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Neuros LINK Mixes Quiet, Aesthetics, and Ubuntu

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the gone-to-seed-is-before-the-good-stuff-in-this-context dept.

Media 121

jonniee writes with a link to Dr. Dobb's Journal's look at a rather cool living-room-suitable media-centric computer from Neuros (presented as being suitable mostly for developers and serious hobbyists for now), excerpting: "The Neuros LINK is essentially a quiet x86 PC running Ubuntu Linux with an ATI graphics card delivering video via VGA, DVI, and HDMI output. ... What makes the LINK such a compelling platform for these folks and Linux/open source developers in general is the recognition that a real business entity is stepping forward to spend the money necessary to market and commercialize what tech enthusiasts have been doing for years."

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Nice (1)

Noam.of.Doom (934040) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008837)

I'm actually looking setting up a media center, but I think I still rather build my own machine for it. It also gives the advantage of reusing old hardware that's just laying around anyway

Re:Nice (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009003)

I use an old Dell gx620 with a Nvidia 8400GS. Running Ubuntu and Xbmc, easy as pie.

Re:Nice (2, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009813)

Specifically any Nvidia chipset that will let you use VDPAU.

mplayer now supports it and you can easily drive 1080p with an underpowered PC, as long as the video card is up to the task.

(And if you're into that sort of thing, off hours you can be contributing to projects that use CUDA to offload to the GPU and thus do stuff much faster).

Re:Nice (3, Interesting)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29010969)

The 8400GS is a great choice for a linux media center. I got an Asus EN8400GS Silent 512MB and highly recommend it. 512MB is required to decode some reference frame-heavy h.264, and the 512MB version seems to have a better heatsink (and it is, of course, fanless). There are also two versions of the 8400GS chip (one based on an older Gxx architecture - I forget the specific number), and the Asus card uses the newer one which has better VDPAU features.

Of note, although not advertised, the card does have an SPDIF header - so with a simple RCA to pin-header cable you can get HDMI audio out of it with any DVI->HDMI converter. I've been using this card to watch a lot of 1080p HDTV lately without any issues. If you're looking for a cheap Nvidia card to do 1080p h.264 decoding with VDPAU to an HDMI TV (with audio), it fits the bill perfectly.

Re:Nice (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#29011525)

Have they fixed the problems with b-frames in playback with mplayer/VDPAU? If they haven't (and I can find no indication that they have) then it's pretty worthless for a lot of people.

Yes but... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29008849)

Yes but does it run... wait... nevermind.

Re:Yes but... (2, Funny)

TheGreenNuke (1612943) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008979)

Yes but can I sync it with my toaster?

Re:Yes but... (1)

Noam.of.Doom (934040) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009067)

I think I stumbled upon a project like that or something similar. Can't find the URL anymore

Re:Yes but... (3, Informative)

inamorty (1227366) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009149)

NetBSD Controlled Toaster [uberreview.com]

Re:Yes but... (1)

Noam.of.Doom (934040) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009289)

that's the one

Re:Yes but... (1)

Coffee on Mars (1597787) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009457)

Actually, syncing it with a coffee machine could prepare coffee just before a break or the end of a movie. And now that I see that idea written, I still can't find what is the problem with it.

Re:Yes but... (-1, Offtopic)

plastbox (1577037) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009235)

Yes, but does it twitter?

Obama - chains you can believe in (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009557)

Can anyone tell me if Congress has any oversight over Obama's 30+ overlords? Doesn't it seem like a bad idea to have a bunch of former industry executives and lobbyists staffing all of these overlord positions, helping to draft health care takeover and auto bail-out legislation (and many other things), and to have all of their activities protected by executive privilege? I know it's not exactly Haliburton, but I thought we were promised a new era of Hope and Change. Pathetically bleating about "teh shrub" and some sort of equivalence is irrelevant. What we were promised by Obama was a new era of Hope and Change, transparency, and kicking the lobbyists out of Washington, D.C. The oil and banking lobbyists might have been kicked out, but Big Pharma and Big Union moved right in!

--Still waiting for my Hope and Change

Looks pretty good on features and price (4, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008883)

It looks like it is only $250, not too bad. I could probably use it replace the Roku and AppleTV, which each kind of suck but at least do their one function well.

I wonder how quiet it is, some of the pictures had fans...

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (5, Informative)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008911)

I wonder how quiet it is, some of the pictures had fans...

At least you clicked the link. ;-)

In the text accompanying those pictures it said 27dB. Not quiet, but not noisy either.

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009581)

Depends on how much noise you're used to. I've been using a Mac mini for over three years now, and I just can't stand regular PC towers anymore with their power supply fan and GPU fan.

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (2, Insightful)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009011)

The price is fine and all that. Unfortunately, at least according to my (personal) doesn't it doesn't look good in the literal sense. It looks like one of those cheap PCs back in the time when they were put on the desk below the monitor. The keyboard looks horrifying, too. Are all good industrial designers working for Apple?

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (1)

Christophotron (812632) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009381)

Looks fine to me.. This is meant to go in an entertainment center, so you should be comparing it to your DVD player or your A/V receiver. That's the reason for the horizontal case. Also, that keyboard has been around a while and it's actually very ergonomic for non-desk use. It also has good battery life and quite long range. It has a trackball that you use with your thumb and the mouse click is on the index finger of the right hand. Left and right mouse buttons are also found on the left side. My only complaint about it is that it's not bluetooth.

If your only complaint about this PC is that it's not shiny and awesome-looking, then maybe you deserve an Apple. The rest of us would rather spend less money on technically superior hardware.

This thing actually looks like it uses completely standard hardware that I could pick up at Fry's. I might be able to build it for under $250 (it's a stretch), but then I wouldn't have a corporation supporting it with a warranty and such...

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (2, Interesting)

Gorphrim (11654) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009937)

The keyboard looks like it might be this Adesso model: http://www.amazon.com/Adesso-Wireless-Keyboard-Optical-Trackball/dp/B000JJM7S0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1249910929&sr=8-1 [amazon.com] If so, my experience with it is that it is crap. Every time I woke the PC up from a sleep state, I had to re-sync the keyboard with the USB dongle. Typing sporadically dropped keystrokes, and the trackball was jittery. Overall it felt very cheaply made. Just my two cents.

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#29012803)

sounds like poor drivers what OS where you using?

keyboard does suck (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#29012167)

I personally would not bother getting the keyboard version. I would watch movies on it, not type my memoirs.

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (2, Informative)

addsalt (985163) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009213)

FYI - XBMC now runs very well on the AppleTV (aside from HD support). You can replace your Roku and AppleTV with, well an AppleTV. It removes all the crappy restrictions and provides a beautiful interface my 3 and 4 year olds can use and my wife is happy with. It might be worth a look if you haven't tried it

Slashvertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009309)

Because Adblock doesn't kill "editorial" content.

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009329)

I wonder how quiet it is, some of the pictures had fans...

Maybe the fans are to be pointed down to keep it levitating like a hovercraft.

A very silent hovercraft.

That runs linux.

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29010023)

Profit!

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29012399)

Year of the Linux hovercraft?

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29013039)

My hovercraft is full of eels.

Re:Looks pretty good on features and price (1)

casings (257363) | more than 5 years ago | (#29010845)

I have one, and honestly the noise isn't noticeable. Without anything else on (pc, ac, etc.) you can hear it, although I would definitely say it is certainly quiet enough. Also, I only turn it on when I actually want to watch tv or a movie, and in those situations I never notice it.

Looking good (5, Insightful)

Osmosis_Garett (712648) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008889)

One of the main things I look for in my entertainment systems is that they run quietly, and its promising to see a company develop a system capable of 1080p in a low sound output system. It is however disappointing to see that the system is just a reorganized PC, including multiple fans for cooling, which add the majority of decibels. As it takes on load (say, for running video in 1080p) and the fans kick it up to cope with the added heat, its going to increase in volume substantially, and as the system ages, it will start to make a fair bit of noise... not sounds I really want to be hearing as I'm engrossed in some sort of cinematic masterpiece.

Ideally, I'd like a system much like the PS3 to use for a entertainment hub, something the PS3 is actually quite good at doing and doing quietly as well. Its just too bad that its a Sony product.

Re:Looking good (2, Informative)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008917)

"Noise: under 27dB"
That's from the device's specs [dvrupgrade.com] . Although I'm not terribly impressed, that seems rather high for a box that needs to be near my entertainment center.

Re:Looking good (2, Informative)

Azaril (1046456) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009593)

According to wikipedia, 27dB is actually as loud as a "very calm room" [wikipedia.org] , and is a minimum of 20 times quieter than talking. The PS3 weighs in at 24dB at idle [videogamesblogger.com] , so this box is twice as loud as that (I believe from googling, that source shows the new, smaller process PS3 though this may not be the case).

Re:Looking good (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29011713)

"a minimum of 20 times quieter than talking"

You failed math, how many times? You can't turn that statement into a mathematical equation. If you were able to do so, you would have stated it properly.

Re:Looking good (1)

Azaril (1046456) | more than 5 years ago | (#29011791)

Well given that 27 decibels is 13 less than 40 (which is the minimum for talking according to wikipedia), it is a minimum of 20 times quieter. 27 dB is 20 times quieter than 40 dB. How many times did you fail maths?

Re:Looking good (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29012781)

I asked for a mathematical equation, not for a circuitous rationalization for your poor grammar.

Had you stated, "1/20th the volume" your statement could be incorporated into any mathematical equation. 20 times quieter is meaningless marketing babble.

27dB is not good compared to PS3 and AppleTV (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#29012237)

Exactly, I think 24dB is closer to what we want. And I don't want something close to normal talking at all if I'm going to watch a movie. I don't think I want to even have anything close to whispering at 1m, which I assume would be like a movie theater.

Re:Looking good (1)

dabadab (126782) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009061)

Look no further, check out the ION offerings. They can be run fully passively without any moving parts (although manufacturers tend to build complete systems with a single (smallish) fan, you can get a passive Ion mobo with a passive fan from Zotac) yet fully capable of playing back anything. And yes, it does run Linux (http://www.xbmc.org/ [xbmc.org] ).

Re:Looking good (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009115)

PS3 is quiet? I'd hate to have a loud machine. In my experience PS3s sound like they're cooled by aircraft propellors.

Re:Looking good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009385)

Depends on which model of PS3. As they've shrunk the chips in various models, the amount of noise (and heat) put out by them has gone down considerably. New ones are near silent at all times.

Re:Looking good (1)

Jahf (21968) | more than 5 years ago | (#29013213)

Agreed. My PS3, HR20 (DirecTV DVR) and Xbox360 are the same age (approaching 1 year) and the PS3 is quieter than either of the other 2. I use the Xbox to play games on but I won't watch programming on it (I use UPnP streaming on all 3 devices). The PS3 runs louder than the HR20 if the PS3 is loading from a game disc but when playing BluRay they are about equal (and no, I'm not saying the HR20 has a disc, just that it is comparable in sound) and when viewing from the HDs or streaming the PS3 is the quietest of the bunch.

ATI? eek! (3, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008895)

Using ATI in a linux MPC... that's just asking for trouble.

I hope they give these things a _good_ testing...

I see they are using an ATI Radeon HD 3200 - does anyone have any gaming performance numbers handy for this card, without all the benchmark-website-bullshit? If this thing works well enough... I may consider finally getting away from nVidia. But I thought these Radeon HD cards were giving Linux trouble? Did this get fixed?

Re:ATI? eek! (1)

blackpaw (240313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008907)

Yeah - I've had and heard nothing but trouble when it comes to ATI and video playback. NVidia + their binary all the way thanks.

Re:ATI? eek! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29008929)

I've got a HTPC running pretty much this setup, the 3200 is dreadful - it's fast enough to push 1080p but video tears severely - unfortunately it's onboard, or I'd throw it somewhere, as it stands, nVidia in just to get rid of it.

Re:ATI? eek! (1)

doctor_nation (924358) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009047)

No kidding. I'm running the same thing and it's been nothing but trouble. I did at least manage to get the proprietary drivers to work after upgrading the BIOS. That gets me DVD playback at high quality. But I haven't figured out the HDMI connection yet, and flash is horrible.

Re:ATI? eek! (1)

TyFoN (12980) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008943)

Yeah my thought exactly
The ATI drivers don't support accelerated H.264 yet either do they?

Re:ATI? eek! (5, Informative)

javilon (99157) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008957)

There is another reason for considering Nvidia. They have vpdau [wikipedia.org] :

VDPAU (Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix) is an API designed by NVIDIA for its GeForce 8 series and later GPU hardware, targeted at the X Window System on Unix operating-systems (including Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris).[1][2][3] This VDPAU API allows video programs to offload portions of the video decoding process and video post-processing to the GPU video-hardware.

This would allow them to use fairly quiet and cheap processors, like the atom, and still get flawless HD 1080p output.

Re:ATI? eek! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29008997)

I recently bought an aspire revo, Nvidia ION platform. And after a short Linux install I can say VDPAU totally rocks.

Re:ATI? eek! (3, Insightful)

kinema (630983) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009155)

What's wrong with XvBA [wikipedia.org] from AMD/ATI? What does vadau offer that XvBA doesn't?

Re:ATI? eek! (2, Informative)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009249)

Support. VDPAU is something that is in the drivers, and can be used right now. Last November, they added it to their beta drivers, and offered a patched version of mplayer to test and as a code example. XvBA has been rumored for years, and hints of it showed up in the driver in October, but it is still not functional.

Re:ATI? eek! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009257)

It's out, ready and there's software supporting it.

Re:ATI? eek! (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#29010505)

Holy crap! I love my Atom netbook... except when I'm playing video. If this tech works with most of the popular video player software (including Flash), then I can totally see myself buying an NVidia netbook.

Or Intel XvMC open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29013015)

Intel has XvMC components in their open source drivers. Works in mplayer.

Re:ATI? eek! (0, Offtopic)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008971)

Redundant comment!

Somebody up more!

If they went with Nvidia they could have had lower price, better Linux performance, better drivers and importantly VDPAU (video accelleration, drops CPU usage by 90%).

Re:ATI? eek! (4, Informative)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009037)

In my experience, watching video on Linux is hardly limited by the graphics card, and you certainly don't need a gaming monster to get get good video. I'm only interested in a good Xv implementation for hardware scaling, since the video formats are evolving anyway.

My current media machine has a Mini-ITX motherboard with integrated Intel graphics and a Core Duo T2300 at 1.66 GHz. When I watch 720p H.264 (that's the most my monitor is capable of), only one CPU is used at 60%, and of course everything is smooth. The machine has only one fan, rated at 24 dBA, but it's running at 7 V instead of 12, so it's even quieter. The power supply is a passively cooled one (like PicoPSU) rated at 80 W.

Re:ATI? eek! (1)

bami (1376931) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009291)

There is also the difference in media players.
My HTPC is equipped with intel graphics and a dualcore atom. It struggles with 720p under VLC, but it's smooth sailing under Media Player Classic (under Windows XP). I guess if I overclock the graphics card it could run 1080p too, but haven't tested it since my monitor goes to 1440x900.

Re:ATI? eek! (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009333)

The problem with h264 "benchmarks" is that every h264 file can be different and
the fact that you managed to get one particular sort of high res file to play on
a particular system doesn't necessarily mean anything. Playing BBC or Apple web
content is a bit different than playing and HD-PVR captures or BD rips.

A $200 popcorn hour will play everything you throw at it.

So will a $300 Revo running Ubuntu or Windows.

This Neuros box is an interesting idea that was obviously flawed and
somewhat behind the curve the moment it was announced.

Re:ATI? eek! (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009373)

The problem with h264 "benchmarks" is that every h264 file can be different and the fact that you managed to get one particular sort of high res file to play on a particular system doesn't necessarily mean anything. Playing BBC or Apple web content is a bit different than playing and HD-PVR captures or BD rips.

Actually, my 60% CPU is surprisingly consistent over a wide range of different 720p H.264 sources, using MPlayer.

However, I do have some experience on the graphics card limitations. On my somewhat older Intel laptop (Pentium M 1.6 GHz, 855GM chipset), 720p H.264 does not play smoothly using default settings. But it does with software downscaling, even though it increases the CPU load. Actually, this limitation went away with recent Xorg drivers, but at the time it was an interesting point to note.

Re:ATI? eek! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009101)

It's unfortunate, but it seems there is just not the man-power for delivering sufficient ATI/AMD linux drivers; it's unfortunate because ATI has laid open the docs to their hardware and thus allowed open source driver builders to write their own drivers, while nvidia offers no such support, so naturally for any linux enthusiast it should be the company of choice to pick, after all one of the strengths of Linux is that it is open source, *anybody* can check the source for bugs and improve it. With nvidia there is always the chance their binaries do have a bug and a fix for the exploit would depends solely on how fast nvidia could/would react.

 

The thing is (as noted above and below ;) nvidia's drivers are far suporior to ATI/AMD's offering (be it the open source or the closed source version); the open source drivers don't even support 3D on cards bought last year, e.g. the 4850..

 

Anyone who has "FOSS" written on their banner and has some skill in driver coding should support this effort and help the open source driver development.

Re:ATI? eek! (2, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009121)

On the other hand, the OSS drivers seem far more stable than the binary ones on hardware they do support (i have an older X1600), and a media player box like this is unlikely to need very much in the way of 3d capability... In this instance, the open ATI drivers are probably the best choice.

Even for power users... (4, Interesting)

MukiMuki (692124) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008899)

Even for power users, HTPC's can be aggravating. Why, in a world where you could put together a tiny monster PC for around $300 would someone buy a MivX or NMT player? Simple. Take any HTPC on the market, ANY.

Plug it into a regular, yellow, composite television.
Plug it into an HDTV via component or HDMI.

If you can turn it on, boot it up, and play a video on it without a single configuration edit without any hassle from installation, then please, reply to this topic because as far as I know, an HTPC that does this is akin to a fucking unicorn.

I have an iStar Mini and a Popcorn Hour, both NMT devices. The Mini's in the living room. If I wanna take that thing to the kitchen TV (13", composite in), I just put the movie on a USB stick and it's showing the film inside of the 2 minutes it takes to set up and boot. When it goes back to the living room, it's an HDMI connection to the TV and coax to the (admittedly cheap) surround system. Works just fine, automatically detects 1080p at startup. Over component, I'd have to hit two buttons to get 720p or 1080i (worst-case, 480p is instantly automatically enabled).

I had a friend try to build a MythTV box. Hours went by as this man tried to get MythTV to show up at a decent resolution on his HDTV (this was a few years ago, via DVI). This is a guy who runs and actually knows how to use Gentoo, and would be a sysadmin if he wasn't a programmer at a Fortune 500 company (A good one, you've probably used their services at some point(s) in the last six months). On the AppleTV, the first test isn't even a possibility without some insane level of hacking (especially if you want color out of the composite out). I can only IMAGINE what it's like an a Windows Media Center rig. And in the last two cases, playing videos other than Quicktime or WMV, respectively, (let alone something like MKV) is a hassle that goes more hours into getting up and running than those devices are probably WORTH.

As crappy and low-end as the interfaces are on mini video boxes are, they happen to work remarkably well for the simple process of "Plug into TV, watch stuff", whether "stuff" is on a usb stick or the network. Give me a call when the HTPC manages to get there on a remote-friendly interface.

Re:Even for power users... (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#29008993)

For playback, rather than using as a recorder with a Tuner, I've been using XBMC on an original Xbox for a couple of years. It's amazing. Plays anything, it's small, can be made near silent with a couple of mods, and costs virtually nothing - the only problem with it is that in the days of HD, it doesn't have the horsepower for decent HD playback. Other than that - it's the best thign since sliced bread - the interface is brilliant, it's got a huge developer base, and it's genuinely living-room-friendly.
When I feel a pressing need to upgrade I'll probably go with Boxee running on either a modded Apple TV, or on a mini-ITX PC.

Re:Even for power users... (2, Interesting)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009007)

Well, I did battle with a couple of those little standalone media players, but in the end I went to the trouble of building and configuring a full-fledged (XP and MediaPortal based) HTPC. If you can live with the limitations of those stand-alone things, then fine. But when you run into an unsupported codec on those things, that's it, your only option is to convert the video on a PC. If you want a feature it doesn't have, say you want to add a tuner or whatever, you're stumped. Network performance (if any) usually sucks. There's really no comparison to the power and flexibility of a full HTPC, and yes, the HTPC takes a few hours of setting up, but once done, with a suitable remote and the right software, it's as remote-friendly as any of the little stand-alones.

Re:Even for power users... (2, Interesting)

jeffehobbs (419930) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009025)

Check out the MSI media live bareBones. My daughter is watching Backyardigans right now via Ubuntu/Boxee. TV out has always worked, even 'out of the box.'

Re:Even for power users... (1)

MrBandersnatch (544818) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009223)

I had a friend try to build a MythTV box. Hours went by as this man tried to get MythTV to show up at a decent resolution on his HDTV (this was a few years ago, via DVI).

Things have improved considerably with regards to Linux support of TV out. My latest build involved little more than a change using the Nvidia control centre to get s-video out working. Video out over HDMI was even easier.....plug and play quite literally. Audio over HDMI would have been similar if I had managed to wire up the motherboard to the card correctly :/

In fact, TBH I don't recall getting TV out working to have been that difficult for many years but it all does depend on the particular hardware and distribution...e.g. I'm in the market for a new video card but am having to discount ATI due to known problems with their Linux drivers.

As crappy and low-end as the interfaces are on mini video boxes are, they happen to work remarkably well for the simple process of "Plug into TV, watch stuff", whether "stuff" is on a usb stick or the network. Give me a call when the HTPC manages to get there on a remote-friendly interface.

Most media-center front ends have been there for a while; certainly Freevo and I suspect Moovida have this level of ease of use...and I would be surprised if XBMC wasnt right up there.

Re:Even for power users... (1)

fluffernutter (1411889) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009303)

Looks to me like the devices you mention are pretty standalone. There is a lot of power in each device being able to recognize one another. Also, I'm not quite sure what OS any of these run; the websites don't mention it. That makes me nervous.

Re:Even for power users... (2, Interesting)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009683)

This is most likely heresy, but my HTPC runs the Vista version of Windows Media Center just fine. I've got cable running directly into my capture card. With an "unofficial extension" (3rd party patch) it plays the (admittedly common) videos I watch. (No AVI support out of the box was a stupid idea, but that's fixed with the patch.) There's an official Netflix plugin for watch instantly. A one time wizard sets up the tuner and program guide. The interface works over HDMI, so long as I have external speakers plugged into the machine. (I don't, so I use a combination of stereo input and VGA, but that works on my TV.) I use the remote that comes with my case, which has a joystick for mouse navigation, but WMC translates that into keystrokes. I built this from scratch for about 700 bucks. (I got Windows at a discount though.) Add 70 bucks for video game controllers for emulators. And it's also a gaming quality PC. The only advice I can give is that you shouldn't skimp on the keyboard and mouse if you want to game on it.

Re:Even for power users... (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 5 years ago | (#29010195)

Even for power users, HTPC's can be aggravating. Why, in a world where you could put together a tiny monster PC for around $300 would someone buy a MivX or NMT player? Simple. Take any HTPC on the market, ANY.

Plug it into a regular, yellow, composite television.
Plug it into an HDTV via component or HDMI.

If you can turn it on, boot it up, and play a video on it without a single configuration edit without any hassle from installation, then please, reply to this topic because as far as I know, an HTPC that does this is akin to a fucking unicorn.

For a DVR-replacement, an off-the-shelf HTPC may be more cost effective for the majority of people.

I'd rather do more things with my HTPC. For example, play emulated games. Which off-the-shelf HTPCs tend to not be able to do.

Re:Even for power users... (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 5 years ago | (#29010999)

The parent post does a very good job of posing the problem that the NeurosLink is trying to solve (with the exception of composite output which we've left for dead). The traditional embedded devices are more plug and play and a PC is vastly more flexible, how do you combine the benefits of both?

The problems with a HTPC being plug and play are not at the high level. As many posts in this discussion demonstrate, many people have an easy enough time installing XBMC on Linux and the machine works well at the basic level. Its the details where a big amount of effort is needed. Make sure audio over HDMI works. Make sure the remote works and all the buttons are mapped correctly. Make sure you can configure the system entirely with the remote (at a minimum get it on the network). Make sure all videos play flawlessly out of the box, not just downloaded MKV files, but Hulu HD and all the other flash video sites. These are the kinds of little details that its really helpful to have a manufacturer behind. Someone has got to hammer away at the "final 5%" that's required for it to be competitive with any dedicated device.

The good news is that once you get those details taken care of you left with a really powerful, robust flexible system. Obviously many talented folks have been hammering away at the various components for years (XBMC, MythTV, etc) so its really glue that's left to be done.

Re:Even for power users... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29011531)

Mod parent up: CEO of Neuros [wikipedia.org]

Re:Even for power users... (1)

Amphetam1ne (1042020) | more than 5 years ago | (#29012265)

That's the problem, trying to record and encode TV on a regular schedual yourself instead of getting someone else to do the hard work for you....

I grab all my regular TV shows from usenet. I have the Alt.binz usenet client hooked up to the the tv and hdtv rss feeds from newzleech. It checks my wildcard text filters against the rss feeds, grabs the nzb files for the tv shows I want to watch and then downloads them for me overnight, automatically runs the parity check and fixes broken files then unrars the shows to the correct folders on my FreeNAS box.

I switch on my XBMC Windows HTPC, which boots and loads XBMC without any problems (boot time is a little longer than I'd like, but I live with it). XBMC scans the smb shares on the FreeNAS box, finds the new TV shows, runs the filenames through the tvdb.com scraper, collects episode information, plot synopsis, generates a thumbnail and adds it to the library where I can view all the episodes, with fullscreen background art, cast lists, etc.

Setting up XBMC for Windows was trivial. Setting up the FreeNAS box was prety simple. Setting up the rss filter list was reasonably straight-forward, once you understand how you use a modern usenet provider as an alternative to torrenting. The usenet subscription costs me Euro 8.50 /quarter for unlimited downloads at up to 2.5mbps, which I find to be excelent value as I use it quite a lot.

This sort of setup may not be everyone's cup of tea, especially if you want to record less popular shows that don't get a scene release. It does occasionally glitch and miss a show, so I end up having to download roughly 2 missing episodes per month, which Isn't exactly a hardship if you consider I'm watching 10+ shows at any one time with 4 episodes a month, so a 2/40 or 5% miss rate roughly. This solution is working well for me at the moment and I'll stick with it until somthing better comes along.

Not competitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29008939)

I've been looking for a small, quiet system to replace my current MythTV system. I don't find the Neuros LINK competitive with the various nettop offerings available now, particularly the new ION based systems. I can't find any power consumption figures in the article or on the Neuros site. I imagine they're worse than the typical ~20 watts for a ION based system. From the point of view of GPU acceleration, Nvidia's VDPAU video acceleration framework is widely supported and ATI's XvBA isn't. An atom system with an Nvidia GPU seems like the best option at present.

Re:Not competitive (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009001)

Well it is using an AMD 1660-LE [newegg.com] so you are talking 40w just on the CPU. If I was building an HTPC for a customer I'd be looking at a Dual Core, so that even when crunching high def video the controls would be smooth as butter. With C&Q enabled my AMD 7550 is nice and quiet, even when running 1080p which is fed to my 4650 GPU for post processing. Of course all of this is in WinXP X64, where ATI has hardware video post processing so I have no idea how it would work in Linux, but I haven't heard good things. Does AMD even HAVE post processing up and running in Linux yet?

Maybe it will force Adobe to fix flash on Linux (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29008965)

Adobe Flash Player is the biggest CPU hog I have seen on my Ubuntu box, even with hardware acceleration enabled. Things have improved with version 10 but the experience is still considerably worse than flash performance on windows. Maybe if a few hundred thousand Neuros devices are sold, it will convince Adobe to put a serious effort into fixing these issues.

HDTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29008973)

As far as I know, ATI cards doesn't support video acceleration for HD content, which makes this device rather useless.

Re:HDTV (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009059)

You don't know shit, cunt.

Fans? No no no (1)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009043)

I don't want another fan heater in the liver room. At the moment the TV is just another screen for the desktop, the TV menu system is something I knocked together with pyGame, MPlayer and pyLIRC. Job done (all the existing media software was fat and/or HD only). If I'm going to get a separate machine for media, I want it not to add more noise or notable heat/power use. My perfect media machine is something like a SheevaPlug with Scart + HDMI (future proofing) output. If you can fit DVB input too, great. A affordable modern available DreamBox. A x86 fan heater doesn't fit the bill to me.

Re:Fans? No no no (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009135)

There are modern versions of the Dreambox available, like the DM800 (single tuner) and DM8000 (4 tuner slots), the tuners are modular, you can fit hard drives and it supports usb/esata devices too...
I have a DM800 because i couldn't justify the cost of the 8000 and it works nicely... The only issue as far as a media player is concerned is that it will only play mpeg2 and h.264 (which it does in hardware because the cpu is too slow on its own), but most videos can be acquired in those formats these days anyway.

Re:Fans? No no no (1)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009735)

Never seen a DM8000 on offer any where in the UK, there always "out of stock" or "coming soon". The price looks to dear anyway, now you tell me it can only handle a few formats. I thought you could get vlc for it. It's a shame it's pricy and not up to spec, because other than that, it's exactly what I want. Maybe one of the Linux ARM/Nvidia netbook would fix the bill. DVB cards would be nice, but is increasingly less important.

MP4 / Patents (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009057)

I notice that it supports MPEG4 with mplayer/xine/vlc, I wonder if Neuros licensed the relevant software patents to allow them to ship this codec.

Re:MP4 / Patents (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 5 years ago | (#29011125)

yep, sure have. It's funny just today in the mail I got a big envelope from a law firm I didn't know, and I put it aside just figuring it was another letter from a patent troll demanding royalties. That's just a routine part of being an electronics manufacturer nowadays. It turned out it was something else for once, but generally big envelope from a law firm you don't know mean patent troll nowadays.

But ATI doesn't support hardware x264 acceleration (2, Interesting)

sanermind (512885) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009073)

Honestly, nvidia's vdpau [wikipedia.org] is the only way to go now for playing hi-def content (like that produced by the HDPVR1212 [mythtv.org] )on anything other than a super high end box. (Seriously, even my quad core2 clocked at 3.2Ghz can't handle high bitrate x264 hi-def), although I've heard there's an experimental ffmpeg branch that can decode across multiple cores.

Re:But ATI doesn't support hardware x264 accelerat (1)

KamuZ (127113) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009229)

What about XvbA [wikipedia.org] from AMD?

Also, this ATI is close to release it a seen here [phoronix.com] .

Of course is not perfect yet and they have been pushing the release date but still, i don't see right now a big gap between NVIDIA and ATI.

Re:But ATI doesn't support hardware x264 accelerat (1)

sanermind (512885) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009921)

Um, except for the fact that vdpau currently, I don't know ...WORKS?

Re:But ATI doesn't support hardware x264 accelerat (3, Informative)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009275)

A 3.2GHz Core2 should be able to handle any video an HDPVR can throw at it. The HDPVR really isn't even that high bitrate. Peaking at 13.5mbps, it's less than half what you might find on Bluray disks. The problem is that it is single sliced. You can currently only use one core per slice. The ffmpeg-mt branch should being decoding within range of most dual core processors.

Re:But ATI doesn't support hardware x264 accelerat (1)

sanermind (512885) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009927)

That's working now, is it? I'll have to try it again, last time I looked, it wasn't. Also, if we're talking high end processors, we aren't talking about this particular device.

Re:But ATI doesn't support hardware x264 accelerat (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 5 years ago | (#29011247)

Also, if we're talking high end processors, we aren't talking about this particular device

A 2.8GHz single core is a pretty careful choice. It's a pretty good balance that supports a wide range of content, remember not everything supports multiple cores well (or hardware acceleration for example). This processor does everything up to 1080p24 (what you see on apple.com for example) and also supports flash video, etc. On one hand, there's a great deal of discussion of ION or other graphics centric solutions, which are great when that hardware matches *exactly* what you want to playback, but then try something not optimized (flash for example) and you are very limited. On the other side, there are more powerful CPUs, but the expense (and cooling requirements-noise go up) and in most applications you won't see one lick of improvement, I know because we tested a lot of them before settling on this one.

Acer r3600 with NVIDIA ION (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009075)

TFA reads like an ad...

Here's another:

Have a look at the r3600 from Acer. I have just bought one and it is fantastic. It passes the girlfriend test by being silent and attachable to the back of the TV -- no wires visible except the power cord, and it is pretty happy at decoding HD video, thanks to NVIDIA VDPAU (ION platform). Costs next to nothing and is available in a Linux configuration. Couple that with a nice TV and a wireless keyboard and you get a pretty neat setup...

Re:Acer r3600 with NVIDIA ION (1)

frehe (6916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29010639)

Your girlfriend is silent, attachable to the back of the TV, has no wires visible except the power cord, and is pretty happy at decoding HD video? Well, you sure are one lucky man!

ATI, linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009217)

why on earth would they design a linux product running on ATI? That's just begging for issues..

Fit PCs (1)

coofercat (719737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009283)

I can't comment about true HD capability, and relative speeds, and respond to "does it do better than " type questions, but that machine looks like a regular PC in a shiny case to me. If you want something a bit more revolutionary, then a Fit PC might be more up your street: http://fit-pc.co.uk/ [fit-pc.co.uk] (and yes, it can run Linux).

Re:Fit PCs (1)

luca (6883) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009633)

In the specifications they say that h264 is fully hardware accelerated, but I don't think it's possible with an intel GMA500 (at least under linux), is it?

Re:Fit PCs (1)

xlotlu (1395639) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009917)

You're right, it won't under linux.

Actually the GP is rather wrong in saying it will run linux. If you want to use your GMA500, you're stuck with a specific kernel version, a specific mesa, and a specific x.org, with no upgrade path for now.

The Z series Atoms are nice, the chipsets paired with it are very low power, the PowerVR graphics kicks ass, and that tiny box is really sweet. But if you want linux, you have to stay away from Poulsbo.

Direct X 10 support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009313)

So has Linux finally sorted itself out w.r.t Direct X 10?

When I was looking at building a HTPC I decided that Windows was essential due to direct 10 and games. Another important issue is still that MOST software you buy off the shelf is ONLY supported for Windows. So if you've already got software you'd have to use WINE. Don't get me wrong I liked using Ubuntu, but couldn't get HDMI sound working... only the pucture.

Re:Direct X 10 support? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009357)

DirectX is really only relevant if you're intent in creating an HTPC is really to create a modern equivalent of an Amiga or Atari ST: namely a computer that uses a TV as it's monitor. The "Charlie Chaplain problem" really isn't too terribly relevant for an HTPC. There is certainly the various HTPC type apps to consider but for the most part on any platform the "usual stuff" is pretty much off the table.

ATI graphics on a media pc? (0, Redundant)

sammydee (930754) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009337)

Why are they using an ATI card? Nvidia cards have much better support under linux generally, including full 1080p h264, mpeg2 and wmv hardware decode support. ATI don't have any hardware video decoding support at all, so to play HD films you need a much more beefy cpu creating a lot more heat and noise than with the nvidia solution.

ATI's drivers still haven't really got much better, tried installing them on a friend's Ubuntu pc the other day for a radeon 3650. Trying to enable compiz caused the entire system to hang immediately, and the only way to get working video was to use the opengl output option. The open source drivers aren't exactly brilliant at the moment either. If you want real opengl or video support on linux your only option is still nvidia.

Specs? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009589)

AMD, ATI, now all they need is a VIA chipset and they'll have a veritable cornucopia of suck.

ati graphics on Linux? (1)

ilkensai (1615567) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009769)

We know the machine will be quite, but the owner, not so much when he starts yelling, "Damn ATI Catalyst!!!"

Aesthetics??? (1, Flamebait)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29009793)

If a black rectangular box - even a somewhat shiny one - strikes you as an example of aesthetics, you really need to pause "2001," lock the screen, step away from your Linux box, go up the stairs out of your mom's basement, put on some sunglasses and sunscreen and go spend some time in the big room with the bright lights and the blue ceiling.

Find some people on the street - people whose life does not revolve around Linux systems of their own construction - and ask them whether they think a black box, shiny or not, has any beauty to it, compared to products that they personally own or use.

Why not Nvidia ION platform? (1)

notanatheist (581086) | more than 5 years ago | (#29011737)

Seriously, they took a stand microATX case, stuffed in regular desktop components, installed Ubuntu, and said "it's for hobbyists and hackers"? Wow. Gee. Amazing. NOT!!! Why not pick a slicker 17" wide case that matches existing AV components and work with a mini ITX Nivida ION based platform? At least then it would seem to be more than a computer. Throw in XBMC or Boxee if you don't want to deal with setting up MythTV and call it a day.

Re:Why not Nvidia ION platform? (1)

hackmeister (248296) | more than 5 years ago | (#29013981)

I just built an Ion based Myth Frontend. It's awesome:
http://pdavila.homelinux.org:8080/blog/?p=347
http://pdavila.homelinux.org:8080/blog/?p=348

It's a great box for MythTV (frontend), XBMC and Boxee.

I love NeurosTechnology but yeah why the hell did they go with an ATI card? They can still replace it. They're not locked to it by any means.

USA only (1)

freezin fat guy (713417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29011967)

Unfortunately for would-be worldwide adopters, a significant portion of the neuros.tv catalogued television content is only served to US ip ranges.

The good news is that foreigners will still be able to view water-skiing squirrels.

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