Tag Archives: xbmc

OUYA: A New, Fully Open-Source Game Console

OUYA has been all the buzz lately – a Kickstarter project that offers a new kind of video game console running on Android 4.0, with an integrated game store and custom TV UI. Funding for this open source platform began on July 10. Kickstarter set a $950,000 funding goal and the campaign had already received eight times this amount before the funding period was over.

What Makes OUYA Unique?

OUYA is different from the game consoles on the market because it welcomes users to root the device – and promises they can do so without voiding the warranty. Everything opens with standard screws and hardware hackers can create their own peripherals and connect via USB or Bluetooth LE 4.0. The console will be powered by Android 4.0, and an SDK will be available to ease the creation of new games and apps. For the first time, players will have full power over the machine – not just the OS.

Other Features OUYA Offers

  • Tegra3 quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB of internal flash storage
  • HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth LE 4.0
  • USB 2.0 (one)
  • Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), a touchpad
  • Android 4.0
  • ETHERNET! (Announced by Muffi 7/18)

The 2.4 Ghz RF wireless controller offers standard game controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons and a system button), but OUYA takes open-source to a new level and allows gamers to expand their controller options with the addition of a USB 2.0 port. Players with the drive and know-how can root the system and repurpose their favorite controllers from other consoles.

What Are The Drawbacks?

While an open-source gaming platform provides players with an array of benefits in customization, do those benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks?

Security
Being able to root the device is an awesome feature, but at what expense? Users may see a lot of malware. OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman recently stated that OUYA will be as secure as any other Android device. According to F-Secure, an antivirus firm, 75 percent of all phone-based malware targets Android devices. The inherent security of the console just doesn’t seem very tight. With the recent hack of Sony’s PlayStation Network, 77 million users had their usernames, passwords, credit card details, security answers, purchase history and addresses stolen. How will OUYA offer tighter security to users?

Availability Of Games
With OUYA being a new game console, there are no games for it available on the market as of yet. There have been quite a few titles confirmed for launch, but only time will tell how many game makers will release their games for this console.

What Will Happen?

OUYA offers a level of flexibility that will be very attractive to many gamers, but also has a couple potential drawbacks. Will OUYA become the next big thing in gaming? Only time will tell…

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news”

Ouya ready to revitalise open-source gaming after $8.5m fundraising haul

”ouya-android-gaming-console”

In its short life Ouya has developed partnerships with entertainment platforms such as Vevo, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and XBMC. Photograph: Ouya.tv

Gaming start-up Ouya hopes to stage a revolution in open-source game development for play on TV. It just scored an impressive coup in open-source fundraising.

When its monthlong campaign on Kickstarter wrapped up at midnight last night, Ouya had raised a smart $8,596,475 from more than 63,000 backers. The sum was nine times the company’s original fundraising goal of $950,000. Investors who pledged $95 or more get a free console, projected to ship in March.

“We are truly excited and blown away by the support: it’s amazing how well an open, affordable, accessible games console has resonated with gamers and developers,” Ouya chief executive Julie Uhrman told the Guardian’s Stuart Dredgeearlier this week. “People are really excited about somebody wanting to buck the trend.”

Ouya is building a gaming console on the Android platform that will retail for $99 – half as much as the least expensive Xbox. It would be the first TV console built to run games created by an indefinitely large pool of developers, potentially cracking open a market in which retailers currently get $59.99 for the new Call of Duty.

Games in Ouya’s online store would be free to download. Developers would make money through paid upgrades, in-app purchases for virtual items and subscriptions.

Because the Ouya is designed for ease of software swapping, piracy is a concern. One of Ouya’s biggest challenges is to build a device that is as easy to use as gamers expect without turning off developers as too risky.

“Piracy is one of the reasons we chose the free-to-play model,” Uhrman said. “You don’t see piracy on Facebook games, or on free-to-play games [on mobile].”

Ouya’s potential area of conquest isn’t limited to gaming. The company has been careful to position itself as a games console rather than a more general entertainment set-top box, yet its use of Android opens the way for a variety of non-games services to be made available through the device.

In its short life Ouya has developed partnerships with entertainment platforms such as Vevo, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and XBMC. Meanwhile, both Sony and Microsoft have struck a series of deals to make TV shows, films, music and other kinds of apps available on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Ouya has proven its audience will pay. Now it has only to deliver.

Source: Guardian

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux

XBMC Gets Its New HD Audio Engine

A complete re-write of the core audio sub-system

of XBMC

”xbmc”

AudioEngine has been merged in the XBMC media player code-base, which is a major re-write of the audio sub-system and delivers some wonderful HD audio support.

Writing XBMC AudioEngine took two years and more than 22,000 lines of code, but it’s now been merged. AudioEngine brings high-definition audio to this popular open-source multi-media program. AudioEngine also introduces support for DTS-MA, TrueHD, and 24-bit audio.

The official features of XBMC AudioEngine at this time are listed below. Still forthcoming are rule-based decisions for output formats based upon hardware capabilities, support for a range of DSPs, and custom channel mixing/mapping for up and down-mixing. Additional details are available from the XBMC.org blog.

  • Support for DTS-MA / Dolby TrueHD Bluray formats
  • Support for 24-bit and floating-point audio at up to 384,000hz
  • Mixing of all streams including GUI sounds even when transcoding audio
  • Start-up enumeration of hardware audio devices and their capablities with log output
  • Bitstreaming support in PAPlayer (XBMC’s music player)
  • Upmixing of stereo to full channel layout
  • Tighter syncing of A/V streams
  • Floating-point processing of audio
  • 24-bit and floating-point decoding/handling of mp3
  • Full support for ReplayGain
  • Built-in sample-rate conversion and transcoding

Raspberry Pi computer is very tasty and selling like hot cakes

A tiny computer the size of a business card

IF any gadget has excited us this year, it is the $35 Raspberry Pi, a tiny computer the size of a business card that’s powerful enough to stream HD video.

ince the Raspberry arrived in the office, it has been a source of wonder, bewilderment and excitement to passersby.

It’s not that the Pi needs media reviews to be noticed. When orders opened on leap day, February 29 this year, Pis were selling like hot cakes. They were at one stage being pre-ordered at the rate of 700 per second. By mid-last month, distributors RS Components and Element14 between them had received more than 350,000 pre-orders and it is understood 10,000 Pis had been shipped, so there’s a huge backlog.

Before ordering even began, a handful of Pi boards were auctioned on eBay in January for enthusiasts, with one $35 board selling for $1586.

The UK-developed Pi is the brainchild of Eben Upton, Technical Director, Broadcom, and formerly of IBM and Intel, and David Braben, the programmer who wrote Elite, a space-trading computer game. It is their mission that British kids have an affordable device capable of teaching them computer science and the guts of what happens inside a computer, but the rest of the world is cashing in.

It is also an attempt at countering concern about emerging generations of children who are just consumers of apps on PCs, phones and tablet computers, and who are hooked on social networking and gaming, with no knowledge of computing. It is a return to the 1960s and early 1970s in Australia where students learnt computer programming using the Minitran and Miditran languages using punch cards they perforated with paper clips.

Hardware-wise, the Pi has a 700 Megahertz ARM 11 chip with 256MB of onboard memory. Its secret is its “system on a chip”. It combines the processor, graphics processor, digital signal processor and memory in one tiny Piece of hardware.

The Pi manages a phenomenal number of connections for its size. Our Model B Pi has an Ethernet port, full-sized HDMI and RCA video connectors, 2 USB ports nominally for a keyboard and mouse, a digital stereo socket for a headset or powered speakers, a MicroUSB port for a power-connector, and a slot underneath for a full-sized SD card. There’s a GPiO connector on top for driving LED lights, but the power output would need to be tiny.

For $25, you can buy the cheaper Model A which has one USB port instead of two, and no Ethernet internet connector, but we don’t see the point of Model A unless this $10 saving is absolutely necessary or you’re using the Pi for a specialised purpose, where the internet is not needed.

If you haven’t a spare HDMI cable, headset, keyboard, mouse or display, you will be up for extra money to make the necessary connections to the Pi. I scrounged most of these from our offices and used an Apple 5 volt phone charger with a standard micro USB cable for the power supply. Input current needs to be at least 700 milliamps, so the 1 ampere iPhone charger was ideal.

Be careful to check the phone charger as some are more than 5 volts, even new iPad ones. Fried Raspberry Pi is not my favourite dish. We did, however, add a powered USB hub, so we could connect not only a keyboard and mouse, but flash drives with video and music files we wanted to stream.

The SD card you attach underneath is the system’s hard-drive and contains the operating system. The Pi runs adapted strains of Linux, rather than Microsoft Windows or Apple’s iOS. The Raspberry Pi Foundation through its distributors will eventually sell these SD cards with the operating system installed, so you’ll insert the SD card, power up the Pi, and be away. But in these pioneering days it is a do-it-yourself job.

For early adapters out there, we’ll include online some links to help you create the SD card operating system, but it’s straight forward enough. You download the OS, and write the image to the card using a downloadable program for this purpose.

We tested the Pi using two operating system images we created with 16GB SD cards. One was a Debian Squeeze image, the other an early Pi implementation of XBMC, which is a media centre capable of streaming video and music stored on the internet, or media on a connected drive. Linux Fedora, however, is expected to be the mainstay of the Pi.

”raspberry

This pioneering phase means you have to tinker with the Pi to get it going. That means using Linux console commands to set the locale/time-zone, to change the default UK keyboard to US UTF format so that characters such as @ and ” are in the right place, and re-partitioning the SD card so that it uses all 16GBs are used, rather than 1 GB for your files.

Needless to say, the Pi isn’t a system for one’s grandmother, unless she is capable of entering console commands such as “sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata”. I don’t know a Granny who can.

Configuring the Pi is in the realm of Geekdom, but that may change in time as online enthusiasm for software development around the Pi matches its hardware sales. It’s a matter of time.

Let’s now deal with what the Pi isn’t. It is not a $35 replacement for an office desktop computer, so for back-to-the-wall company accountants reading this and fantasising about replacing row upon row of office PCs with $35 Pis — well, it’s time to take a nice cool shower.

We did fire up the Pi’s graphic user interface and surf the net using the supplied Midori web browser, but we didn’t have Flash and with a limited 256 MB of memory (shared with the graphics processor) we weren’t wanting to run Java.

But we managed to surf the web, and even open Gmail, although only using the basic HTML view. Other Google functions such as Google Drive didn’t load. There doesn’t seem a ready-made offering of cloud applications you can run with the Pi — yet. However, we did download AbiWord, a lightweight word processor, prepare documents, and email them using our Gmail in the browser. No doubt with time there’ll be a distro that offers capable basic office applications, but not now.

Office work though is probably the least imaginative thing you can do with the Pi, and our second SD card with the XBMC media centre loaded, showed why.

Despite XMBC being an early alpha-implementation, we were able to watch MP4 and AVI video and listen to MP3 and M4A audio, although we did have to manually mount the USB flash drive in Linux to make it work. But the video experience was fine and there was no stuttering, as the native media player, OMXplayer, uses hardware acceleration. It does, however, play only a few codecs.

Long-term, we see the Pi as outrageously popular not only among enthusiasts but schools also. At $35 each, a classroom of 20 can be outfitted with Pis for the cost of a tablet computer, although the 20 HDMI monitors they use will cost lots more.

A few critics say that by loading virtual machine software, schools can achieve what the Pi offers on existing PC systems, and there’s no need to buy extra hardware, but it’s hard to argue against a child curating their own Raspberry Pi like a Tamagotchi.

The other big group of users will be those who adapt the Raspberry Pi to a bevy of home and maybe industrial uses. There are projects online under way to develop software so that a Pi can control a home-monitoring and energy system, operate as a computer in a car or boat, remotely control a coffee machine, act as a cheap stand-alone internet radio or bit torrent media downloader, or be the brain of a mobile robot.

Some kids and adults alike will either build these systems or make use of completed open-source code versions of them that eventually will be available online with little extra work involved. At $35 each, we all can afford a slice of Raspberry Pi.

RATING: 9

COST: $35 (or $25 for Model A)

LINKS:

General guide

Getting started & configuring the keyboard/time zone

XBMC media centre distribution

”linux

%d bloggers like this: