Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Raspberry Pi

My hacked XBOX has been completely outclassed by a featherweight, literally! (well, I suppose a feather is still an exageration, so figuratively I guess)  Seriously mad props to the Raspberry Pi team and the Xbox Media Center team, and especially XBMC's Gimli and Davilla.

XBMC has come a long way... <nostalgic interlude>

I was lucky to be in on the XBox hacking thing so was in on the action when XBMC was becoming a big deal.  At the time (~2002-2004) it was something of a new discovery that you could do very smooth high resolution video playback of highly compressed video (divx) in pure software on slow processors.My favorite example of this comes from the PocketPC world, where the Dell Axim x50v could render divx on its 640x480 screen (4x the resolution of typical PDAs at the time) with a measly 624mhz mobile processor.  I'm talking about betaplayer, which could stream Divx over Wifi to your palm three years before anyone had ever heard of the iPhone or iPod touch.

I've referred in previous posts to what my friends and I liked to call "The System".  To further whet your appetite for that glorious blog post to be revealed some time in the future, let's just say the XBOX with XBMC was the TV client, and a betaplayer'd Pocket PC was the mobile wireless client.  TV was captured on a DVR, encoded automatically at multiple bitrates and put on a secure server for streaming, with commercials removed, no human intervention, and the latest episodes replacing older episodes according to a configuration file.  New shows could even be added to The System by having my elite band of users (my friends, heh) log onto a web page and schedule the recording in a friendly GUI.

</ nostalgic interlude>

Raspberry Pi weighs almost a hundred times less (45g vs 3.86 Kg) than the original XBox, costs 6x less, and plays back at several times the resolution.  That has got to deserve some serious snaps!  (bonus points for era-appropriate slang :-)  Well done team XBMC and Raspberry Pi!

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