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JoeBorn
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« Reply #45 on: August 21, 2006, 09:35:52 pm »

Joe,

You know, if a lot of these design choices are happening in meetings and you'd like to share them with everyone online, why not podcast design meetings?  Set up a topic header so responses can go under each respective "episode"?

I'd say "Neurocast" it, but that's something entirely different and cooler.  Tongue

I'm certainly up for doing that, and frankly now adays the bulk of our meeting stuff is online, although if we have in person meetings, I'm happy to tape or video or whatever.  I've been doing that for presentations (including one I gave tonight) not I'm looking for someone to help transcode, edit!
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« Reply #46 on: August 25, 2006, 06:04:13 pm »

I'm the one who lobbied for including SPDIF-in on the N3 and more recently posted a rant on the N3 wiki discussion page.  I hope you guys don't get upset but I now think the N3 project should be abandoned.  With the new projected date, the N3 will be obsolete before it is introduced.  HD audio players in general are already in their last throes.  Flash memory is in the $10/GB range, 8GB SD cards and 16GB CF cards are starting to show up on ebay (still $$$$), and there's soon going to be no market left for a non-video HD player.  And video means big, power-hungry screens and batteries.  The N3 successor (call it NX) should be a flash player.

That the iPod is in its 5th generation doesn't mean it's all refined or evolved, it just means Apple is pathetic taking this long to get it right.  Sony got the cassette Walkman essentially right on the first try in the 1970's, digital watches had some technological evolution since LED's but they matured quickly when LCD's came out; cassette and CD portables haven't changed much in the past 20 years and neither have watches.  The portable digital audio player (DAP) is not that complex a product and it should be mature too.  That means Neuros can and should be making DAP's designed to still be in use 20 years from today.  Well, ok, make it 10 years since tech development has sped up so much, but this is still doable.  1980's vintage cassette walkmen are still viable.  The characteristics of a mature DAP are (to me) exceedingly obvious, but EVERY manufacturer is choosing to screw up one thing or another in the name of product differentiation.  Stop with that, just do a straightforward implementation of the obvious stuff and gain differentiation by making a high quality product.  Inspirations in the digital world should include the HP-12C calculator (1990's), the Canon S100 digital camera (circa 2000), and the basic Casio digital watch, all of which are still quite usable (as in, there's not that much reason to upgrade one you already own, even if current technology is better).  In the audio world, look to the Sony TC-D5M portable cassette recorder plus the obvious Walkmen and Ipods.  Look also at the Archos Jukebox series with Rockbox firmware.  Let us figure out the characteristics of the NX:

1) power: this is a no brainer, it MUST run on AA cells, or AAA's if size is critical.  No lithium ion.  There are many 1990's DAT recorders and laptop computers collecting dust because the proprietary nicad packs are now unavailable or not worth the cost.  The NX should preferably run on one AA, like the Cowan/iAudio G3 or the iRiver T10.  It should be designed to run satisfactorily on every AA from NiMH to crap-quality zinc-carbon AA's (the most common battery in the world). The player's form factor should be like the Cowon G3 mentioned above, which is business card sized x 2/3" thick or so.  The iRiver T10 is also interesting and different.  If you absolutely need higher internal voltage and can't use a dc-dc converter (analog noise or whatever) then use two AAA's.  If you want, include an internal NiMH charger powered by the USB port.  Finally, look at (but don't imitate) the Sandisk Sansa M260, a 4GB player built like a cheap digital watch.  Again, with the exception of some firmware issues, the M260 is an example of maturity: we could easily imagine the same player being sold for $14.95 in a few years once its internal flash memory (it has 4GB) is essentially free.  The NX should have similar principles but much higher build quality.

2) Basic features: see the Frontier Lab Nexblack which is finally out.  Frontier has screwed up execution (thing is a year late) but basically have the right idea: high quality analog audio section, relatively powerful headphone amp, FM tuner, and a CF slot.  These days I'd say SD is acceptable (CF seems on its way out; SD is more rugged and keeps size down).  But expandability is a must.  I'd suggest two SD slots, giving 16GB total capacity with today's 8GB cards.  Maybe one slot could be internal to save space.  Skip UI gimmicks, just use Rockbox, with the most frequently used controls on good physical hardware switches, not GUI widgets or dinky membrand buttons.  The Nexblack uses two AA's and is fairly power hungry, but I think that's because it uses old electronics.  The G3 and the T10 get ~40 hours on one AA and should be examined as an example of how to do this stuff.

3) Special feature: one thing every DAP should have is active noise cancellation, which is getting more popular in specialized headphones.  But it should be built into the player unit instead, so you can use your favorite headphones or earbuds.  I posted to the wiki about how to do this.  This is an essential feature for listening on public transport or airplanes, without having to crank the volume to ear damaging levels.  It should practically be legislated into players.

I'll add some more to this later, I have to go do some stuff.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 06:09:50 pm by phr » Logged
JoeBorn
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« Reply #47 on: August 26, 2006, 10:14:21 am »

Definately an interesting and unique post.  Right now, I'm personally focused on the OSD and 442v2 and can't raise my head enought to think much about the N3, but this is definately a "bookmark and put to the side" post.  I don't agree with all of it, but there are definately some good points.
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« Reply #48 on: August 28, 2006, 08:05:05 pm »

i'm trying to get people movivated for it - but its not working

its on the backburner, until the 442v2 is out.
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JoeBorn
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« Reply #49 on: August 29, 2006, 11:14:26 am »

We're motivated, just not able at this time.  Take a look at how dissapointed the 442 folks are now because of delays there...
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« Reply #50 on: August 31, 2006, 10:30:41 pm »

I agree with all the suggestions that Phr said here.  

I get near satisfaction with my iAudio G3.  The only problems with it are that it uses the Sigmatel STMP-3520 (an outdated DSP that can't really make full use of more than 1.25GB of storage capacity), it doesn't have any expansion capability (an enclosed compartment for SD-cards would be preferable), and its firmware updates are not drag-n-drop.

If Neuros could recreate the G3 but with the above-mentioned differences, I wouldn't need any other personal audio device.
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« Reply #51 on: September 04, 2006, 11:21:55 am »

Why is it you fanboy, obsessive-posters are always such doomsayers? Yes the N3 is going to come out much later than everyone hoped. Yes everyone, including Joe, is dissapointed about it. But that doesn't mean that the N3 will be a complete loss when it does arrive. Keep in mind, the N1 and N2 were a bit behind their competitors in some ways when they arrived on the scene and Neuros still convinced you guys to buy them. On the forums I hear a lot of talk about NCast being the most favored/desired feature from the N1/2s. For me, it was the OGG support, Linux support, and overall versatility of the player that sealed the deal. I liked NCast but more as a novelty, I use tape adapters when I'm in my car and it's not like there aren't iTrip and similar accessories for everyone else.

The new line of products that NT is developing is going to be Open Source from the beginning which will attract a lot of attention from the growing Linux community. I'm lucky enough to have an OSD developer sample and it's a very promising device. Yes, there are other mp3 players out there, there always have been. But, when the N3 does come out you will be sorry if you didn't wait for it. Even while OGG Vorbis continues to gain popularity there are very few portable devices that support it. FLAC support is even harder (if not impossible) to find. Neuros is taking the time they need to create a solid, finised product. They're too smart to rush to market with something that is only half-baked at best. The reality is "first-to-market" mentality is the primary source of bad products and we all hold Neuros to a pretty high standard. Just tell your iPodding freind that the N3 is wourth waiting for because it really is THAT much better (and you won't be lying either).

Finally, I'd like to say that as with any OpenSource project... Instead of comming to the forums every day to complain, fix it yourself. The more help NT gets with the OSD the faster we'll see the 442v2 and N3. These products are all being developed on the same core hardware so the work being done now for the OSD is the foundation of what will become the N3. Notice how no one answered Joe's call-to-arms to help him program the OSD but everyone wants to pester him about the release date of the N3? Even if you're not a programmer or not good programmer, visit #neuros and find out what you can do to help move things along and improve the product for everyone.
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phr
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« Reply #52 on: October 04, 2006, 03:48:45 am »

To Dragonwisard - the N3 issue isn't lateness, it's that technology changes over time.  The original 5GB Archos Jukebox was a breakthrough product and a huge success when it came out.  Those days are gone now.  Imagine the yawns if Neuros were to launch a 1 pound, 5GB hard drive player today.  Well, larger hard drive players (e.g. 30GB) are still interesting today, but my claim is that by a year from now, flash will be cheap enough that every HD audio player will be silly.  So, continuing development on such a player that won't be ready for a year is out of step with where technology and the market is going.

Also, re it being an "open source product", the issue isn't the software, it's the hardware.  Yes I'd love to have an open source audio player that I could put my own codecs (ogg, flac, etc.) on.  Remember though that I'm viewing the N3 as an audio player, something to listen to while coding or driving, NOT a video player, I don't care at all about video; video capability imposes hardware requirements in terms of cpu speed, power-hungry backlit color displays, and the battery systems needed to run all that.  Maybe it's just me, but watching a movie on a 2 inch screen is IMO totally unattractive and if I ever buy a video system, it's going to use a DLP projector so the picture fills a whole wall.  (Or maybe it could use those LCD eyeglass thingies).  Anyway that gets way off-topic regarding the N3.

For the N3/NX to make sense as a pure-audio product, it should not sacrifice any battery power or hardware size to implement video features that an audio-only player no use for.  The Cowon G3, already considered an obsolete player, is years ahead of the hypothetical N3 in terms of power consumption--it runs 40 hours on one AA cell (and yes, the G3 plays Vorbis, though not FLAC).    So I'm suggesting to Joe that any forthcoming Neuros audio player should be AA-powered and use flash instead of a HD.  That is a matter of hardware, not programming.  I realize Joe's plate is full and audio devices are backburnered at Neuros and that's ok.  But no contribution that I could make to OSD software development will get the audio hardware out the door any sooner.  All I can do is make suggestions about what the audio hw should be like when Neuros eventually has resources available to build it.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2006, 04:32:47 am by phr » Logged
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« Reply #53 on: October 04, 2006, 12:21:18 pm »

I was hoping to upgrade my N2, this year ....

The following is what I envisioned the N3 to be (close anyways)...
http://neonumeric.com/prod_nto_en.html
Supports flash, builtin transmitter etc etc

I havent been able to find them in north america (unless you chance the international sellers on ebay)

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« Reply #54 on: October 17, 2006, 01:27:14 am »

phr, I disagree with your statement about Flash.

While it's true that the cost of Flash memory has been decreasing, to say that it will make HD obsolete in the next year or even the next 3 years is unrealistic. Flash is nice, but it's not perfect, and it's not going to get THAT cheap any time soon either. Unless you can show me a 60GB Flash (some of us want more than 10 songs) player that is priced competitively with similar HD alternatives, I don't consider Flash to be a viable alternative.

I completely agree that the N3 should focus on Audio first and foremost. However I think the platform is capable of much more and we should take advantage of that so long as it doesn't degrade the quality of the primary function (which is Audio). Most of the hardware (cpu, memory, etc) has already been set in stone. Yes it might cost us some battery life, but flash isn't the only thing that's coming down in price. In a year we'll have better, cheaper batteries available.
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« Reply #55 on: October 28, 2006, 11:42:19 am »

phr, I disagree with your statement about Flash.

While it's true that the cost of Flash memory has been decreasing, to say that it will make HD obsolete in the next year or even the next 3 years is unrealistic. Flash is nice, but it's not perfect, and it's not going to get THAT cheap any time soon either. Unless you can show me a 60GB Flash (some of us want more than 10 songs) player that is priced competitively with similar HD alternatives, I don't consider Flash to be a viable alternative.
Two years ago if i told you there would be mp3 players with 8 gigs of flash memory would you have believed that?  Of course not.  In 3 years the HDD Mp3 player will be dead, flash will have reached a storage level that will equal or surpass any hard drives you can fit into a player.
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« Reply #56 on: November 15, 2006, 03:46:15 pm »


We can talk flash vs. hd vs. sd vs. the future, well into the future itself.
It simply talking around the fact that nothing has been delivered, in some time, on the Neuros Audio Computer front, hardware or software wise.
Whether that be in the form of a new unit, or support of the existing, and that plain out just hurts.

@dragonwisard::
"Why is it you fanboy, obsessive-posters are always such doomsayers? Yes the N3 is going to come out much later than everyone hoped.
Yes everyone, including Joe, is dissapointed about it. But that doesn't mean that the N3 will be a complete loss when it does arrive.
Keep in mind, the N1 and N2 were a bit behind their competitors in some ways when they arrived on the scene and Neuros still convinced you guys to buy them."


I know the main reason I bought it was the promise of open source and customizable ui, functionality and such.
The wording across the entire site has changed quite a bit in the past couple of years.
As well, the forums have been wiped clean up to a point and the internet wayback machine was no help either,
but they sold it as being simpler than it turned out to be.

So apart from the great contributions of a very few, custom dev didn't get too far really.
I might be mistaken but wasnt there also the unforseen setbacks of 'open source' not being as open source as they'd hoped due to a hitch with TI's chip?
Dev updates have gone nowhere for over a year now, a long and silent record that hints at the smell of a possible trend.

"The reality is "first-to-market" mentality is the primary source of bad products and we all hold Neuros to a pretty high standard." +
"Finally, I'd like to say that as with any OpenSource project... Instead of comming to the forums every day to complain, fix it yourself.
The more help NT gets with the OSD the faster we'll see the 442v2 and N3."

Accept for the fact that, we [a niche audio based crowd] jumped on NT's ship because of the Neuros.
And they in turn dropped that and moved on to the 442 and the OSD, a new niche.
So I can understand interest waning, when the product you intended on supporting is all but chucked aside for a new niche.
One of these products main selling point is that it supports the competition's formats [ipod/psp].
To some, that may have made it easier to adopt this new niche and invest any intended DAP interest/fundage to the competition.

"Just tell your iPodding freind that the N3 is wourth waiting for because it really is THAT much better (and you won't be lying either)."
That's a hard one too. Not that I hold these kind of conversations wit the 'ipod' crowd much.. but I try not to tout features of vaporware to someone holding the current 'hotness'. And forget about trying the approach of ''You see this N2, it's like this but better!'
I don't know about you, but with an 80gb drive in my N2, unless it's 'random' music day..
and unless i already know exactly what i want to play, it takes a hell of a long time to go through track selection, especially with the harddrive spinning while listening to music.
This was acceptable 3 years ago, not anymore.
If you don't own or never used the ipod, speedwise, the ui is night and day, as far as speed is concerned. That goes for almost every other DAP i've touched.

One of my biggest concerns right now is the lifespan of my Neuros.
When the first Neuros was released, I purchased the top bundle, at a HIGH early adopter premium mind you.
I didn't mind it at all then either, I was eager to support such a bold project, but that's neither here nor there.
This bundle included the Flash backpack, the HD backpack + brain, etc.
My Flash backback wasn't used often really because of the HD backpack's capacity, and no longer functions due to a dead internal battery.
I'm wondering how long before my main battery goes now, as I'm already noticing a shortened battery life.

And with no viable alternative just yet in our 'niche', do we just settle for more of the same silent service?
This my friends, is devotional limbo....
« Last Edit: November 15, 2006, 03:53:46 pm by theFuzzyWarble » Logged

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« Reply #57 on: November 22, 2006, 05:34:31 pm »

How is mid-'07 looking now, Joe?
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« Reply #58 on: November 29, 2006, 06:59:04 pm »

Neuros is starting to dig itself in a hole, at least in the N 3 department.  There seems to be way too much talk about what it should be and not enough of producing it.  There hasn't been much word from anyone lately about the progress, and I hope that means they are busy working and don't have the time to respond...  Especially with the trekstor vibez just being released.  That player seems to satisfy some of the people waiting for the neuros 3.  I think it has been almost two years of talking about the N 3 and seeing nothing for it.  I want to see a unit, something that shows some progress.  So far it seems the extent of our patience and input is only found on paper; a list of what we want and a list of what neuros says they will produce, but haven't yet.  Two years is a long time, especially with nothing to show for it.  I need something soon to restore my faith, even if is just a date.  I am getting restless for buying a new player.  My Karma just retired itself permanently, my iaudio m3 is down to two hours battery life, my neuros one has been dead for a long time.  I am trying to wait for summer to purchase a player, if my m3 lasts that long, and it seems to be between the vibez, iaudio x5, and hopefully the N3.  I would even be willing to wait a little longer, as long as I got some definitive date. 

Any news Joe?  Even if it is disappointing news...
« Last Edit: November 29, 2006, 10:08:41 pm by mrchyles » Logged
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« Reply #59 on: November 30, 2006, 04:50:00 am »

I'm resisting the X5L because of its battery.  The only hard disk audio player I'd buy right now is the long-discontinued Archos Jukebox Recorder 20, available on ebay used for $100 or so with 20gb disk.  It can run open source software (Rockbox).  It uses standard batteries (4aa NiMH with internal charger).  It uses a standard 2.5" laptop hard disk, i.e. it's expandable to 160gb (maybe 200gb) today, probably 300gb by end-2007.  Given that 16gb flash cards are available today, there's no point messing with the hassle and power consumption of a hard disk if it's just a wimpy 30gb or 60gb.  I feel likely to pull the trigger for a 16gb Nexblack in the next few weeks though, depending on whether a certain hoped-for improvement to my finances comes through. 

It sounds like nothing's been happening with the N3, which is just as well.  I can't understand Dragonwisard's point that
Quote
I completely agree that the N3 should focus on Audio first and foremost. However I think the platform is capable of much more and we should take advantage of that so long as it doesn't degrade the quality of the primary function (which is Audio)
What else is there for the N3 to do besides audio?  The only thing I can think of is video, which requires a power-hungry screen, which in turn mean special batteries, which definitely degrades the device as an audio player.  I -refuse- to buy any audio player that needs proprietary batteries.  I  -only- want to buy a player that uses AA's or AAA's.  If a mid-2007 N3 has a HD and uses some reasonably standard, user replaceable lithium battery then I suppose I'll consider it out of solidarity but it will be a big minus.  "Reasonably standard" means it's used by some popular model of cellular phone or digital camera, so replacement batteries are available from lots of different suppliers and will stay available for many years.  I'd still much rather have flash and AA's though.  For now, I don't feel I need more than 16gb capacity in an audio player, and would far prefer flash to a HD at that level despite the cost premium.  Keep in mind that while flash costs more than a HD, it makes the rest of the unit cheaper by getting rid of the lithium battery and charger.

I just don't see what's so hard about this.  Really, it's almost an industry conspiracy that nobody is making a sensible DAP right now.  That means G3 sized, powered by 1AA or 1AAA (makes player thinner), with a monochrome display, low power consumption, and an SDHC slot (8GB SDHC-2 cards are $129.95 at Newegg as of today).  Better yet, two SD slots, giving 16gb capacity today (with bigger cards coming) and allowing copying from one slot to the other (product differentiation, heh heh).  Google "minty mp3" to see how simple a basic DAP can be.  I'd make one of those myself except it has no display.  The Minty player already has a CF slot--just adding a display and replacing the CF with two SD's (or heck, leaving it CF) doesn't sound like a multi-year engineering project.  The firmware (Rockbox) is already done, you just need to use a Rockbox-capable cpu and mp3 chip and connect up some buttons and stuff.

Another player that I'm amazed nobody makes is a DVD-MP3 audio player, basically the Giga MP3 feature found in some car stereos.  This is the basic, ancient, butt-standard MP3 CD player as made by Panasonic and every other company, powered by AA cells, but using a DVD drive instead of a CD drive, so you can have 8.5 GB of music on one disc (dual layer DVD+R).  Yeah there are portable DVD players but they all have video playback which means color screens and, you guessed it, proprietary lithium batteries.  I'm talking about an audio-only player that uses AA's.  I guess it's not Neuros's approach, but I wish somebody would make this.
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