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Programming Media Media (Apple) Television IT Technology

Neuros Solicits Help From AppleTV Hackers 59

JoeBorn writes "Highlighting the fact that Neuros officially encourages contributions to its open source device (GPL), it has published an open letter soliciting the help of AppleTV hackers. 'The transition to IPTV creates a golden opportunity to ensure that the gateway to the TV set becomes open to all.' Neuros draws a connection between open source and free media, and attempts to articulate why an open box can extend the freedom of the internet to the TV set."
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Neuros Solicits Help From AppleTV Hackers

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  • by QX-Mat ( 460729 ) on Saturday April 28, 2007 @11:27AM (#18911859)
    I've been debating for a while now whether i want to get an XBox 1 to stream videos etc off the lan at home. At it stands, neither cd changers, dvd changers or "media pcs" have really made me happier or content easier to access. We have far too many controls at home, far too many user interfaces, and stupidly crippled hardware (we've got a sony dvd/harddisc-based recorder that doesn't interface with any kind of tv catalogue - useless!)...

    I've seen a modded xbox happily navigate windows' shares, ftps, even RSS feeds, and even download videos from the net on the fly. I've seen them transparently mount .isos, decompress rars and zip files. Amazing stuff. No software players I've seen yet can do this.

    Here's the crux tho: the Neuros OSD is ~ $200... I can get an xbox for £50 (~notalot) with games and a controller, then softmod it to my specs in a few hours. I know what the xbox does, ive seen it do it.

    If the neuros had a 1gig ethernet port (im not sure it does?), i'd almost certainly invest simply to use it as a NAS (there's a mod for this on the OSD website) as I have 3 x 300Gb USB2 hdds lying around needing a gige link to justify disconnecting them from the PC.

    I've seen other gige NASes around too, but they cost far too much. The xbox 1, of course, doesnt sport gige (does it?!). I suppose I could hard mod the xbox usb and plug in a usb gige adaptor, but does the xbox support usb2??


    I personally think its fantastic seeing a product that wants to utilise OSS this way! I've long wondered why the proprietary vendors try to cut out modding if they're pricing their product to make money through sales (think wifi boxen etc - not xboxes, their business model needs you to buy games). Its weird when their product lines and life expectations usually fall far short of incorporating any "user inspired" features. I've yet to see "successive" versions of products actually take features from the unsupported mod market and sell in a new product. Clearly they're just trying to thawt innovation at home, because there's a very thin line between breading up a small SoC and selling it!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by casings ( 257363 ) * OSD []

      The ethernet port is only 10/100, and I highly doubt that it is upgradable via firmware.
      • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

        The ethernet port is only 10/100, and I highly doubt that it is upgradable via firmware.

        Also, it only offers composite output. It doesn't even do S-video, let alone component or DVI/HDMI. Lame.

    • I've long wondered why the proprietary vendors try to cut out modding if they're pricing their product to make money through sales
      Good point. Modding adds a lot of value to a product. Think of Half-Life. How many copies do you think Valve would have sold without the mods? Counter-Strike seemed to be more popular than Half-Life ever was, yet Valve still made money on copies of Half-Life.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 28, 2007 @11:57AM (#18912015)
      Connecting a Gigabit Ethernet adapter to a USB port, what a great idea, how come no one thought of that before ?
    • by DinZy ( 513280 )
      NO. It doesn't have component outputs and thus it is not even capable of 480P. The xbox can output higher resolutions but can only really decode 480p. The interface is a bit odd with a controller, but you get used to it really fast. The only weird parts are the advanced menu features like syncing audio and subtitles. I doubt any CE device even has these super useful features.
      • That's only an issue if you have an HDTV. Very few people do.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by in5ane ( 961406 )
          Surely this isn't true any more? People have been saying this for ever, and it was believable in 2003...

          I realise my friends and family are mostly nerds, but most of them have HDTVs, and this is in the UK, where apparently our uptake of HD is lower than the US.
    • by WarwickRyan ( 780794 ) on Saturday April 28, 2007 @12:02PM (#18912047)
      It adds one significant feature: it can record.

      Otherwise, there's nothing else on the market that is as good as Xbox Media Center.

      Personally, I've bought a spare Xbox (on the £50 deal you're talking about) as a backup for my current XBMC box.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      xbox is only usb1 iirc, and 100mb ethernet not gig, but that said it works very very well. xmbc is updated regularly. i`ve got an lg drive + drivemod for fast disc reading (xbox drive can be shit for seeking on dvds) and chucked in a 120gig drive. if you don`t mind rehousing the xbox or can modify the case you can quite easily add extra IDE drives. it handles everything i throw at it - but it will have problems on high def rips. playing files through usb/controller port cable (the ports are standard usb, so
    • Downside of OSS (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I really have a distrust of OSS projects in general, especially high profile ones. They always seem to turn out like Netscape, which throws the source out there and may as well say "our programmers suck, please fix our buggy product for us". And when someone is throwing out an open letter to "the community"... that's essentially what is written in any kind of open letter.

      FOSS has it's place, but when zealots view it as some kind of realistic alternative to real products, it ends up being quite laughable.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Where the hell of you been? It's 2010, and everyone owns a Mac and prays daily to the Great Steve.

        Now take your iSoma and chant your iMantras.
      • by Kz ( 4332 )

        Every piece of software you add brings with it a potential problem, so the secret of intelligent network management is to install as few pieces of software as possible... and Windows truly does let you do more with less.

        what a sad world here there's people that actually beleive that
    • My wife and I use XBMC almost daily. It's such a great piece of software on a pretty nice piece of hardware too (for the price). I haven't updated the hard drive or DVD drive, as I pretty much stream everything off my PC, but it works so great. I don't think I could ever own another media center, but you never know, we got rid of our DVR a few months ago and I do miss recording.
    • by interiot ( 50685 )
      The XBMC can't decode HD content. (it can decode SD content and upscale it to HD, but doesn't have enough CPU to decode HD source material)
      • by BLKMGK ( 34057 )
        1080 no, 720 YES! Looks damned good too. XBMC is awesome and revised regularly - love it.
  • Why? (Score:4, Informative)

    by RalphBNumbers ( 655475 ) on Saturday April 28, 2007 @11:52AM (#18911979)
    Quoth their own letter on their set top box:

    The embedded components that are typically needed are quite often not nearly as open as many of the components in PCs.

    The AppleTV -is- a PC, it's got a 1.0GHz Pentium M-based based x86 processor, a GeForce Go 7300 GPU, a 40GB HDD, 256MB of RAM, USB, 100B-T Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n WiFi, with HDMI and component outputs...

    Why should anyone interested in developing open solutions for set top boxes limit themselves to the OSD's closed embedded-style hardware, when Apple has provided a full PC that you can run whatever you want on (Mac OSX, linux, MythTV, etc...) in a nice neat package for almost the same price ($229 vs $299)? Especially when the AppleTV is sufficiently powerful to do HDTV divx/xvid decoding in software, whereas the Neuros OSD needs to use it's closed DSP core to handle even SDTV.
    • Not to mention, what makes them think any self-respecting Apple TV hacker would be caught dead with such an example of tasteless undesign as the Neuros []? I mean, just look at that remote. My God.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Afecks ( 899057 )
      Why should anyone interested in developing open solutions for set top boxes limit themselves to the OSD's closed embedded-style hardware

      No, the question people should be asking is why buy the AppleTV if it's just another PC? I don't know about everyone else but whenever I get a new PC, my old PC becomes the media hub. It costs nothing extra and has more power than AppleTV could ever hope for. This seems like a product in search of a need.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

        by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Saturday April 28, 2007 @01:04PM (#18912467) Homepage Journal
        How about because ATV has a much smaller form factor than any other PC based solution, is dead silent (completely fanless), has TV out built in, and has wireless built in for $300? The only downside I've found, 1 USB port so you need a USB expander, and a minuscule 40G HD that pretty much has to be replaced. To me, this is the ultimate hack friendly media center for the price and form.
        • by yanos ( 633109 )
          The only thing that keeps me away from apple tv right now is that it doesnt have a dvd player. This is stupid. I don't want to have a standalone dvd player AND a apple tv to stream divx. It's yet another remote, another set of inputs taken behind the tv, another electronic appliance that drains electricity even when turn off...etc
        • by Afecks ( 899057 )
          Size? Noise? Wireless? That's odd, because none of those things matter in the closet where I keep my media PC. I'm also not sure how $300 is less than FREE thanks to recycling a PC I kept instead of throwing away. I'm saving money and helping the environment.
      • It costs nothing extra and uses more power than AppleTV could ever hope for.
        Fixed, all the way to the power company.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 )
      Wow, that's great! So I just put the Ubuntu disc in the CD-ROM and... uh... Ok, I plug a USB drive in the USB connector and... WTF? I guess I have to mount it as a network share... um... Well, then, it must have a serial port for debugging and reflashing... fuck!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Slashcrap ( 869349 )
      Why should anyone interested in developing open solutions for set top boxes limit themselves to the OSD's closed embedded-style hardware, when Apple has provided a full PC that you can run whatever you want on (Mac OSX, linux, MythTV, etc...) in a nice neat package for almost the same price ($229 vs $299)?

      Sorry, just a minor correction - Apple have actually provided a full PC which they will do everything within their power to stop you running Mac OSX, Linux & MythTV on.

      The fact that Apple are shit at t
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Saturday April 28, 2007 @08:50PM (#18915031) Homepage

        Apple have actually provided a full PC which they will do everything within their power to stop you running Mac OSX, Linux & MythTV on.

        Huh? Since when has Apple made even a token effort to stop people from running different software on their hardware? They do try to stop running OS X on foreign hardware (but they don't waste a lot of developer resources on it) but that's a very different thing.

        Compare how easy it is to load a completely different OS on the AppleTV:
        1) write new OS to drive.
        2) Apple publicly says they won't do anything via updates to try and stop people from doing it
        2) Done.

        vs what it took to turn the XBox into a standalone media device:
        1) Order potentially illegal mod kit
        2) Solder delicate wires to tiny holes
        3) Flash hacked firmware (pray you don't screw up, or goto 1)
        4) Boot from illegal CD/DVD
        6) Install illegal software.
        7) Be sure never to load any dashboard updates from MS, since they will all try to brick the machine
        8) Done!
        • I second that. When my last DVD player broke I was thinking of buying an XBox recently so I can make myself a cheap media center, but the XBox hacking community is mostly made of warez monkeys and developers who pirate the official XBox SDK instead of making free legal solutions.

          In the end I bought a PS2 instead, which has a pretty good built-in DVD player, and games that don't suck. I may buy an ATV in the future if the costs go down, because it really seems like the perfect hackable media center appliance
    • by JoeBorn ( 625012 )
      Because the PC's architecture is not right for every application. There are tradeoffs, certainly there's no doubt that, given the x86's legacy, it has a more robust OSS support system, but it can't touch the DSP's price performance levels. With a DSP a silent, High def PVR (simultaneous encode and decode) for $100 is a possibility, and that's much harder, if not impossible on x86. Personally, I'm a believer that the future of multimedia appliances is making "embedded" devices more open, rather than tryin
  • the nueros has no digital video out AFAIK, so its worth is limited.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by _LORAX_ ( 4790 )
      Neuros also doesn't have/support..

      AVC because of it's underpowered CPU/GPU
      HDTV output, hell the thing can't even do s-video out
      Storage of media locally
      Interaction with iTunes

      and so much more
  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Saturday April 28, 2007 @12:22PM (#18912193)
    Apple TV hackers focus is legally running Cocoa applications on a $300 device. If you just want a Linux set top box, your best choice is probably a slightly used notebook. You get to customize hard drive space, gaming capabilities and so on according to your needs. Neuros attitude is golden, but does their hardware bring any additional value into the picture?
  • HDMI hack (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iheartbeer ( 982619 ) on Saturday April 28, 2007 @12:30PM (#18912247)
    Quick, someone hack HDMI into it.
  • 'The transition to IPTV creates a golden opportunity to ensure that the gateway to the TV set becomes open to all.'

    Why does this statement make me think of Max Headroom [] re-runs?
  • by Junior Samples ( 550792 ) on Saturday April 28, 2007 @01:33PM (#18912629)
    According to their Wiki OSD [] The Neuros product doesn't support ATSC or any of the High Definition formats.

    I would be extremely interested in a set top box that can play files directly from my network drive in any format that WinDVD is capable of playing, and output video in 1080i, 720p, 480i, and other popular TV line rates. I don't want to have to download the file to the STB's local drive or have to run special video streaming software. I just want to mount the network drive to the STB and point to the file to play. Fancy menus and play lists are optional.

    Hardware outputs should include the latest version of HDMI, DVI-D/I, VGA, Component and Y/C (S-Video). I want it to work with any monitor or TV that I have laying around. Optionally, an ATSC tuner can be added for digital recording / PVR capability. And of course, there should be no trace of DRM.

    Apple-TV isn't there. The hacks are a start, but there's a long way to go.

    There's a big market out there for this type of equipment waiting to be tapped.
  • This looks really interesting. It's something who's time has come. The one obvious problem with this product, however, is the lack of additional outputs. Specifically, at a minimum, component and DVI are needed.

  • I so want Neuros to make a sensible product, but they just can't seem to get it together. It kills me, because I'm in the market for just this sort of device. Their heart is clearly in the right place, but they just don't seem to understand what people want from products. How on earth can you justify releasing a video device for geeks in late 2006 that:
    • no built-in wireless
    • doesn't support Hi-Def recording *or* playback
    • has no digital audio output
    • has only a composite RGB video output!! Not even s-video! (
  • I would buy the Apple TV today as a stationary, sync-able iPod with video control (never mind the videos from iTunes, I don't reallly care about those) if it had composite or S-Video output. WTF is Apple thinking limiting it to HD adopters?
    • by Typoboy ( 61087 )
      It has Component out. It also has HDMI out, which you can convert to DVI and run an LCD panel from. It runs fine on a non-HD screen that takes Component [Y'PbPr].
  • Translation: "Apple make money on DRM. DRM evil. Apple have closed code. Closed code evil. Us linux. Linux good. Pay us."

    AppleTV is an awesome box that is built upon a ton of open source items, from the kernel upwards. Just check out the legalese page on it if you don't believe it. I think its popularity is just going to grow. The AppleTV doesn't have video in, but is definitely a superior box otherwise. I don't see any reason why it won't handle any 'iptv' thing that comes along in the future - oh, at
  • There are dozens of other small PCs that can do what the AppleTV or Neuros hardware can do, and which can run open source software, and are above all cheaper than either. People whose goal is running open source software above all else aren't generally going to be "Apple TV hackers", but for the ones who are... what is it that Neuros offers them? One thing that hardcore open source people are worried about is finding themselves locked in to a single source. Who else is making embedded set-top boxes with a d

Neutrinos have bad breadth.