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Babel TV - Freeview PVR but with Internet access
Thursday 25 October 2007 18:57:37 by Andrew Ferguson

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.


Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Unless im wrong this is basically just a PC in a desktop case. Id like to know what card it uses for the freeview, ive been looking for a decent freeview card which records without going out of sync and in general does what it is spose to do for ages. The upload idea at £1 per gig is a good idea, but will soon eat into ISP allowances we have in this so called modern era, love the fact it runs a nice simple to use version of linux, overall not a bad idea IMO, hope it will be successful as it has potential.
Posted by shaunhw over 9 years ago
The fact that their web site is appalling on a computer set at 120 DPI (on IE 6) doesn't give me a lot of confindence in their software development ability...Does this think allow viewing on a television or LCD TV as well as a computer screen ?
Posted by jchamier over 9 years ago
WebTV for the UK? Linux for newbies? TV connections using Svideo or composite? Ugh, no RGB? No DVI or HDMI ?

I can't see it being massively successful. To use the PC apps you'll need a PC screen, as S-Video or composite is not enough definition to use PC apps.

TV functionality is interesting, but surely Freeview Playback units are cheaper.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Totally agree with what shaunhw and jchamier say about its limits, but bear in mind it is the companys first effort. The Tv connections will be more of a limit on the freeview card they are using than anything else. Technically it does have RGB (of a type) thats what a VGA connector is lol (in basic terms anyway). You wont get a cheap affordable capture and Tuner card for the type of money the whole unit is being offered for, if you want DVI or HDMI inputs and outputs on a TV card that can also capture you are looking at serious money (a grand and up).
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
*looks down an article*

See, this is the problem. While in the past people haven't been sued for using this sort of device, there is absolutely no guarantee that the music and video cartels won't turn round and sue you for owning one.

So I can't be interested because it's too risky to own one.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
LOL Dawn_Falcon, we all know you own one of these and a capture device already and you charge "subscription" fees for people to borrow those highly technical advanced things called 'cassettes' that you store the music on LOL. Dont deny it im off to tell Detective plod all about this new device and 2 years later
the BBC can then hype it up a bit more and spout even more rubbish about this device.
(hey if the old bill can get away blurting BS why cant we all LOL) ;)
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
I ditched my cassette recoder a long time ago. I actually, before the campaign against consumers started, used a very nice sony minidisk player.

For the rest, I don't provide any sort of illegal service, and it is inappropriate for you to suggest I do so. (No, again, I really simply can't joke about this sort of thing)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Sorry Dawn_Falcon it was only meant as a joke and im glad you realised that. I do agree though its not really a laughing matter. I was only trying to lighten the mood through humour (kind of a if you dont laugh you will cry approach). The news the government, music and movie industry also want to shove this situation onto ISPs laps is even worse... If they want to catch people doing wrong, I say let them spend their own precious money doing so rather than forcing others to take the time and effort. I still have a mindisk player somewhere, oh the irony of that device huh :D
Posted by macbits2000 over 9 years ago
Id like to know what card it uses for the freeview, ive been looking for a decent freeview card which records without going out of sync and in general does what it is spose to do for ages.

Carpetburn, have you tried a Topfield box, with a 250GB hard drive, I have had mine 18 months, and never gone out of sync, in fact no problems whatsoever.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
errr isnt a topfield box something you plug into a TV rather than a pctv card???
I was refering to this device they are using in this pc... The box i have connected to my tv is fine and records fine, cant seem to get a reliable device for the computer though.
Posted by ccsnet over 9 years ago
Sorry - not that stunning to me either. Thats a cheap Morex ITX case which means it will probebly run a Via main board. For the price as a PC its not bad but it aint great.... to push it as more is not right. I currently have a simular set up ( for watching not recording ) which is a bit old now and worth about £30 at most. Check out who sell this sort of thing and if you want to where you can buy and build your own. Terran
Posted by ccsnet over 9 years ago
For Macbits2000 - If you have a look on their site they use the Hauppauge WinTV USB sticks rathet than PCI cards ( which there is space for one of in that box ). Plus they use apps like MythTV etc.

The clever bit I spose is that this is installed and configured for you.

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