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Blockbuster box runs Linux

Nov 26, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 15 views

Blockbuster announced a branded version of a IP set-top box and media player from 2Wire that runs Linux on a MIPS-based Broadcom chipset. The Blockbuster version of the 2Wire MediaPoint digital media player is used to download videos from Blockbuster OnDemand via broadband, says Blockbuster.

(Click for larger view of the 2Wire MediaPoint)

Blockbuster's MediaPoint appears to be an answer to the Roku Netflix Player offered by rival movie download service, Netflix. Developed by Roku, the Netflix Player also runs Linux, has a similar $100 pricetag, and offers similar capabilities, including Ethernet and WiFi. The Netflix player works with a subscription service, unlike Blockbuster's rental model, but in neither case are users permitted to store movies.

MediaPoint (rear view)
(Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile DRM-free (digital right management free) IP STB alternatives that run Linux have arrived, including Myka's TorrentTV, which offloads BitTorrent peer-to-peer duties from a PC platform, and the Neuros LINK, which works with its own free Neuros.TV service.

2Wire announced the MediaPoint player earlier this month. It joins a line-up of other 2Wire STBs and residential gateways available for OEM broadband provider customers. The devices include the earlier MediaPortal STB (pictured farther below), which also runs the 2Wire Media Software, an STB application that runs Linux, as indicated by this GPL compliance page.

A 2Wire representative confirmed that the MediaPoint runs Linux, and offered other details including the player's Broadcom BCM7405 chipset and the existence of dual USB ports. There is also an SD card slot, he said, but it is not enabled in the Blockbuster version. The Broadcom BCM7405 “STB-on-a-chip” is equipped with a 400MHz MIPS32/16e processor core, and is built on outsourced 65nm process technology.

MediaPoint with remote
(Click to enlarge)

Other stated specs from 2Wire and Blockbuster include an Ethernet port and 802.11b/g WiFi capability. A/V connections are said to include composite, component, HDMI, stereo audio, and Toslink optical audio links. The 8 x 8 x 1-inch box supports video at up to 1080i HD resolution, and comes with an infrared remote and a power adapter, says Blockbuster.

According to 2Wire, the MediaPoint can play back Internet video, music, and photos, as well as personal networked media content. However, the Blockbuster branded version appears to be devoted strictly to downloading movies from Blockuster OnDemand. Blockbuster currently offers 2,500 DVD-quality films, but will add to the collection, it says. The movies are available for a 24-hour period, and the player can store about five SD movies or two HD movies at a time. Most of the titles are currently SD, says Blockbuster. Playback features are said to include fast-forward, rewind, and pause.

2Wire/Blockbuster MediaPoint software
(Click on either to enlarge)

2Wire's MediaPoint Media Software is said to include UPnP AV and DLNA technology for discovering media content stored on a network. However, network media sharing does not appear to be supported in the Blockbuster product. Other features are said to include subscription purchasing, in addition to the Blockbuster rental model, as well as parental controls, customizable interfaces, and integrated advertising. The software interacts with the 2Wire Service Management System (SMS), which is said to enable the integration of multiple sources of Internet content, as well as provide billing, account management, and content distribution services.

2Wire's other Linux STB: the MediaPortal
(Click to enlarge)

Stated Jim Keyes, Blockbuster Chairman and CEO, “The player is simple to use, delivers DVD quality video, and there's no monthly subscription commitment.”


Blockbuster's version of the 2Wire MediaPoint will be available “in time for the holiday season,” says Blockbuster. The company is offering a limited time offer in which it provides the MediaPoint for “free” with the advance rental of 25 movies for $100. Subsequent moves cost as little as $2 each. More information on the player may be found at 2Wire, and eventually more details should be available at Blockbuster.

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