After talking with the Neuros guy, Joe Born, at LUG Radio Live 2007, I decided to buy a Neuros OSD at a special LRL discount of Â£100 including delivery from the US (you need to know the magic code…). I ordered it on Friday and it arrived today. Now that’s service.
The Neuros OSD is essentially a networked audio/visual device, which plays your music and video files and displays your photos from any number of sources, be it across a network using NFS or Samba, from a removable disk over USB and Firewire, from compact flash, SD, MMC and memory stick. It also records and encodes incoming signals from TV, DVD, DVD, PVR, cable, satellite, camcorder etc. The ability to browse and play videos from Youtube was announced in June.
This sounds like a bargain to me. Think Apple TV without the price tag. Admittedly, it doesn’t have built in storage or wireless (though it can allegedly use a USB wireless dongle), it relies on your having USB, Firewire or networked storage but this suits me to the ground. I don’t like my media stored all over the place, I would rather keep it on my desktop and pull it over on demand; and I’d rather do that over 100 Mb ethernet than wireless.
For me, this box just does what I want and a little more. I don’t buy in to the Apple/iPod suite of applications, devices and wallet taxing (Apple announced $200 price cuts on the iPhone today, 2 months after release, in a move which looks a lot like shafting it’s hardcore fans with an early adopters tax). Yes I could have bought a hard disk PVR for a little more, maybe a lot more I don’t know, but this device is small and it means I don’t have to carry a PC from the computer room to the bedroom any more. I also means I don’t have to try to work out why the soundcard isn’t outputting sound to the TV or why the picture from the TV out on my PC is sometimes grey and fuzzy on the TV regardless of OS, resolution or colour depth. And it has a remote control, so no more carrying a keybord to login and mouse to click stuff with.
And another thing. It runs Linux and there is a bustling development community adding new features to the built in software, which you can upgrade at any time you choose, or you can set it to upgrade automatically so you get the latest features at your convenience. It fits in with my recent thought that I should support devices I believe are doing the right thing for their users, or at least are running Linux. I bought a GP2X for the same reason, though admittedly it’s gathering dust since a week after I bought it because I can’t play half of the games I want to without a keyboard or a better controller. There is no DRM here to determine what media I can play on my device or what I can do with media I play on my device like with the iPod, the Zune, and probably the Apple TV. It’s my media, my way.
I’m delighted with this at the moment, but admittedly I haven’t turned it on yet as I’m at work and it cam with a US power adapter, so I’ll have to buy a converter or find a power adapter with the right size plug, ampage and voltage.
Whether this kit is ready for the non-technical user, I’m not sure, but for technical people this is great. Maybe it is if you know how about file sharing and IP addresses or USB disks.
I’ll tell you more when I get the thing turned on.