Neuros OSD First Impressions

The following was live-blogged on 25 Jul 2008:

Got my Neuros OSD today via UPS!  w00t w00t!  I’ve been lusting after this since it was featured in Linux Format Magazine last month.  (or was it two months ago?)  I unpacked the contents and skimmed through the quick start guide.  Then I hooked it up in my bedroom and connected it to the ethernet network.
They have a neat little opening animation about how Neuros is about open technology.  Unlike other companies that build on open source technologies (I’m looking at you TiVo), the guys at Neuros Technology are proud of this and are using it to their advantage.  In fact, they have a few Google Summer of Code projects working on improving the firmware – free engineering hours.  That’s one of the benefits of open source.  Another benefit is that someone like me (or, more likely, someone with lots of programming chops) can take the hardware they’ve developed and then tweak the code to make it do whatever they want.

I was dumped onto the main menu.  The first thing I did was try to update the firmware.  However, despite the unit saying it had an IP address, it wouldn’t work.  So I kept going through the settings dialog, clicking into each one to make changes and set the date and time and so forth.  Eventually I came to “guided setup” and that setup the ethernet connection and looked for the updates.  I then began the updates process.  It took a long time…like on the order of five or more minutes.  During the update, the Neuros OSD plays a game of pong with itself.  I think it would have been neat if I could play pong vs the compute while it upgraded, alas it’s not to be.

I’m pretty excited about seeing if it can see my MythTV recordings easily (the reason why I bought the Neuros OSD in the first place) or if I’ll have to do some tweaking.  I know, from the developer forums, that it doesn’t have MythTV-specifically integrated, but it does support uPNP which MythTV does as well.  I’ve brought to the developers’ attentions the code that the Gnome programmers used to get MythTV to work with Totem via the plugin.  One of them gave it a quick look and decided that it would potentially be pretty easy to get MythTV officially working with the Neuros OSD, but probably not in the near future as the engineers are busy working on the Arizona firmware.

Finally!  It rebooted and went through it’s Power of Openness and Freedom speech again.  I guess this is why they recommend never turning off the neuros?  I tried playing an OGG file off of one of my machines and it appeared to freeze up the Neuros.  I guess I won’t be doing that again.  Ok…power cycle.  Yeah, I try pressing buttons and the power freedom thing doesn’t seem skippable.  I guess it’s covering up the boot time.

Before I do MythTV, I try an MPG from the same machine.  It plays!  It plays a little haltingly, but it’s reading over the network then off of a USB drive.  So this gives me hope for the MythTV videos working.

I enable the uPNP browser.  No items to list.  I guess I probably need to get something working in MythTV, although I’m not sure what.  I go into more Applications and find the YouTube browser.  It works pretty darned well.  I’m able to watch youtube videos without any problems or lag.


And now here are my impressions after having had it since then.  It works very well for digitizing videos.  I used it to get rid of nearly all of my VHS tapes and I’m pretty happy with the results.  However, it has completely failed at the one thing I wanted it to do when I bought it – serve as a MythTV frontend.  I was able to somewhat hack that together by enabling Samba on my MythTV backend.  However, a lot of the videos didn’t play well.  Also, there is a lot of non-TV stuff in there too, such as the JPEGs associated with each video.  It was way too cumbersome to use.  Until Neuros comes out with a patch that properly connects to MythTV, it will just gain dust in the corner of my computer room.