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How Close is the Open Entertainment Center?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the ideas-to-think-about-hardware-to-build dept.

Television 332

why-not-now asks: "Recently there's been a lot of talk about open source/free software that enables your PC to act as a DVR, all-purpose media player, DVD player, CD player, MP3 player, etc... not to mention the ability to play all sorts of video games (if you know where to look). The idea of the set top MAME console is nice, but with a little TV/Audio out, a little know how and the right software, are we currently able to put together a free version of the big convergence media center others are trying to do?"

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Well with the recent SCOTUS decision (3, Interesting)

TerryAtWork (598364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5089988)

It won't be getting closer anytime soon.

Re:Well with the recent SCOTUS decision (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090154)

You deny me the pleasure of frost pist! :-(


Re:Well with the recent SCOTUS decision (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090178)

Yes I do son. I do.

That is because I have a longer penis than you.

Hahahaha! And because I cannot sleep with a girl the way you do.

Yes! This is the truth. Sad though it may be, it is the truth. Weep son, weep.

Frost Pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5089990)

Frost Pist!!!

First Post!!!


Yeeeeehaaaww! :-D


Not too close (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5089992)

I like to keep mine at least 15-25 feet away. Any closer, and it makes it difficult to see, and it might even give you a headache!

Very Close (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5089996)

see MythTV:

Myth was already linked, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090159)

It would be excellent to see the freevo [] project get better too. If MythTV and Freevo merged, that would the best of both worlds. Exciting times.

Re:Very Close (5, Interesting)

t0qer (230538) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090238)

Yah mythtv is close.. But where are the fricken ISO images???

Here, lemme hit any potential PVR software author what me, and millions of other people who don't ever want to see a shell prompt on their PVR want.

1. Make an ISO
Nobody wants to download this from here, that from there, tar xfzv make compile and pray you have all the correct dependancies. I just want to download a ISO image, burn it, boot it and it works.

2. Slick interface
Myth's interface is a good start but could be better. I would suggest reading the OSX interface guidlines at apple, there's a ton of usefull info on how to make an intuative gui there.

3. Bells and whistles
Since %99 of the world is windows (myself included) I want to be able to configure a samba share so I can access what I record on another PC. Same goes for netatalk and the apples.

Also add in support for things like alphanumeric LCD's in case someone wants to add a LCD to the front of this thing.

Point i'm trying to make though is the majority of people that want to use this won't have the time or patience to do a bunch of side tasks to complete their main task, which is building a PVR.

Informative?? (1, Troll)

bhsx (458600) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090247)

Um, moderators...
That link is in the actual /. submission. homepage/

There, I put three links in from the submission.
Hey, where's my +15 Informative?

How do you fit a PC on top of your TV? (3, Funny)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 11 years ago | (#5089998)

Damn tower keeps falling off when I crank up the bass!

Same way you do everything else: Duct Tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090074)

The world's most inexpensive solution to all the world's problems. (Effectiveness not guaranteed.)

Cliff you homo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090000)

Please continue to suck my cock!!

Re:Cliff you homo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090201)


What about mine!

Oh you said Cliff :-(

I'm straighhhhhhhhhhtttttt!

aaaaaaahhh yes... yes baby moreeee (1)

DataDevil (1762) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090001)

Ever heard of it? Theres lots of projects doing these kinda things, altough they could learn somewhat from the XBox hackers who have made cool interfaces for just these kinda things as well.. (0)

bsharitt (580506) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090035)

Yeah we have the actual programs to control the individual functions, but the hard part is getting them integrated together in a nice user friendly interface.

Last I heard, you have to buy the components. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090007)

Or are you guys now wanting the hardware free as well? Isn't the world enough?

Re:Last I heard, you have to buy the components. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090218)

You can have my hardware for free alright.

Its long hard and its a freeee willy!

You may now come suck my dick.

Thank you.


Obligitory (1)

southk (226086) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090008)

Qcast [] plug. hell, if enough people buy it maybe they'll increase their support.

Re:Obligitory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090195)

I absolutely love this piece of software.

The only improvement would be the ability to scroll through large files. There is currently no fast-forward or rewind on the ps2 client software.

I was about an hour into a good movie last night. Watching from my bedroom(extra coaxial run from living room) when my mother-in-law turned off the PS2. I think she figured my 6 year old was done playing. Anyway, there's no way to get back to the spot I was on.
If they update this I'll have to say its without a doubt the best software purchase I've ever made.

in other words (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090009)

what you are trying to say is "i want a free PVR-like thingie, can someone make one?"

Hopefully... (1, Interesting)

KDan (90353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090014)

It will never get there. Computers are for one thing, TVs for another. The twos can mix, sure, but they're better off both staying separate. Who needs a set-top box that crashes or a computer that slows down because it's recording today's episode of Friends?

Plus if you think they'll let you do this properly without screwing you up with DRM technologies, you're a dreamer (not that that's a bad thing, but in this case it's really unrealistic). I wouldn't be surprised if the TV networks got their way and ended up having DRM chips on TV receiver cards... Of course, they'd be cracked within the week :-D


Re:Hopefully... (1)

dismentor (592590) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090095)

Duh. What do you thinky our current Sky Box or Tivo uses? Proprietary code run on a microproccessor/controller, even using Linux. The point of the creative commons is that we can provide more featureful, misfeatureless, bugless (and modifiable) code. Would you record programs on your microwave? I wouldn't, so get another PC to run your PVR from; shuttle PCs are probably no more expensive than a Sky+ box. (Karma whores, please confirm or deny this).

Lastly, why climb the mountain? Because it's there, and, also, because there is a mad gunman at the top with your family.

Re:Hopefully... (5, Informative)

Kphrak (230261) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090134)

Who needs a set-top box that crashes or a computer that slows down because it's recording today's episode of Friends?

Well, we want one that won't crash. Or slow down. That's why we want a Linux set-top box. ;)

The tech exists to hack it together right now; it would be moderately expensive and rather ugly, but it could be done (Linux-supported TV-out + IR input port + LIRC + Linux BIOS or the Linux save-to-disk hack + xine/favorite decoder -- google for all these, I'm too lazy to link). And you can't say "Computers and TVs were not made to mix". The DVD player that might be sitting on your shelf is basically a simplified computer. If it can play MP3s, it is even more so. How about your Sega Dreamcast? We ported Linux to the thing, for God's sake! That can perform all the operations needed to call it a computer under Turing's you already have computers plugged into your TV, unless you're strictly an antenna-only guy.

Linux already works as an OS for many embedded systems. Your set-top box is merely another such system. I won't even get into the quagmire of a DRM argument, but let it be said for now that there are people who have gotten Linux PVRs working [] . It can be done now. With work, it can be done much more smoothly later.

Re:Hopefully... (4, Informative)

SteveX (5640) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090143)

Yeah.. and what's up with people trying to play music on their computers? Who wants to waste valuable CPU cycles playing music when you can just turn on the stereo.

Seriously, though, a PC in the media room isn't such a bad idea. I have one set up, and it lets me do a lot of things:

- Use a cheaper RGB projector instead of an HDTV one.
- Use the DVD player in my PC instead of an expensive progressive scan external one.
- Flip between TV, a movie, a game, my email, and the web easily.

It's cool when you're watching a movie to be able to pause it, bring up a browser and look up what other movies the actor was in, that sort of thing.

Recording video on a PC is a big deal today perhaps (for some PCs anyway) but in a few years it won't be - just like playing MP3s was barely possible in real-time a few years ago but now you don't even notice.

A wireless keyboard and mouse makes a great remote control too.

- Steve

Re:Hopefully... (2)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090192)

- Use the DVD player in my PC instead of an expensive progressive scan external one

I would be interested to know how the quality of picture stands up between the two. I have a Toshiba Widescreen (57" projection) and a Sanyo 2/3 pulldown connected through component Monster Cables (which Im sure I paid way too much for) and digital audio. The movie sucks plotwise, but "Driven" with Sly and Burt Reynolds looks *DAMN* nice on it. Pearl Harbor looks extremely good too.. better than the theater I saw it in.

How good, realisticly, does that internal DVD player look on a decent TV?


Re:Hopefully... (2)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090229)

Using your PC as a progressive scan DVD player because it's cheaper these days isn't necessarily true. Their are some good quality DVD players that output progressive signals that are sub-$100. I personally own a CyberHome DVD-500 and have been quite happy with it. Yes it's a BestBuy generic DVD player, but it has progressive scan and a DD/DTS decoder built in for $69.

Re:Hopefully... QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090166)

Of course, they'd be cracked within the week :-D

Yeah, just like the XBox encryption was cracked within a week, right?

Where the hell did this idiotic myth come from that hackers have some sort of magic that allows them to crack any encryption?

Re:Hopefully... (3, Insightful)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090256)

Calculators are for one thing, typewriters for another. The twos can mix, sure, but they're better off both staying separate...

Some Luddite A Generation Ago

Clues? (5, Funny)

fobbman (131816) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090017)

"...all [] sorts [] of [] video [] games [] (if you know where to look).

That sounds cool. Where [] might [] I [] find [] information [] ?

Q & A (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090019)

are we currently able to put together a free version of the big convergence media center others are trying to do?"

Sure we are. Here are the main differences between it and the other product:

Ours will have an incomprehensible command line interface and/or multiple GUIs that responds 10-15 seconds after the user asks it to do something. Neither GUI will be standard - in fact, it will ship with both, and proponents of the two camps will froth at the mouth when discussing how their widgets are prettier than the others.

It will not support any receivers / amps made less than 5 years ago unless the user knows assembly.

When a user asks for support, he will be told "RTFM n00b, j00 M$ shill. Astroturf somewheres else, whilst I read THE SOURCE for my knowledge. This is the Tao of programming, numbnuts, and you thought it was funny to beat me up in high school and take my lunch money. haahahah, I am the BOFH"

This is EXACTLY what the poster ment... (5, Interesting)

thecampbeln (457432) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090148)

Sure, there are a few projects out there that are trying to do this kind of thing. And there are a lot of people who would be interested in this sort of solution, but with responses like:

what you are trying to say is "i want a free PVR-like thingie, can someone make one?"

...these projects will have a difficult time getting off the ground. I don't remember where I read it now, but someone once said...

The biggest problem with Linux is its supporters.

As the stereotype (which has been beautifully microcosmed in this discussion, BTW) is that they are a bunch of socially in adept zealots who have delusions of grandeur. The parent comment put this quite well in a language they would understand (though I'm sure it could have been conveyed in one line of Perl, yes).

So my question is (like) that of the original poster... when will someone with computer knowledge (that is not necessarily a *nix guru, though not a moron either) be able to follow some instructions on a site (buy this encoder board, install that DVD recorder) and setup a Digital Media Player that will cover the popular requests like MAME, DVD Video, MP3 (and OGG, and...), Slideshow (Image Display), etc?

This is old news WTF!?!?!? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090020)

You and your refried dumb-ass stories suck ass!!

Thank You!

nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090023)

not free when you have to buy the hardware

All sorts of video games (3, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090030)

You do realize that the first 3 links arent 'open'.

Just because you can emulate arcade roms, snes roms and psx discs, doesn't mean it's legal to do so, or that they're somehow 'open'. Spyro the dragon and Mortal Kombat are not Open Source.

And to answer your question, you can do all that now. All you need is a machine with enough power and TV outs, or a VGA scan converter, and a lot of free time to set it all up and make it work adequately.

Or are you asking 'how long until someone sets up an easy to use linux interface for all of these softwares?' You can answer that by looking at how long it took to set up an easy to use linux interface at all.

Re:All sorts of video games (1)

wikthemighty (524325) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090151)

Just because you can emulate arcade roms, snes roms and psx discs, doesn't mean it's legal to do so, or that they're somehow 'open'.

And what if I'm using legitimate PSX cds?

Or have read data from my arcade boards? []

Re:All sorts of video games (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090268)

The "I have legitimate backups of thousands of arcade games, even the extremely rare prototype units that have never existed outside of Atari's R&D dept" argument is utter bullshit. For the vast majority, it's an excuse to not pay for games and nothing more, and everyone knows it.

There are ways to legally acquire rights to some games, like buying one of HanaHos pricey rig-ups, but the only actual PD game MAME emulates is Robby Roto.

And it's all completely besides my point, it's not "Open Source" even if it is a "legitimate backup". If you want to stay "Open Source Free-As-In-Willy" stick with Tux Racer.

Re:All sorts of video games (2)

TobyWong (168498) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090173)

An emulator is not a rom. Sony does not own an emu written by someone else. It is also legal in many places to own a backup copy of any game you own. So if I say I have a mortal kombat board sitting on my desk in front of me then it is ok for me to download a copy of the mortal kombat rom.

Sure you can put one together yourself (3, Troll)

realmolo (574068) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090031)

If you don't mind that it will be a collection of parts that don't particularly work well together, won't have a slick interface, and won't fit in with the rest of your AV gear, style-wise. Nothing amuses me more than reading about people spending a gob of money (and time) to turn their PC into a half-assed Tivo, when they could've just bought a fucking Tivo for less money, get something that is slick, and been happier in every way. Of course, I also think that Tivo is fucking stupid. Mostly because I see no point in recording, or watching at all, the shit that is on TV.

Re:Sure you can put one together yourself (2, Informative)

jfanning (35979) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090177)

Unfortunately some of us live in countries where there is no such thing as a Tivo. So the only solution is to build your own.

Re:Sure you can be Righteous & Holier-Than-Tho (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090199)

Geez! Why don't you save your bitter rhetoric for the "Why we shouldn't bomb Iraq" posts... Nobody asked for your opinion on why everything sucks...

This was intended for those of us who DO care. Go read a book...

"Why would anyone want to tear down his car's engine and spend WAY more than the car is worth just to get an extra horse or two out of it? Anyway, cars are stupid and you all suck!"

Re:Sure you can put one together yourself (3, Funny)

danish (60748) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090237)

Well, jeez. Who crapped in your Cheerios this morning?

Re:Sure you can put one together yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090239)

Aren't you just a little ray of sunshine?

one question.. why? (5, Offtopic)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090041)

Maybe Im not part of the target demographic, but I have a nice widescreen, I have a Tivo, I have a CD player capable of mp3 playback, I have a 2/3 pulldown DVD player which gives me better quality than any PC ever will, and I have a Denon sound system.

About the only thing I can think I might be missing is the opportunity to play hacked/burned/whatever games, but in my experience, they usually look pretty damn lousy on a huge TV anyway.

Like I said.. maybe some people will be into this.. but IMHO I cannot stand to watch things on a computer NOW because they look so crappy, let alone piping that into my TV.

But maybe I'm not the audience they are looking for.


I'm the audience (5, Informative)

GooseKirk (60689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090171)

I've got one PC with a 21" NEC Multisync monitor. No TV, no Tivo, no Playstation, no stereo. And I love it. I'd hate to have the setup you've got.

The only downside is the monitor isn't as large as I'd like. 21" is pretty much a minimum size. I'm hoping for a huge flat widescreen monitor in the future.

My PC doesn't have an AIW or any other TV capability, because I don't have cable - thanks to the wonders of the internet, and my friends who do have cable, I don't really need it. But DVDs played on my PC look far better than on my friends' TVs. The colors are more vivid and the image is sharper - what's not to like? And 200gigs of instant-access MP3s kicks all kinds of ass over an MP3-enabled CD player. Logitech and Klipsch make speakers that sound terrific to me.

Best of all - if I rent a DVD and don't get time to watch it (happens all the time to me), I can just copy it to my hard drive 'til later.

And everything's available through one interface, in one place, with a wireless mouse or remote. No piles of remotes, no jungles of wires, no components stacked all over the place.

As far as I'm concerned, this is how it should be... bring on more!

Another reason to ask why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090176)

All this effort for a home entertainment system?

This seems like a colossal waste of brainpower to me, spending all this time and effort finding and integrating different sources, all so you can watch Joe Millionaire?

Now an Open Source hunger relief system, or an Open Source lift people out of poverty so they don't live their lives on drugs and contribute to anger-based crimes system, now THAT I can go for.

Re:one question.. why? (5, Informative)

sessamoid (165542) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090320)

Maybe Im not part of the target demographic, but I have a nice widescreen, I have a Tivo, I have a CD player capable of mp3 playback, I have a 2/3 pulldown DVD player which gives me better quality than any PC ever will, and I have a Denon sound system.

You are in the target demographic, but you just don't know it. Whether or not it suits you in particular is another matter. While we're comparing units, I've got a very nice home theater system with thousands of dollars in speakers and a front projector and a 8 foot wide screen, and the source is almost completely driven from my htpc. The 160 hour Tivo is also piped through the htpc. My 6000 tracks of vorbis files are available on the network to my htpc.

Software dvd decoding has advanced to the point that it equals pretty much even the most absurdly expensive hardware players, and for those with projectors it provides better scaling than anything but the best Faroudja chips. Unfortunately, all the best software for htpc's are currently available mostly for Windows and a box of similar functionality is still quite a ways off.

You should at least give it a chance. Go to AVS Forums HTPC section [] for more information. In short, a media center pc gives you the best of all worlds (including remote control operation and several well-designed simple interfaces) without the cost of audiophile level gear. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090043) []

check it out. the screenshots are amazing. I personally haven't had time to play with it but it's newsgroups are extremely active with lotsa happy users.

If Macs were free, you'd be set (3, Interesting)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090045)

They have DV connectivity out the wazoo.

And emulation capability [] out the wazoo too.

Now if what you're asking for is a PC that acts like a Mac; just wait 5-10 years and they ought to be up to the standards of today's PowerBook. ;-P

Check out this controller! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090129)

X-Arcade []

The short answer is: NO! (4, Insightful)

_Sambo (153114) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090048)

You can buy a Tivo
Buy a VCR
Buy a DVD player
Buy a Gaming Console or two
and then filter all of these through your receiver and/or high-er end video card, but notice that not once is the word 'free'mentioned.

And that is why Microsoft is aiming its marketing muscle in this general direction. I'minterested to see how well it does. I get to play with a Media Center box from HP here in the near future.

I'm interested to see how well the new toy from Bill works.

Re:The short answer is: YES! (2, Informative)

daveball (171178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090117)

Have a look at mythtv [] - It does pretty much all of the things mentioned above, more than MCE - and acording to the review anandtech gave of MCE, my mythbox preforms far better on lower priced hardware.

All credit really should go to Issac and the other guys contributing to this project.

Recent CVS additions include a mythweather module and support for running decoding and encoding on different machines on the network (for a truly connected home ;p)

Its only 3 blocks away (2, Funny)

Effofx (640933) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090051)

I can walk to an open Circuit City in about three blocks. You have access to all sorts of nifty entertainment gadgets.

Hardware vs. Software (5, Insightful)

Null_Packet (15946) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090058)

It hasn't been a software issue for months, but rather a hardware issue. It's quite easy to build a GUI via software, but quite another to build a nice, clean hardware interface. For example, I can go out, buy a component-sized/look atx case for $100-200, buy a motherboard, cpu, memory, nic, etc, then spend countless hours setting up the OSS tools used to make a PVR- but then I have spent ~$500 and I could have bought a Tivo for $150.

There's still items like the Audiotron and Compaq Music Centers for audio, and of course you can use a pc for these, but the fact remains that the effort required to build such a device is outmatched by the lower cost of one or more components. Why would I spend even as little as $200 plus 5-10 hours work when I can spend $250 with no-hours work?

Many of the solutions out there are still not very hardy and quite fragile. To reduce time in building these, there really should be a PVR/HTPC Distro.

Re:Hardware vs. Software (1)

MamasGun (602953) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090144)

It hasn't been a software issue for months, but rather a hardware issue. It's quite easy to build a GUI via software, but quite another to build a nice, clean hardware interface.

Check this out: HSN41G2 [] . This is the new Shuttle XPC based on the NVidia NForce2 chipset. Just add CPU, RAM, vidcap card and drives, and you are set. The capture card MythTV [] is based on is dirt cheap. The NForce2 basically has a GeForce 4 MX 440 as part of the package. If you want to game with this, get a GF4Ti 4200, 4600 if you want a real monster video card. This barebones box has video out and even Firewire.

It might be more expensive than a TiVo, but you can DO MORE with it. And it's about the size of a shoebox and weighs about 10 pounds. Take the ride.

Re:Hardware vs. Software (2)

zsmooth (12005) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090249)

I don't care how much you can do with it, if it doesn't do everything my Tivo does first. Which MythTV doesn't.

Re:Hardware vs. Software (2, Informative)

jojor (545317) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090153)

To reduce time in building these, there really should be a PVR/HTPC Distro.
Try DeMuDi, Debian Multimedia Distribution, currently at [] (may be down)

Why does openness matter? (5, Insightful)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090062)

To me, the idea of an open entertainment system that you describe doesn't seem to mesh.

Why does it matter that you're running on a free platform when you're playing non-free movies using illegal technology, pirated video game ROMs and MP3s?

In order for this to be real, we'd also need a collection of free movies and video games to add to the admittedly significant cache of free music. (There are also plenty of free video games, but since you are talking about MAME I don't think this is what you had in mind.) Otherwise, why does it matter if your media center uses pirated software, too?

Don't get me wrong -- I love the idea of disconnecting ourselves from the corporation-controlled content and software, but I don't think it helps us much if we develop a lot of free software in order to continue to consume the proprietary stuff.

On the other hand, I'm not saying that using pirated everything is all bad -- maybe a generation kids who grew up sharing things on Napster and clones will result in a less conservative congress, where things like the Copyright Term Extension Act won't be so common. (Which is what has me feeling so cynical right now...)

Re:Why does openness matter? (4, Insightful)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090106)

On the other hand, I'm not saying that using pirated everything is all bad -- maybe a generation kids who grew up sharing things on Napster and clones will result in a less conservative congress, where things like the Copyright Term Extension Act won't be so common. (Which is what has me feeling so cynical right now...)

Or, possibly, that generation will grow up realizing that their time and effort is worth something, and learn to despise people who are ripping them off of even their 1% royalty from the music companies, and then push for even stronger legislation to keep it from happening.

Somehow I dont see Corporate America getting any weaker.. but the current trend towards opressing the employee and empowering the corporation will lead to much more agressive employees and/or fed up people starting their own businesses. Once that happens, they will start attempting to make some money doing what they are doing. And face it, no-one cares WHAT record company they are ripping off when they copy MP3's or ogg-vorbis files around. Whether its the biggest music conglomerate, or some teeny tiny band who has their own label, they dont give a crap.

So no, I dont think you will see a "less conservative congress".. I think you might, however, see the teeth of some of the copyright and control acts that are happening now be actually used on something other than another corporation.

(And no, I'm not a troll, at least, not intentionally, But I recently found out it is going to cost on the order of 6K$ for my little band to record and produce 100 cd's.. and that doesnt count the cost of studio time, but _does_ count the cost of making sure we have applicable rights to all the songs we want to do.)


Re:Why does openness matter? (3, Insightful)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090312)

Or, possibly, that generation will grow up realizing that their time and effort is worth something, and learn to despise people who are ripping them off of even their 1% royalty from the music companies, and then push for even stronger legislation to keep it from happening.

So the ENTIRE GENERATION is going to be made of up musicians who are willing to bend over and agree to a contract with an RIAA-member record company? Intriguing.

The reason unknown bands sign on the dotted line is because the record labels can provide publicity. Another way to get publicity, one that doesn't cost anything, is to allow copies of your music to be freely redistributed through P2P channels and similar -- even inject your music directly into this distribution system.

There are plenty of talented and well-known artists RIGHT now that support free distribution of their art. Stop ignoring their existence because they don't fit in with the point you're trying to make.

making sure we have applicable rights to all the songs we want to do.

Hmm... maybe you should record ORIGINAL songs instead of 'ripping off the hard work of talented underpaid artists'.

Re:Why does openness matter? (1)

dismentor (592590) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090126)

Yeah! Why does the government have to be open, if hte military can keep secrets!

Re:Why does openness matter? (3, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090300)

At least for the PVR part, it does matter. Current commercial PVRs (TiVo/ReplayTV/TVserver) depend on a single commercial provider of guide data, so they can only be used where the guide service is available, which is, at the moment, in only 6 countries AFAIK (US, UK, JP, D, Aus, Sw). All others are left out in the cold.

An open PVR can be adapted to use whatever guide data is available online (and usable guide data is available in a lot more than 6 countries), making PVRs accessible (if the software is usable) to lots more people.

Alternatives (3, Interesting)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090063)

... to spending dozens of hours and thousands of dollars combining Open Source DVD players, CD players, and MP3 players are the following:

1) Print a few more copies of your resume out and send them to companies. You've been out of work long enough and any minute the bill collectors are going to throw you and your family in jail.

2) Plant a tree. Picket outside fur factories and SUV dealerships. Teach a neighborhood child how to play the piano. Read to your kid. Make love to your wife.

3) Abandon all the worrying about conforming your life to the absurd paradigns and social revolutions inspired by lunatics like Richard M. Stallman, who was pink-slipped by the MIT Media Lab after years of little to no productive work.

Re:Alternatives (2)

micromoog (206608) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090185)

4) Abandon all hobbies and spend time and money only on Amsterdam Vallon-approved activities.

always behind (3, Interesting)

kippy (416183) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090069)

You can have the all open source entertainment center if you're willing to always be at least 2 or 3 years behind what is current. Users who want to view the latest video disk format will have to go to best buy to get the needed player to do so. It takes the hacker community a little while to duplicate a comercial product.

The entertainment industry will almost by deffinition be ahead of the open source entertainment subculture.

Honestly, would you rather play some mame roms rather than the Clone Wars on a brand new GameCube? The open source hardware is just not there and the software will always be lagging.

this isn't a troll. I honestly think that the commercial stuff will eternaly have the advantage of easy configuration, compatibility with current media and ease of use.

Linux+GPL Software+TV = Powerful (0, Redundant)

m0tion (641560) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090072)

Yes, it is happening.

Where's the hardware..? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090073)

Sure the software for an OSS based media center is available and being put together by some groups. (e.g. MythTV, etal)... The real problem is putting together a good looking peice of hardware that will do the job.

For example: Where are the slim-line style cases similar in style to current VCRs and DVD players ? Where are the low-profile good quality video capture cards? or the motherboards with good video capture capability built in ?

And what about price. For the digital media center to really take off... it needs to be priced within the range of current DVD-players etc.

The ideal box would have a sleek case design, be very quiet, yet be powerfull enough to handle playing demanding media formats. Not to mention be able to burn captured shows off to cd... or for the very rich DVDs...

Softwares there... now we just need a company to put a hardware package together and get the price down below $1000 bucks..

Re:Where's the hardware..? (2, Informative)

Griffin518 (604411) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090167)

Benchmarks show the performance of the newest C3s (933mhz) on par with P2 450s. Plus, almost everything is included... . All that in a 6" x 6" x 1" mobo w/1 pci slot. Imagine the possiblities... not bad for $160.

Re:Where's the hardware..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090250)

There's already a piece of hardware that does most of what this sort of box would need: the Xbox. The main thing it's missing is some form of TV input, but that might be available through USB

Your Open Entertainment Center (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090079)

Right here! []

copyprotection and merchandising ... (5, Interesting)

beanerspace (443710) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090084)

The other night, I had rented the movie "We Were Soldiers [] " but the kids were sleeping so I figured why not just drop the DVD into my brand new Gateway, put the headphones on and watch it on my computer. No thoughts of copying anything or breaking any laws, but I could only watch the first 8 minutes due to the copy protection scheme.

A VCR I purchased a few years back when dead on me a month or so ago. When I opened it up to see what the problem was, I was confronted with cheap plastic gears -- apparently made to wear out over time. And so it goes.

So until there is more money in creating all-in-one computers that are home entertainment systems that are washing machines and toasters, we're going to continually get knickle-n-dimed to death -- or at least until I break down and buy a HD TV flat panel display.

already done? (3, Insightful)

kendric (634134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090086)

My computer is the only source of media I use anymore. I use it to listen to music, play dvds, watch tv, radio, games, etc. Luckily, my computer is a P4 so it can handle all the extra data. However, my other computer can do almost all of it and it is only a P2 400mhz.

My question is, according to the article we want an open source program that does it all. I have several programs that do this but are from microsoft (WMP etc) and not a one can do all that I want. This leads to a fundamental question about computer design: we don't want to know how to do it we just want it done. Like a telephone, we want the computer to do what it is supposed to do without any question. To use a telephone, you pick it up and dial, but we have become so used to it that we don't even realize that this piece of technology hasn't been around for centurys.

The goal of creating an open source all in one PVR program is to make computers less like a computer and more like a tool that everyone knows how to use. I love open source, but I don't mind not knowing how it works if it works. We pay for phones, so why shouldn't we pay for software that provides an entertainment package for us.

DaveDina is trying to.. (5, Informative)

Cpyder (57655) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090088)

..create a "complete" multimedia center, with open source software. It's based on RedHat Linux, and features DVD playback, MP3/OGG (with an ingenious ranking system), tv-recording (time-lapse viewing coming soon) with automatical importing of program guides from the web, a picture browser, games (including MAME!).

It's also being equiped with communication features such as e-mail checking, a phone answering machine, and even a who's-rang-the-door feature.

Check it all out at their website, [] , and join their mailinglist!

You can also come hang out at #davedina on Freenode []

The Linux comunity has had DVR PCs for ages (1)

Lossenelin (627008) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090099)

I read /. daily and every few weeks theres something about a Linux PVR or someone whos build an entertainment center inside an old VHS case. My local electronics store [] is even selling Linux boxes equiped with TV tuner cards. Windows media PC or whatever it is wont catch on, to many restrictions on what you can do with digital content, and anyone who has read the media player eula would probably much rather use Linux

Ever heard of the ATI all-n-wonder card? (1)

nexusone (470558) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090111)

I have been thinking the same thing and even been looking into the hardware for it.

The ATI all-n-wonder card has all the features for a nice set-top system.
Features like:
Digital video recorder
TV guide type information for programming the DVR.
Live pause
Multiple video outputs, s-video, DVI, video, monitor.
Digital audio output for 5.1 suround sound.

They even support Linux by providing information to developers to create video drivers for it.

well, yeah (0)

mufflon (634922) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090120)

If all men were born equal and all software free...
It has been done before, and it will be done again, palms turning into robots, monitors into aquariums.

One might ask why?
Why are we all here?
for the computers?
for ourselfs?

Neither, the answer is: we are here to make the time we spend here count, why be a lamer spending time playing games on a M$ computer, or games without purpouse for that either.

Heck, if one makes linux on handhelds one could surely build a distrubition which includes all of it in a sleek design, and only having small clean coded apps for the different machines.

One way to make it legal would be to have it plug in based, and in some strange way leaking the "illegal" plug-ins on the net, with no warranty, (but with some community sense..)

no company behind, no single names, only the group.

Well, thats it for today

Sure thing! (1, Interesting)

Mighty_Joe_Stalin (640589) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090127)

Yes, we are currently able to do that. The issues that I face are the following: My current finances are limited so when you ask whether it's possible to put together a "free" system", you're asking about the software. The answer to that is yes. The software is out there, google for it. But my problem is that while hardware does just grow on trees, it is usually hardware that is old and slow. I refuse to allow my workhorse to be hijacked in order to let little Susie watch television through it because her interest in watching 'Charmed' conflicts with my need to have a certain consistent level of processing power. So while I would love to get my entertainment system really decked out with a network interface so I can turn on Donahue from the comfort of my work room, I just don't have the money right now. Clearly, in the future, the people's champion will have the money and then I'm going to do it. In the meantime, I think about the software I'll need, snoop around, and have found it's quite readily available.

Of course, I'm not sure many will be taking the do-it-yourself assembly route. The masses always like their boxes to come fully assembled and requiring just one plug. I mean, Microsoft has their goliath coming to the States and I've heard about the Moxi Media Center (story here [] ) which debuted at CES. Basically the Moxi Media Center is the all-in-one entertainment center that you're talking about in this article. Of course, it's no fun to let the corporations put it together for you because they'll cut corners and tie you into subscription based payments somehow. Oh well, I guess I'll continue dreaming.

Thanks for a great article! I enjoyed reading other people's thoughts about it.

Xbox (0, Redundant)

chesterguy (641561) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090128)

This has GOT to be old news: Well, my modded Xbox plays Divx, Xvid, mp3s, CDs, DVD movies, display pictures can stream media from my PC, plays MAME (I am sure I missed something) and play Xbox games. Thats close enough for me. Most or all of the software is free. It did not cost me a lot for what it does and the picture on the TV is excellent and the interface is simple. (I am tired of those ATI cards, wires from my PC to my TV and squinting at the Windows interface). I still have to record TV on my VCR, thats OK. Xbox is filling just about every hackers previous expectation of what it could do and then some.

Re:Xbox (4, Interesting)

marcop (205587) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090228)

I have been considering buying an X-Box just so I can use it as a media server.

I have heard people putting in large hard drives into their X-Box to do this sort of thing and to store all their X-Box games on it. No more carrying around the original games. Supposedly the X-Box binary newsgroup is #4 in terms of number of message headers. I heard its also possible to simply rent games then rip them to an X-Box hard drive.

Most of this is illegal though so I am not advocating it. I can see why Microsoft is upset about Mod chips. BTW, I don't do this because:
1) I don't own an X-Box.
2) Even if I did I wouldn't play game on it because I prefer PC games.

However, I really like the idea of using it as a media server for my LEGALLY owned mp3's, DivX's (home movies), family photos (slideshows), and DVD's.

not possible (2)

Stanley Feinbaum (622232) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090133)

Unless you have free open-source software that can play the latest windows media player formats then your set up box WILL NOT have the same capabilities of the latest boxes being sold. Unfortunately such software would probably be in violation of the dmca... sorry.

V-Box (1)

Dead-Bum (119641) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090135)

This [] little thing is what I use to merge A/V with my computer. Of course, I have a 24 inch monitor, so I don't suffer from having to play ps2 and vhs movies on a tiny little awful computer screen.

As for tivo capabilities, I don't know if there are open source drivers/software for it, but this [] little thing seems to be all you would need.

No you're not (2, Insightful)

lightspawn (155347) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090145)

"are we currently able to put together a free version of the big convergence media center others are trying to do?"

Not as long as you don't care about usability. Right now it's all about how smart we are because we figured out how to use Linux and how we need to get the best and the brightest and filter out the rest by having every potential open source user go through the same ordeal.

Freevo may become relevant. (1)

old_skul (566766) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090170)

I find it stunning that no one has mentioned the excellent-looking Freevo [] project, which purports MP3, video, and image playback - and soon-to-be-supported DVR capability. Program guide integration is complete and the rest of the project, while slow-moving, seems to be pretty cool.

Now is the time to get a project like this off the ground - before manufacturers and media stamp out this opportunity for the consumer to assume more control and choices.

Happy with my system (4, Interesting)

bytor4232 (304582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090175)

I am very happy with my media center PC. Its Debian Testing.


  • Moderately fast CPU and MB, plenty of RAM
  • ATI Radeon 7000 (Composite/SVideo out) going to video in on TV
  • Audio out to reciever
  • Wireless KBD and mouse
  • SNES Joypads wired to parallel port
  • MPlayer for DVD
  • Snes9x for games
  • Two X configs: One for TV, one for Monitor.
Not as user friendly as I would have hoped for the wife and kids, they still have the tendency to use an actual DVD and SNES console for games instead of the copies on the computer, but I think the experiment for me was at least successful. My current plan is to make it user friendly enough that I can put the DVD and SNES in my daughters room.

Think outside that box... (2)

djupedal (584558) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090179)

While it is true we are seeing convergence between the traditional TV and computer, and while this does portend an opportunity for open source in that regard, the net effect is a converged home, not just entertainment centers.

The new combo TV/computer will be part of the entire home that includes the air conditioner (Now, in Korea, I can control my AC over the net), and the monitors...home security...etc.

Think open source home...

We're close, but not in the next two years.

Movix2 has a nice start! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090186)
uses mplayer to play just about anything. only 20-30 mb on a cd, so plenty of room for streaming/recording/encoding tools...

Sony and Matsushita are happy to help... (3, Insightful)

Travelr9 (514162) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090188)

I know the desire to homebrew this sort of thing is nearly overwhelming for a lot of Slashdot readers, but all you have to do is wait just a little while, and the major Japanese consumer electronics firms are going to make all your dreams come true. Not just programmatic integration of A/V devices, but open integration. Not just open integration, but Linux-based open integration. Check out this story (reg. required) in the Financial Times from about a month ago: Matsushita and Sony in Linux tie-up []

Here's the key quote for those who don't want to register:

"Matsushita and Sony have agreed to jointly develop the Linux operating system for digital consumer electronic products, in a highly unusual and cooperative deal between two of the fiercest rivals in the industry... Sony and Matsushita will continue to use the existing operating systems for specific products - such as Windows for Vaio - but expect the newly developed version of Linux to be increasingly used in home electronic devices, such as portable and home AV products."

The reason this trend will go places is quite simple: The much-bandied-about "Microsoft Tax" is real, and the major CE manufacturers don't want to pay it. This combined with the strong likelihood (--> certainty) that MS will attempt to commoditized them ensures that they will fight back. These guys are not only smart, they are bigger than Microsoft (Sony: $60bn revenues) and they are determined to not get cut out of the market, or turned into Compaq/HP style failures. Who benefits? The Linux community is going to get a huge boost, because the single best weapon these firms have against MS is Linux, and they are going to use it with a vengeance.

i know where my free entertainment center is (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090196)

it is in my pants

No but you can probably build one for about 900$ (4, Informative)

cp5i6 (544080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090198)

The new shuttle mini boxes.. roughly the size of a barbie microwave oven.. with the new nforce 2 chipset allows you get get a very powerful dolby digital 6 speaker compliant sound system. (About 600$ with everything included already)

connect to that a usb TV tuner that supports Video Out also (for about 200$ from hauppage) and you have a little box that plays dvds on the tv along with surround sound

you have 200$ left over to buy an IR kit that you can plug into your computer's mobo and stick the receiver on the front panel and program your remote control. ( I know there's been lotsa projects on the web for remote controled computers and it's not that hard) simply program the remote's buttons with a specific command per button.. ie... button 1 will call winamp.. button 2 will call the tv tuner.. so on so forth. so for about 1000$ you can easily have a hobby to try and set something like this all up

btw speaker systems are not included in this equation... cuz good ones can throw yer costs another 300$.

if you don't like the oven.. you can buy a small form factor desktop case... it's roughly the size of your everyday Amplifier case. To make sure you can get a small one.. buy one of those ECS motherboards... only 3 pci slots (some have only 2) ... 1 for a sb audigy ... 2 for a dope ass video card with video out ... 3 for the tv tuner ... IR sensors are located on the mobo and you just need to buy the front panel extensions for those...

here's a rack up of total costs

Case with power supply (Enlight is a good compnay)- 50$
Mobo (ECS brand)- 50$
CPU (p4's 1.8 ghz are cooler runnign and quieter)- 120$
SB audigy 1/2 platinum ex (comse you a remote that you can hack at and already has IR plus has all that digital audio out/in, line in/out, optical in/out for all your sound needs)- 160$
Geforce 4 ti4200 w/ video out- 150$
Hauppage winTV HDTV PCI- 230$
hard disk (80 gigs depending the size of your por .. mp3 collection)- 100$
Klipsch pro media 5.1 speakers- 300$
USB gamepads x2- $40
DVD driver w/software- 50$
windows 2k- 80$
winamp- Free
Aol im- Free
Divx encoder/decoder- free
Watching pr0n on the big screen tv - Pricesless

Total Cost of Project: ~1400$

and it's very possible... I'm half way there already... all I need now is that HDTV tv tuner... and a big HDTV 60" plasma display.

The answer lies in here! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090210)

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Yes... but is it for Joe 6p? (2)

Knacklappen (526643) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090213)

Yes, I think we are able [] to do something like this. The question is whether this will ever be a big hit outside the geek scene.
Free Software/Open Source is one thing: You program once, have fun, and then release the compiled files together with the source. Of which the latter will be gladly ignored by the masses. But that's OK. They use the compiled version and are happy. And you are happy that your program is being used. That you also share the compiled version doesn't add extra cost for you because it's digital stuff that can be copied effortlessly.
But with hardware it's a different game, IMO. Even if you offer the schematics for such a multimedia all-purpose entertainment thing, someone still has to compile... ehh build it. This time it's physical so easy copying is not possible (unless you have access to a replicator [] somewhere). So, who is going to do this? People won't be willing to assemble stuff for themselves. Heck, even *I* used to do more myself when I was younger (and had more time and enthusiasm). Nowadays I buy quite a lot...
But maybe it's the chance for some garage company to just build the stuff based on open sourced layouts? Hmmm... Not sure that this will work either. What about distribution channels? One reason why Free Software/OSS has been so successful is that almost everybody has access to the Internet somehow and if a person knows the right address, he/she can download all that is needed. So, the distribution is more or less just a matter of getting people to know where to look. Physical things however have to be shipped, to be physically delivered by any means. And people will want to have a look at them in some kind of shop before they are going to buy them. (The gateway business model)
So the bottomline of my reasoning is, that I am quite sceptical whether it will be a big success. But it could be a reasonable (moral) succes within the geek community, so why not try? Just don't expect to see the equivalent of RedHat or SuSE anytime soon.

Helix could provide some value here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090222)

XBOX (2, Interesting)

InfraMan (637711) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090225)

I have been considering the XBOX for just such a thing. You can get one for around $150 US. XboxMediaPlayer [] The XboxMediaPlayer for the Xbox allows you to use a modded Xbox to play DivX, XVID, (S)VCD (MPEG-1/2), MP3 & other supported video/audio formats via your TV so it can used as a multimedia jukebox. It also supports network streaming via XStream. Plus a simple clean looking interface navigatible via remote control. Plus there are XBox a MAME, NES, PSX, Atari 2600, c64 emulators ... There are a few projects coming to fruition. One converts exe's to run on the XBOX. And another is a non MS compiler. So soon we will have all these apps available with out having to have a $25 mod chip for the XBox. I'm going to get two of these. One to replace my dead DVD player with the media player. The other for the ultimate MAME / emu. arcade machine I'm going to build. Perfect solution for this application. CHEAP, TV out, good graphics and networkable. Plus you can play XBOX games on it too! []

It's already there, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090259)'s still "in development" and difficult to set up. I think what the poster is asking is:

When will turning a pc into something that clones the functionality of a TiVo (plus any extras OSS coders can think of like ogg support) be something the average user can do by plugging everthing in, inserting a setup/install CD containing only free software, and hitting next a few times?

My (admittedly cynical) opinion on this is that years will pass before anything remotely passable is released. I hope I'm wrong.

We're there... (2)

xchino (591175) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090271)

At least the more computer savvy and DIYers are. There are several packages out the to turn your pc into a PVR, such as:

Freevo []


MythTV []

The problem with these packages at this point are twofold.

First, they aren't exactly easy to set up. Most people will need to recompile their kernels for bttv support, and not every Linux user out there knows how to safely rebuild a kernel. Then, at least with freevo, there is the matter of getting your dependencies set. This can be difficult for some, especially Redhat 7.3 users, as many of the packages that freevo relies on claim Redhat's versions of gcc or some obscure perl module are b0rked.

Also, they are missing some of the features that some commercial PVR's boast, such as HDTV (the tuner cards cost about as much as a PVR) and making suggestions for shows you might like.

Personally, I'd like to see a PVR distro.. perhaps a even Live CD. That would help solve the difficulty of setup, but as far as lack of features go, given time, I suspect any one of these projects can superceed commercial PVR's, at least among the slashdot type crowd.

I'm doing it right now! (2, Informative)

tmasman (604942) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090279)

I've just started putting together the hardware yesterday. It's very do-able, and there are a few people that are actually doing a great job at setting up nice GUIs. (MythTv). I plan on basing it off of Linux, but if I can't find the neccessary parts/drivers/software, I'll end up using Windoze 98. I'm actually building the thing in a customized case that will go pretty well with my entertainment system, and I'll have it networked with my other computers for head-head action... It's not just a glorified Tivo. It's another computer on my network, who's primary function will be to replace my DVD player, VCR, CD Player, while adding a MP3 player & another spot for gaming.

It's very possible & many people are doing it.
(Media.Box [] , ebox [] , FreeplayTV [] , etc...)

Just a side note... This is not a replacement for Tivo or any other recorder.
It's alot more expensive & a lot harder...
This is a project for people like those that read /.


"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."
-Albert Einstein

So... why not OGG!!?? (1)

MycoMan (132840) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090280)

All this lather about "open" and still, STILL, using MP3!?

Entitaymin sentas (1)

skinnyarse (111398) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090302)

Who in their right mind would want a machine guaranteed to hang / crash / burn or otherwise take a vacation over at Best Buy for a six month repair.

The most elementary boxes of dvd and telly have problems..lets not put yet more chips in them just to see how difficult we can make it all be for ourselves.

I am out of this demographic since I never watch the telly nor do I game play..........but I do watch movies and my fav combo is a laptop with a projector for movies. The screen is as big as you could want and nice detail too. ( Mac laptop )
(Toshiba projector ) hooked up to the stereo it's as good as it gets..and you can watch movies projected on dogs , kids , grandparents and even the drapes to entertain the weirdoes across the street.

By the way Bill gates is Satan , honest.

Someone IS doing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090305)

I have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get a system like that together, and found only one place that seems to really put it all together well. You have to consider making the unit quiet, as well as pay attention to sound and video quality etc. All of the components and software are available but it is hard to know what works together. Cellar Cinemas is a Home Theater installer that makes "HTPC's" ( ) I recently ordered their Shelftop 460 model ( 0.html ) but have not received it yet. They have a lot of good info on their site as well. I asked them why they didnt' use Media Edition and was told that right now you can't buy the software and they don't have a deal with Microsoft. They also pointed out that all Media Edition is is an interface that runs existing software ( for PVR funtionality etc), and that they didn't pick the best stuff.

USA is dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5090308)

USA is collapsing in complete disarray. You don't need to be a Kreskin to predict USA's future. The hand writing is on the wall: USA faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for USA because USA is dying. Things are looking very bad for USA. As many of us are already aware, USA continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood. All major surveys show that USA has steadily declined in market share. USA is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If USA is to survive at all it will be among geographical hobbyists dabblers. USA continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, USA is dead.

Convergence? Maybe in the office or den (3, Insightful)

nedron (5294) | more than 11 years ago | (#5090314)

Frankly, I don't see "convergence" happening in the living rooms of most Americans. How convenient would it really be for most? Not very. A single system unit might be of interest to a person who lives alone, but of what use is it for a normal family. Oh, it would be useful for generating screaming matches between Billy and Janey, because he wants to watch Gunsmoke (dates me, doesn't it ) and she wants to play Nintendo. There's only one screen, so convergence in this case (which would be VERY common) yields a benefit of ZERO.
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