Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Cool hardware...

I've been eyeing this little bit of hardware for a while and so I finally went and got it. I have a lot of videos that I'd recorded on my home PC but I hat sitting at the computer to watch them. I'd rather go to the living room with the 53" big-screen. What I'd been doing was to burn them to a VideoCD or, more recently, to DVD. That works, but sometimes it is just a show I scheduled to be recorded and only watch it once and then delete it. I'd rather not burn a DVD just to be able to watch the show. So I bought this really cool little set-top device called the MediaMVP. It is essentially a little embedded Linux device with a PowerPC "set-top" chip with an MPEG decoder, some flash memory, some RAM and ethernet controller. It directly connects to the network and talks to a special server service running on your PC. It then streams audio, video, pictures and internet radio directly to your TV. Now I don't really watch too much TV at all, but there are a few things I do like to watch. Sure, I could spend several hundred bucks on a Tivo or ReplayTV, but I already have a TV tuner/video capture card in my PC with the requisite record scheduling software. This little device only cost $99. With the latest beta firmware, I can also play Divx encoded videos (that requires a Divx decoder on the server and a little more network bandwidth).

There's also a whole sub-culture beginning to form around this little gem. Here's a few links to various reviews and hardware tinkerers:
MediaMVP and VDR
Hauppauge MediaMVP Software
WinTV PVR & MediaMVP Board
Hauppauge MediaMVP review by PC Magazine
Review on Build Your Own PVR