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Media Software Television Entertainment Linux

Blockbuster's Movie Download Box Runs Linux 194

Posted by timothy
from the but-does-it-run-emacs dept.
DeviceGuru writes "In a better-late-than-never move, Blockbuster has introduced a video-on-demand (VOD) service accompanied by a 'free' set-top box (STB). Like TiVo, Roku's Netflix box, and many other modern Internet-enabled A/V gadgets, Blockbuster's new VOD STB runs Linux. But darn it; when will someone finally offer a reasonably-priced, open-platform STB that serves as an A/V gateway to multiple Internet-based services — one consumer-friendly, environmentally-designed, low-power gadget 'to rule them all,' if you will."
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Blockbuster's Movie Download Box Runs Linux

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  • Boxee (Score:2, Informative)

    by jmelloy (460671)

    Using Boxee on my AppleTV is like living in the future. Seamlessly plays my torrented files and streams hulu (with netflix Coming Real Soon).

    It's fantastic.

    • by lupis42 (1048492)
      Is this Apple TV haxored in some way? I still really want an Apple TV that I can attach external drives to, using the USB port that it has, so that I can boot it off of said external drive, and make it run linux, than leave a dvd drive hooked up to it.
      Why can't anyone make and sell this kind of nice hardware and let me run whatever the hell I want on it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      boxee is just repackaged xbmc which has been rocking for many, many years before boxee came along.

      xbmc is available for OSX, Linux, Windows, AppleTV and if you still have one thats chipped, original XBOX.

      Installing boxee/xbmc on appletv is as simple as building a bootable USB device, and booting off of it -- you don't even need to open the box (or void your warranty..)

  • Dying Concept (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:14PM (#25904505) Homepage Journal

    Now that this stuff is practical, our friendly ISPs are throttling/capping our bandwidth.

    • Re:Dying Concept (Score:5, Interesting)

      by shawn(at)fsu (447153) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:19PM (#25904551) Homepage

      That could be good. before the only people who used their bandwidth were "teh evil pirates", now if joe schmoe and his mother are going over their cap maybe they will see that they need to keep pace.

      /yes I know wishful thinking.

    • by Gutboy (587531)
      And that is exactly why they are doing it. This competes with part of their business model (pay-per-view), and they don't like competition.
      • Re:Dying Concept (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:41PM (#25905147) Homepage

        No, because their infrastructure is designed for web pages and email, not video.

        Now that video is becoming mainstream they are 'managing' their networks to prevent overload.

        What they arent doing is increasing capacity.

        • Re:Dying Concept (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:13PM (#25905595) Homepage

          their infrastructure is designed for binary data--1's and 0's. it doesn't matter whether those 1's and 0's are used to make text or multimedia.

          it's not like we're all still using dial-up connections and are expecting to stream HD-video over them. the reason streaming video and other bandwidth-intensive applications have become so popular is because the technology and infrastructure has progressed to the point where these are now practical uses of internet access. aside from rare companies like the BBC, who are early adopters in order to be technological leaders in their industry, most commercial companies aren't going to develop an application that depends on technological infrastructure that isn't widely available yet.

          there's a symbiotic relationship between technology/infrastructure and application/usage. it's cutting-edge applications that gain popular usage which drive technological progress and infrastructure upgrades. but at the same time, it's the widespread adoption of new technologies and infrastructure upgrades that stimulate the development of new applications, and change the way people use technology. the public can't make use of technology that isn't available to them.

          the reason ISPs in the U.S. are struggling, and their service quality is so poor is because of two things: shortsightedness and greed. greed drove them to oversell their networks by way too much. their shortsightedness caused them to think this business model was sustainable. the Japanese have already begun efforts to make 100 Mbit residential connections a nationwide standard. they saw where technology was headed, and they've been gradually making headway over the years to upgrade their infrastructure to keep up with demand. there's no reason why U.S. ISPs couldn't have done the same. it's because they've gotten used to abusing their monopolies that their networks have become overloaded. and they still think that they should dictate how consumers use their internet access.

          • by zmollusc (763634)

            So ISPs are guilty of 'shortsightedness and greed'? Is this an objective level of shortsightedness and greed or a comparative level of shortsightedness and greed when viewed against the shortsightedness and greed that has pretty much fscked over all areas of modern life?

    • Re:Dying Concept (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:11PM (#25904939)

      They always did that. They always had to. Bandwidth is not infinite.

      Now, however, they are just telling you what kind of caps they have instead of leaving you to guess. And the caps really aren't that bad; they're more geared to the hoarders and mega-uploaders which cause most of the problems. ...And yes, businesses should not be offering "unlimited" if it is not unlimited.

      • by pembo13 (770295)
        I don't think one should make any excuses for them. Unless otherwise _advertised_, customers should have access to x bps at all time.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Lyrael (1196443)

        Bandwidth is not infinite, I agree. The problem here is that they aren't limiting *bandwidth*, they are limiting the amount of data you can transfer in a month. Now, whilst this is also not infinite in a technical sense, in practice it is, as there is no way you will be constantly downloading at your bandwidth cap all month long.

        Basically, I have no problem with them limiting and throttling bandwidth at peak times when their hardware is actually limited and can't handle everyone's downloading at once. I *do

        • Well, what, do you want a law passed over it?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by compro01 (777531)

            Real competition or real regulation, pick. Also, it would seem incredibly likely that there will not be any real competition in the absence of some regulation to put an end to the regional monopolies that Comcast and the other cable COs frequently have.

            • by Yfrwlf (998822)
              Right, 100% in either direction is not the answer, it's whatever is best for the consumer that should be thought of. Look at the market and ask important questions like why isn't there more competition, why do most consumers only have two choices of broadband, is there anything we can do to make the playing field more level so that startups can get in there and compete too.

              History has shown that too much regulation can be bad, and deregulation can lead to less competition and be bad too. In that case o
        • by mpe (36238)
          Basically, I have no problem with them limiting and throttling bandwidth at peak times when their hardware is actually limited and can't handle everyone's downloading at once.

          Often it appears that such throttling is applied depending on what time a clock says it is, rather than actually network capacity issues. If it was applied to network capacity issues it could be applied at any time, but would be unapplied as soon as there was no longer a problem.

          *do* have a problem with arbitrary caps on data trans
      • And the caps really aren't that bad

        $ units
        you have: 250 gibibytes per month
        you want: mebibit per second
        0.77878308

        "Really not that bad"? It's barely enough just for my porn feed! :(

  • Where's the Source? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:15PM (#25904511)

    Since we know that question is coming...

    The box is made by 2Wire and they provide source here:
    http://www.2wire.com/index.php?p=437 [2wire.com]

  • by Sj0 (472011) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:16PM (#25904521) Homepage Journal

    Wow, I could have sworn somebody just mentioned the Xbox. Runs linux, connects to the internet, can run multiple services.

    My little beast will have a place next to my TV set for many years.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      Yeah, but i want HD so i'm waiting for someone to crack the video limitations on ps3 linux, or to make the xbox 360 run linux...
      My old original xbox works well enough, but it won't play high resolution h.264 videos...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nursie (632944)

        Or just use the vanilla Xbox360 to stream video from your linux server by using ushare, mediatomb or gmediastreamer.

        Works a charm, even though my linux server is a 266MHz ARM box (NSLU2) with a 320GB disk attached. It can torrent at the same time.

        • by Yfrwlf (998822)
          Yes, and that's an option, or you can not go to the bother of setting up a silly server and just use a device which can connect to your file server. The fact that the 360 only wants "safe" media given to it over a "safe" channel is retarded, and that you have to transcode everything into the few formats it will actually play. The only problem is video playback acceleration. Fortunately, both Nvidia and AMD are finally cranking that out as far as Linux support is concerned whereas of course it's been on W
      • While OtherOS on the PS3 has video limitations, GameOS doesn't. So what one could do is use Linux on the PS3 to get the files and store them on an external FAT32 drive (readable in both Linux and GameOS) one ps3-boot-game-os later and you're good to watch them. GameOS is also DLNA compliant and there's always the video for rental and sale on the Playstation Network store.

        • by gwait (179005)

          So you can't use a PS3 to watch high def content from a linux (or other open) network disk?
          Someone had told me the GameOS supports the "plug and play" network media stuff that Microsoft and other vendors (including Myth TV?) offer.
          Does it? If so, what's the best the PS3 can do "off the shelf" ?

          I was thinking of picking one up for this feature (to be able to watch up to 1080i analog component served from a linux server, or even downloaded to the PS3 drive)..

          • Someone had told me the GameOS supports the "plug and play" network media stuff that Microsoft and other vendors (including Myth TV?) offer.
            Does it? If so, what's the best the PS3 can do "off the shelf" ?

            Yep, that plug n' play network stuff is called DLNA, as far as I know if you got the bandwidth you can stream (or copy) 1080p video (in formats the PS3 supports) to the PS3 right out of the box once you enable the functionality.
            http://manuals.playstation.net/document/en/ps3/current/settings/connectdlna.html [playstation.net]

            • by Nursie (632944)

              I've managed to get it to talk to ushare, though gmediastreamer or mediatomb can transcode and might be better if you have more processing power and RAM than my media server (266MHz/32MB).

    • by splatter (39844)

      I love my original Xbox. I can stream mp3s and movies from the computer, or play dvd's via the tray, play legacy arcade & Xbox games, download clips from you tube / yahoo video / & lots of other sights including comedy central & other major broadcasting co's which includes back episodes of shows.

      No it doesn't do HD but for a media gateway between the net / computer & tv / stereo I love it.

      As far as installation it's really as easy as running the softmod exploit from the console, anyone that

  • by Perspiring Blood (1413451) * <mer@t[ ]bx.com ['uff' in gap]> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:20PM (#25904559)

    If the format that the content is delivered in was standardized it would make hardware production costs dirt cheap since the circuitry could be tailored to the standard. There are plenty of OSS streaming Internet video standards and the extra circuitry could cheaply added to the "standard" DVD player. Then content providers could focus on their business model, pricing, product line and the like, and basically leave the tech to someone else.

    • There are plenty of OSS streaming Internet video standards...

      Standards are a wonderful thing; there are so many to chose from.

    • I've advocated this on slashdot multiple times and have a slashdot journal entry rambling on about it too. Simply put:

      "Channel" : An RSS-like feed in a standardised format which can contain:
      "Link" : Links to other Channels
      "Series" : Fancy name for a link but with more meta data link png title pic
      "Video" : Including a PNG title pic, description, link to imdb page and "buy merchandise now" sites, etc. movie in something like H264 (by all means limit your server to serving in real-time but no fancy drm or flas

      • by Yfrwlf (998822)
        MP3 is horribly outdated and they charge for licenses. OGG is the only way to go, much better quality.
    • by Yfrwlf (998822)
      Well Theora, Vorbis, and the OGG container are of course totally open and even support for them is being shipped in Firefox 3.1. There are those in the chip industry saying that GPU-based acceleration is going to be a thing of the past though, and GPUs/CPUs will be consolidated into one chip, so I don't think this is going to be a problem anymore and I think the codecs that are royalty-free will be the ones that will get adopted eventually provided they keep up with features. See Larrabee [wikipedia.org].

      And yes, I kn
  • Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:22PM (#25904577) Journal
    There is Neuros [neurostechnology.com], whose products fit the description pined for in TFS fairly well. The basic problem, though, is that the various internet video on demand pushers all want DRM which means that, at best, any box they produce will be "open box + big hostile blob" and will more likely be "closed box" or "closed box with API, if we feel generous". Because these guys seem to be shooting for the give them the razor, bleed them for the blades model, I wouldn't expect them to support multiple competing services, and the DRM wrapper will be enough to foil an legal multiservice boxes(and, in practice, make any illicit ones a pain in the ass to keep working).

    For the immediately forseeable future, if you want an open, multiple service setup, you want a PC(in the broad sense, including mythTV, WMC, and aTV with Boxee).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Simon80 (874052)
      http://www.neurostechnology.com/neuros-link-technical-specs [neurostechnology.com] The above seems to be exactly what the OP is looking for, in a $300 package, complete with 2.8Ghz x86 CPU and supposedly running a respin of Ubuntu 8.10. It's a bit large, though.
      • by gwait (179005)

        Interesting, unfortunately my old school TV only has component 1080i in, no DVI, no HDMI.. :(

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:23PM (#25904591)

    But darn it; when will someone finally offer a reasonably-priced, open-platform STB that serves as an A/V gateway to multiple Internet-based services -- one consumer-friendly, environmentally-designed, low-power gadget 'to rule them all,' if you will."

    When investors are willing to embrace a model other than "get you on the refills", because the development of these devices (and their after-sale support/warranty) is supported by the revenue generated from the rentals.

    My brain is a little fried, but examples that pop to mind immediately: Gillette was the pioneer here for product concept that has jumped product category after product category. Cartridge video games. Printers (first ribbon-based, then inkjet, then laser). iTunes. Xbox Live (a great example: Rock Band.)

    • You're right, they make money on the refills, but in the case the refills are subscriptions to the service and the razor they give away is the box itself.

      If they aren't making any money on the STB sale, wouldn't it make sense for them to allow other hardware makers to do it for them?

      Maybe not. I'm no MBA, but it makes sense it my head. I think the DRM is the real reason everyone needs to make their own.

  • I doubt it. How many of them would benefit by making it easier for their competition?

    • The point isn't that it makes it easier for your competition, it's that it makes it easier for that industry as a whole.

      Right now, with the market so fragmented, there's no way I'm buying a set-top box for one of these services -- if anything, I'll buy one I can hack to play my torrents.

      If there was one to rule them all, I think a lot more people would consider it.

    • Re:open-platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Skapare (16644) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:35PM (#25905111) Homepage

      As long as it is the content distributors making the devices, this is a problem.

      What's needed is for a company that focuses on making hardware and software to make such a box that incorporates a DRM that the content distributors can trust. Decrypting and decoding done in a hardware chip could accomplish that. Then they can get a device key that would enable decrypting the key that comes with the content package. There are other ways to do this, such as the content distributor encrypting the content package key with the single device unique public key (every unit has a different one, so the user has to send it to the content distributor as part of the purchase).

      All this can be done without the OS itself ever handling any decrypted content. So it would be safe to not only run Linux, but even let users load their own custom OS (not necessarily Linux ... NetBSD might be fun, too). The DRM application would simply feed the keys into the hardware chip, and if the response to that is positive, feed the encrypted A/V stream into the hardware chip.

      To be truly open, this device needs to also be able to handle non-DRM content. When in the non-DRM mode the hardware chip would not be doing any decryption. It would only be doing codec decoding. That way you can play your own movies and music, too. In the non-DRM mode, all outputs need to work (DRM protected content may not allow the analog output to work).

      A user loadable OS would promote innovation. Geeks can experiment with new ideas. The manufacturer could then adopt them when it's done with GPL software such as Linux, if the creators publish it (since GPL means they have to provide source).

      Really good hardware will include algorithms to decode all the major proprietary and non-proprietary formats, including DIRAC, OGG {Theora,Vorbis}, FLAC, MP3, MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, DVB-{C,S,T}, ATSC, and anything else I didn't think of (there are too many minor ones). The box should also include Firewire {400,800}, USB, and eSATA-II jacks (all with support for flash sticks, hard drives, optical drives, cameras, camcorders, and phones), along with an RJ-45 ethernet 10/100/1000, an SMA wireless antenna jack (B/G/etc), dual antenna jack with built in DVB/ATSC/QAM tuner, cable-card slot, and an RJ-11 phone jack with a modem to dial up to buy authentication keys for those without broadband. The best box will have them all. Better boxes would at least allow all of them as options.

      The first hardware manufacturer to do this and make sure it's fully open source, including the driver that passes the key package and content streams to the decoder hardware (the sealed part), would get a LOT of free publicity by the open source community raves. Although a lot of people do hate DRM, a market in transient products (e.g. movie rentals) would not function very well without it. By including such DRM capability, the manufacturer that makes such a device would have market potential for it well beyond just hackers. That would mean lower mass production pricing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by droopycom (470921)

        So basically, you want to have a black-box within the set top box that does the following:
        - store some keys
        - enforce DRM rules (eg: for online renting) (That would probably include to handle a secure communication channel to a server)
        - decrypt the content
        - decode content
        - output the content through some protected video interface such as HDMI/HDCP (if the content was protected)

        Guess whats inside the netflix box: a chip that can do all that, by running an OS, called Linux.

        So, whats left to do outside the blac

        • So, whats left to do outside the black box, in the open source part of the box ? Not much. Drivers to handle network connection, storage device and User Interface.

          Those drivers and the UI are the difficult and expensive bit! The DRM part is actually quite easy. It's a few device drivers, code to move data between them, and something to exchange keys with the server. Of course that could be implemented on top of Linux, but isolation is good, because this part has to be secured against the user. So it should

  • AV Gateway (Score:2, Informative)

    by BioNTechKid (973039)

    There are alot of products out there that pretty good as an AV Gateway.

    There is the Hauppauge MVP that is easy to use and setup, and yes you can put linux on it (if it isnt already).
    http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_mediamvp.html [hauppauge.com]
    It can stream almost anything but HD with an appropriate server.

    A suggestion for the Ultimate at home Multimedia machine would be SageTV with its HD extenders that can play HD and almost everything I have found online. http://www.sagetv.com/hd_extender.html [sagetv.com]
    (( Yes is it can

    • Re:AV Gateway (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:50PM (#25904799)
      The problem here is adding another peripheral to an already saturated software market. Here is a partial list of what types of software Blockbuster could just partner with...

      Windows Media Center / Xbox Extender
      SageTv
      MythTV / MythBuntu
      Media-Portal TVersity
      LinuxMCE
      TVedia
      Beyond Media
      CTPVR
      CTPvr
      J River Media Center
      MainLobby
      Cyberlink PowerCinema
      CQC
      Welltonway
      Sesam TV
      Nero Home Media
      Intervideo WinDVD Media Center
      nStantMedia
      Sceneo TV-Central
      Xlobby
      GBPVR
      Got all media
      GameEx
      Tvoon
      Theatre@Home
      MyTheatre
      DVBViewer
      Freevo
      GeeBox
      VDR
      My Media System
      LinuxMCE
      xHub
      Elgato EyeTV
      Center Stage Project
      iTheatre
      MediaCentral
      XBMC (formally Xbox Media Center)
      Oxylbox
      Elisa Media Center (Free)


      If blockbuster would just create a plugin for any or all of these systems and use technology that is already around and in peoples homes, I think they would have a better chance at catching Netflix.

      (some of this list courtesy of eirikso.com [eirikso.com]
      • That's a nice list. I have kind of sortof heard of some of them. Every once in a while I think about checking one of them out, but I really just don't care that much.

        I have a blue blockbuster card in my car. Maybe I'd get their box if it was cheap enough and guaranteed to work.

        Disclaimer: I do use my PC to record TV, using some cheap Hauppauge card. I use TitanTV for the schedule and watch with VLC, where I can skip commercials with a couple of ctrl-arrows. Between that and other avi files of, um, mur
  • To get an open-platform STB to talk to services such as Netflix, you'd need to meet their DRM requirements. Currently this seems to require Windows/Silverlight, which really limits what can be done.

    Is there a way around this? I hope so.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      The movie distribution services could arrange to develop their own DRM, or choose some other DRM besides the one from Redmond. But corporate executives tend to no like that idea. They just want to buy it from some other corporation. It's that "in the same bed" thing.

  • Neuros Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:30PM (#25904669) Homepage

    But darn it; when will someone finally offer a reasonably-priced, open-platform STB that serves as an A/V gateway to multiple Internet-based services â" one consumer-friendly, environmentally-designed, low-power gadget 'to rule them all,' if you will.

    http://www.neurostechnology.com/neuros-link [neurostechnology.com]

    Also runs Linux and a Web browser with Flash so it can access all the TV sites like Hulu.

    Is this article a clever plant?

  • Boxee (Score:3, Informative)

    by Doodhwala (13342) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:32PM (#25904681) Homepage
    For something that works on Ubuntu and Apple TV, you might want to look at Boxee [boxee.tv]. It is not open source though. Invites from the main site take a while but you can get one faster from Fred Wilson's blog [avc.com] .
  • PCH (Score:3, Interesting)

    by socsoc (1116769) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:00PM (#25904867)

    Isn't Popcorn Hour supposed to be the bee's knees with this stuff? They haven't released a Netflix component yet, but are supposed to be working on it. In the meantime, it seems like it's the best shot at an all-in-one device for the consumer. Plus it beats the pants off of most media players. How many of them can handle x264?

    It's gonna be my Christmas present to myself. I am tired of screwing about with Windows Media Center and nix variations of that. A FreeNAS box and this and I will be set. With the way Comcast and AT&T have been acting recently, I don't want to depend on any video on demand type of system anyway. My last Netflix Instant Queue through 360 readjusted itself 3 times in the last 15 minutes. By the time it was done, it was unwatchable, hell the friggin credits were blurry.

  • But darn it; when will someone finally offer a reasonably-priced, open-platform STB that serves as an A/V gateway to multiple Internet-based services ?

    What for? Bittorrent already fills that need quite well...

  • But darn it; when will someone finally offer a reasonably-priced, open-platform STB that serves as an A/V gateway to multiple Internet-based services -- one consumer-friendly, environmentally-designed, low-power gadget 'to rule them all,' if you will." It's called a laptop logged into the www.piratebay.org ....of course the pirates are the only ones with media that doesn't suck and isn't crippled. Quite up to date too, with a large back catalogue. David
  • Windows Media Video DRM is standardized (or in theory it was until MS decided to go it alone with the Zune and Zune store).
    OMA DRM created by the Open Mobile Aliance is standardized, any mobile phone maker or content provider can sign up to it.
    Blu-Ray DRM is standardized, as is CSS on DVDs.
    The trick is convincing the content providers (netflix, blockbuster etc) to start using a standardized DRM solution (why would they want to allow you to play the videos back on a device that could also potentially play ba

  • According to Reuters [reuters.com]
    it's $99 and movies are $1.99 after the first 25. Also they have a miserable 2000 movies but they are the latest from Hollywood, they say.

    • I meant to add that there was no mention of what those first 25 movies would cost.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zerth (26112)

        It is in the article, the box is $99 or:

        Blockbuster currently is providing its VOD STB (made by 2Wire) free with an advance rental of 25 on-demand movies for $99. Thereafter, VOD titles are available for $1.99 each.

        so for a limited time, it is $99 for 25 movies+free box or, equivalently, a $99 box with 25 free movies.

        Since that works out to $4/each for the first 25 when they are normally $1.99, it is hardly a special. More like paying double for the first 25 to defray the cost of the box.

        • by fuego451 (958976)

          I stand corrected. I skimmed the Reuters article earlier today on Techdirt and I really should have reread it prior to posting.

  • Ok, so I know it isn't cool to on slashdot to pimp your own products, but you might try getting a ZvBox (http://zeevee.com) if you want to get any content to your TV. This works because it snarfs the your video output and transmits HD quality video to your HDTV. And yes, it requires a PC. And yes, it is expensive (we are working on lowering the price). But, since a PC can play any content it truly is a universal solution.

    • Re:get a ZvBox (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gwait (179005) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:28PM (#25906237)

      So, you're grabbing the analog VGA and converting it to HDTV broadcast, but you only support windows on the PC. (or Mac OS on Mac)..

      WTF?

      It "looks" like a hardware solution, why the hell would you care what OS is behind the VGA connector?
      Some applet written in a non portable way?

      I just want a box that can grab media files off a network server. Interface: Web browser.

      Cue southpark sound track: "dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.."

  • Combo Boxes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tji (74570) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:11PM (#25905907)

    There are several options for the combo box the post asks about.. Maybe not the ultimate box that will play everything, but there are several that will do multiple sources. What I use is a Mac Mini (Core Duo), to play several types of content:

    - DVD's (the new full screen DVD and Front Row in Leopard are nice DVD viewing options).
    - Movies, TV, and Music via iTunes.
    - Broadcast HDTV via MythTV (running backend and frontend on my Mini running OSX)
    - Netflix streaming movies via their Silverlight plugin
    - Various video file formats via Front Row.
    - There are various other video streaming services available, I don't use any of them at this point.
    - Occasional special webcasts - like the NCAA basketball tournament early round games.

    It's hard to beat the flexibility of an HTPC. I think the Mac Front Row interface + all the other options is hard to beat. Especially considering the small size of the device, quiet operation, built-in remote control functionality, etc..

    Areas for improvement:
    - Blue Ray DVD drive would be nice.
    - Better Netflix streaming. Silverlight is okay, but could be better.
    - Blockbuster, or other video streaming support.

  • 1.Download the source.
    2.Modify it. (Remember to give back to the community.)
    3.Market it.
    4.Profit!
    Finally, a complete FOSS business plan.
  • "But darn it; when will someone finally offer a reasonably-priced, open-platform STB that serves as an A/V gateway to multiple Internet-based services â" one consumer-friendly, environmentally-designed, low-power gadget 'to rule them all,' if you will."

    Well if you all can get the media version of Torvalds to get the ball rolling. In ten years there should be plenty of content for your revolution. In the mean time content providers will try to make money and someone else will say "I will not let you".

  • But darn it; when will someone finally offer a reasonably-priced, open-platform STB that serves as an A/V gateway to multiple Internet-based services -- one consumer-friendly, environmentally-designed, low-power gadget 'to rule them all,' if you will."

    I would say "never".

    Any attempt that would satisfy the DRM-requirements for a service to sign off on working with it would not be considered "open" enough by the Free Software fanatics.

    Why don't you ask for a CableCard system for MythTV while you're at it? LOL

  • ...does it run Linux?

    Ops...

  • When browsing through the slashdot main page, I originally misread th earticle title as "Blockbuster's Movie Download Box Ruins Linux"... feel free to interpret that any way you like.
  • Sure it's for geeks,but have a look at the ARM BeagleBoard dev kit. If you've got a server/NAS to pull content from (or an ext Hard drive), it seems to be a really interesting platform for a DIY STB for $150. (very power efficient, fanless, runs linux, geek friendly, can be put in a shoe box).

    Of course, there's no media center software that I know of, price might not be that different from an appleTV once you add a remote control and some network connectivity, but the geek appeal is great.

    I'm currently very

  • bah it's not "free" at all because it has a prepaid 25 movie rental requirement. Netflix service has a subscription that grants us physical dvd's for an unlimited time and as many movie downloads as we want at no extra cost. That is not surprising though as Blockbuster has a history of fine print and outright hostility to its customers.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce

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