Recently I reviewed the Neuros OSD in LUG Radio Season 5, Episode 1 and I was barraged with questions almost as soon as I started so I didn’t get to say half of the things I wanted to and also, I didn’t give an entirely fair representation of the OSD, given that I hadn’t had much chance to try it out, so here is a further review.
The most important thing I missed out was that the OSD can record and encode from pretty much any source, digital/analogue/cable/satellite TV, DVD, VCR etc. If you don’t use the same plug as the US then you’re going to need an adapter. If you live in a PAL area, which is most of Europe, South Asia and most of Africa (apart from much of west Africa) then you need to change the signalling to PAL, as it comes as NTSC by default.
I’m running the latest beta firmware as of 30/09/2007. I use European date format and so should you. Europe invented the rest of the world remember 😉
On LUG Radio I said that it either didn’t play my media at all or that playback was jerky, further testing show that it plays around 80% of my movies and video files without a problem. In fact, after a firmware update, a few files which suffered from jerky playback now play properly, though some still don’t. AVI files worked best, WMVs played audio but no video, Ogg Theora video isn’t supported, though Ogg Vorbis audio is, say 8 out of 10 of my FLV video splayed ok and my single MP4 file didn’t play at all. Yes I know there’s a whole lot more to a codec than the file extension. For codec playback quality, you’re best off reading this page.
So far the problems as I see it are:
- Jerky playback on around 15% of video files, quite a few people complain about this on the forums and most seem to say it improved with newer firmware, browse the forums for this one. Neuros invite people to send them clips that don’t play well. I also have clips that didn’t play at all. This seems to be an issue with decoding rather than either hardware performance or network bandwidth so far as I can tell. I am copying video files to my USB hard disk as we speak for a playback comparison.
- No audio track support that I can find. I have a film where Spanish is the default language and I can’t change to the English audio. I haven’t tried movies which use subtitles.
- No support for DVD menus I don’t think though I did get them to play by using the ‘next file’ type button.
- Playback on multi-file movies (ie DVD files on a hard disk) didn’t work well for me when forwarding or rewinding across the files. They seemed to keep playing from the beginning of each file or starting from the beginning of the previous file and they lost audio sync.
- The remote control seems very hit and miss, you have to put it in the right position, like with a TV set top aerial, for it to work.
- I seemed to get occasional hangs where the thing tried to open a file and it didn’t start playing.
I haven’t tried recording yet.
I hope to update my blog when I have worked out how to fix some of these issues.On the other hand, when playback worked, it was fine. The audio player was fine and the Youtube viewer was great even though it is marked as beta status. Your can get a shell either using the beta application via the TV screen, using the serial console with the supplied cable or telnet. SMB browsing worked fine, although it’s hard work using the remote to key in your username and password and NFS worked fine too, although it’s recommended to use it in TCP mode and it wasn’t picked up automatically, I had to do it via the console (I have this problem on my Linux machines too, so I’m not sure if NFS can be ‘detected’ in the same way that SMB can, or whether I just don’t have it set up).
I believe they are hoping to release a new Neuros next year which will include wireless support and maybe local storage, but I might be making that up, so don’t believe me, read the Neuros website.
For now, I’d say that if you want a device which works almost flawlessly either wait for the issues I have outlined to be fixed or consider that it’s not for you. If you’re happy, like me, to support people making devices that do things the way you want them (ie no DRM, no hardware or software tie in) and you understand that there are problems to resolved which you will have to spend talking to the developers and on the forums to get resolved, then maybe this is for you. Mine cost around Â£100, at a special LUG Radio Live discounted rate.
My feature request forum post is here.
UPDATE: It seems FLV video is supported, I appear to have been playing the same 1 or 2 bad FLVs each time I tested. Also it was suggested on the forums that DVD playback, including that of DVDs that have been shrunk to below 4.7GB is beyond the hardware of the OSD, which is a shame, but I guess I can rip them down to 700MB AVIs or something.