The Neuros MP3 Digital Audio Computer
Digital Innovation hosts an open-source developers community at open.neurosaudio.com. Although Positron, the Neuros database specifications and the future Neuros API are available freely under the BSD or similar licenses, the Neurosetta firmware itself is not open source.
What is important is that Digital Innovation's position on open source, patents and DRM is stated clearly at open.neurosaudio.com/archives/000003.html. This page includes the declaration that “patents are an important defense against larger well-funded competitors in the consumer electronics space, but they will never be enforced against the Open Source community or other independent software developers”.
At the lower level, the Neuros then can be treated as an external USB 1.1 drive with a single FAT32 partition. This makes it possible to access it from any operating system supporting that class of storage devices. The specifications of the internal Neuros database are available publicly.
I would like to thank the Neurosetta and Positron developers, especially Stan Seibert, who provided technical support for this review.
A portable, integrated FM radio and digital music player obviously is a useful and cool gadget. Looking at it only on this level, the Neuros already scores well, but it is not the only game in town. The real news is it is the first portable hard drive player to support Ogg Vorbis playback. Now Linux-only users can enjoy and manage only one collection of high quality digital music in an open format, both on the desktop and on the road.
A portable OGG player means freedom from forced support of closed formats and from manual installation of software when using them on the desktop. Neuros promises this. Undoubtedly, the user interface still is not ready for general use (as of August 2003), and all the features, starting with HiSi, are not available yet under Linux, but the music is already there and it sounds good.
Manufacturer: Digital Innovations
Price: $149.99 US
Useable with Linux-only computers and OGG music.
Good sound quality, even with beta firmware.
Broadcast music to FM radio.
Not all features are usable under Linux.
Linux/OGG playlist management not completely stable.
Marco Fioretti is a hardware systems engineer interested in free software both as an EDA platform and, as the current leader of the RULE Project, as an efficient desktop. Marco lives with his family in Rome, Italy.
Articles about Digital Rights and more at http://stop.zona-m.net CV, talks and bio at http://mfioretti.com
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