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Neuros OSD Review

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the onvergenation dept.

Media 55

An anonymous reader writes "The Neuros OSD promises a lot — it claims to be the first open source Linux-based embedded media center and it "records video and links your PC, portables and entertainment center". Bold claims, but can it live up to them? has a two page review of the Neuros OSD."

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All I can say is... (-1, Offtopic)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17371798)


Re:All I can say is... (-1, Offtopic)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17371968)

Ok, I'll say it again, and it is on topic this time. Boinnnnnnnnnng! I can't wait to install, and make my media center using this OS. Hows that, a little clearer now? Hope others post on their success using this OS. It definitely is promising.

Re:All I can say is... (2, Informative)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372006)

I thought you were going on a scale of "Ouch!", "Wow", or "Boinnnnnnnnng!" Somebody's been watching too many old Christmas movies [] . I guess it's me.

At $230, it doesn't look like it's breaking the bank for a DVR...until you realize that it doesn't include a hard disk! It also doesn't record HD video. At that price, it seems like it should do one or the other.

I'd get one if.... (3, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17371866)

I've really been thinking about getting one of these. I currently use the Xbox, mod'd to run XBMC. If the neuros can work that well out of the box (preferably running a port of XBMC) then I'd be sold. As I see it now it's still too much work compared to the Xbox solution.

Re:I'd get one if.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17372004)

Big Advantage over XBMC: This Neuros OSD can record. So you can set it up for some TIVO type action.

Slight downside i can see: It uses and 200Mhz Arm9 CPU combined with a 120 MHz C54x DSP processor. That combination should work with any codec at a high framerate, provided the DSP is used in the encoding/decoding. Programming for this combination efficiently is going to be way more of a hassle than coding for XBMC and its single CPU. You might not get the same number of codecs supported.

No 16:9? (4, Informative)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17371952)

According to TFA, this does not yet support 16:9 aspect ratio. Presumably that also means it doesn't support HD content. I wasn't clear if this is supposed to be a new DVR solution, but if so, then it needs to support HD and 16:9 before I'd consider it.

Re:No 16:9? (3, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372454)

Also lists resolutions, which top off at 720x480. Definitely not HD preserving, and likely no HD tuner. Of course, an HD tuner PCI card is about $100, so it may have put the vendor over their price point.

Doesn't take much to support 16:9. Also is effortless to support most sets with HDMI and distinct audio ports with a DVI-HDMI cable.

I have a diskless mythfrontend on my TVs HDMI port, running 1280x720, and the backend has an HD Tuner. Absolutely beautiful.

Re:No 16:9? (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376982)

diskless? What do you mean? No harddrive? I'm by no means a Linux expert (though I've been comfortably running kubuntu at home as my primary computer for several months now), and have been thinking about trying to setup a dvr with an hdtv card and possibly wean myself from the cable company. I have a few extra pc's laying around the only one that is stable though is a via epia (roughly 1ghz) the rest are old amd's that got flakey after a year (2900xp and an 1800xp) or two. How much time, effort, and money is needed to setup a HD dvr using myth? I know I can google this stuff, but I value the opinions and hear the experiences from actual people over whatever google turns up.

Re:No 16:9? (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378124)

The frontend is diskless, no hard drive or flash, netboots off the backend. I started with slax and heavily modified it so it runs off of a ramdisk root and nfs mounts most everything. I did this because it allows the box to sleep (ACPI S3) and resume despite being diskless. If I did nfs root, it couldn't access the utilities/libs to get the network straight again, usb flash disk similar story, it seemed that it wouldn't bring up usb good enough on resume, so ramdisk was my answer. The frontend, btw, was an Asus A8-VM CSM based system with 512 MB of RAM, if you want to know a system with sane enough ACPI to actually sleep under linux (with latest BIOS of course). If you splurge on 1 GB or more of ram, you don't even have to work to trim things down for the ram disk or putting it on nfs to get off the ram disk, and a vanilla slax with copy2ram would go a long way toward what you ultimately want. I really should write a howto somewhere, don't know where since I spent a fair amount of time getting everything to work without a disk and sleeping on a 512 MB ram budget and putting SLAX in a workable form to boot from tftp/nfs.. It was a lot of work, but I have a very quiet frontend with only fans as moving parts which don't need to ramp up much.

The backend has 4 250 gig drives in a software md5 and has the airstar HD5000 card in it (might recommend the new pcHDTV card which is basically the same thing, but the company is very explicit about the linux support. I use pcHDTV provided drivers for my card for some SNR/signal strength values, but am not convinced the formula for the pcHDTV is quite the same as HD5000... Anyway, the big advantages here are I have a huge case for the backend, lots of fans to keep things cool, and can keep it far from my frontend. My house has RJ45 drops everywhere, so I don't know first hand feasibility of 802.11g doing the job for less fortunate souls. 100 mbit is fine and HD content at 1.5x pitch shifted consumed no more than 35 mbit in my tests, but realistic 802.11g performance depends on your environment and I'm not sure what the feasible max or sustainable max is.

Anyway, I set up an analog set up before and a HD setup now. Keep in mind I only do over the air stuff with an antenna, cable and satellite complicate things beyond what I know. I have MythVideo to play DVDs and video files for cable-only or foreign content not licensed in the US (anything worth watching on cable ends up in a box set, is generally not HD on US cable channels, and it's cheaper to pick and choose that way given my watching habits). Setting up digital only, at least in the over the air case, was easier than the old way. The analog way you had to sweat the quality of your signal a lot more, and the quality of your tuner was more critical. Guys at work have cable and struggle with analog setups to get the quality of the capture nice and try out different cards (Cable company is far from all-digital, and encrypts a lot of the digital channels anyway) Digital your card simply has to have a comfy margin above the bare minimum, and copies the stream to disc, no subjective quality to worry about, you have exactly the data the broadcaster intended.

The backend if that is all it does, doesn't need much of a processor, but fast storage subsystem that is not heavily multitasked is a must. Don't have transcode jobs run when recordings are likely to happen concurrent, IO starvation could lose too much of the digital stream and cause bad artifacts. Playback during recording I haven't noticed problems.

The frontend needs to have a video card that supports XvMC, and/or a fairly nice processor. I have an Athlon64 1.8 GHz, which could do it without XvMC at 1.0x speed, but it cuts it close on some content. Plus, if the processor load is high too long the fans will start spinning faster. Pitch shift to 1.3x and some content will choke. The Asus I mentioned earlier has integrated GeForce 6150 and nvidia's drivers provide XvMC with it, and that drastically reduces the cpu load. Myth's wiki has an XvMC entry that provides sample data for what XvMC will do for various processors and content.

I didn't have to worry about TV-Out so much, I used the DVI out of the motherboard to hook to HDMI on my TV, which provides independent audio in for DVI devices, so if you don't already have a TV, make sure it has a DVI port, HDMI but with separate audio available for it, or a DB15 port. My set has DB15 and HDMI, and I chose the HDMI for obvious reasons. A downside on the HDMI port is that the set never expected a PC to be plugged in, and so I had to adjust the UI a lot for the overscan. If a set has a DB15 port, that port may be appealing because there is likely a no-overscan mode. The downside on my set is there is some black area left behind by the PC mode, so you have to decide which is less annoying.

Hope this helps.

Re:No 16:9? (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378614)

Forgot some of the negative things.

First off, it was a moderate/somewhat hard effort for me. Keep this in context, though, as my day-to-day job involves putting together similarly complex net booting stuff, so diskless systems are old hat for me. Running X, booting it so it can sleep and be diskless, and doing it all in such a small amount of memory were challenges beyond the everyday (systems I work with rarely run X, never sleep, and always have gigs of ram). Myth itself is documented pretty well, but indeed has a lot of options and requires mysql to be running. For backend/frontend operation it's a little funkier and knowing SQL helps things, but guides are all over the place about that. So it will probably not be easy (I enjoy challenges, and learned a fair amount, particularly with the flexibility of trying different things I don't have the time to do at work)

Also, an ongoing issue is that mythtv 0.19 (haven't moved to 0.20 yet) forgets AV sync adjustments on seek. Related to this, some of my recordings end up ~500 ms out of sync from the beginning, for no discernible reason. The GeForce 6150 is up to a lot of tasks, but starts to choke on the level of ePSXe with the XGL2 GPU plugin (which is the most glitch-free, but demanding GPU plugin). The MesaGL plugin is fine, looks better (XGL2 renders to a texture and so aliasing is largely dictated by the resolution of the texture which is generally much smaller than your resolution, MesaGL renders direct to screen), but is subject to more glitches. Most gaming on this box is Mame/ZSNES/etc, so ePSXe is the most complex GL program I try to run. I have the games and a PSX and a PS2, but none look nearly as awesome as ePSXe at 960x720 (actually 1280x720 is the mode I select, but preserving aspect of course takes it down to 960x720 effective. Preserving aspect and using the full 1280x720 mode is the way to make it center on screen.) Also nothing beats the convenience of clicking on the games you want instead of media hunting and swapping.

Re:No 16:9? (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17379304)

My day job is Web development (mostly java, although I've done some c# and vb) so the sql isn't a problem although I'm shocked that you'd find use for it in configuring a pvr/dvr. I've built several of my own computers from commodity parts the problem is they never seem stable for much more than a year. I'd blame windows, but I think ends up being the hardware configurations or maybe just crappy products from TigerDirect? I guess I'll just have to start putting together a shopping list and be more careful about checking hardware compatibility.

All my systems are home built.. (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17382136)

I haven't had many problems in terms of longevity. Three of my systems did develop severe issues over the years, but invariably some fan in the system (1 chipset, 1 case fan, and 1 video card fan) had either stopped spinning or was spinning slowly and generating heat itself instead of mostly moving heat as it should. Replacing the fans resolved each problem. General rule of thumb is that if weirdness develops over time and persists through different OSes, hunt down bad fans and if you are lucky, no permament thermal damage has occurred. I had one motherboard blow capacitors, but that's usually a fairly hard failure, but you may want to check for non-flat capacitor tops. Aside from specefic capacitors, solid state devices tend to do well over time, so the likely culprit is some moving part (fan, hard drive).

I happen to buy almost entirely from Newegg (there is a local Tiger Direct outlet here, but they tend to be pricier than NewEgg. On the frontend I got motherboard, processor, RAM, and case/PS, so few interactions to go south, and few moving parts (3 fans). A system with a Promise SATA controller didn't work well with the sata_promise linux driver on the backend (concurrent IOs to multiple channels would knock the controller out of commision), so I bought a silicon image.

The SQL is generally transparent to the user, but sometimes granting privileges requires SQL statements be crafted/issued in a more complex backend/frontend config. Mainly I think they found it a convenient way to manage TV listings, and if requiring a DB, may as well use it. Also a natural way to share a config between backends and frontends. With only one mythbackend and some number of frontends, you don't need any file sharing to do the meat of mythtv.

Re:No 16:9? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372582)

I'm not even this can be resolved in software-- it appears to have s-video in, and composite in/out. HD is usually component, DVI, or HDMI.

Re:No 16:9? (1)

mrgsd (668128) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372800)

4:3 non HD. Out of sync recording. Lame.

Not All Three (4, Insightful)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17371972)

I RTFA and noticed the following snippet;

I have quite a large TV - a 37" widescreen - and the playback on that screen was quite poor. Whether this was related to the widescreen issues mentioned below or the general quality of my input source I'm not sure, but I certainly won't be using the OSD to record TV for playback on my TV.

I'm not sure I can justify spending money on something that'll record stuff that only looks good on the PC or a portable player... if I wanted that I'd just use my PC's inbuilt functionality. Still, a good start.

Re:Not All Three (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372642)

NTSC is horrible. NTSC on a higher def TV apparently is even worse.

I put together a PVR about a year or so ago, and it takes so much time to go through and calibrate it so that the colors and contrast look okay across all recordings.

I'd say a device like this would be good (like you said) just for smaller devices or SDTVs.

I read it, but I'm confused. (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17371998)

What the hell is this thing? A Tivo without a hard drive? Do I hook it to my TV or my computer? Or both (via ethernet.)

Nevermind, read it again! (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372100)

I guess I only half read it the first time. That's what I get for reading /., writing PHP and being on a conference call at the same time.

Review (4, Funny)

dj961 (660026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372036)

The Neuros OSD is small. Very small. At only 14cm wide, 14cm deep and 3.2cm high, it fits comfortably in just about any hole you'd care to stow it.

Just lube it.

Goatse? (2, Funny)

scribblej (195445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372086)

The Neuros OSD is small. Very small. At only 14cm wide, 14cm deep and 3.2cm high, it fits comfortably in just about any hole you'd care to stow it.

Oh my!

I'm trying SO hard not to post a link to a certain hole.

Re:Goatse? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17378330)

The goatse man laughs at such a small device. He can fit at least 4 in his hole.

Buff it up to 1080p and add cable card support. (2, Insightful)

zorkmid (115464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372200)

And then you'll have something. As it is now it's not terribly useful.

First? (2, Informative)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372290)

first open source Linux-based embedded media center
I think not. MythTV based systems have been commercially available for a while.

Re:First? (1)

jbrader (697703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372424)

How about a link?

Re:First? (1)

itlurksbeneath (952654) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375614)

Here's one []

There are others. I remember seeing another company with one about 6 to 8 months ago.

Re:First? (1)

jbrader (697703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376322)

Wow, that one's pretty good. I poked around on the internet yesterday and saw a couple but they were all more than that and didn't have the fancy stereo-like case. I'm gonna be buying a big new tv pretty soon and I might pick up one of those to go with.

Re:First? (2, Informative)

|<amikaze (155975) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372430)

Please note the word "embedded".

Re:First? (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17381674)

Please note the word "embedded".
Fair enough, but does a consumer really care what the hardware platform is? Consumers are interested in the capabilities of the device and what it looks like. Some (at least here) might care if it's software is open source. This device is smaller than any MythTV system I've seen (though only just compared to Mac Mini's used as frontends), but it's not really first in any way a consumer will care about.

Let's see... (4, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372384)

Widescreen? Nope. HDTV? Nope. Dual tuners? Doesn't look like it. Display on front to show what it's recording? Nope. Support for digital cable (cable card)? Nope. Downloadable programs over the 'net? Nope. Suggestions based on other users TV viewing? Nope. "Season Pass" like recording? Doesn't seem like it. Fits nicely in a rack of home theater equipment (doesn't look like a PC)? Nope. Ability to hack? Yes. Monthly fee? No.

Let's compare that to a TiVo series 3.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, soon, yes, yes, yes, no, yes.

It only won in the last two categories.

Yeah, I'll drop my Series 3 for this thing. Heck, I wouldn't drop a Series 2. You can hack a Series 2 to add other stuff, and still have the great TiVo UI and service.

I've yet to see what I consider to be even a mildly compelling alternative to a TiVo. Unless you have all the parts sitting around and want to build a MythTV box for free, they just aren't there. I mean, why should I choose this over a cable company DVR which would give me things like On Demand and HD?

TiVo: Still #1, no serious competitors since the death of ReplayTV.

Re:Let's see... (1)

milas (988484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17373688)

You obviously haven't experienced the joys of the Motorola 6xxx running iGuide. Or even worse, the previous version aka the alpha of iGuide Comcast shipped out hoping nobody would be able to tell the difference.

Re:Let's see... (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17373764)

Hmmm... you sound like a "gadget guy" and not a tech. If you feel OK with just buying something that's already built and bending over for the restrictions imposed on you by corporate head office, that's actually OK. Just not for people like me. The main reason I don't go with the Tivo that DirecTV offers me is that I can't archive the TV shows for my collection. But, to a tech (vs. a "gadget guy"), there is more fun to be had in building a system from scratch and then perfecting it so it has more features than commercial units offer. My current Linux based media center runs on a PIII from 1999. It does a damn fine job to thanks to some smart hardware choices and knowledge about how to take advantage of said choices. I, however, did not choose to go the MythTV or Freevo routes because I'm not a gadget guy and those are still to "prefab" for me. I, instead, opted to not have to teach my family a whole new UI and went with a typical Gnome desktop, custom Bash scripts, Zenity for GUI interaction with the scripts, and some very basic Gnome desktop cutomization (custom icons that launch the scripts). I, unlike many of my bretheren, acknowledge that not everyone wants to or enjoys doing this sort of thing. Mostly I'm posting to explain why someone WOULD want to bother with this sort of thing. In my case, I wanted to be able to watch TV from anywhere, anytime. And thanks to Xine and it's broadcast mode + Lirc and OpenSSH, all computers in my house can watch TV and change channels or watch recorded programs. And thanks to Network Block Device support, the normally unused DVD drive in the livingroom laptop is now the DVD player for theLinux media center in the basement that displays on the 37" LCD monitor in the living room. As one of my Slashdot friends put it, "Some motherfucker is always wanting to swim upstream". That would be people like me. If we didn't do it, then there would be lots of discoveries that would go undiscovered.

Re:Let's see... (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374330)

Hmmm... you sound like a "paragraph guy" and not a paragraphs guy. If you feel OK having no one read further than I did, blah blah blah I didn't read any further.

Re:Let's see... (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376972)

Thanks for pointing out that I exceeded the twelve sentences per paragraph rule by two sentences. It contributed OH SO much to the conversation. I learned the twelve sentences per paragraph rule in grade school like any other moderately educated kid born before 1980. I suspect you learned to write by aping others online? Typical 21st century drivel is what you just wrote.

Re:Let's see... (1)

charlesnw (843045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17379726)

Um. Why did you reply to the troll? You just validated his pitiful existence :)

Re:Let's see... (1)

PastaLover (704500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17388694)

If you look at it it is just one big horrible blurb of text. (no I'm not the AC) Twelve sentences per paragraph might be alright if your sentences are short, but not in this case. Paragraphs are about readability, not silly rules you learned in grade school. And as far as schooling goes, mine taught me to divide my thoughts into neat little packets and use paragraphs to distinguish between them. Using unwieldy long paragraphs makes you look like a sloppy thinker, not to mention that 90% of people probably didn't even read your post, as the grandparent post was pointing out.

Re:Let's see... (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17395426)

Well I was actually being a bit trollish myself. However, it does irk me when I see idiot writing where there are three sentences per "paragraph" and the text looks more like a poem than an essay.

Re:Let's see... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17373954)

It only won in the last two categories.

That's because you picked the categories, based on things the Tivo has, rather than features the Tivo lacks.

why should I choose this over a cable company DVR which would give me things like On Demand and HD?

Because you don't have to hack it to allow you to copy *your* videos off it, re-encode them, edit out commercials, record to DVD, etc.

A spare computer is a better option, IMHO, but this little thing has it's benefits as well.

If I offered you a glass of milk... (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374692)

.... you would say:

-It does not taste like lemonade.
-It does not look like lemonade.
-It is not made from lemons.
-It is not opaque like lemonade.

for bunnies fucking sakes, this device has a completely different use, which I'll let you guess in order to allow you to improve your reading comprehension skillz (you read TFA I am sure, so try again).

Re:If I offered you a glass of milk... (1)

bdonalds (989355) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376090)

You make some nice points, but you make me wonder...where are you buying your non-opaque milk??!?

Re:Let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375328)

Well, TIVO costs 799$.

The problem is that someone pretend Neuros OSD to be a PC with all that features,
maybe with enough power for MAME, games, whatever imported codec, mplayer,
etc.; IMHO it's just a player with recording capability. The problem is that
StrongARM CPU under which it's based don't have the power for everything else
(it doesn't even have a FPU). The power for MPEG playback/recording is
given by the DSP.

Regarding all the rest, like a browser and a player for youtube, I wonder
what can be used for achieving it. Youtube is using FlashPlayer, which don't exists
for non X86-32 architectures. You may use gnash, but then what about
all the codecs (Sorenson) used by Flash?

Re:Let's see... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376640)

Um, it uses a Texas Instruments DM320, not an Intel StrongARM.

Re:Let's see... (1)

The Wicked Priest (632846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17394594)

You don't really need Flash for YouTube video, just FLV -- already supported in several open-source players. It's just a variant of h.263, IIRC.

It's so obsolete it's fascinating (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17372418)

This is so obsolete, it's fascinating, just like the stories of people who rent phones from 1970 and people who still send telegrams. If someone just now introduced something this obsolete, it makes you wonder how many people are still selling Commodore VIC-20's as new technology.

It's not Beta.. It's not even FC (3, Informative)

lushmore (41101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17373004)

I had an OSD for a couple weeks and returned it. I'm an embedded Linux developer by trade, so it would have been right in my wheelhouse, IF I had a ton of free time to work on it and time to wait for Neuros' and others' contributions. But seriously, you can't call it beta if > 50% of the features on the box don't work reliably. It's not fair to review the unit at this time. It's nowhere near done.

Outdated (1)

stabiesoft (733417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17373468)

I've been using a Roku HD-1000 for several years to playback HD content. Its kind of the same idea as this thing, but why didn't these guys add support for HD? The roku is diskless also (completely fanless/motorless too, so completely quiet), so it is very nice for home theatre. Just plug via ethernet to a box with a drive and a tuner card to record stuff. Oh, Roku is also linux based and programmable.

Is it legal? (1)

a.d.trick (894813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17373586)

TFA mentions that the little box requires some non-free kernel modules. Doesn't shipping this violate the GPL?

Re:Is it legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17377264)

Yes, as long as the modules do not require kernel hacks it is entirely legal. That's what the PROPRIETARY module type is there for. You have to release the kernel sources that are used for the machine, but not for the proprietary binary module. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

No It Doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17373730)

I bought one, and its a piece of shit. It can't display jpg files, it displays one or two and then gets hung. When I insert a USB flashdrive, it runs for a few minutes, then spontaneously reboots, it does it over and over again. The remote could not possibly be laid out worse. When you look down at it, you hardly have a clue what any button does. CRAPFEST CRAPFEST! I haven't got a video file it can play. I get the beta, lets build a product thing, its great, I'm happy to support that, but shit, this thing can't do any of the things it was advertised to already be able to do. I've checked the websites, and I see hardly any activity, so I'm scared there is no comunity building around this thing.

I think this is a good idea, but instead of building it on a totally new chunk of hardware, they should have used off the shelf PC hardware, chosen a small set of video, sound, flash, cards, MOBOs, etc and started building the software on that base. Then once that's a stable working product, port it to a set-top/appliance board. Maybe start with MythTV, then make it more usable/suitable for an appliance-like device.

Thank god for the 60-day no questions asked refund!

Yet again... non standard size... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374572)

FTA: "The Neuros OSD is small. Very small. At only 14cm wide, 14cm deep and 3.2cm high, it fits comfortably in just about any hole you'd care to stow it."

Ho hum. Once again a media device that is a different size than all my other standard sized hi-fi seperates. So I won't be getting one of these then. In fact I'm so fed up with all the non hi-fi sized "media centre" cases the only hole I'd like to stow it in belongs to the idiot who decided to use this stupid case size.

Still at least it's black instead of some variety of awful garish silver so they did get something right.

Quick Summary (1)

SydBarrett (65592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375836)

This thing barely works and is hard to use.

Ask someone who knows... (3, Informative)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376464)

Neuros bought most of the video codecs and Linux BSP from a third party. How do I know? - I was an engineer for said third party, and wrote/developed a few of the modules for this platform. In fact, I'm intimately familiar with the video and audio playback code.

That said, I have a few comments:

The sound and video often get very out of sync and sometimes the video judders, or slows to get back to where it should be...[emphasis added]

First of all, I had not observed this at all when using a pristine source. We did recognize that our coping mechanisms would produce a similar result if the incoming source had missing frames or audio, etc...

In fact A/V sync was one of the enduring problems on which I worked during my tenure. Suffice to say, we chose to gradually pull audio and video back in sync when sync was lost because our clients complained that the alternative appeared too jittery. Unlike other vendors, we could present acceptable quality playback with as much as 1/4 of the frames missing from the input stream. Most other encoders/decoders would produce a noticeable, annoying frame-jitter whenever there was a loss of either audio or video.

But, aside from that, here are some more things the article failed to mention:

  1. The processor is a TI DM320. The ARM 9 can run at ~200 MHz, and the DSP at ~100.
  2. The DSP, not the ARM, does the video encoding/decoding. The DSP or the ARM may be used for audio playback, depending on the codec used.
  3. Typical ARM CPU usage during playback is less than 50%. When audio is done on the DSP, you can easily attain less than 10% CPU on the ARM. The DSP does the overwhelming majority of the work on this platform.
  4. We ported MicroWindows to this platform. Though it might not be in the BSP, you can definitely run it on the Neuros if you have the time to port it.
  5. It has 64MB of SDRAM. The address space of the processor allows for up to 256 MB to be installed, if anyone is interested.
  6. Likewise, you can replace the 4MB flash memory with a larger one, if you'd like. Typically, there is about 256MB of address space per chip select.
  7. You should be able to get X up and running on this platform. Some of our past clients used GTK on this same platform.
  8. If you are interested in debugging, telnet to the board and look at the /proc directory. Several of our modules will list interesting statistics on video and audio performance such as: Number of dropped/delayed/skipped frames, audio/video sync difference, number of frames, number of interrupts, etc...
  9. The platform does support IDE drives. Someone willing to get out a soldering iron and tinker could very easily add tivo-like video recording to this device. But why would you do that when...
  10. The device is designed to be used with USB hard drives. The reason why an HD isn't included is because the usage model is that of a user plugging in an external USB HD, and encoding to that. That way, you can expand the recording capacity of the device without cracking open the case as above...

Hope this helps.

I do feel some connection to this project because I did a lot of work on this platform. Truth be told, I'm thinking of buying one just for sentimental reasons; unfortunately, my company didn't hand out samples. I do know quite a bit about the BSP, and would be happy to answer any questions regarding the platform that I can.

Re:Ask someone who knows... (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376974)

We'd certainly love to have you on the ML, etc even if you don't have time to participate otherwise, and we've been known to give discounts to people that can help out. Send me an email.

Just out of curiosity... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17382286)

Does it boot from the SD/MMC card yet?

One of the last things I did was to make the board check for an SD card at startup, and boot from that. Failing to find a card, it would then default to the flash. (More or less like the original PC's would boot floppy by default, then HD). I don't think these scripts made it into the releases, but it wouldn't be too hard to do.

Re:Just out of curiosity... (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 7 years ago | (#17382632)

yes, it can boot from cards now.

Only composite out? (1)

worldcitizen (130185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377252)

>the playback on that screen was quite poor
>On the other hand it played back quite nicely on my PC

This unit only has composite tv-out. 15 years ago that may have been what most users expected but composite signal will not look "good" nowadays when approximately 99.99% of video playing devices and TVs have some option of S-VHS, component or HDMI signals.

Maybe this was intended as a psp/ipod/pc video recorder with a "preview on TV" option?
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