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Linux Hackers Offered Early Access to Next-Gen DVR

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the going-after-the-right-market-segment dept.

145

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

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Mmm, DVR. (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148382)

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

Re:Mmm, DVR. (3, Informative)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148422)

What you do with the signal after it comes out of your digital cable box is up to you. Hook up myth or any of the other PVRs you can find out there. You can definitely put one together for less than $750.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148430)

Can it remotely control the Digital Cable Box? It's some motorola brand thing ...

IR Blaster (4, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148464)

I think most TiVO units have "IR Blasters" which are little dongles that go over the IR port on your cableco's box, and switch the channel and otherwise control it.

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

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

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

Re:IR Blaster (2, Interesting)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148672)

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

I have to set the DVR (mythtv) to record the show and also set the Set-Top-Box to 'auto-tune'. But it works out as I record the same shows every week. (auto-tune set to always switch to 'The Daily Show', Family Guy etc, and the mythtv always to record that show at that time). It is 'slightly' cumbersome, but no worse than a VCR! Plus Mythtv has ad detection and skips them entirely.

My mythtv build is here http://nzrussmyth.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] with the my 'connection diagram' about 3/4 the way down.

Re:IR Blaster (2, Interesting)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148717)

A lot of set-top tuners have serial controls as well, which is supported by the Neuros device. There's a serial cable included as well as IR Blaster...

Tell that to the local Comcast people (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148756)

Yeah; unfortunately the digi-cable boxes in my area don't have them. Apparently our local Comcast affiliate's theory is "if you were meant to have it, then the FCC would mandate that you get it."

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

If I didn't get the cable TV for a very good price along with my internet service, I'd cancel them and just be happy watching NetFlix and grabbing my TV shows from BitTorrent. As it is, I barely watch it anyway; it's more for my roommates and guests to watch.

Re:Tell that to the local Comcast people (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149005)

Sure, like anything is a battle for critical mass. If there's enough demand for something it becomes a requirement. Obviously the cable companies will fight any loss of control tooth and nail (often under the guise of preventing piracy). At this point, they are getting away with the walled garden, and with the DMCA (and proposed analog hole/broadcast flag legislation) they will gain more control. That's why awareness campaigns like the FSF http://www.defectivebydesign.org/ [defectivebydesign.org] are so important. If citizens understand what's going on, that's the first step to them influencing the market (and bad legislation)

Re:IR Blaster (1)

cens0r (655208) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148758)

The problem with this is that the DVR comcast gives me allows me to record two channels at once. To do the same thing with a 3rd party DVR i'd need to rent two boxes from comcast and have two IR blasters. They've made it just difficult enough for me to just buy their system and be done with it.

Re:IR Blaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16149000)

Your missing the point. I think they did think to mandate some sort of standard. Then greed and envy took over and the in fighting began.

Re:IR Blaster (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149028)

I think most TiVO units have "IR Blasters" which are little dongles that go over the IR port on your cableco's box, and switch the channel and otherwise control it.

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

Re:IR Blaster (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16149112)

What? That's just dumb. Go think about what you just said.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-Video [wikipedia.org]

Re:IR Blaster (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149714)

Sorry, I meant the serial cable.

Re:IR Blaster (1)

gatekeep (122108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149042)

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

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

You can ALWAYS record analog cable broadcasts without a box. There's a dual tuner Series2 Tivo which allows tuning/recording/watching of two channels at once. Of course, only one of the two can be digital cable unless you rent two boxes, but many people can get by with one digital channel and one analog channel, or two analog channels.

Better still, my new Series 3 TiVo accepts CableCards, which allow me to tune digital channels directly, without a box. It also accepts TWO cablecards, so I can record two HD streams at once. Brilliant!

Re:IR Blaster (1)

szrachen (913408) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149092)

I'm currently using a setup where my DirecTV receiver (an old RCA box from probably 3 years ago) is hooked to my TiVo by a small data cable that looks like a miniature phone cable. They call it the home control cable on the TiVo Accessories Site [tivo.com] . It only cost about $7 and it works great!

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148465)

You can always do it via IR. In my case, I have a DCT2500 which it can control over the serial port. I'm sure other models work as well, but you'd have to look to see what you have and what is supported.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149115)

"Can it remotely control the Digital Cable Box? It's some motorola brand thing ..."

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

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

Personally, I got fed up with all the digital artifacts on my stb, and went and took it back and just went with analog. I still got the channels I watch the majority of the time, and I can use either a store bought Tivo or my MythTV box I built later.

I'm currently redoing my Myth box from the ground up, new video, pchdtv card...etc. Gonna experiment with capturine free OTA HDTV on the new dvr...looks to be fun stuff.

My old series2 tivo is getting pretty old, I'll probably do the swap out of it for the new HD Tivo....and transfer my lifetime sub onto that new box...and eventually mod that one to larger harddrives, etc....

Re:Mmm, (HD) DVR. (1)

rbrander (73222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149429)

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

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

Nor do I want to "steal" HDTV content, by any reasonable definition, just do with it what I've been doing with VCR tapes for 20 years and my DVR (which can burn DVD-R's) for 2 years: time-shift TV, mostly for a few days, sometimes for several years. Yes, I might sometimes watch it twice, a very few three times, over a decade or so; but I just consider that protected "personal home use", fair use if you will, and I think most courts would agree unless the DRM proponents take away existing rights with a broadcast flag enshrined in law.

Bottom line, I think a card that can digitize analogue HDTV from component jacks is (so far) legal as a Sony Betamax, with at least one non-infringing use. So there OUGHT to be some decent ones for sale by now, since digitizing analogue SD has been possible, real-time, for years.

I've been considering getting a HD-DVR through a satellite company as a package, but it won't, of course, burn any kind of file, so the time-shifting is limited to days - only so much space on the disc. But with MPEG4 files, you should be able to put a typical 42-minute TV episode on a DVD-R and save it a few years.

Digitizing HD would make me buy some technology, nothing short of it will; I've got a DVR. I'm certain no HD DVR's will be offered for sale except as (closed) packages from satellite & cable providers. This is Linux's chance to shine.

But where's the HDTV digitizer cards? Nothing visible at any Calgary parts vendor, a few of which have a lot of variety...

Try this for Linux: (1)

cruff (171569) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149869)

http://pchdtv.com/ [pchdtv.com]

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148805)

Hmm...I'm smart enough to put together a MythTV box (that works), but dumb enough not to be able to figure out why I'd need this piece of hardware after...well, building a Myth box!

$750? Let's see...a PVR-350 off eBay cost me $150 (with the remote)...threw together a cheapo computer for under $200. I guess I'm just not clear on the concept of why I'd need a DVR for...my DVR!

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148972)

This DVR is $230 (prerelease price) and it's got a tiny box and no moving parts. I only wish I had that much money to spare, I'd buy one myself.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149022)

True, but it also has no local storage for content unless maybe the flash is for that purpose, which means you spending a lot per MB. With a 350, you don't need much of a computer (I had a 350 running myth on a 600Mhz box w/129MB - ran fine). Not to mention all the features you get in Myth that this device doesn't have. Don't get me wrong, this device has some potential, but it does not directly compare to something like Myth.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149114)

You don't need local storage, you can pipe it over the network. I'm starting to think that next time I actually build a network (I have only laptops right now, and I use them as I need them, and have no dedicated server) I'm only going to have one system with disks, and everything else will netboot. I'd like to take as much hardware out of my various systems as possible and GigE makes the elimination of local storage feasible if you have enough RAM - which is cheap.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149299)

I've considered doing something similar, but if you're comparing costs of Myth and this device, then you'd need to include the costs of your NAS, or at least a portion of it.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149500)

I'm not worried about cost as much as I am worried about functionality. Not that I'm not worried about cost - I'm not exactly poor, but I'm certainly not affluent. On the other hand, I'd rather go for a hike than maintain and use computer equipment that pisses me off.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (2, Informative)

hwyengr (839340) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148447)

Actually, the FCC forces your cable company to provide access for 3rd party devices to work on their networks, via the CableCard mandate. Unfortunately for you, the only (non-discontinued) CableCard ready DVR was just released by TiVo, and costs $799.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148514)

You assume that the FCC has any jurisdiction over my country.

Perhaps the CRTC has a similar mandate. :)

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

hwyengr (839340) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148731)

D'oh. My apologies. Eagerness to reply to first post caught up with me.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148859)

S'ok :) I suspect the policy at Shaw may not last much longer; they may have to give up their DVR monopoly if they want the CRTC to turn a blind eye to their burgeoning telephone business.

Re:Mmm, DVR. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16148766)


Maybe it doesn't. Yet...

Re:Mmm, DVR. (2, Insightful)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148585)

Do they make you buy the television and not allow good ole VCR hookup as well?

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

rhyre417 (919946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149256)

There is a standard called 'cablecard', which FCC is supposed to be mandating. That lets you run the decryption on a card supplied by your cable provider, which plugs in to your Tivo (maybe certain models only). So if you're cable monopoly isn't complying, talk to the FCC and your local government cable authority

Re:Mmm, DVR. (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149343)

My local government cable authority is the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. I'll look into it.

No ! (0, Offtopic)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148383)

No.

BTDT... (1)

sylvandb (308927) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148394)

BTDT, anyone remember Agenda Computing?

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

sdb

Almost worthy.. (3, Insightful)

nicpottier (29824) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148401)


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

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

I love the business model though, and allowing the community to build things is great. Much like the Squeezebox.

Re:Almost worthy.. (1)

1010110010 (1002553) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148490)

I really like the design of the thing, but composite video out? Why even have S-Video in if you're going to output it composite?

Thoughts on the S-Video input (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148728)

Well I can only guess why it's that way; my thoughts were that perhaps the point of the S-Video on the input and not the output is so you can record at some semblance of quality (although S-Video really isn't that great), and then download the digital file out through the network port, and watch it somewhere else.

Or, maybe they figure that by the time the signal gets compressed and played back, it'll be basically composite-video quality anyway, so that it's not necessary to have S-video output; it would just be wasted. Basically you want to preserve information as far into the compression process as you can, but once it's digitized, then your outputs only need to be good enough to play back the compressed material. (Still, I'd hope the device is capable of better quality encodes than the 300-something lines of baseband composite video. Yech.)

Either way I'm not exactly floored by it. There aren't that many devices that I can think of today, which have S-video outputs and not some kind of better-quality signal (Component, RGB, or some type of digital signal whether uncompressed on DVI or HDMI, or compressed on Firewire). Most video devices today are either going to have a high quality interface, or a low-quality one via composite or RF. There aren't many things around that use the "medium quality" S-Video exclusively; it just seems like a really odd choice today.

I tend to wonder if the ADC chip that they're using is one that can only deal with Y/C as its inputs, rather than Y/Pb/Pr or R/G/B. If that's the case, it might explain why the S-Video input; perhaps it's the highest-quality input their selected chip would work with. Still, this doesn't explain the utter lack of a digital input.

Re:Almost worthy.. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148985)

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

Unless the hard drive dies first.

Re:Almost worthy.. (1)

nicpottier (29824) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148528)


Oh and no-wifi. Duh.

S-Video only ... lame. (3, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148593)

Yeah, I was surprised when I saw that it didn't have a DVI port. I mean, it's got everything else that it would need to be a really slick product ... except that it's analog only.

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

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

As I said in another comment, I find Neuros very intriguing as a company, and I hope that they sell enough of these things to stay afloat and make a better model that will do digital recording, preferably soon, before the media companies and their lackeys at the FCC push through a Broadcast Flag.

Re:S-Video only ... lame. (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149040)

It's pretty obvious why there's no digital output: it can't record in HD, so why should it have digital outputs? It's a cheap, embedded system for recording (standard definition) TV content to portable devices or PC storage. It uses an embedded processor and an amount of RAM that isn't meant for HD content. I'm sure that if this is successful, they would consider producing an HD-version of the OSD. This is meant to work with Satellite and cable boxes that people have connected to their SDTVs.

We, the techies, want it to be an HD device with digital outputs, but for what? It can't effectively record HD, so what's the point of the digital outputs? To play standard definition content on our expensive HDTVs? Why waste a digital input on SD content? You can save it to a networked hard drive or an external hard drive for playback anywhere. If you've got a digital TV box and an HDTV and an expensive THX-certified sound system, why try to cut corners with a low-cost DVR?

Maybe I'm just thrilled by this because my MythTV box has been acting up lately, but this seems like a perfect alternative to having two whole computers--one of which is just a temperamental, glorified Tivo. One of these with a USB hard drive is perfect. The Myth box's media sharing--video/music/photos--might as well just be network shares on my other computers. This takes over the TV part with aplomb--and it's cheaper by half than my tuner/IR blaster/remote purchases to get MythTV up and running. The only upsetting thing to me is that there's no Firewire output--I'll have to buy a USB external enclosure to use one of these.

Re:Almost worthy.. (1)

viper66 (412839) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148942)

What exactly is 'next gen' about this device anyway?

Re:Almost worthy.. (5, Informative)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149164)

I'm from Neuros, we talked about a display but decided a small one wasn't worth much and a big one was too expensive. We've focused more on a two way wifi remote ala Sonos, or the Creative audio streamer. So we'll be addressing the "music without a TV" with a "remote" control like that.

DVR I/O (4, Informative)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148409)

12Mbps USB 2.0 interface
SD/MMC/MemoryStick, Pro, Duo socket
CF socket supporting I/O mode
RS-232 serial console port (also used for controlling tuner boxes)
10/100 Mbps Ethernet
Infrared detector for remote control
Infrared blaster for controlling tuner boxes
NTSC/PAL composite or S-Video input
NTSC/PAL composite video output

Re:DVR I/O (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16148590)

12Mbps USB 2.0 interface
uhmmmm... what? Who does this?

Re:DVR I/O (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149455)

Sounds like USB 2.0 full speed. A rebranding of USB 1.1

The USB 2.0 that actually runs at full speed is USB 2.0 High Speed.

Re:DVR I/O (1)

AaronW (33736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148626)

I'm surprised it doesn't offer component output. Even my old ReplayTV offers progressive component out. Component in would be awesome, as would HDMI. The thing I'm interested in is something that can record HDTV streams as well as the Open Cable (QAM) and have support for a smart card to handle the encryption.

Re:DVR I/O (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148946)

Conponent out shouldn't have been too hard. I've got a Unicorn media box that does it. HDMI (unencrypted video+audio) would have been a nice touch. HDTV component in would have been snazzy but killer for the cost - there's just too much data to suck in and recode. QAM might have been nice, but it seems that many cable systems are going away from in-the-clear, analog broadcasts. Smart card...well, that's just a pipe dream - the consortium that controls the hardware IP wouldn't even let TiVo have T2Go or box-to-box transfers on the same intranet; they'd never let an open box have that.

Re:DVR I/O (1)

Blob Pet (86206) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149119)

I suspect that it's only a matter of time before a USB cable card reader becomes available... even if it means that you'll have to import it from Hong Kong.

Wrong Forest (3, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149155)

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

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

Re:DVR I/O (1)

wissape (1003065) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149188)

Ok, ok... maybe I am misreading this from the article... but isn't USB 2.0 480 Mbps... not 12? That could most possibly confuse someone.

Re:DVR I/O (1)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149431)

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

How sucky does this device have to be if it can only read/write from the hard drive at 12mbps? At those data transfer rates, you might be able to record a TV show (assuming 4-5 mbps for video) and watch one at the same time if you're lucky, but good luck recording 2 shows and watching a 3rd, and good luck copying data to and from it across the network. 100 megabits will seem like the fastest thing around compared to your poor old 12mbps USB hard drive...

Neuros seems interesting (3, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148433)

Neuros seems like a really intriguing company. I haven't (yet) purchased any of their gear, mostly because I'm currently happy with my third-gen iPod and relatively ancient USB EyeTV tuner, but I like the way they seem to be developing products.

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

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

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

Re:Neuros seems interesting (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148791)

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

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

I wish them luck with it, but I need fewer hobbies, not more, and bought an iPod.

you mentioned eyeTV and ``all digital'' (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148995)

Too bad you didn't mention them together. They have a model that simply records the raw data feed that most digital cable companies provide.

Re:Neuros seems interesting (3, Interesting)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149298)

Speaking for Neuros, I think your comments are absolutely right regarding the "cohesive user experience." We know that hackers will add features and get all kinds of "proof of concept" stuff working, but at the end of the day, it's our job (as the manufacturer) to stitch it together to make it work for the average person, that "doesn't need another hobby," as someone else said here. The first stage of this product's life will be geeks and hackers, but we need to get the user experience right to broaden the appeal. If we do that, I'm not so worried about the fact that this unit is SD v. HD and analog v. digital, we'll address that with future (more expensive) models. This one will serve a need for users that want a way to stitch together their SD video, digital audio, photos and connect that content (or internet content like Youtube, etc) to their TV and Stereo at a reasonable price.

Re:Neuros seems interesting (1)

jubei (89485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149487)

I agree that Neuros is an interesting company that makes interesting products. It however has a way to go before they become a household name. I bought one of their mp3 players a few years back and it was DOA. They wouldn't pay shipping both ways to replace it, so I paid the shipping and just returned it for a refund. I got an iRiver instead. Small companies need to have better customer service to make a name for themselves. Hopefully, Neuros has learned this in the time since my experience, but even if they did, it is still hard to get the bad taste out of my mouth.

Potential (2, Interesting)

mkosmo (768069) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148453)

But how will the MPAA like that Linux hackers can go through and do whatever they want with a video stream? I think they will have a fit. But when has that ever stopped anybody from keeping backup copie(s) :)
And more seriously, has anybody gotten their hands on one?

Complex architecture may slow down hacking (2, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148588)

This box is an asymmetric multiprocessor with one ARM and one TI DSP, so code has to be partitioned properly to run fast enough. The TI DSP has no free development tools (AFAIK), so most hackers will not be able to work on codecs or anything else in the "data path". Also AFAIK the codecs are not open source anyway. But I can imagine lots of cool uses for this if the complexity can be managed.

Hmmm (2, Insightful)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148591)

What good is a DVR with out a hard drive?

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

Include an IDE or SATA drive bay and ill buy one.

Re:Hmmm (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148636)

I was thinking provide an external SATA connector so I can hook it up to an array... or even a second ethernet port. Gigabit ethernet into a NAS box sitting behind the TV would work.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16148661)

This has much less functionality than xbox media center (http://www.xboxmediacenter.de/ [xboxmediacenter.de] ) and is nowhere even remotely CLOSE to throwing mythtv on one of your obsolete computers. And seriously guys, releasing a DVR in 2006 without HD? Just lame.

Re:Hmmm (1)

blankman (94269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148779)

It has an ethernet port... perhaps it can map a shared drive (SMB, etc) and record straight to your PC. If not, that'd be a very cool feature to add.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Alterion (925335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148783)

although external hardrives that connect via USB are cheap as chips now heck even compact flash is cheapish... a harddrive is not a major thing to add to something like this what matters is the technology and idea behind it.. I hope they make a PAL (or whatever other compatability fix it would need) version for the UK.

Use Network Attached Storage (2, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148962)

If USB at 12 MBPS isn't fast enough for you, how about full-duplex 100bT? Choose your network file system and away you go... if you don't want the traffic on your main switch, spring an extra $10 for another port on the NAS and use a Cat-5 crossover wire.

I would't want drives on a box like the Neuros, personally; I keep my drives in a big ol' RAID array in my nice cool basement instead of pumping out extra heat in my A/V center.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16148964)

You should be able to attach an IDE drive to the CF slot with an adaptor cable. Afterall the Compac Flash interface is modelled after the IDE with a few extra signals. Google for it.

There is also the option of using samba storage on your network where you can manage things like backing up/ burning/reading DVDR media etc.

Hint: It runs linux 2.6 and has 100BaseT...

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16149019)

"Sure you can USB it @ 12 MBPS"
I think that's a typo in their spec sheet, actually. If it truly is a USB 2.0 device, then the maximum transfer rate is more like 480Mbps. At least, I *hope* that's a typo, because 12Mbps would be way too slow for streaming video to hard drive.

"What good is a DVR with out a hard drive?"
Why bother, when your target market can get an external USB hard drive (or heck, build their own) for less than you'd have to charge to build one in? Better yet, USB opens up the possibility of daisy chaining additional drives to add storage, rather than replacing the existing drive or worse yet the entire unit.

"Include an IDE or SATA drive bay and ill buy one."
If they include a drive bay, the unit cost goes up. Why increase the unit cost when they can just have USB or Ethernet handle storage needs?

Firewire input please! (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148646)

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

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

Set-top penguin box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16148698)

Is it safe to put a penguin on top of your television set?

Re:Set-top penguin box (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148913)

Only if you don't mind when it explodes.

Re:Set-top penguin box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16149066)

The OSD is already out... (1)

Lothsahn (221388) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148707)

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

So I suppose even if you're not a hacker, you can still buy one...

Next time, pay attention to the ad... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148807)

Note that it says BETA release on the page you just linked... They're offering 200 of the BETA units for sale
on ThinkGeek- and until it's out of beta, there probably won't be any more of them unless you rate one from
Neuros directly.

Budget permitting, if they still have any left now that /. knows about it, I'll be buying one. If they're
out in the next couple of days, I'll probably still end up with one as I've got a few answers to their
bounty problems already started- intended for other embedded devices that was going to be LGPLed anyhow.

To all those bitching and moaning about digital (2, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148760)

Who of you really does have a 1080p 64" double wide screen plasma lcd television with HDCP and HDMI functionality? Anyone? No. DVD and analog are doing fine for most mainstream applications. HD-DVD or Blu-Ray are nice as an expensive temporary backup solution and for some nimwits that don't know any better. People just bought into the whole "flat-screen-is-better-hype" replacing their 2-10y old color tv. I think that major expense this and last year ($700-$2000) is going to have to hold up for at least 3-5 years before mothers-and-wifes or just hard-working honest people are going to allow another expense that big because now everything is digital.

This product is aimed (by price ($150)) to the cheap nerd and his family who move their tv around in the house. The living room now has a nice and shiny LCD while the basement (or wherever you Slashdotters live) has the 25" flat-CRT and the bedrooms have the 20" standard CRT in most households.

Re:To all those bitching and moaning about digital (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149007)

No. DVD and analog are doing fine for most mainstream applications.

Fine is a rather broad viewpoint...

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

How to Make 1 Million Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16148825)

1) Design and build a PVR

2) Come up with a vaguely futuristic sounding company name

3) Get some suckers on the internet to do your software development for free

4) Profit

Corporate PR (3, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148837)

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

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

This is to:

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

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

Re:Corporate PR (5, Informative)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148932)

Speaking for Neuros, we are folding back bug fixes, and feature additions into the open source software we're using. In fact, the applications we've written ourselves are GPL too. There's a little more here than standard corporate schtick: http://wiki.neurostechnology.com/theneuros/index.p hp/Developer_Welcome [neurostechnology.com]

Nice, But 10 Years Too Late (2, Informative)

Junior Samples (550792) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148840)

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

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

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

Re:Nice, But 10 Years Too Late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16148961)

Maybe you're just not target market? A lot of people still use analog TVs, especially outside the US. They've been selling HDTV ready TVs for a while here in Scandinavia, but we're still running with analog TV signals and don't get me started on bluray/HD-DVD... Everybody will still be using DVDs for a very long time.

They're available here (2, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148871)

At ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] (apparently exclusively)

iTV? (2, Interesting)

mikeee (137160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148887)

Is it just me, or is this pretty much what Apple's upcoming iTV will be? The hardware sounds like it's pretty similar.

Useful mostly for streaming low-to-medium resolution video from PC to computer. Neuros adds the ability to record - maybe useful to an attached MP3/video player? (I guess you could NFS-mount a filesystem from elsewhere...?) In practice, I'd bet that's too much of a hassle to be worth the trouble.

Re:iTV? (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149004)

I'd guess the OSD hardware is much less powerful than iTV, and the software is much less polished. But Neuros is probably banking on price and openness.

Re:iTV? (1)

mikeee (137160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149312)

(Obviously, I meant streaming PC->TV).

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

The Neuros could win some sales based on hackability, though...

SVideo? (Next-Gen?) Where is DVI and SPDIF (1)

openright (968536) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148912)

To be considered for a modern TV, it should have DVI, and SPDIF outputs.

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

Nice, but not a Tivo killer yet (2, Insightful)

TheMCP (121589) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148923)

So, the specs are nice, and the price isn't bad, and I even have an external hard disk I could slap onto it right now.

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

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

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

Form factor (4, Insightful)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16148969)

I have two big stacks of "set-top-boxes" and other A/V related equipment, and I would appreciate it when manufacturers, even if they do not want to stick to 17" cabinets, at least put their products into square boxes that allow some stacking.

When everyone starts to use cases like this, space below my TV runs out very quickly...

Re:Form factor (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149711)

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

That's why I'd rather they build it into a nice ATX desktop-like case like this one from Antec [antec.com] , which IMHO would be perfect.

DOA without ATSC & CableCard support (1)

chameleon_skin (672881) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149122)

It's nice to see this initiative, but it's going to be pretty worthless without digital support.

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

That could potentially be fixed with a softmod up the road, though. The big killer is the lack of CableCard support. CableCard is the technology used so that you can plug an encrypted digital broadcast signal via cable into your home media device. Today these mostly just plug directly into CableCard-enabled TV's, but the idea is that you could plug it into a DVR as well. While technically you could receive ATSC transmissions that are unecrypted, do you think any cable provider in their right mind is going to leave their content unencrypted when the possibility exists to scramble it?

Unfortunately, you need to be "certified" by CableLabs in order to use CableCard - and recent trends [arstechnica.com] indicate that there's a snowball's chance in hell of anybody running a linux platform getting buyoff from CableLabs.

And in case you felt like getting creative and plugging this into the firewire output of your cable company's receiver, think again - yet another FCC mandate requires them to disable these ports after July 2007.

Upshot: Without some major tweaking, the only thing this will be good for in a couple years is possibly getting over-the-air signals, and even then only if they provide decoding for ATSC. If not, it's a doorstop.

Re:DOA without ATSC & CableCard support (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149406)

Without support for ATSC ... this device won't receive any signal, encrypted or not, within the next few years.

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

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

Er, no.

CableCard is indeed a big problem, but it looks like it may kill off most of the CE industry, not just Neuros.

Re:DOA without ATSC & CableCard support (1)

chameleon_skin (672881) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149558)

Didn't read the product spec carefully enough - I didn't realize that the buyer is expected to output data from their tuner into the OSD. Still though, if the FCC is mandating that non-encrypted digital outputs be removed from tuner devices by 7/2007, it seems that the issue still exists. Sure, you could make it work with an over-the-air ATSC antenna, but most people will never have these (or even know what they are).

You are definitely correct about it killing off the whole CE industry, though - OSD is just one example among many.

Re:DOA without ATSC & CableCard support (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149541)

Cable Card, no cable card, switch to digital...none of it matters. People are still going to have their SDTVs and they're going to continue to be the majority of the market for at least the next 10 years. If any of these "major" changes happen, the only end-user change will be that Comcast or DirecTV will swap out their receiver boxes with different ones. In the end, it'll still be a coax, composite, or S-video connection to their TV (or in this case, to the OSD and then on to the TV).

Re:DOA without ATSC & CableCard support (1)

jonesy16 (595988) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149862)

I agree completely. In the end there are still going to be plenty of years of analog video signals over S-VIDEO to feed the OSD. This unit, however, is definitely aimed at the non-videophile market. I mean, it doesn't even have an S-VIDEO out for the TV, so all of your signals are being fed over composite video lines, NOT COMPONENT, COMPOSITE.
The lack of a tuner makes this device even more useless since it'll have to getting its signal from the tv or a cable box. There's no mention of software packages so there's no way of knowing whether it can obtain a show listing and tell your cable box to switch channels at a given time or not. No mention of supported file systems, audio codecs, network discovery mechanisms, etc. Can it share recorded media over NFS? SMB? No mention of a keyboard so everything must have to be done through a GUI and I have trouble believing that their OS will be as polished as what users have come to expect with devices like TIVO's. Based on the info on their website, which is severely lacking, it's hard to justify spending the money.

A little more disclosure is needed in this story (2, Informative)

BigVig209 (959850) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149262)

Both Svartalf (2997) and markwalling (863035) mention it, but, to re-iterate, this product is being offered exclusively through Thinkgeek.

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

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

no HDTV? (1)

davygrvy (868500) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149672)

Only NTSC/PAL composite output? This is now, not 5 years ago!

Next generation 5 years ago (1)

MeanMF (631837) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149777)

No HD, no DVI = already obsolete.

Neuros stranded THIS user... (3, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16149805)

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom line: beware of this vendor and their promises.

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