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Sony Announces PVR PC 53

vfvthunter sent us linkage to a story discussing Sony's new PC which combines the functions of a PVR (ala Tivo) with a PC to form an (expensive) integrated solution. 100 hours on your PC is cool (although personaly, excluding watching DVDs on airplanes, I hate watching video on a PC). What will really make or break this is of course the software. If it is easy to use, and also provides basic editing capabilities, we could really have a break through.
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Sony Announces PVR PC

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  • What I want is...
    • a consumer friendly box with
    • an MPEG2/4 encoder/decoder,
    • space for several hard disks (IDE)
    • a floppy drive,
    • ability to accept a CD or DVD burner,
    • and a remote control.
    Oh, and no media mogul friendly protection.

    I will then add one or more of my old hard disks, get schedule updates online, and add them with the floppy drive.

    Such a thing should cost ~£150 (~$200), right in the hot part of the market, it would sell millions.

    Surely someone will create it?

  • I'm so glad to see that companies are still innovating re: timeshifting technologies. Recent stories about losing our fair use rights have been disheartening, but this sort of thing... should be in every house.
  • by Hast ( 24833 ) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @08:15AM (#211696)
    After browsing thru the spec sheets at Sony's site it appears like the Yahoo! news where not entirely correct. It's not a TiVo at all. Rather it'a a highend PC (It's a P4 1.7GHz for christ's sake!) with a TV Tuner built in. It's for editing your movies, not for recording TV shows. (Sure you can do that too, but who wants to have a monster like that in your living room sounding like a jet engine?)

    If you want a TiVo with DVD-RW your best bet is still to hack it together yourself it seems.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What you really want to get is a product which advertises and embraces its Linux heritage -- the Nokia Media Terminal []. I have a TiVo btw & it rocks! Until one of these new PVR's is reviewed and claimed to work better, I'm not even going to bother. The TiVo works too well (and it's had plenty of time to work out all the bugs). It's cool to watch TV using Linux.

    Slashdot: Nokia and Loki Together on Linux Terminal []

    Nokia Media Terminal: Tech Specs []
  • I'm only doing the DVD audio out through the digital -- unfortunately the docs say to do TV out through another sound card you have to do the loopthrough of TV card out->audio in.

    Given the quality of broadcast TV audio, I can't say i'd be overly concerned about the degradation by not doing an all-digital transfer, but it's just less convenient so i just do all the TV (non-DVD/DivX) stuff through the TV itself...

  • $100? hah! I got my STB TV card (with FM tuner too) from for $37!
  • Well the original link is to the main computer page. you can see the basic specs here [] and slightly more expanded specs Here []

    I note that the low end model is not all that bad, and costs 1500 USian.

    what is not mentioned is whether or not this has "advanced technology" to make it fully compliant with MPA and RIAA legal restrictions.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I concur. If you are buying a new card, go PCI. USB tv tuners are nice if you don't want to open up a box due to warranty reasons (e.g. getting a tuner for your parent's retail purchased computer), or want the ability to switch quickly to watch TV on another machine (I do this, since I have multiple computers). But it seems the driver support is not as good. An example: A previous post mentioned snapstream, which only recently started providing support for the usb tv tuner devices. Note that the driver to watch TV is good, just that if you plan to play with vcr recording, etc., you may run into more problems (not that it won't work). Base USB tv tuners are more expensive by about $20 over decent, equivalent (or better) featured PCI cards.

    Remember, since USB has limited bandwidth, you have to be a little careful with what else is on that particular bus/USB chip. You might get a flicker or two more as well as run into window size constraints. PCI cards significantly reduce these problems.

    With ISA, you may run into problems with finding current drivers. The cost difference between PCI ($40-60 new for a decent low-end one) and an ISA card ($10 used) is signficant, but not worth the headache. There is also the warranty to consider.

    The only function I've really considered ISA cards is to stuff 4-5 of them into an old 486. Then watch multiple channels simultaneously (this is diffferent than the multiple channel watching on a single PCI card, which really just updates the channels).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    FireWire PCI cards only run about $30-40 these days. And you won't need it if you already get it built-in to your mobo (most high ends do). Change that to 'FireWire ~$50' and we'll call it even. :-)

    1 []

    2 []

    3 []
  • There are data-grade monitors available in ~36" sizes. I haven't looked into them, but they are occasionally discussed in AVSforums. Of course they're at least as expensive as a comparably sized HDTV.
  • I'm still using my TiVo for TV and my laptop for everything else. I'm more interested in using the TV for computing than using my PC for entertainment. I know that webtv and others have sucked, but it is just a matter of time before there is a good TV based interface. Then I will ditch my TiVo in a heartbeat.

    The only I see that TiVo can keep TiVos from being ditched by the thousands when a good alternative arrives is to beat the alternative to the punch. They can do this by opening the source code to allow hackers to build a web interface for them or by hiring hundreds of engineers to develop a closed-source interface that will probably do about as well as webtv.
  • I certainly wondn't go out and buy an ISA card now. I've had this card for over 10 years. The more modern Hauppauge cards are certainly better (and use modern bus architectures). They also make USB devices, although I have no information on the quality of their USB products. Intel also makes a pretty good TV card.

  • It'd be nice to have a CD-R burner plug-in for the TIVO. CD-R's are lots easier to stack than videotapes.
  • Sony makes overpriced proprietary solutions. You can get the same functionality with off-the-shelf components for less than half the cost. Or just wait until these features are mainstream and ship with more standard home PCs.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Dont be duped by snaptsream. I bounght that piece of S*** for the promise of a cheaper replay ( which I am afraid is going to just stop working one of these days), and after some serious hours in front of the machine, I could only get the thing to sort of half work. Plus snaptream uses wma format so your stuff is stuck on MS instead of using a more open format (MPEG). Snapstream suffers from the Dick Tracy watch phenomenon. You really want the functionality and so you suspend disbelief even after the product doesnt work. Be warned: snapstream really sucks. You'll be throwing $50 or $100 down the hole.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The problem, coming from either the computer or TV side of things, with the convergence is the lack of a good display.

    HDTV doesn't cut it, and is way too expensive. It's certainly far better than regular TV, but for text and web pages, I think the resolution is still a tad restraining. Meanwhile, I don't think monitor makers are planning for a near future rollout of 32"-36" viewable computer monitors (the size of the monitor being that large since that's about the average TV purchase size today).

    I've thought about hooking up a wireless IR keyboard using an IR distribution over coax set to send keyboard and mouse signals to a machine (with PCI TV tuner) in the basement. But I can't find a monitor or lcd projector that's both relatively cheap and supports decent resolutions.

  • In a surprising move that has attracted the attention of the "content control coalition", Sony introduced a desktop system that records TV, and writes DVDs. Here are a few links. [] Go forth and /. Yahoo
    Supposedly this was a surprise, and a source within Sony tells me that meetings have been scheduled by the "CCC" with Sony for some reason. I'm going out on a limb and going to say that it is to ask Sony to not sell the unit (although with Sony's experience with actually releasing things on time, with enough products for all interested consumers isn't that great [i.e. Playstation 2])
    The reason for the meetings? The system can stream TV programs to its monitor, then record them to its hard drive. You can copy the video to DVD as well. And get this - normal people (read "non techie" / my mom) can use the interface.
    Although it's $2500 price tag may shy some consumers away, this represents (im-very-ho) a giant leap towards selling what the consumer wants, and not what the "people who pay for the production of entertainment" wants to give us.
    In the last few years, we have seen manufacturers bow to "certain members" of the entertainment industry (i.e. DVD players only made by major manufacturers because of a chip shortage, Creative abandoning a DVD-RAM drive (which I hear that they were making a fair bit of money on.), a shortage of DVD-Ram disks, DVD Watermarking, Macrovision, Tivo being called "the greatest threat to intellectual property" (or some other load of bullfeathers - way to go Mr. Valenti) et al.
    What conclusions can be drawn by Sony's and the CCC's actions? It seems ironic that one of the few people who can actually protect our fair use rights are large corporations. Should we expect these kind of actions in the future and in what way we should (if we should) reward companies who make stuff that we want to use.

    The slashdot 2 minute between postings limit:
    Pissing off hyper caffeineated /.'ers since Spring 2001.

  • Is Sony going to be cool and have this thing run Linux like the Tivo?

    Given that the PlayStation 2 runs Linux [], it's a bit more likely.

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Saturday May 19, 2001 @07:51AM (#211712) Homepage
    I love watching video on my PC.

    Of course, it's hooked up to a sony VVega flat-screen TV, not a 15" monitor, so that may have something to do with it.

    Considering we have an "Ask Slashdot" about once a week on the topic of a PC as home entertainment center, you'd think more people were doing it.

    Get a PC with S-Video out TV Card (ATI All-in-windoer Radeon), digital audio out (TOSLINK on an old Aureal Vortex2) to Dolby Digital decoder/amp, and PC Remote Control software and a programmable remote.

    If someone could come out with decent TIVO *software* I'd be thrilled, it would be the only thing I'm missing...

  • with watching video on my PC is that my monitor is only a 15".
    My TV is a 14". What a cheapskate I am...
  • Hmm, I haven't had that problem (thankfully). Are you passing straight Computer->TV? with no VCR in the middle? Because that SHOULD work (although we all know that with hacks like Macrovision, it screws up as much as it works -- I've seen plenty of legit setups that didn't work, none of which involved computer video)...

  • ... because it will have "content" protection.


  • I don't think the low end model has the TV features. If you notice the "codes" for them only the top one has "TV" at the end. The other ones probably only have FireWire and DVD-RW.

  • Except that at the moment, the biggest limitation to burning DVDs is the time required to encode the video in MPEG-2 format. The other problem is that there is currently no ability to burn multilayer DVDs. The video on a DVD-R (like that made sold by Apple) is about an hour compressed.

    At the moment, it takes something like 55 minutes to encode and burn a 20 minute movie to DVD (and that is with software that is optimized for the G4's vector processing unit, I have no idea how long the same thing would take on an Intel processor). Speciallized hardware would speed it up somewhat, but we are not yet at the point where it would become practical.

  • Speculation accomplishes nothing, but I will say that it personally bugs me to see stories like this [] posted, only to see Slashdot continue to, at least, appear to be a part-time billboard [] for new Sony products.

    And while I'm sort of on the subject, I really think that this disclaimer [] should be a requirement.
    "Principals of Slashdot and may have investments in the stocks of the companies discussed on this site and will disclose any interest if they are posting a story about those companies or their products. Contributors to this site may or may not have an interest in a company or product they are discussing. The decision to disclose that information is theirs to make."
  • (Sure you can do that too, but who wants to have a monster like that in your living room sounding like a jet engine?)

    I have been replaced my entertainment center with a celeron 700 a while ago, if you take steps to ensure it is quiet, such as buying decent fans and placing the system to minimize noise, it isn't a problem.

    Jesus died for sombodies sins, but not mine.

  • Sony is prepping more then just a "converged" PC-desktop, apparently they've also got a wireless tablet in the wings too. See this syndicated article [] for more information.

    Summarized it details a wireless tablet PC that can stream audio & video from a "base station". Who wants to bet that these are two halves of a whole? The next step will be Sony TV's that can also have wireless capability and can display video from the base station.

    Suddenly you'd have a PC/TV/DVR/Music system that would work on your desktop, in the livingroom with the whole family, or in your lap out on the back deck, all wireless & all from a name-brand consumer electronics company.

  • by zootie ( 190797 ) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @12:00PM (#211721)
    The interesting part is that the Sony PVR will probably have HW to assist to encode the video, so you can get better results than you can using SnapStream (even if you use a P4 1.7 with SSE2 optimized drivers). It most likely is using MPEG-2, capturing at full resolution, w/o dropping any frames...

    As with all other similar solutions (ShowShifter [], Telemman HiPix [], Hauppage WinTV PVR & HD [], AccessDTV [], etc), what will make or break this product is the level of integration, and the quality of the SW. So far, the integration with existing A/V equipment has been rather poor. The Destination had to use expensive Computer-IR out transceivers to control your cable/satellite box and VCR, plus the input remote (and I think they never got the SW quite right), and most solutions right now don't offer any kind of IR control integration.

    Currently, SnapStream is working on adding more support for this type of integration. John Vanderbeck is leading an Open Source project (IRTuner []) to support multiple IR out transcievers. He has written a driver to use the ActiSys 200L [] (~$65) from SnapStream. He is working on adding support for the RedRat2, and future candidates are the CiR and LIRC []. We are also looking into integrating with Girder [], making the interface available to other applications beside SnapStream, and adding more functionality and in general, making it easier to turn your PC into a real A/V integration tool...

  • Sony's stuff always commands a premium

    Why should it? Possibly I'm just lucky, but no unbranded hardware has caught me out yet - well, none that's under 5 years old, that is =)

    43rd Law of Computing:
  • It seems to lack the one thing that all other solutions that I know of lack, and that is the TIVO like functinality of being able to rewind or fast forward or pause as you watch something that is recording---just about everything else can be done on most any modern machine for a hundred dollars--just buy a Hauppauge winTv card for cable in, and a matrox dual head, for TV out, install vcr & xawtv, and your all set. get Broadcast2000, if you need to edit out the commercials , and use aviplay, or mplayer to play. I think what everyone is really waiting for is either a low cost mpeg encoder, or CPU, fast enough to play the movie while recording , while also playing back the movie
    • 2001-05-17 17:33:47 Sony introduces PC with DVD-R and TV runer (articles,hardware) (rejected)

    On a similar note, there's a TiVo banner ad on the top of the page that I've never seen before. Coincidence? I think not.
    Lord Nimon

  • by IBitOBear ( 410965 ) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @12:38PM (#211725) Homepage Journal
    I bought one of those PVRs only to discover that my local cable company broadcasts the analog copy protect signal on all channels from 8:00pm sharp to sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

    So I took it back, wrote a scalding letter to Sony which was likely ignored, and bought an Radeon All-In-Wonder for my PC. The "Guide Plus" software needs some work (and there is no feedback option on their web pages, Guide Plus being provided not by ATI but a third party) but it generally does what I need it to when I want it to do it and no pesky prime-time blue-screens (except when windows is involved)

    Now if only there were proper Linux drivers for the PVR features...

  • according to th article:
    In Japan, Sony and other Japanese-based companies have been selling desktops with TV-tuner cards as a standard feature for as much as two years now.
    I have a Sony PCV220 (PII266) and I wish it was only 2 years old.
    the TV Tuner works great under Linux including desktop wallpaper mode (video background) I could schedule video capture via cron, but not automatically Like Tivo service does. are you listening? give me a page that generates scripts to tell my Tuner when to kick in and record. A page could let me setup my script prefernces (how to load my video capture) and save it in my account or a cookie even. then when I go to the guide, I select shows I want to see and hit the 'submit' button, then download a script that could set my cron job accordingly.
    hell if someone doesn't perhaps I will. anyone, anyone? should this idea go to has it been done already?
  • Actually, I paid about $50 for my FireWire cards. However, for about $100, you usually get better video editing software (a VE/LE/SE version of Media Studio Pro or Premiers or somthing like that) -- I already had what I needed, so I didn't spend the extra $, but to do everything that you'd want to with the PC, you'd want the better software. And if you're going with a higher-end mobo, the PC cost will go up. In the end it doesn't make much of a difference.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They cripple everything having to do with media (and fair use). AKA their "MP3 Players" only really play the ATRAC (or other copy-protected) streams (files). But they advertise like they haven't removed consumer fair use. So I don't buy Sony media products anymore if I can help it.
  • Sure, there's even an HowTO about setting up such a beast: VCR-HOWTO []

    The VCR program [] is currently quite unstable, since it frequently freezes my 2.4.4 kernel, but even that doesn't stop me from having a bit of fun with scheduled realtime DivX video capturing ;-)

    "Tell the world that we're going to be the grim reaper of innocent orphaned children." - /linux/init/main.c
  • I have a 21" Viewsonic P815, and while it looks wonderful (and great for a small apartment), it isn't as nice for watching movies as a 27" (or bigger) decent TV.

    The VVega is an unusually sharp TV, which is why I can stand to look at it (plus the flat screen is resistant to glare like the Viewsonic). A $300 TV doesn't look as good as a 21" flat screen monitor, no, but it also costs about $700 less...

  • I think we're going to see a real shake out of these products, hitting a critical mass with the number of tapeless set-top video recorders. With the ecomomy in a slump and companies like Palm that can't sell off their toys, these guys aren't going to have as much success either. Replay, Tivo, UltimateTV, and now this...

    Can they be like the Playstations and Nintendos that still sell for $299 after all these years, or will the Dreamcast out of existence?

  • Come on moderators. Take the above AC up from 1. It is very important to always be aware of Sony's huge interest in TV/Film/Media as well as their harware. Because if they get enough content-controlled hardware out there, then they will have won near total control. Remember minidisc - IIRC if you record your *OWN* music (obviously using the analogue inputs) then it marks the digital copy as copy-protected - and wont let you make copies - *****of your own music to which you own **ALL** the rights******. Of course they dont advertise this, you only get to find it out later, when it bites you! From the above AC's comments, it looks they are doing much the same sort of stuff with their MP3 players. So why should we expect any different from their TV/video devices.
  • previous title was truncated (grr..)
    (and slashdot made me wait before I could add this amendment ! (more grrr...))
  • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @07:37AM (#211734) Homepage Journal
    ..For those of us that already have a PC, you can get a hundred dollar TV tuner card and software like snapstream [] and do the same thing. Not only that, but if you feel like it, you can set your recording schedule online through that service. I havent tried it yet with my old ATI tv card, but it looks pretty cool, and the limited version is free (as in beer).

  • I dont know how many people are willing to spend such an amount of money on the combination of a couple useful toys... I think all Tivo's should have hot swappable slot-loading hard drives, now sony should put ports for those on their laptops, bundle in some software, and you've got a cheaper alternative.
    ____________________________________ ______
    Take comfort in your ignorance.
  • Not very sociable, is it. Next stop:

    RatingsBooster(tm) recorder!
    • Automatically selects the best quality programs for you each day (of course channel X's ratings and its incidental sponsorship of our company are purely coincidental)
    • Automatically records and plays all ads for you
    • Transmits all your personal details back to Central for use as we see fit (hey, we say we screw with your private data, so we can become a TrustE site...)
    • Powered by Windows CE (r) - Messing with your personal data more effeciently than ever, guaranteed (see proven benchmarks by the Gartner group)

    OK, rant over.
    43rd Law of Computing:
  • by bdrago ( 42295 ) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @07:42AM (#211737)
    This may be really interesting if it actually allows you to burn TV shows recorded with their "Giga Pocket Personal Video Recorder" to DVD. The collateral on the web page is pretty vague. It states that you "can record TV shows to your hard drive" and that you "can save your home movies to DVD"

    If they don't have some kind of software lock to prevent saving the PRV files to DVD, I can see the TV networks getting upset. It would be trivial to save a whole season of the Sopranos on a couple of DVDs.
  • by J.C.B. ( 141141 )
    Is Sony going to be cool and have this thing run Linux like the Tivo?

    It'd kind of suck to have to find space near my television for one of these computers (if I were to get one). It's crowded enough over there as it is.

  • Well, this one is a typcial sony computer product:
    One the one hand it is very nice, but on the other hand it is rather expensive. Reminds me of Vaios.
  • I was composing almost an identical post. Hauppauge has been providing excelant TV cards for over 10 years. I have an old ISA card from them that still works like a champ. I'm now a bit more motivated to test it out under Linux though, given the comments of the previous poster.

  • has anyone found a linux solution for this kind of thing. would broadcast2000 do it?

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • This is not for someone who just likes to watch TV. This is going to be huge for all those Star Trek/Simpsons/South Park/SNL/Iron Chef/Anime/Sopranos/X-Files/whatever else uber-fans who always wanted to assemble their own collection of every episode. People will be able to have a stack of DVD's with every show, indexed, cataloged, and ready for the big sci-fi convention.

    The things that make this system special is the a)MPEG2 (DVD format) capture, and b) DVD-RW. Most inexpensive video capture is firewire these days, which has a high bitrate compared to MPEG2.

    Of course you could put together a similar system yourself:

    computer ~$800 (PIII, 1+GHz, 256 MB)

    MPEG2 Capture [] ~$250

    FireWire ~$100

    80GB External Firewire HD [] ~$350

    DVD-RW [] ~800

    So it's not really much cheaper for DIY, though you could probably save a hundred or two on the PC if you really tried.

  • This is the kind of produt that Hauppauge [] are offering with their WinTV PVR []. It's really nothing special - just a standard TV card and software that captures and compresses the video and writes it to hard drive. I have been doing this for many years with an old WinTV PCI card and the excellent vcr [] program for Linux. All Sony are doing is riding the PVR hype with this one, and it seems that they're succeeding.
  • uh, MPAA. You know what I mean.
  • I'm slightly concerned about bandwidth and processing power. I would definitely buy a Hauuppage card (or other?) if I was sure it wa going to work in Linux and well. I know you say your ISA card works fine, but then what is the advantage of PCI over ISA? Can I get better quality with PCI in any way?

    If I back up DVDs, FlaskMPEG in WIndows does about 5 fps using the DivX codec for approx 1000kbps (I think). I have a Duron 700 with loads of RAM. What sort of compression rate could I expect to encode in real time?

  • At that price, you can buy an incredibly killer PC and a Tivo, and still have plenty of cash left over. Yes, I realize that Sony's stuff always commands a premium, but that's ridiculous.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears