgrade. As soon as the USB 2.0 dock was finalized, I called them up and asked for one, since I bought it during the appropriate time period. They responded that I missed my window to upgrade for free. I responded that when I bought the player, they didn't say they were going to give me an ALPHA USB 2.0 dock, the implication was that I would get a fully-tested one. Eventually, they agreed to ship me one for a very reduced price. It never worked. I was finally refunded minus 2-way shipping (over $50 on a $250 player).

    They NEVER provided the firmware as open-source code even though that was prominently displayed when I bought it. Their excuse? "It takes a $50,000 piece of hardware to compile it and nobody will be able to do anything with it." Several of us responded that there are some REALLY smart people in the world that make emulators and stuff and you might be amazed. Just put it out there. Still waiting.

    They finally did release the C#.NET source code of the loading program, but that thing was so slow it would take 14-16 hours to load up a 20GB player. It would lock up for about 6-7 hours with no status just when you dropped your MP3 folder on the window, but it would eventually finish. After that, it would take about 8-10 hours to load up the player over USB 1.1.

    Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that they did add several nice features to the player including an equalizer, all in firmware updates. So they did support it some, but not in a way that was usable for me (or promised to me).

    Bottom line: beware of this vendor and their promises.

  • As soon as 4GByte SD-Cards become available, videos on SD-Cards will be possible. So it's just a matter of time until SD-Card players will appear on the market, players which are able to drive ordinary TVs. So it's foreseeable that people soon will buy these players instead of Blu-ray or HD-DVD players. The video business is well advised to immediately start building and selling SD-Rom-Cards, else they were soon confronted with a unsolvable copying problem.

    Live is so beautiful and there's always a solution
    • by tm2b (42473)
      "As soon as?" I bought two 4GB SD cards for $90 with a $30 rebote at Fry's about a month ago.
  • Ok, so there's a new linux-powered DVR out (available at ThinkGeek, of course...) but how does it compare to the very-available and very-stable Topfield [topfield.co.kr]?

    It runs Linux, and they have released an API for creating plugin modules (called TAPS). Check out the forum at toppy.org.uk for more info.

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