Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Hardware Hacking Television Build

First Impressions of the Neuros Link 64

Posted by kdawson
from the full-screen dept.
DeviceGuru writes "Having recently constructed the BoxeeBox, DeviceGuru blogger Rick Lehrbaum naturally was eager to check out Neuros Technology's somewhat similar IP-TV set-top box. Lehrbaum's first-impressions review of the Neuros Link describes the device's hardware and Ubuntu-based software, shows screenshots of its functionality, identifies a handful of weak spots, offers some specific suggestions for improvement, and shares a few hacks (including adding an HDD and Boxee). All in all, he concludes, the Link's hardware is more than worth its minimal $300 pricetag."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

First Impressions of the Neuros Link

Comments Filter:
  • It looks hideous (Score:1, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

    I'm not one to normally hold a device's physical appearance against it, but if something is going to be sitting near the TV in plain view, it has got to be better looking than the Link.

    Features Shmeatures. This thing is ugly!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Other than looking like a 1980's VCR, what's wrong with it.

      lol :D

      Honestly, other than being boxy as hell, it's not that bad.

      • You may like a Volvo, but I'd take a Jaguar any day.

        • by Aladrin (926209)

          "They're boxy, but they're good."

          Man, that's an old movie.

          • by jseale (691367)
            They're boxee also, get it? Yeah it'd be nice to get boxee running on this sucker. It'd make Apple TV look like a MacMini on crack.
      • by soren202 (1477905)
        I'd have to disagree with that. Considering the cost and the function, it's really not that bad. Although it does remind me quite a bit of one of the ye-olde computers my school used to use en-masse for it's computer labs, I've seen uglier (read - beige and proud of it) boxes, and I'd certainly buy it if it worked well enough. I prefer function over form, and I'm willing to sacrifice good looks (to a point) for a cheaper, better working product. Although, looking at the popularity of Apple products, there
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Yvan256 (722131)

      Ugly doesn't even begin to describe this thing. Sure it would look ok for a desktop computer, but for an audio-video device that goes next to a TV? No way.

    • by iamhassi (659463)
      "This thing is ugly!"

      agreed. Also the conclusion conflicts with the review. In the review he says: "The need to navigate around the long, alpha-sorted list on the Neuros.TV media portal doesn't seem consistent with the sort of "10-foot user experience" needed for comfortable TV-viewing in the family room (my emphasis). In contrast, HTPC-oriented platforms like MythTV, Windows Media Center, the Xbox Media Center (XBMC), and Boxee (an XBMC variant) make it easy to locate and play content with a few butt
      • Re:It looks hideous (Score:4, Interesting)

        by JoeBorn (625012) <jborn.neurosaudio@com> on Friday February 27, 2009 @05:54PM (#27017483) Homepage Journal

        I have a Xbox running XBMC and it's amazing for less than $100. Saying "XBMC is better" then going on to conclude that the $300 Link is "an exceptional value" doesn't make sense. His conclusion does not match his observations.

        Well, this combines a HW and SW comparison. Wrt to HW, a modded second hand X Box is an unbeatable value for standard def, period. It was subsidized HW and can't be beat (particuliarly at $100). If you can get past the modding headaches and SD limitations, you won't find a better value. In fact, if you need component and composite connectors, the LINK doesn't support that at all.

        That being said, the LINK is many years newer hardware. The processor is 2.8 GHz 64 bit v Xbox's 733 MHz (IIRC) etc. and the LINK has HDMI, HD GPU, etc.

        Wrt to SW, the LINK is evolving from its starting point of basically stock Ubuntu with a collection of apps (including XBMC and Boxee) to a more seamless, integrated experience. The app software is all GPL, so parts of many apps will be integrated over time, there is still lots of experimentation ongoing (and getting community input during this period is precisely why we launched to users early)

        Joe (from Neuros)

    • Yeah, but keep in mind that it's not a 100% finished and polished product.

      It's labeled "Gamma" for a reason, and it has a 4 months no-questions-asked return policy built-in for the same reason ;)

      It's arguably ugly since it's made with off-the-shelf components mostly and the case is not a custom case, it's pretty much off the shelf too. I for one could do away without the extra-bright power button light and some bulk.

      Pretty sure that following iterations of the product will be much more pretty and have some

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Enigma2175 (179646)

        It's labeled "Gamma" for a reason

        What is that reason? Usually if a product is in final testing it is labeled "Beta" [wikipedia.org], if it is earlier than that in the development phase it is labeled "Alpha". If it not yet Alpha it is "pre-Alpha" or "in development". Gamma would imply that it is past Alpha and past Beta and instead of going into production it is gone into some new development phase.

        This thing looks just like the MSI Hetis 915 [msicomputer.com] and it has similar specs. I don't know if they sell the Hetis anymore, but I bought one several years ago for a

    • by Selfbain (624722)
      You're an Apple user aren't you...
  • TFA does not mention what is he using for graphical display. Framebuffer would be ideal choice, but Ubuntu for some reason blacklists framebuffer and having worked on similar project, I know that enabling framebuffer is kind of tricky on Ubuntu systems. For some reason, I always believed geexbox [geexbox.org] provides best trimmed kernel, fast bootable, and much better.
    • From TFA: (Score:3, Informative)

      by andrewd18 (989408)

      The board's Integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 GPU supports resolutions up to 2560x1600 and can supply HDMI video at up to 1080p (1920x1200).

      The Link's OS also comes with ATI's proprietary 3D-accelerated graphics driver preinstalled.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd (701)

      Framebuffer? Are you insane?

      Last I checked, there were no framebuffer implementations that had support for video acceleration - not even hardware scaling.

      Essentially a showstopper for video playback, especially high definition content.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd (701)

        An additional note:

        The OP links to GeeXboX while talking about framebuffer video, but GeeXboX is pretty clear about the fact that they use X and not framebuffer. Nearly every news item refers to updates to their X.org configuration.

        • Could you please provide me the link where it says they use X? I would love to know how they could bundle whole distro in 8MB, with X.
          • by Andy Dodd (701)

            You provided the link yourself. Read the news articles - the announcement for each beta release has a detailed ChangeLog, and as of today, every "Detailed ChangeLog" entry I see on that page has an X.org changes section.

      • I could be terribly wrong, but for playing media you won't need video acceleration. Last time I tested, geexbox worked like charm using mplayer with Framebuffer on retarded 800MHz motherboards and came with mere 8MB distro..(that was 3 years ago).
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          I could be terribly wrong, but for playing media you won't need video acceleration. Last time I tested, geexbox worked like charm using mplayer with Framebuffer on retarded 800MHz motherboards and came with mere 8MB distro..(that was 3 years ago).

          For playing back SDTV, probably - you only needed a 300MHz processor to do DVD decoding entirely in software. But start amping it up to 720p/1080p video, and you're talking serious power. The simpler formats (e.g., MPEG4 ASP) may do just fine with a couple of GHz,

        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          Depends on your output resolution, and how good your monitor is at scaling - Often monitors have crap scaling capability, and so need the (much higher quality) hardware scaling of the video card. There's no way you're driving a 1920x1080 native display without some serious CPU (regardless of input content) unless the video card does scaling (in which case the output resolution doesn't matter, CPU usage is all about the source resolution). Every video card made for the past decade (at least) has built-in h

  • Sounds nice but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:05PM (#27012637) Homepage Journal

    I can't help but feel that a more integrated product (e.g. not based on 100% commodity hardware) could be a little cheaper. This doesn't seem like a great price for what it does. I also can't help but think from his dick-sucking link at the bottom of the article that it's a paid advertisement (on his site, if not this one.) What self-respecting geek wouldn't want to snag one? Puh-lease. This ain't no Quadrocopter. It's a dinky PC. It doesn't even have a slot-loading drive, which would have sexed it up considerably. Or if it does, this shitty adview doesn't say so. Regardless, why does a machine like this need a motherboard with expansion slots? If nothing else, it could be smaller.

    • Re:Sounds nice but (Score:4, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:12PM (#27012743) Journal
      All about volume.

      To really cut the price, you'd need to go with some non-x86 embedded setup. Trouble is, that would increase the software development costs and (much worse) would mean that you'd need to hassle a whole lot of "content providers" to get things working with their services. x86+flash, by contrast, is pretty broadly supported without special agreements.

      If you have to use x86, how many of these things do you have to stamp out before your economies of scale can approach those of boring miniITX motherboards? 10,000? 100,000? I'm sure any mobo manufacturer would be happy to do a reduced price highly integrated version just for you, if your order is large enough; but Neuros probably can't hit that at present.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I'm sure any mobo manufacturer would be happy to do a reduced price highly integrated version just for you, if your order is large enough; but Neuros probably can't hit that at present.

        So how many of these devices do they have in the channel? Two? Even at 10,000 units or even less they should have been able to order the machines without the unnecessary expansion slots and headers. Doing so saves the customer ~4x the cost difference and lets you sell a lot more units, not to mention the waste involved in putting that crap on there. This is just a commodity PC and it's not clear that they're actually doing you any favors. They're selling you integration, and it's nice to see people selling

        • Re:Sounds nice but (Score:5, Informative)

          by JoeBorn (625012) <jborn.neurosaudio@com> on Friday February 27, 2009 @03:16PM (#27015391) Homepage Journal
          I'm from Neuros for those that don't already know, I'll answer the x86 v embedded elsewhere. Regarding economies of scale, let's look at it a different way. As many of you know, Neuros history is in embedded systems from scratch. This is our first x86 project as well as the first using off the shelf components. We actually did it because of the economies of scale advantage. The PC industry has such an established supply chain, with such huge volumes that its creates a huge advantage. You have to live with x86 plusses and minuses, which, again I'll address separately. But if you favor x86, which obviously we do for this currently. Sticking with off the shelf makes sense (at least to start). As posted elsewhere, this MB *at retail* is $80 that's really quiet a value for that piece of hardware. Look at the GPU, and the host of peripherals and expansion. Firewire, tons of USB, s/pdif, 7.1 audio, HDMI, DVI, VGA, PCI, SATA, etc. Sure, much of that is worthless for a mainstream wal-mart product, but not for a Gamma launch to folks that want to experiment and play around. Likewise with the case, it's nice having size for a internal 3.5" drive, and/or an optical drive. The case could be smaller certainly, but today, it's the size of a TiVo, so it's not an unreasonable compromise IMHO. Of course, as the product matures, we'll cut out many peripherals, and put it in a smaller case, certainly there will be cost savings, but some not immaterial tradeoffs. It wouldn't surprise me if we continued to sell this unit along side it. I suspect many would continue to prefer it. Best guess is that the savings will be on the order of $50 for some of the customization above. Important no doubt, but not everyone would want those tradeoffs, particularly at a stage where we're specifically targeting hackers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JoeBorn (625012)

        To really cut the price, you'd need to go with some non-x86 embedded setup. Trouble is, that would increase the software development costs and (much worse) would mean that you'd need to hassle a whole lot of "content providers" to get things working with their services. x86+flash, by contrast, is pretty broadly supported without special agreements.

        you got it exactly right, and in fact, traditionally we've done all embedded HW, and we could produce a proprietary solution in quantity of 100 if we wanted. It's all about the benefit of the above.

        And let me expand upon the above and explain why x86 makes fundamental sense for a device like this (at least for the forseeable future). What you outline above portays it from our (the mfg's perspective) but let's look at it from the user's perspective, because that's where it really comes alive.

        When you s

    • "I can't help but feel that a more integrated product (e.g. not based on 100% commodity hardware) could be a little cheaper"

      £210 for a set-top box is too expensive, get real would you
    • Re:Sounds nice but (Score:5, Informative)

      by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:29PM (#27012979)

      Mother board is $80 [newegg.com]
      Processor is $50 [newegg.com]
      4GB of ram is $50 [dealnews.com]

      Small cases aren't cheap. But the builder in me would rather build something out of a nice hardwood or plexi-glass. (Depending on the decor of the house).

      I can't wait until XBMC supports full hardware decoding and HDMI Audio out.

    • Re:Sounds nice but (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TrentTheThief (118302) on Friday February 27, 2009 @02:05PM (#27014379)

      I have a LINK, too.

      If you want a small, cheap media center that has no future, you go right ahead on and buy that POS thing that HP is flogging.

      I've had my LINK for two weeks. It rocks. It plays any file I throw at it. MKV, Dixv 3-6, DVDs.

      Expansion slots? Yeah, it has slots. It also has an active hacking/mod community that's experimenting and enjoying the chance to contribute and have some fun with a cool toy.

      If you prefer "appliances" to computers, that's fine. Buy what lets you sleep at night. I'll stick with something that lets me make it work the way I want it to, not the crap that HP and Dell are flogging, thank you very much.

      When you get your new appliance, see if you can run Elisa, MythTV, and Boxee on it. Let me know if you can manage to add a SATA raid to it, too.

      And get off my damn lawn, too. Damned kids.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        If you want a small, cheap media center that has no future, you go right ahead on and buy that POS thing that HP is flogging.

        Just let me say here and now that I will never again buy anything from HP. While after much wailing and gnashing of teeth they replaced my complete lemon of a laptop with a substantially upgraded model, the price I paid in agony (mostly time on the phone, lord spare me from overseas technical support) was not worth the difference. It's sad because eCost has a TON of stuff from HP that looks sexy as all get-out but I know that if I have even one problem (and I probably will) then I will regret ever even look

        • I had a bout the same experience with HP. I bought a really hot (at the time) AMD-based laptop and wanted physical media for XP and the bastards wouldn't cough up.

          HP? Never again. Nothing.

          I bought a Zonbu becasue it was low power and have an eee pc (701). I like tinker with hardware and software and both boxes are pretyt nice for that reason. Did you check out the SheevaPlug from Marvell? That's next for me.

          I'm planning to stick a CF-based SATA RAID inside my LINK. I have an old Packard-Bell Media Center Re

  • by johannesg (664142) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:26PM (#27012937)

    I thought I'd mention that since the summary can't be bothered...

  • Hulu needs to let Boxee use them as a chabnel again. Those dudes need to team up... Thinking of the biggest "push" model (broadcast) moving to the "pull" model (aggregated RSS feeds as "channels") makes me wet my pants. This would be a good first step. I don't care who makes it work; I just want it now!!
    • by cromar (1103585)
      P.S. anyone else think something that ran an older emac or imac would be really nice (at least as an audio appliance)? They're the perfect shape. Getting Ubuntu 8.10 PPC onto an 800mhz eMac wasn't that bad besides some arcane video driver issues...

      Currently in dependency Hell getting Gnash to work (for some reason the gcc-3.3-base package to install on PPC is broken).
    • by Hardtrance (55355)

      Hulu needs to let Boxee use them as a chabnel again

                Done.

      http://lifehacker.com/5157524/bring-hulu-back-to-boxee-and-xbmc/ [lifehacker.com]

      • by cromar (1103585)
        Oh hey thanks. Boxee hadn't posted it on Titter (obviously). I guess Hulu ticked me off so much I kind of forgot to think of some kind of hacked-up approach...

        Hmmm... LifeHacker is +1 Informative again?
        • It is Hulu's content providers you should be ticked at, without them Hulu wouldn't be of too much worth. How people can fault Hulu for doing what they needed to do to keep their content? If they hadn't backed off and removed official support it's likely there wouldn't be the chance for a hacked version to watch the shows that could have been pulled. Blame the content providers, not Hulu.
          • by cromar (1103585)
            Any links, etc. would be great (or well, I'll probably just go Google it). I *am* a little foggy on what is going on. I was a bit peeved when I heard they withdrew their support, but not enough to stop me from going to hulu.com

            Hulu is a great service, and I really hope they will get behind Boxee or a similar product in the *very* near future.
  • by horza (87255) on Friday February 27, 2009 @12:48PM (#27013253) Homepage

    The review misses one of the most important things in a home media device which is: is it fan-less and how noisy is it?

    It also mentions MythTV but doesn't do any form of comparison to the main alternative.

    Finally it mentions Hulu as the main media portal... and fails to mention this isn't accessible outside of the USA.

    Phillip.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      > The review misses one of the most important things in a home media device which is: is it fan-less and how noisy is it?

      It's not fanless, but the fan is not very noisy. It's definitely not audible with any kind of audio being played back by the TV. It's normally inaudible against daytime background noise. You can hear it in a silent room, or at night.

      > Finally it mentions Hulu as the main media portal... and fails to mention this isn't accessible outside of the USA.

      Hulu is just one of the various vid

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        A box like this has to compete with AppleTV/Xbox on the lowend and
        mini pc's like the Mac Mini on the highend. Plus there are ample
        possibilities for home built machines with integrated chipsets that
        support full h264 acceleration.

        Unless it can play bluray rips, $300 just isn't a very compelling
        price for the box. It's more expensive than other CD options and
        not as capable of the more expensive HD capable alternatives.

        ATI is simply the wrong direction to go for a box like this.

        • Plays H.264. I haven't tried on 1080p, yet. I'm waiting on the wall mount before I open the box on the bigger set.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JoeBorn (625012)

          A box like this has to compete with AppleTV/Xbox on the lowend and mini pc's like the Mac Mini on the highend.

          exactly right, and I believe there's a place in the middle. A device with comprehensive playback capabilities (both downloaded content and web video) that operates like a piece of electronics. That's the vision, as many, including the reviewer point out, we're not there yet. We started from the PC side and are evolving to be more electronics like, both software and eventually more stripped down hardware. Our focus since release (and until production- remember this is a gamma product) will be on enhancin

    • The LINK uses http://pc.neuros.tv/ [neuros.tv] as it's default portal. But there's nothing to stop you from using any other video collection portal you wish to use.

      MythTV is okay. I've seen Elisa and plan to install it this weekend. The next rev of the software (which is due any day) will include XBMC. If I understood the thread correctly, there were stability issues between XBMC and the ATI video driver (which has just been updated). In addition, there is also a PC-based method to stream netflix to the LINK which can

    • Hulu is a waste of time anyway since the thing has to freeze and buffer all the time if you try to watch it during prime-time hours.

      Personally I think the Asus eee box has more promise for the same price, though obviously this Link is twice as speedy, but for most things except HD video an Atom processor is ok with. As for both of their default linux OS's you're best off ditching them and installing regular Ubuntu with XBMC.
  • It doesn't sound like it would paly all the content that I own. I have ripped a of my (not netflix's) dvd that are 1080P to h264 with aac sound, and the only thing in the house that can play them is the ps3. Not my 2.5GHz dual core Athlon 64 with 4 gig of ram and a 800gt. It does come close, but if anything else decides that it needs to run, i'll drop a few frames. Is the ATI card in it one that has ATI's vdvpu equivlent? then i'd be much more inclined to belive that it will work. As for the people saying t
    • by mammlouk (1488591)
      Seriously? You really own DVDs that are 1080P? Can I buy one? I'll understand if you want to hold on to them all since they will be worth so much some day. If you are upsampling your DVDs when you rip them, you are waisting time. As far as your PC not being able to play them back, you have bigger configuration issues (Maybe you're running Windows?). I have some HD-DVD and BluRay(hooray linux on PS3) rips that are 1080p with 5.1 AAC and they all play back without issue on my Intel 7500 2.2Ghz Core 2 Du
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        If you are upsampling your DVDs when you rip them, you are waisting time.

        So... he's attaching clocks to his belt?

    • by JoeBorn (625012)

      Is the ATI card in it one that has ATI's vdvpu equivlent? then i'd be much more inclined to belive that it will work.

      the ATI interface is evolving, we (Neuros) is working with them directly to evolve the Linux drivers (both proprietary and open). Today it doesn't yet have the vdpau type interface.

      However, ATI specs that this is a full bluray capable card, so it's in the software interfaces. Without that we're currently at the cusp of 1080p (24 fps like the apple.com trailers) but there's clearly improvements coming

      I realize that ATI doesn't have the best FOSS reputation, but when we looked at nVidia, ATI had some ad

  • Neuros OSD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chadruva (613658)

    I own the Neuros OSD, which is compact and looks good, simple to use and powerful, however, by todays standards it is a bit outdated, without support HD videos, MKV format, H.264, etc.

    It would be fantastic if they did a Neuros OSD Reloaded, with support for new codecs and features (more powerful hardware), but with the same form-factor, this new thing is not as attractive as the OSD, and for what it is (a media PC) I think they would need to add more value.

You know that feeling when you're leaning back on a stool and it starts to tip over? Well, that's how I feel all the time. -- Steven Wright

Working...