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Media Entertainment Hardware

Prisimq MediaServer Support For Linux 142

Posted by Hemos
from the cool-device dept.
martinde writes "The Prismiq Media Player is a networked set top box that can play MP3s, streaming media, browse the web, and do other cool stuff. It runs Debian on the dedicated hardware client, but in the past it has required a Windows server on the backend. It looks like now there is beta support for Linux in the backend. Anyone tried this device, with or without Linux?" This is a device that I've been playing with/testing - our sister (Yes, Virginia, they are owned by OSDN) site Thinkgeek sells them. Pretty cool device - reminds me of a XBox Media Player in terms of function, but with less soldering, and a keyboard. I'll be trying the Linux backend server - that would solve one of my major complaints, which is that the media server currently is Windows-only.
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Prisimq MediaServer Support For Linux

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  • Oh no... (Score:5, Funny)

    by JoeLinux (20366) <joelinux AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:17AM (#6784209) Homepage
    Begin "This is shameless thinkgeek advertising" whining by lamers in 3...2...1...
  • by User 956 (568564) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:24AM (#6784266) Homepage
    Pretty cool device - reminds me of a XBox Media Player in terms of function, but with less soldering, and a keyboard.

    Less soldering? How can you have less soldering than *none* [reversetools.org]? Have you found some way to quantify negative soldering amounts?
  • by elinenbe (25195) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:24AM (#6784268)
    The xbox media player XBMP, can do everything this can do and more. xbox=$179, chip=$20, media player which is constantly updated=free. Plus you can play some fun games.

    This is just another ad for thinkgeek crud.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Or buy a cheap tv card ($30) with a cheap pc, and build your own using mythtv.sf.net or freevo.sf.net. I am pretty sure you can hook those up to a network....
    • Well, I'd rather buy thinkgeek "crud" than microsoft "crud".....
  • Wi Fi option (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bigjnsa500 (575392)
    I *thought* that 802.11a/g wasn't available in Linux as of this time. If this machine runs Debian, where's the drivers? And where can I download them?
  • No on-box display? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr. Blue (63477) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:24AM (#6784279)

    The biggest problem I see with this (or with using an X-box for similar things) is the lack of any display or controls on the box itself. I don't want to have to turn on the TV to listen to music, and I don't really want to have to search for a remote either. Why can't people put a very simple user interface on the front of the box??? Something as simple as the iPod interface would be great and very functional.
    • Hrmm, there are those 5" LCD's that you can get for PS2/Xbox, dunno if you can still output audio/video with that hooked up though.

      Investigate, I need an excuse to get an xbox (KOTOR) ::)
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:39AM (#6784397) Homepage
      Simple -- cost.

      Would you be willing to pay an extra $100 for the unit for those features? Do you think the number of people who would be willing to pay an extra $100 outweigh the number of people who would no longer be willing to purchase it? And that $100 is conservative, if anything... the additional material costs, additional programming/UI design, two entirely different methods for accessing the same content, additional QA for both hardware and software, etc.

      While I agree that a display and buttons are a good thing, I don't think the additional cost will come out positive in the long run. Especially since the entire point of a networked audio player is that you don't need to walk up to it and plop in a CD to listen to whatever music you want. Like I said, I agree with the advantages of not having to turn on your TV, and it's something I'd like at times, but realistically it's not a winning feature for the price.

      If, however, you do want this, and are willing to give up an OSD to the TV, then look into the Turtle Beach AudioTron. Music only (obviously), no video. It does have a small screen on it, with buttons for control. Costs about the same as the Prismiq.

      And there's stuff out there that has the OSD, does music/video, has an on-box display, buttons, etc. too. Be prepared to pay upwards of $500 and (often) have all the data storage be on device, with really absurd pricing for expanding storage.
      • Yes, I'd pay a little extra, but $100 is way off the mark.

        I have a portable CD/MP3 player (plays MP3s off CDs) by Panasonic. For under $60 it has a reasonable control and LCD display in addition to the CD reading mechanism and software to actually play the MP3s. The marginal cost for the actual control/display part of that system is probably $10, tops.

        So yes, I sure as hell would pay $10 to have that kind of control on a component-style piece of equipment!
      • Simple -- increased sales

        Don't you think they wouldn't mind dropping their profit margin a little (per unit) if they would increase the number of sales?

        There is a market for a device described. Just like there was one for the iPod. Demand is there. Supply simply is not.
    • by smartin (942) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:47AM (#6784465)
      I agree, my main stereo system is not in the same room as my tv. I'm currently using an old rio receiver to do the job but would like to have something better. A ps2 or xbox (running linux) seem like an attractive solution but i need to be able to control it without a tv.

      One option is to have the box run a web server and control it from a laptop or maybe a small handheld device such as ipaq or palm pilot, or maybe even one of those lcd screen remote controls. All of which of course adds to the cost and complexity of the system.
      • by krow (129804) *
        You might want to look at a SliMP3 [slimp3.com]. I have one and adore it. The display is large enough to read across the room and it makes zero noise (unlike a computer). I use its remote, but find that if I am sitting near my laptop that I will just use the browser interface.
        • I almost got a SliMP3 - like the way it serves files, it has great D/A converters, and I like the display - but it's limited to MP3 which is a real deal breaker. I want something that can stream uncompressed audio, so I can throw my CD's in a closet and forget about 'em, even for critical listening.

          I believe it also lacks a digital output, which could be a bummer for some users (though with my H/K receiver and the flakey way it handles digital inputs, I'm more concerned about analog output quality).
    • by whyde (123448)
      Why doesn't any device which serves up AUDIO use an AUDIO-based navigation system... it could be as dumb as a simple voice synthesizer telling you what you are scrolling through, instead of an expensive LCD.
    • Check out the cd3o [cd3o.com]. It utilizes Microsoft's speech synth doodad for Windows to provide a voice guide. Using the guide, it's easy to navigate through your library using your remote to punch in the first few letters of an artist's name or album or track title, or to flip through your pre-defined playlists. And you don't need to squint at some fluoroscopic display halfway across the room.
  • With a wireless 802.11g card and the ability to play back a ripped DVD it would make a great video jukebox.
  • by renehollan (138013) <[ten.eriwraelc] [ta] [nallohr]> on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:29AM (#6784316) Homepage Journal
    Kind of useless for streaming my archived DVDs at 480p to my TV, or for later streaming HD content at 720P or 1080i from the same home server.

    Such products frustrate me to no end, because the idea is good, but the execution is poor.

    Then again, these limitations might have something to do with tyhe influence of the MPAA w.r.t. playblack resulution via analog outputs (still, that doesn't explain not having component out at at least 480p).

    • by Anonymous Coward
      XBOX media player does component out. It also does progressive scan. $179 for the xbox + $20-$40 is still cheaper than this prismiq thing, and it plays divx, xvid, and future codecs (it's constantly updated), supports MP3, OGG, AAC, + AC3, and has no region protection for playing DVDs.
      • I haven't been following XBox development much... is it capable of 720p and 1080i output? Also, does it have H/W accelerated MPEG2-decoding supported under Linux (my guess is "yes" to H/W decoding, but "no" to supported under Linux).

        I've always found the XBox clunky in terms of form factor -- I want a thin client to be, well, thin.

    • * Begin shameless self promotion *

      If you are looking for high quality upscaling, a variety of output options AND a software base built on Linux entirely under the GPL, take a look at my URL (Focus Theater [focustheater.com]).

      * End shameless self promotion *
      • I was going to complain about the lack of a network connection, but note that it has one! Good going.

        Now, is it silent? Fanless would be best (even if this means a wallwart or brick power supply.

  • by A Commentor (459578) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:29AM (#6784319) Homepage
    buy.com has this on sale for only $189 after $50 mail-in rebate. It's their 'price mistake of the day' item. There is currently a free shipping coupon available at my site. See link below in my signiture to find the coupon.
  • At least we know that our home entertainment center is once again immune to some stupid farking windows worms....

    Next, maybe we can look at other trivial things, such as the SCADA systems that run utilities, and the komputarmaschines that are used by the Dept. Of Defense, IRS, CIA, etc...
    • Most of the SCADA systems are ancient affairs, not even capable of running Windows- and most of them aren't even on the Internet.

      You don't need to worry about a MS Worm bringing about a massive nation-wide blackout.

      You DO need to worry about terrorists taking control of a couple of substations by remote through the unsecured SCADA system or by physical means. Control of a substation means you can induce things like brownouts and blackouts in a given area serviced by the substation. Get control of enough
  • by selderrr (523988) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:31AM (#6784330) Journal
    to many features that I wont use. For my movies, I got a DVD player. For IM, I rather use my computer since reading text from TV is too painfull for my eyes. For mp3s, I want something that fits my home stereo equipment and connects to my iTunes library (AAC + playlists).

    This brings me to the related question : why is there so little hardware available that plugs into my home stereo (a Marantz system in our living room, pretty decent and it used to cost me half a leg so I'd rather not replace/extend it with a computer that takes up to much space and would just sit there doing nothing in a hidden corner) and in my airport network ? All I really want is a stereo tower box that is stylish, fits my stereo and performs the features of my iPod (okay, forget parachute) without having to haul my iMac to the living room. the iTrip is one way to go, but I would prefer something that goes wirelessly straight to my music library.

    Could it be that too many hardware vendors are tied to much to the recording industry, which still considers mp3 pretty much illegal ?
    • The Audiotron [audiotron.net], from Turtle Beach. It can play MP3's up to 320 kbps, uncompressed WAV's and streaming radio stations. It has an optical connection, and a front display and remote. The only thing it doesn't have is native wireless, but that wasn't a problem for me. It's a fantastic device, and fits right at home with modern, black stereo equipment.
    • as slicky said, slimp3 is the cleanest, most easily integrated component for this purpose. the server is perl, iirc, so it should run on your mac, and it's not impossible that it includes, or will soon include, the ability to transcode from AAC to MP3 on the fly. I know it can do this with OGG.

      The slimp3 has an ethernet jack, so if you need it wireless, you may be up a creek, unless you can find an ethernet-to-wifi bridge that's reasonably priced.
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:36AM (#6784376) Homepage Journal
    This is a device that I've been playing with/testing - our sister (Yes, Virginia, they are owned by OSDN) site Thinkgeek sells them. Pretty cool device - reminds me of a XBox Media Player in terms of function, but with less soldering, and a keyboard. I'll be trying the Linux backend server - that would solve one of my major complaints, which is that the media server currently is Windows-only.

    *clap *clap* -- Another wonderful, gramatically correct, hyphen/(parenthesis)-laden sentence from a /. (slashdot (Thinkgeek's sister site)) editor. I, (for one--ofcourse), thought he was talking about playing with his sister (or something )--but that was before before I managed to read it through.

  • by Prizm (52977) on Monday August 25, 2003 @11:53AM (#6784505)
    This product was actually covered in a previous slashdot story from a couple of months ago, seen here. [slashdot.org]. The Seattle Wireless group reviews this product, gives a live video demonstration of it, and basically describes how it works. You can see the video here [seattlewireless.net] under the July archive. It's the last segment in the video.
  • I just got a Prismiq, and I have to say that for playing MP3 files, it isn't there yet. In order to run the linux server, you have to install on windows first, import the media files and then copy some control files over to windows. The bad news is that the server on windows is a bit flaky when dealing with large numbers of files. The documentation says that the limit is 50k files, and I am nowhere close to that.

    The UI doesn't make it easy to find anything as it all based around a flat list of 'playlists'.
  • for similar device (for music) that has it's own screen see slimdevices.com for the Slimp3 player.
  • by usotsuki (530037)
    I guess this answers the eternal question...

    "Does it run on Linux?"

    Seriously though I think it's only a good thing that this box uses one of the most hardcore of all Linux distros in its core (hmm, maybe SourceMage GNU/Linux [sourcemage.org] is more aimed at the hardcore Linuxer, and let's not forget Gentoo), and now, finally, the back end is being ported to Linux. An all-Linux solution is only a good thing!

    -uso.
  • by ZZane (144066) on Monday August 25, 2003 @12:05PM (#6784579)
    DVD-ROMs can be had for ~$30 or less retail now. I'd buy the unit right now if it could do everything it claims (well) and play media off of a DVD or CD (including true DVDs). As it is right now I'd still have to have two boxes to do virtually the same thing.

    Know what can accomplish all this for $200 or less? The X-Box with XBMP (X-Box Media Player) and the DVD remote can do everything this unit can AND it can play DVDs (even in progressive scan mode with some hacking) and it can be done with software hacks. I bought an X-Box specifically for this and it works wonderfully. I just don't play any games on it or use X-Box live so I avoid MS patching their wonderful dashboard holes. :)
    • The majority of people already have dvd players though, but they don't have streaming music/video players. I don't want my streaming device to also play dvd's. I'd rather have separate devices so I can upgrade items when I want to and not run the risk of losing functionality.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday August 25, 2003 @12:06PM (#6784587) Homepage Journal

    ...at least by modern standards. The PD61130 MPEG2 Decoder [necelam.com], as NEC calls it, provides 200 Dhrystone MIPS at 167 MHz / 160 MIPS at 133 MHz using an "Integrated high-performance CPU: NEC MIPS(R)-based VR4120A(TM) core". Note that these are MIPS, or Meaningless Indicators of Processor Speed. Meaningless why? They're produced by benchmarks! Anyway, it only supports up to 64MB of SDRAM... Thinkgeek's "specifications" says the processor is a "NEC uPD61130 32-bit MIPS microprocessor with integrated MPEG decoder", but they don't bother to mention that it's an MPEG2 decoder, not MPEG2+4.

    They say the device plays DivX, but since it doesn't have an MPEG4 decoder, it all has to be done in software, and I'm skeptical about the device's ability to play high-bitrate MPEG4 (DivX, XVid, others) streams. And while they say that the device will be easily extensible to support future formats, if they are anything like MPEG4, then it certainly won't be fast enough to play them.

    MIPS [mips.com] is kind enough to provide a newsletter [mips.com] which comes up in a search for "4210A" which contains the following interesting paragraph:

    EMMArchitecture2 is designed for mid/high-end STB/ DTV applications such as Personal Video Recorders (PVR) and wireless IP STBs. It uses the NEC-designed MIPS CPU 4120A, plus NEC's original audio DSP, versatile stream processing engine and ATA I/F, together with a PCI bus. This unique architecture allows not only a single-chip, mid-range PVR configuration, which is controlled by an on-chip 200-mips 4120A CPU, but also a high-end, multi-chip STB configuration, which utilizes a PCI to connect an external high-performance CPU such as NEC's 500-mips, MIPS-based(TM) VR5500A CPU, together with a PCI bus bridge.

    But, as the specifications [prismiq.com] for the PrismIQ [prismiq.com] show, they are not in fact including a VR5500A, just the VR4120A-based PD61130. I assume this plays the majority of MPEG4 content today, or else they wouldn't be selling it, but as bitrates rise, I believe that they will be in trouble.

    Note that I have never seen let alone tested one of these, so I am just wanking in the dark here, but it doesn't seem likely to really provide the necessary longetivity. We all know that amazing things can be done with a 200MHz MIPS chip, go ait down at an SGI Indy sometime if you don't believe me, but I think the lack of an MPEG4 decoder will hurt them in the long run. There are numerous MPEG4 hardware solutions available today, and unfortunately, they did not see fit to use any of them.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The device doesn't play other video formats internally. The media server software does a 'transcode' of the video from the original format to MPEG1/2 when sending to the device. That's why it puts such hefty requirements on the 'server' computer since it (potentially) does more than just hand out files.

    • by glitch! (57276) on Monday August 25, 2003 @01:08PM (#6785296)
      They say the device plays DivX, but since it doesn't have an MPEG4 decoder, it all has to be done in software, and I'm skeptical about the device's ability to play high-bitrate MPEG4 (DivX, XVid, others) streams.

      The MPEG4/DivX streams are decoded in software, but on the server PC. I just now tested a decent quality (about 700kb/s) DivX movie on my 1700 Athlon, and the utilization was just under 20%. Sure, that's a lot of CPU cycles on one hand, but on the other hand for anyone who has a relatively recent PC, it's not a burden either.
    • What moron would assign hardware to decode video codecs?

      Oh, nevermind.
  • Little confusing, the title and the body have two different spellings.
  • Why not just glue a remote and receiver to the front of the box?
  • I've actually got one of these and am running the linux server right now, so hopefully I'm qualified to make a few comments :-) If you have specific questions, feel free to drop me a line.

    First, the theory behind this device is fairly good. There's limited processing on the client device, and the heavy lifting gets done by the server, the way things ought to be.

    The actual configuration files are human-readable with a little bit of effort, and I've even hacked mine up with some success to redo playlists

  • by Zed2K (313037)
    The thing that annoys me about this device (and most of the streaming music devices) is how they access your music library. You usually need to install some piece of software on your windows/linux box in order for the device to work. That is such a stupid way to do it. You should be able to use windows shares and the device should work off of those. No extra software to install for you or to support for them. It just works. This is one of the reasons the Audiotron is so awesome. But the Audiotron onl
  • The box would be great if I could hook it to a monitor ( or modern TV) to it, not to an old TV like my Atari 400.

  • by Svartalf (2997) on Monday August 25, 2003 @12:57PM (#6785156) Homepage
    Workable price. Usable feature set.

    Don't plan on being able to surf the web or really be able to do IM with this toy unless you've got a top of the line TV.

    NTSC television has an average effective resolution of something like 480x480. If you've got a decent TV, that is. A higher quality set may have as much as 512x480 and a lower quality set will have something along the lines of 320x240 resolution- many televisions are at THAT resolution. While you can get a 640x480 scanline converter to allow you to display pictures, etc. on any TV set, the effective resolution trims the edges of the image on the screen and makes it blurry as all get-out on over half of the TV's out there.
    • Sorry, your figures are off (at least in my experience). Lower resolutions may refer to certain encoding methods to reduce streaming bandwidth, or VHS resolution, but NTSC itself is 640x480. Some TV chips will cut some resolution (One chip that I worked with output 640x440), and some chips will give you the option to change resolution. Further, the edges of the TV screen will cut off some resolution, but you're really not looking at more than 4-8 pixels.

      This is easily tested by designing a webpage that
      • I used to develop software for set-top boxes for the purposes of Internet browsing. The stated resolution for NTSC is something more akin to 640x480, the problem is that while the set can SEE the signals at those resolutions, the PICTURE TUBE may/may not resolve at the full resolution, clip the picture to 512x480 or similar.
    • I IM on my TV all the time - not a particularly good one at that...27" Sanyo I got at Costco for about $220 4 years ago.

      It runs at 640x480 from my ati all in wonder (I'm assuming the card does something to the signal - but windows is set to 640x480) and I just need to set my fonts relatively big. Wouldn't want to read an e-book, but short emails and typical (at least typical for me) IM messages are no problem.

  • by Brew Bird (59050) on Monday August 25, 2003 @01:00PM (#6785190)
    This will be out in stores shortly as the Game Shark Media Player...

    Supports Linux!!!

    Works with your PS/2... GREAT PICTURE on my big screen, lots of features, plays DivX,Xvid,mp3s and still picture slide show...

    A STEAL at $50....

  • Run Linux, Windows, Mac, whatever on the backend, use your PS2 on the front end. Even use the handy DVD remote. Available from BroadQ [broadq.com] or shortly from GameShark [gameshark.com] it has all the functionality I can glean from the Prismi?q box without yet another piece of hardware.
  • If you already have a PS2, just stick a network interface on it ($30), and get the QCast Tuner software ($50) from BroadQ [broadq.com].

    Their server runs on Java, and will work on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.

    Turns the PS2 into a nice multimedia platform.
  • The XBox needs no soldering to run all sorts of software. I run Xbox Media Player from harddrive of a purely softmodded xbox.

    There is the 007 savegame hack, and when you are there you can use the Font hack to allow the machine to boot evox from harddisk, and phoenix loader to load any ROM from harddisk as well.

    I have yet to see any set-top box that can do what XBMP can do on the xbox.
  • This story couldn't have come at a better time. My father recently asked me to look into a set-top box that would allow him to view a picture slide show, listen to music, and browse the web on his television over a wireless link. He set is maximum price at $1000, which is to include the wireless access point, card, device, accessories, and anything else needed to get it working.

    My first thoughts were to look into the Windows XP Media Center Edition. Microsoft only license this version of the OS to be so

    • The (potential) problem with any of these is the TV display. Basically, if he's got a regular (non-HD or related) TV, any text functions or web browsing will look like crap. If he doesn't already have an HDTV, then that will eat up most of the $1000.

      If you take that into consideration, I believe a modded XBox is the only choice out of the settops under discussion here that can do component out at greater than NTSC resolution. Then there's always a dedicated PC. I don't think you can get both a PC and a
  • "Prisimq" sounds like a name belonging to one of the characters in a certain Jim Theis [washington.edu] story.
  • I have one. I bought it around the end of May. At the time they were running a promotion where the wireless keyboard was thrown in as a freebie. I have it connected via 802.11b. At first, the player wouldn't recognize any of the wireless cards I tried, including the Netgear card that is currently in the unit. While on hold with their tech support one day (friendly folks, but unfortunately they weren't able to solve my problem), I discovered that hitting CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE on the wireless keyboard gets
    • Busybox is an all-in-one statically linked set of common Unix text/binary/file utilities. Basically, symlinks to a common single executable determine what program you want. It's a common way to save space in embedded systems without all the copmplexity of dynamic linking (i.e. .so shared object files).

      One thing to watch: the init command built into stock busybox is not compiled to understand runlevels, so if you need a clean shutdown, you have to rebuild it appropriately (and install the usual Sys-V style

  • I'd been toying with the idea of creating my own .WAV/.MP3 server for some time, to use as part of my audio system. In part it's because I'm lazy - I hate having to get up, drag CD's out of their storage cube, open the 5-disc changer, and plop 'em in.

    I suppose I could have just bought one of those carousel changers - they can be had on eBay for a couple hundred bucks - and load all of my discs into that. But they're bulky and will be a dead-end if we move to non-CD based music distribution (which seems l

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