It used be that if you wanted to watch a specific TV show, you had to make sure you were home in time to watch it. Those who were born in the sixties and seventies probably have memories of rushing home after school to catch their favorite cartoons. Not long after that, a major tipping point in how we consume television happened with the arrival of the affordable VCR. For the first time, we could watch our favorite TV shows when our schedules allowed it. Next came the DVR with its time-shifting capabilities--letting us watch and record different shows simultaneously, rewind and fast-forward without impacting the recording, and skipping through commercials (insert TiVo beep sound here).
The next major tipping point in our television consumption actually took the TV out of the equation. With TV tuner devices, we could now watch, record, play back, and time shift TV on our computers. But perhaps the most revolutionary step is the one that came next: TV shows available online for download and streaming. No longer did we have to take the proactive step of making sure that our devices were recording the shows. Now we can just go online, find a show that has already aired, and watch it at our leisure. The problem for some, however, is that watching TV shows on the computer is not as convenient or as pleasurable as watching them on the TV in the living room.
In what might seem to some as the tail wagging the dog, Neuros Technology is looking to bring TV shows back to the TV with its Neuros Link. The Neuros Link is a set-top box that acts as a bridge between your TV and the Internet (as well as your home network). It supports open Internet standards that aim to allow you to view nearly any downloadable or streaming content on your TV that is available on the Internet. The Neuros Link uses the Ubuntu 8.10 operating system with open-source video players such as, MPlayer, VLC, and Xine, to access a wide-range of video codecs and playback formats, including Adobe Flash. Note that the Neuros Link does not currently support DRM-encrypted, downloaded content, such as from iTunes. The device comes with a wireless keyboard, which lets you easily access the Neuros TV software interface that provides TV listings and TV show searches. The software comes with the Neuros Link and there are no needed subscriptions. Current supported online video sources include Hulu, NBC.com, CNN.com, YouTube, CBS, and Fancast.
The technical specifications of the Neuros Link are:
- 1080p H.264 video playback
- HDMI (max resolution 1920x1200, 1080p) output
- High-definition 6-channel Audio output
- Optical S/PDIF audio output
- Gigabit Ethernet
- 802.11 g/b WiFi, up to 54Mbps
- Lots of USB 2.0 High-speed Ports (6 external ones today)
- Housing: 300mm x 90mm x 326mm (11.8" x 3.5" x 12.8")
- Noise: under 27dB
- Controller: 2.4 GHz wireless keyboard trackball controller
As to what is actually under the Neuros Link's hood, CNET's Joseph Kaminski
- AMD Athlon 1640 processor 2.6 GHz
- ATI Radeon 3200 graphics card
- 1GB of RAM
- 4GB of flash (for booting)
The Neuros Link currently sells for $299.99 and has about a one to two week estimated ship time. Neuros Technology is currently referring to the Nueros Link as a "gamma release
," which the company explains as:"Gamma is a 'white box' pre-production product stage especially geared for hackers and hard-core early adopters. Gamma is the next stage after Beta, it's the first pre-production run, and we make it available to the public. For a complete review of all the early testing opportunities, see Neuros Beta Program
Central to Neuros' strategy is releasing products to the market quickly to get early feedback from hard core users as well as to give hackers a head start. In recognition of the fact that such products often change quickly and are not fully field tested, we offer an extended no questions asked return policy on such products. In addition, we also often offer compensation for participation in feedback surveys and focus groups, etc."
The company states on its blog
that the Neuros Link currently comes with "a four month no questions asked return period
." If the open-source community steps up the plate, the Neuros Link has the potential to become a robust media streaming option for getting audio and video from our computers and the Internet and back into the living room, where some would argue it has always belonged.