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Hardware

The XBox as the Home Entertainment Media Hub 217

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-think-about dept.
bigcitymike writes "Well it might be vaporware, but it appears Dreamix is trying to turn the Xbox into a PVR with a TV guide like scheduler. They also state PC as well as Mac/Linux support down the road. " Project Dreamix will turn the Microsoft Xbox into the ultimate home entertainment center." I presume it requires a mod-chip installed." The xbox media player really goes a long way towards this goal already. MSFT may not be the friendliest of companies, but for $200, the x-box makes a helluva stereo component.
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The XBox as the Home Entertainment Media Hub

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  • Not Likely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anaesthetica (596507) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:07AM (#5113037) Homepage Journal

    You can bet that if Dreamix can introduce Mac/Linux support for the XBox that microsoft will find a way to break that support--either through software or lawyers

    .
    • ?????????
      what?

      as i understand they plan to port THEIR software to mac/linux.

      NOT making xbox capable of running Mac stuff, linux you can already run on it if you've modchipped yours..

      as beyond the corner linux support for xbox.. the first multiplayerwrapper(through internet) softwares for xbox were for linux..
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The people that tried to turn the Gameboy into a PDA.
  • Body of the article (Score:4, Informative)

    by Angry White Guy (521337) <CaptainBurly[AT]goodbadmovies.com> on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:08AM (#5113042)
    For when it gets slashdotted...

    Overview

    Project Dreamix will turn the Microsoft Xbox into the ultimate home entertainment center. Right now we are in the alpha phase of course, but below is what we plan to complete before Beta release: -

    * PVR Features (Scheduled recording, fast forward, rewind, pause Live TV)
    * Video Playback (Based on Linux MPlayer - all popular file formats)
    * Audio/Music Playback (Based on Linux MPlayer - all popular file formats)
    * Image Viewer (Slideshow + Photo album)
    * Setup Menu (All configuration will be done with the Xbox controller and/or DVD Remote with the use of a graphical keypad)

    Although Dreamix will be based on Debian Xbox-Linux, all necessary libraries will be included in the distribution of the CD image and will auto-excecute upon being inserted into the Xbox DVD drive. This will allow for a friendly install by the average user.

    Note: There will be a need to purchase a hardware add-on for video input since the Xbox gaming console does not currently have video inputs etc.

    Why Dreamix?

    "For a very long time, I had been developing software called VWare, 2 years ago the project was going well but found myself losing interest, and not having enough time. Now with the Xbox supplying the hardware power needed to take my old VWare project into a new realm, the Dreamix team had the idea, why not Personal Video Recording on Xbox? Ill be honest, I can not stand Tivos, ReplayTVs,Dish Network, DirecTV TV guide systems, menus and what not. I am a very picky person who wants my entertainment and system to give me a feel of power, worth my money. I have spent too many years watching the industry do things wrong and only 'hoping' more would be added. They are slowly getting there but I am personally tired of waiting and the impatient person I am, I am going to do it myself." - Lenn0x
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Warning!!! Karmawhore!

      Its bloody on Sourceforge.

      And the probability of it gettins Slashdotted is so damn freakin' remote.

      Karmawhore... TROLL

      ~r13_zrgyva
      • I'm not too terribly worried about my Karma right now. I've got extra to burn. You want to mod me down, that's fine. I'll even post at +1 so I can take a massive Karma hit.

        There's more to life and /. than Karma.
    • I hope you all realize that modding an XBox so you can do PVR stuff is going to be twisted into piracy by places like the MPAA.

      I'm not trolling here, or telling you you're doing something wrong, I'm just warning you to brace for irrational attacks on it. It's the type of thing that'll keep the DMCA around.
  • by I Am The Owl (531076) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:09AM (#5113047) Homepage Journal
    I'm glad to see those in the Open Source community finally accepting the superiority of not reinventing the wheel and have decided to build their creation on top of existing hardware. Finally, instead of fighting them, we can help out our brothers at Microsoft by boosting Xbox sales and adding value to them.

    We are all geeks. It's about time we started sticking together.

    • I'm glad to see those in the Open Source community finally accepting the superiority of not reinventing the wheel ...
      That's the whole idea behind open software- not having to re-invent the wheel.

      With open source, you can just grab code from something else to add your functionality.

      As far as this helping Microsoft, the Xbox itself is a lost-leader for their games. They lose money on every sale but hope to make it back via game purchases.
    • Uh... right. Pass the bong man, it's 4:20
    • by rasteri (634956)
      Finally, instead of fighting them, we can help out our brothers at Microsoft by boosting Xbox sales and adding value to them.


      Actually, buy purchasing an Xbox and using 3rd-party software on it, you're helping Microsoft lose money. They actually make a loss on every Xbox sale.

      Personally, I'm all for the idea. As I see it, the more money Microsoft loses due to the Xbox, the less money they have to pay their lawyers with. It's been said that Microsoft could just walk through the GPL if it were ever to become a serious threat to them.
      • Every XBox you buy is helping Microsoft partially recover their losses incurred by manufacturing and development. Did it not occur to you that you are paying Microsoft money for the privilege of using an XBox? Or do you just shoplift them from Best Buy?
        • by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @02:31PM (#5113927)
          "Every XBox you buy is helping Microsoft partially recover their losses incurred by manufacturing and development. Did it not occur to you that you are paying Microsoft money for the privilege of using an XBox? Or do you just shoplift them from Best Buy?"

          Did it occur to you that some of us want to play games instead of pretending that we're "beatin down the man!"?
      • by Lours (624561)
        Actually, by purchasing an Xbox and using 3rd-party software on it, you're helping Microsoft lose money. They actually make a loss on every Xbox sale.




        I'll second that and i'll add that all Linux open sourced initiatives to become available on the XBox are a real chance for every open-source-geek here to have Microsoft actually shoot itself in the foot.


        Every single Xbox sold costs money to MS since they are hoping to gain money thanks to the license fee publishers have to pay for each copy of a game they build (not even sell !).


        With Linux on the XBox and all open sourced alternatives to products that MS actually intends to bring to the machine we get a real chance to make the masses aware of Linux as a home-and-family-friendly tool with the added benefit of using money brought by Microsoft itself.


        We have this unique chance that Microsoft by losing money on each XBox sale is actually sponsoring heavily the open source movement. We shall not let this chance pass !


        Just imagine how many uses there could be for this very low cost machine : from educational ones, to fun ones (such as the PVR, mp3 player), to humanitarian ones (bring cheap computing internet able platforms to developing countries).


        All this sponsored by Microsoft itself !

        We won't have another chance so if you can code and know linux, do not hesitate and buy an XBox. This might be THE occasion to give MS a serious lesson.

        Lours

        • The "help Microsoft lose money by buying an Xbox and running third-party software on it" argument has become just as tired as it has always been ridiculous.

          Here are a few things that this argument ignores:

          1) Every Xbox sold adds to Microsoft's claimed installed user base, thus encouraging developers to make more games. Since games sell consoles, this is an excellent result for Microsoft in that it feeds into their potential future profit.

          2) Most folks who are "geeky" (for lack of a better vocabulary) enough to buy an Xbox to hack are going to break down and buy at least a game or two since there are indeed some good Xbox games, and obviously more on the horizon. The box is already in the house, why not play a few good games?

          3) This point can't be stressed enough: Microsoft loses a LOT more money for every Xbox that goes UNsold. If they don't sell them, then they get diddly/squat. Even if a store has paid Microsoft up front for the boxes, there are still more consoles being produced and sitting in warehouses waiting to be shipped. Microsoft would lose out, not only on the boxes they've actually produced but also on the infrastructure in place to make them.

          Hey, if you want to go out and buy an Xbox, modchip it and run Linux, more power to you. Just don't fool yourself into believing that you're striking back against the evil monopoly. The only way to really strike Microsoft is if you're running the IT services of a large company and you stop buying their operating system and apps. Switching big companies over to OpenOffice or any other competitor will hurt Microsoft 100 times worse than modding one of their game consoles...especially since they have already PLANNED on losing money producing the latter.

      • Every Xbox sold, whether it is used for gaming or not, increases Microsofts perceived market share in the console market. They're using those numbers to convince developers to make games for their console. I think that they'd love for you to buy their units and make them into toasters, or whatever.
  • My God! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Omkar (618823) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:09AM (#5113049) Homepage Journal
    That hideous thing barely fits in my living room! Not that it lives there, of course - my trusty GC sits next to the TV.

    XBox as a media hub? That's MS's stated goal. And they're being thwomped by everyone worldwide (although they compete with Nintendo in the US and Europe, they're outsold by PS1 in Japan).
    • i'd bet money that original playstation outsold XBox in terms of total sales in the US, too. Not in the last year, mind you, but overall.
      • And there's a good chance that overall the NES or the SNES outsold the PS 1.
      • The Xbox has been out for what, 2 or 3 years? The PSX (most sucessful console EVER) has been out for almost 10 years.

        If I recall, the PSX has sold around 80 million units worldwide. That's more than the Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube combined.
    • Yes, that is MS's goal (to have the Xbox as a media hub), but it's also their goal to control it entirely. 3rd party development is exactly what is needed to keep information free.
      If you want a product that doesn't judge you ala TiVo, lets you skip commercials, lets you record what you want when you want, for as long as you want, then don't trust the corporations.
      You could always recase an Xbox if you don't like the look of it, want to add more storage, etc.

      The fact is, the damned thing is cheap, it's easy to work with, and you don't have to learn an entirely different architecture.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "That hideous thing barely fits in my living room! Not that it lives there, of course - my trusty GC sits next to the TV."

      Talk about exaggeration... What the fuck is with you "style-over-functionality" people? It's always the same group too. They own Gamecubes, Apple computers, Volkswagons, Schwinn bicycles, tight black turtleneck sweaters, and ponytails.

      "Fuck what it can do! It LOOKS good, doesn't it!"
    • Try this link [the-magicbox.com] to educate yourself a little better on console sales in Japan.

      For those who don't want to click, in 2002 the PSOne sold 200,000+ units and Xbox sold 300,000+ units. It's obviously still lagging far behind the PS2, Gamecube and GBA, but it's beating the old stuff.

  • A little more Karma Whoring [sourceforge.net]
    Their beta signup form.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sheesh!!!! People can read the darn thing and click on the link if they want to.

      Slashdot is teeming with morons of the likes of you lately...

      If you can say something nice and useful, or insightful, say. Else shut up.

      If and when the site is Slashdotted, people will post the mirrors.

      Duh!

      Sad state of Slashdot I should say. Still worse is that fact that some moderator on crack will mod this shit up.

      ~r13_zrgyva
    • From the beta page:Will you donate money to be beta tester?

      In a word? No. Good idea by the developers to make some side change though.
  • MSFT wants to make the XBox the home hub, but this company is trying to beat them to it, via a hack. I can't see that lasting very long. And I won't begrudge Microsoft either - hobbyist, free projects are one thing, but when you try to profit off of it, that's completely different.
  • Unfortunately (Score:5, Informative)

    by glrotate (300695) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:12AM (#5113064) Homepage
    Easybuy2000 [easybuy2000.com], the exclusive distributor of the MAtrix no-solder modchip got busted a few days ago. That will be a major stumbling block for people trying to mod their Xboxen.
    • Re:Unfortunately (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pummer (637413)
      then why is their site still up and running? in fact, here [easybuy2000.com] is the link for the modchip.
      • Probably to take the money from dupes. Take a look here [help-forums.com]. It's their customer support forum. They disappeared off the face of the earth on the 15th. They stopped answering phones and email even to major wholesalers.
    • It's by far the crappiest modchip - everyone's better off asking someone who can solder to install one of the others instead.
      • Uh, what's wrong with it? I had no trouble installing one. The only problems I had modding my xbox involved the DVD-ROM being picky as to which discs it would take.

        • Re:Unfortunately (Score:2, Informative)

          by Troed (102527)
          pogo-pins aren't meant for long-term use. Solder "crawls" over time, and you _will_ get the red/green-flashing problem and then you'll have to re-align your Matrix. Again, and again, and again.


          All that, while the chip is really a $4 cheapmod. You'd been a lot better of buying one of those and solder it in.

    • you can get the Matrix modchip here [the-console-corner.com]
    • Who buys Matrix anyways? It's such a piece of ****. Get an Xecutor2 Pro, or Lite, with the pogopin adapter, if you don't wanna solder.
  • PVR ability? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuchikoma (144790) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:14AM (#5113071)
    I assume that also besides a modchip, you'll also need some sort of nonexistant video capture hardware. Last I checked, the xbox didn't come with S-VIDEO inputs...
    • Re:PVR ability? (Score:4, Informative)

      by neonstz (79215) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @12:46PM (#5113411) Homepage

      Someone is (or was) working on PVR support for XBox Mediaplayer [xboxmediaplayer.de] using the WinTV PVR USB [hauppauge.com]. The X-Box got 4 USB inputs (controller ports), so using one of them for this device shouldn't be a problem.

    • Re:PVR ability? (Score:3, Informative)

      by mschoolbus (627182)
      I was reading that they are looking for people to help produce an adapter that would more than likely go through the ethernet port they said. They have the design basically done, just need someone to make it real.

      I would prefer it to use a controller port... What if I want my home entertainment media hub to access a network to play movies and music?
  • How could this work? (Score:5, Informative)

    by I Am The Owl (531076) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:15AM (#5113076) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't the XBox only come with something like a 10GB hard drive? How in the world would that work out for PVRs? Last I checked, you needed a serious amount of storage space in order to make a decent PVR (along the lines of 60 to 80GB). Also, apparently, you are required to purchase seperate hardware and add it in somehow in order to get video input.

    Wouldn't a TiVO or Replay TV be much cheaper than this? Not just adding in hardware costs, but all the time required to get all this working. It seems to me that the XBox just wasn't designed for this kind of usage.

    • by Troed (102527)
      The Xbox takes standard 3.5" IDE drives, and replacing the built in drive takes about a minute or so, and can be done by anyone with a Torx 20 + 15 + 10 screwdriver.


      120Gb works just nicely.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        So if I buy a mod chip and a new drive, then void my warranty I can have a TIVO. Would it not just be cheaper to buy the tivo?
        • Here's a clue - there are other countries in the world besides USA, Iraq and BinLaden-Land.


          Last time I checked, there were loads of countries with no TIVOs available.

        • by lpret (570480)
          The point is that you can do so many other things as well. You can not only do Tivo-esque functions, you can:
          • Play mp3s/ogg (perfect for a party -- no need to have a computer hooked up or burn a CD)
          • Play Divx (again, parties)
          • Streaming audio (setup a playlist from another box, or stream internet radio)
          • DVD playback
          • And the ability to rip all of these.

          For all of these features, the xBox is a pretty small and handy way to do all this. Just try and build a PC about the same size for 400 dollars w/ a remote, etc. that's why this is pretty cool

      • That's not true, it's bullshit. The hard drives in the xbox have a special chip that identifies itself as an xbox drive. Maybe you can hack a regular hard drive to make it seem like an xbox drive, but it's not as simple as just installing a new drive.
        • Yes it's true, it's not bullshit.
          The XBOX Hard drives don't have any "special chip". They just have different partitioning and use an HDD Key. As long as you have a modchip (which you probably do, if you want to run Dreamix, you can easily install your 120GB drive, format it to FATX, write the key to it, and reboot the XBOX. All new modchips support this.
        • there is no special chip. Not ony an you put any new pc hard drive in an xbox (or any old one that has been formatted), but you can also use the xbox hdd in your pc. The drives are exactly the same. Similarly the xbox will except any normal cd-rw or dvdr drive in place of its original drive too.
    • Works great you just need to copy a KEY on the drive over, other than that it is standard pc/except the dvd rom drive. If you have a XBox thats modded and all that, well then for another 100$ you can have a PVR fuck tivo.
    • I know there are people that stick modded 80GB+ hard drives into Xboxen.

      One question: I had always heard that the 8GB (or whatever) size hard drive in the Xbox was an uncommon, single platter, low heat hard drive. When you replace this with a monster 7200 rpm drive doesn't the Xbox overheat?

    • Mod chips with modified boot loader images allow harddrives with up to 137GB of storage.
    • Doesn't the XBox only come with something like a 10GB hard drive? How in the world would that work out for PVRs? Last I checked, you needed a serious amount of storage space in order to make a decent PVR (along the lines of 60 to 80GB). Also, apparently, you are required to purchase seperate hardware and add it in somehow in order to get video input.

      You forgot to mention that the only ports available to add stuff on to an Xbox (such as the TV tuner that would be needed for PVR functionality) are USB ports. Video quality will blow chunks unless the plan is to put some sort of hardware-based compression outside the box. Even if (for instance) an MPEG-2 compressor is included in the capture device, asking USB to take in a 6-Mbps MPEG-2 stream (equivalent to TiVo's best quality) and write it to disk with no data loss is tempting fate in a way I'd not want to try. Asking it to do that while doing software decompression and playback of a previously-recorded stream is even more foolish. Unless Microsoft stuck a PCI interface in there somewhere that can be tapped to accept a TV-tuner card (or at least a FireWire card), I don't see this project going anywhere useful.

    • Sigh... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by xmda (43558)
      Wouldn't a TiVO or Replay TV be much cheaper than this?

      Sigh... I get soooo tired of all people that thinks that the whole world is USA. Now, please tell me how I am gonna get a TiVO or Replay TV here in Sweden. Please do that.

      Thank you!

      PS. Not that I am planning to buy an xbox or anything, I will not support MS if I can avoid it (yes, you DO support MS if you buy one of those machines, even if they lose money selling them)

  • where? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pummer (637413) <spam AT pumm DOT org> on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:17AM (#5113082) Homepage Journal
    Note: There will be a need to purchase a hardware add-on for video input since the Xbox gaming console does not currently have video inputs etc.

    Where is one supposed to get this add-on?
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:18AM (#5113084) Homepage Journal
    XBox the Office Edition

    Just think, all that untapped market of people playing games at their desks...

  • Might work (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:20AM (#5113088)
    I know some of the people who are working on the Dreamix, one person is doing the graphics (they look awesome) and another is doing some of the coding (he's a little prodigy). You dont need a mod chip, they're going to be selling a piece of hardware (less than $100) that connects to the box via ethernet. Cable plugs into the small box, is encoded into mpeg2 in real time, and send to the xbox. The software will be free to download and burn. Because the hardware is ethernet-based, it could be used for a PC.. but there just isnt software. Also, they're using linux and under the GPL microsoft can't toucht them, especialy since the software is free.
    • Re:Might work (Score:2, Informative)

      by Troed (102527)
      Complete rubbish - you need software running on the Xbox and for that software to run you need a modchip.
    • so it's not really free, you're gonna have to pay for the hardware. I think this is a great idea, so let's just say the hardware's gonna be $79. Combined with the price of the XBox, that's $279. Still cheaper than most PVRs, but the drawbacks are that you're gonna have to fiddle, and the space is limited, and how is it going to get the TV guides without paying?
  • I dunno... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:20AM (#5113092) Homepage
    I don't know about this... One of the reasons for buying a PVR is the simplicity; tell it to record your shows, then pay it no attention 'til you want to watch.

    What happens when I come back one night, sit down and get ready to watch the episode of Enterprise I missed... When I discover I forgot to put the Dreamix boot CD back in, and instead turned it off after playing MLB Slugfest last night?

    I suppose it might be a good way to recycle the Xbox after one's moved on to newer and better consoles, but I think I'd prefer a dedicated PVR box.
  • uh.. why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NinjaPaul (224411) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:26AM (#5113110)
    Let's see.. Xbox has an 8 gig HD and no mpeg encoder or video inputs.. You won't be able to use Xbox Live on a modded machine, and for the cost of doing all the modifications you can probably get a Tivo for less money.


    This is just another stupid idea, next please.

    • Except for people outside the US who cannot use the TiVo service (or actually buy a TiVo).

      -- iCEBaLM
  • by The Creator (4611) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @11:28AM (#5113125) Homepage Journal
    Now there is a legitimate use for mod-chips, it should in theory be impossible to shut down mod-chip vendors. But that is theoty...
  • Even after the $250 lifetime you're still price competative. Looks like we're getting into the free razor, sell the blades business model.
  • It's not Linux based.
  • Right now the Xbox can do 480p for games, but not for DVD output. Are these modifications capable of changing this?

    I'd imagine anyone into this enough to want one of these takes their electronics rather seriously and wouldn't actually use it. I know I wouldn't use it as quality wise it isn't on par with what I'd have (nor what I'd want if I didn't already have it).

    Though there's certainly a coolness factor on par with see-through Case windows that have never been seen by anyone but the case owner.

  • What is the obsession with the Xbox? Yes, it's cheap but:

    1.) DRM enabled, requieres a mod chip. MS can change it at their whim. They'll be trying to hit a moving target technologically (& legally maybe - DMCA???).
    2.) Small disk.
    3.) Ugly as hell. I don't want that brick in my living room.
    4.) I don't feel like supporting MS until they change their anti-consumer ways.

    The idea is great and I can't wait until they release a Linux/Mac version. Will it require a Radeon AIW or something?
    • Re:Why Xbox? (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The only point that is really valid for you is that the XBox is ugly, whih is an opinion.

      1. Fact, The modchips come with the ability to be switched on/off and flash protected. Thus if you use Xbox live you can switch the chip off and MS will not realize it is modded. Also, with flash prtotection they can not flash your modchip.

      2. Small disk can easily be fixed.

      4. If you buy an Xbox and mod it. You can just go rent games and Save the games to your pc or extra large hardrive :) Sure it is pirating, however, you are not supporting MS and Microsoft is loosing money since they are trying to make up the cost of the Xbox in software sales. I don't like MS however, I Think that the Xbox is the best console. I haven't really played a PS2. However, I have a GC. I think MS actually deserves support for the Xbox.

      I personally bought an xbox so I can pull movies off of my pc via smb and to play my region 2 DVD's. Since the mod chips defeat macrovision
  • If you already have one of these Xboxes, then fine, do what you can with it. But I say why support microsoft? It's what you're doing when you buy one, or buy one of their games. When you finally get your xbox modded to your taste, microsoft will shut it down.

    70 Billion Mops Needed to Clean Up Company [xnewswire.com]

    • As opposed to supporting Nintendo or Sony? Those companies aren't any better when it comes to consumer rights. They'd try and shut you down just the same.

      All of these huge companies will not hesistate to squash you if you get in the way of their big plan! Microsoft is not exclusive in this line of thinking.
      • I mentioned microsoft only because they were the subject of the article, but I don't support nintendo or sony either. If people just said no, they would quit screwing consumers, but as long as everyone else bellies up to the trough, they have zero incentive to improve.
  • DVD players (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Apreche (239272) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @12:05PM (#5113248) Homepage Journal
    I don't know why nobody but me sees it, but DVD players are quickly becoming the key component of a "media hub". I mean we've got a shitty cheap Apex, which we cracked for PAL and region free-ness. It's got logos on it for mp3, jpeg, dts, dolby digital, it plays cds and of course dvds. That's a lot of stuff. If someone made a divx playing pvr dvd player that would be the be all end all to home entertainment. All you would need would be digital cable or sattelite, a television with digital in and out, a reciever, speakers, and one of those. Maybe a VCR or a cassette deck or turntable. That's it! Console gaming is a nice thing too, but hey. If you throw like an xbox/ps2 emulator in the box you are the winner. And as other people have stated the XboX just doesn't have the technical capabilities to be this device without some serious additions. And considering price of xbox and add-ons and the limited hard drive space, I think I'm going to get working on this right away!
  • by thomasvs (600635) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @12:11PM (#5113270) Homepage
    Personally I don't think the XBox is the way to go. Sure, it is readily available. Sure, it is cheap. Sure, Microsoft is selling them at HUGE loss.

    But I really don't want to be limited by the limited hardware. In two years' time, how are you going to upgrade the box ?

    I'm working on a similar project myself (A href="http://davedina.apestaart.org/">The Dave/Dina Project), which is a distribution (based on Red Hat) to turn a PC into a media hub. It works, it's in our living room, it has 200 GB of storage space (the 550 albums it has encoded to Ogg to date take about 35 GB of those), it records video [apestaart.org] (we record about 15 shows each week, all through a web interface), it plays emulator games and even Doom, it shows photos, and s on.

    It isn't the prettiest thing in the world (WE NEED ARTISTS !), but it's open, you can swap out components, tinker with it, and help us improve it.

    I don't want to be tied to any hardware at all, especially not Microsoft's. How long before a cease-and-desist order is issued ?

  • Ignoring the fact that the XBox was created by our dear friends at MS, let's look at this a little more objectively... AFAIK, to run homebrew code your XBox needs a modchip. Unless the Dreamix guys have shelled out for the Official Xbox Dev Kit and whatever licenses they need, Dreamix will require a modchip to run. End of story. ... Not that this is the end of the world of course. There are loads of vendors of modchips, both online and indie game shops. Getting your Xbox modded is neither expensive or difficult... even if you want to get someone else to do the honors for you. One of the perks of getting your box modded (not forgetting you can play all your *ahem* backups!) is that you can install a bigger hard drive. A modded Xbox can support anything upto 137Gb (after that, extra space is ignored and the device is treated as 137Gb unit). As far as video input goes, the idea of having media piped in through the 10/100 ethernet socket isn't such a bad idea. The QCast tuner for the PS2 uses a similar idea: where media, from your pc, is streamed to the PS2, which then displays it on screen. So with that in mind, I guess it's possible. The other option would be to use a USB based video capture device, and I believe there are some already on the market. The controller ports on the XBox are just USB ports with a proprietry molding. An adapter cable is available for about 10GBP that will do the business for you. As far as cost goes, sure getting a Tivo would probably work out cheaper (and better!) unless you already had a modded Xbox. Being techies, I guess we've all got some old hard drives kicking around and new 80Gb is pretty cheap. So for the price of the video capture unit, whatever guise that comes in, I think it's a pretty good idea IMHO. Count me in! ;-)
  • by haggar (72771) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @12:30PM (#5113354) Homepage Journal
    Unless you have been sleeping under a rock for the last 12 months, you would certainly know that there are DVD players of comparable quality to the Xbox, at half the price. Also, they don't require a mod-chip to play Divx, MP3, SVCD and VCD in addition to DVD.They also have less moving parts (the Xbox has two fans and a hard disk, in addition to the DVD mechanics) and is therefore more reliable and dissipates less.

    Also, the DVD players available today are all multi-region enable-able through the remote. Some will even remove Macrovision with a remote hack. For the Xbox, you will need a modchip to achieve the same.

    Oh, and the DVD player comes with a remote, unlike the Xbox.
    • You're right, apart from the DivX. Vcdhelp.com lists 4 players [vcdhelp.com] that can handle DivX and they are not cheap. This is important - I can download a whole movie in MPEG4 in a single CD-sized chunk. Equivalent quality for SVCD would require twice or three times that. On a 512kbps cable that matters. I currently have a Tivo, a DVD player, a PC and a VCR, all for watching video. If they could all be squished into one box, I'd buy it. They could, but they aren't yet, so I can't buy one. If I can knock it together myself for the cost of one of the above units, I'll do it.

      While you might like to wait for industry to sell you what you want, many people prefer to get there a year or two sooner under their own steam.
    • The DVD kit [xbox.com] for XBox comes with a remote [xbox.com].

      Buy an XBox to play games in a social context. Without needing five billion hardware upgrades every 6 months.
  • ...well it might be vaporware...

    Is there a working product out for all of us slashdotters to buy? Aye, no, then it's vapourware.

    Now how can you spot that it is vaporware more easily, from the key points in the slashdot headling. ONE they promise mac and linux support, whoa holder right there pardner, no one promises mac and linux support before they got a product, well unless they have a team of 1000 programmers, but since they don't not REAL. TWO they make mention of hyped up buzzwords like PVR, when everyone knows there is no way for that to even be remotely possible on the size of the harrddrive. THREE, no where does it say they have MS's blessing to go further with this, know why? Two reasons, they mention macs and linux, which is like mentioning the lame of the villiage and they already have their own PVR, no not TiVO. Three it's a slashdot article that metions an X-Box, I swear MS gets more free advertising than apple sometimes. For such an Anti-MS site, there sure a whole lot of articles about them ...

  • With the demise of UltimateTV (which I have and use...as it's still "supported" and I do like it better than the Replay/TiVO, et al units that I've seen) I'd bet that MS turns the XBox into a PVR before (and more effectively, if not cheaper) any third party groups do.

    Here's to hoping tha Apple has a mo' betta unit that comes to market first. ;-)
  • I have thought that at some point my xbox hd might become fragmented. Probably not an issue with just my little save game files, but using the XBOX as a TIVO, wouldn't that be a lot of data? And as such wouldn't fragmentation happen?
  • ...and my prediction is that's all they will ever have.

    Holy-cow Batman, they'll have some designs tomorrow. I could get my drawing package out and have design done by the end of the day.

    When someone announces an *intention* it's news (like that MSFT Exchange killer from the lotus dude). It's not news, it's support-whoring, or media-whoring...it ain't news FFS.

    As an aside; TV guide information costs a lot of money and getting it for free is a) generally stealing, b) prone to error due to changes on the unwilling host, and c) shite.

    At best they'll end up with a crummy PVR with dodgy schedules that gives limited fucntionality and invalidates your X-Box warranty coz you'll probably need to mod it somehow.
  • What would make this extra-good is if external USB drives could be used as the actual media storage; even though hard drives are nicely large now compared to a few years ago, there's never too much :)

    However, (and this is the offtopic part), I am certain I saw a link recently to homebrewed-but-for-sale PVR units, about $550 in a small case, all ready to run, I think running MythTV, in a recent Slashdot discussion -- am I crazy? I've been googling with no luck on this. Any help appreciated.

    timothy
  • Can someone please explain to me how this is any sort of news whatsoever? I would venture to guess Im not the only one who has been using my already paid for home network and computers for video on demand, and all other 'features' of this so called media center.

    What about networking, will it see my mounted SMB shares so I can access them form any location on my network. Does it have a remote, or do I have to sit in front of the tv with a MS joystick to use it? As far as I can see, hooking this up to my network, would be a giant step back to 1998.

    Will it be a true media center and allow me to access a secure server by placing my public and accepted keys anywhere into it? Or is this just 'media' in terms of sit on your ass couch-potato stuff?

    overall, nice concept ,far from novel, and way to expensive.

  • Doesn't Microsoft own WebTV and some sort of PVR company? Don't you think this is there eventual plan for the XBox? A gaming console is mostly marketable to males aged 10-40 (or so), but a unit with the functionality of all of these things would be marketable to... well... everybody. And surfing the web may actually be reasonable on HDTV. (Did you ever use WebTV? It was awful on TV resolutions).

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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