A PC with a video capture card is nothing new, but making it easy to use and reliable has always been the difficult job. Hopefully the new Babel TV set-top box from Peter Dawe and Mark Turner who were around at the start of Pipex and Demon will have solved these issues.
The box will retail at £295 from November 6th and gives you a dual tuner Freeview PVR with support for expanding disk capacity by adding external USB 2.0 disks. The box really comes into its own once connected to a broadband connection since you can then use it to make VoIP telephone calls, access websites, browse videos on YouTube and even upload video from a digital camera to YouTube. Support is also included for MP3 players both to play tracks through the box, and download material onto the MP3 player.
The box also supports email, word processing and spreadsheets so can be used for many of the tasks people would use a basic PC for. The clever part is that for a price of £1 per GB per month you can upload documents and pictures from the box to the central Babel TV servers. By having files on a central server it means you can access material from any Babel TV box so long as you know your username and password.
The demonstration video reveals the device is built around Ubuntu which is a Linux-based operating system. £295 for a FreeView PVR seems a lot of money when you can get one for around £150. The key really is the additional functionality you gain by it being a Ubuntu based PC.