Surprisingly one of the media establishment's darling devices at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is fully open, runs Linux and invites hacking - er, customization. The device is the Neuros OSD, a $200 video recorder that allows you to archive, organize and play back all of your video media, such as live television, DVDs, VHS tapes, etc. The acronym "OSD" stands for "open source device". Hot dog, this is our kind of gadget!
How it Works
The Neuros OSD converts any of the aforementioned video into non-DRM, standard MPEG-4 format and stores it on media that you provide, most likely a USB drive or iPod. You can either play back your newly stored media on your television using the on-screen menu, or else disconnect the media and play it back independently of the OSD. Another option is to hook up a camcorder or Web cam to the Neuros OSD and directly record to MPEG-4 format. See the included image below for a summary of what devices and video formats you can utilize.
Most interesting for us, naturally, is the ability to hack the Neuros OSD to our heart's content, and it is not just some underground, in-the-basement thing. Neuros' policy is to encourage and integrate new features developed by its open-source developer community. They say on their wiki that their software is "relentlessly enhanced". I've never heard Sony say anything like that, have you? Features added by both Neuros' own engineers and community-based contributors are added regularly to the Neuros OSD via free and regular firmware upgrades.
To get an idea of the projects on the Neuros OSD, click here:
Developers can learn how to get involved at this site: http://wiki.neurostechnology.com/index.php/Developer_Welcome
Pro and Con
The benefit of this development model is, of course, dynamic creation of features that people - or at least developers - find useful and interesting. On the flip side, will this kind of development, which includes so many esoteric features, scare away Grandma, who simply wants to get rid of her pile of DVDs in the living room? The Neuros OSD appears to be a great test bed for whether the open model can work with mainstream consumer devices. I certainly hope they can make it succeed!
Learn more about the Neuros OSD from Neuros Technology at:
See Shawn Powers' recent review of another Neuros product, the MPEG4 Recorder:
Look for Shawn Powers' upcoming review of the Neuros OSD in the featured videos section.