[mythtv-users] My next Myth box

Michael T. Dean mtdean at thirdcontact.com
Wed Sep 1 11:17:08 EDT 2004

On 09/01/2004 02:17 AM, Jarod Wilson wrote:

> On Aug 31, 2004, at 22:59, Jarod Wilson wrote:
>> Just announced today, the AlienWare DHD:
>> http://www.alienware.com/intro_Pages/dhd.aspx
>> Rip MCE off there and Myth it up. I'll take two.
> Even better link for it:
> http://www.alienware.com/product_detail_pages/DHD/dhd_features.aspx? 
> SysCode=PC-DHD301&SubCode=SKU-DEFAULT

Wow.  Combines 7 features in 1:  TV, PVR, CD Jukebox, VOD (Video on 
Demand), Gaming Console, Computer, Photo Album.  And, for only $67 you 
can put Norton Antivirus on it (can you imagine trying to watch a movie 
with friends when your virus scan kicks in and causes all sorts of 
prebuffering pauses :).  ROTFL.

I wish I could build myself a system like that for only $5,683.00 (for 
the DHD-301 w/ P4/2.8GHz, 512MB RAM, 80GB HDD, ATI Radeon 9600XT system) 
or $6,638.00 (for the DHD-303 w/ P4/3.2GHz, 2GB RAM, 200GB HDD, ATI 
Radeon X800 Pro system)...  (For real, can you imagine the Myth box you 
could build just with the price difference--$955--between the two?)  
And, if you crank everything up on the DHD-305 in the configurator 
(P4/3.4GHz, 2GB RAM, 400GB HDD, ATI Radeon X800 XT, 12X DVD+/-RW), the 
price is $8,073.00!  Too bad this isn't a Microsoft-funded system (like 
the XBox) that I could re-load with Linux.

The only thing that the MS MCE has that Myth doesn't is VOD, and 
Microsoft is likely the only company with enough lawyers to make that 
possible.  (And, to make things more interesting we have MythWeb, 
MythWeather, MythBrowser, MythNews, MythPhone, and more.  Even though 
you can do some of them (i.e. browser to get to weather or news) on the 
MCE, the Myth solutions are integrated into the UI and don't require 
sitting 2 feet from the 30" monitor.)

So does anyone know how they do the VOD?  If you figure 4GB for a DVD 
that contains a 2-hr movie, that's 4294967296 bytes / 7200 sec = 
596523.24 bytes/sec (between 4500 and 5000 kbps), and many DVD's are 
using dual-layer or even dual-sided discs, so this is definitely not the 
worst-case scenario.  Even on my 3Mb/s cable connection, the theoretical 
max throughput would be under 300KB/sec.  That means that they would 
have to either download first and then let you watch (not really VOD) or 
use a different compression format (i.e. WMV Pro).  If using WMV Pro 
format, they'll get at most a 3:1 improvement over MPEG-2 ( 
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/9series/codecs.aspx ), 
meaning they would still need almost 200KB/s throughput--which would 
take some serious QOS support for real-time download and wouldn't leave 
much (if any) bandwidth for anything else (and would probably be 
impossible if my neighbors--with whom I'm sharing bandwidth--were using 
VOD systems, too).  So, to make it true VOD, wouldn't they have to 
reduce the resolution and/or bitrate--meaning your VOD is less than DVD 
quality?  I guess it also means that VOD won't be HD-capable for a long 
time (check out the file-sizes on these HD clips-- 
-- 81MB for 1:42 @ 720p (813KB/s) or 107MB for 1:42 @ 1080p (1MB/s))!

If you look at NetFlix--currently with about 12.5 percent of the video 
rental market ( http://tinyurl.com/6647d ) and shipping 3 million DVD's 
per week ( http://www.netflix.com/PressRoom?id=5206 ), VOD seems like a 
limited resource.  NetFlix estimates shipping 5 million GB of data on a 
busy day--according to their estimates, that's 70% of the entire daily 
capacity of the Internet in the US and Canada.  Now that's some serious 
bandwidth.  Imagine if 15% to 20% of the market tried to do VOD...


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