Neuros OSD Initial Review

Welcome back everyone. I’ve been digging deep in to the Neuros OSD for
the past month. The OSD is a Linux based network media player. When the
package arrived the first thing I noticed after tearing into the
nondescript shipping box was that Neuros put a lot of effort into the
details right from the beginning. As far as consumer electronics go the
OSD packaging is top tier. Hi quality cardboard with a magnet in the
lid to keep it closed (Definitely keep this one for transport or
storage). I was very pleased to see Tux prominently displayed on the
packaging, Neuros has in my experience been very proud and vocal of the
open source software aspect of the OSD.

in the box is the OSD itself, a plastic stand, a remote control, a
power supply, two composite to mini-jack cables, an IR transmitter and
an RS-232 to mini-jack cable. The first thing that caught my attention
was how small and light the OSD was. It’s about the size of two DVD
cases stacked on top of each other and roughly the same weight. Setting
up the device is about as painless as it gets. Simply plug one
composite cable into a composite input on the back of your TV and the
other end to the video out on the OSD then plug the power adapter into
the power port on the back of the OSD and then into a normal wall
outlet. You are now setup for playback from any of the supported
removable media including USB drives of all types, CF cards, SD and MMC
cards or Sony Memory sticks. Simply insert one of these media types
with video on it and it will show up under the Play/Browse entry on the
home menu of the OSD.  Now we can explore some of the more interesting
features of the OSD. The first thing I did was connect it to my local
network. If you’re using a residential broadband router of any type
this is as simple as plugging an Ethernet cable into the back of the
OSD it will pick up an IP address via DHCP within seconds. If you have
any shared drives on other LAN computers you should now be able to
browse them through the Play/Browse menu it’s really just that easy.
Just share a folder on your PC and it’s now accessible from your OSD.
Incidentally there is currently no WiFi support on the OSD but they
list support for USB WiFi dongles as a feature that’s being worked on.

next feature I decided to set up was the ability to record from an
external source. You can record video through the OSD from  any source
that outputs through composite or S-Video. And it’s as easy as plugging
the cable into the back of your OSD and the source you want to record
from. You can record manually or on a schedule via theOSDs ‘ user
interface. One of the details I particularly enjoy is that the video
source plugged into the OSD displays in the background of the menu
system but you can hide the OSD’s interface from view to watch whatever
you have hooked up to the inputun -obscured. This works wonderfully as
the OSD does not have a power switch of any type it is always on so you
can funnel your TV signal through the OSD and always have it’s features
close at hand while still watching TV undisturbed by it’s menu system.
You can save your recorded video to any of the memory cards or USB
device plugged into the OSD or to a windows share over the network. The
recording system has some useful presets to record the video in formats
optimized for playback on various popular media devices  like the iPod
or Sony PSP.  One thing I would like to see changed is the naming of
the file when recording video, it’s completely static so you have to
manually rename the save file whenever you record new video or risk
overwriting a previously recorded video. It would be much better if
there was something that changes in the file name like appending the
current date or recording time to the end of the defined file name.
Some people will also be extremely pleased to hear the video is
recorded with NO drm so you can move your recordings to pretty much any
device unencumbered.

This biggest issue I have with the OSD is
the remote. I have absolutely no love for the remote. Despite the high
quality of the OSD itself the remote feels flimsy and awkward. It’s
also very finicky requiring pinpoint accuracy in aiming it at the OSD
lest your button press be in vain. I would also have liked to see a bit
more of a custom remote with a full qwerty keyboard this device has the
potential to need some very intensive text input and trying to type in
file names via a 12 button keypad gets tiresome very quickly. I’m also
a little critical of theaesthetics of the interface in the Official
firmware that ships with the device but great improvements have been
made in the newest beta firmware.

Now the best feature in my
opinion is the amount of development that’s going on for this thing. If
you’re brave enough to install a beta firmware you get beta features
like aYouTube browser, Photo Browser, XMMS media player, UPnP support
and more. And it’s not some cryptic process to upgrade to these beta
firmwares it’s actually fairly painless. Simply download the desired
firmware from the Neuros website copy it to a memory card or USB device
of some type and plug it into the OSD. Now just browse to the file open
it up and follow the on screen directions.  TheYouTube browser is one of the slicker features for me currently I find myself checking the top videos a couple times a day now.

Just a warning to anyone with an HD
TV do not stretch or zoom the image output from the OSD it looks
horrible I actually gave up on my HDTV and moved it to a standard
definition set and was much more impressed with the image quality. 

summary this is an incredible little piece of hardware it’s now the
primary gateway to all the media files on my home network. Due to some
of the response/aiming issues I had with the remote I wouldn’t
necessarily recommend this for grandma ( or anyone else that may get
frustrated with control issues) but if you store any video on your
computer this one of if not the easiest way to get that off your
computer to your TV or if your a developer or Linux hacker this is a
great device to poke around inside. In fact I’m doing a little delving
into the Neuros OSD code to see what interesting modifications I can
come up with for you all. All in all the Neuros OSD is more than worth
the money and I highly recommend it.

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I'm a self labeled Nerd who enjoys Playing Video Games, restoring classic muscle cars (i have a 65' Mustang in the works) , Running Big Data Clusters, Tattoos, Working on System Automation, Riding and customizing Motorcycles, and writing python Code. I'm an SRE with DemonWare/Activision Specializing in Big Data/Hadoop operations but all opinions and views expressed on this site are solely my own.