Friday, July 24, 2009

TV, computers: the future of video

I've got some big video files I want to watch on my TV: a Joanna Newsom concert, the Chinese Olympics opening ceremony I struggled to download, and the banned Karen Carpenter biopic made with Barbie dolls.
  • I could buy a 16GB USB flash drive, copy the files, and stick it in the Samsung TV. But the Samsung supports very few (if any?) video formats.
  • Instead, the storage device holding the video files could output TV. LG actually makes such a device, the LG XF1, a 500 GB hard drive with HDMI out. It even comes with a remote.
  • I could transfer the files to my Playstation 3 which is permanently hooked up to the TV.
  • I could try turning one of our computers into a media server that the Playstation can access.
  • I could cart my laptop over to the TV and plug it in.
If you give the storage device drive an LCD display, then it replaces the portable DVD player. Portable Media Players like the iPod do this; with a base station they can output to a TV.

My understanding is that Apple's system still revolves around managing files on your computer in iTunes. But if the video file storage device has a display you can expose its computer ability and let the thing do its own downloading and file management. You can even plug it a USB TV tuner so that it can replace the VCR.

The question is whether these mini video file players will be a PMP, a smartphone, or a tiny netbook. Maybe all three will bloom. If it needs a dock to connect to your TV then you'll want a remote control, which is strange now that remotes are like touchscreen phones.

It sounds like Nvidia is thinking this way with their Tegra chip set, which only consumes a few watts even when decoding and outputting HD video. Since it doesn't run Intel's x86 instruction set it won't run desktop Windows. You'd think that makes it the perfect candidate for a micro netbook running Linux, but instead Microsoft's Zune HD is going to use it, and so maybe as a result Nvidia isn't promoting Linux on it.
Archos 7 in DVR cradle
The device I'm envisioning has been around for a while in the Archos series of "heavy-duty" portable media players. They offer a cradle with HDMI out, and even a remote with keyboard to drive the touch-screen device from across the room, yet they've had little success. Maybe I'm missing something.

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

art: Erik van Lieshout has one approach

On my Minneapolis trip to the Walker Art Center, amongst all the craziness of post-millenium yammering in the Brave New Worlds exhibition, the Homeland Security video by Erik van Lieshout and his cameraman Core was stupid smart.

They visit Jerusalem and Gaza but rather than overtly comment on injustice, struggle, and war they talk about drinking, stomach trouble, and whatever else pops in their heads, while zooming in on female soldiers' boobs and whatever. They're sweaty, bored, confused, rambling. It's Beavis and Butthead do religio-political trouble spots. Yet it makes you see the places freshly. I think their challenge to the viewer is "Could you really do any better? Can you make a difference? Because we know we sure as hell can't!"

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