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Linux device downloads BitTorrent video

Apr 2, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

A startup called Myka is accepting orders for a Linux-based device that downloads, stores, and plays BitTorrent media files on an attached TV. Myka's TorrentTV offloads BitTorrent peer-to-peer duties from a PC platform, easing the process of displaying “Torrents” on a TV.

(Click for larger view of the Myka TorrentTV)

BitTorrent gained popularity among file sharers in the late 90s because its decentralized distribution protocol allows network usage costs to be borne by downloaders rather than file originators. It eliminated bottlenecks, privacy issues, and shutdown concerns associated with centralized systems like Napster, and created a situation where the more popular a given file becomes, the faster it will download.

BitTorrent was once associated with illegal media file downloads, but in recent years, BitTorrent, the company, has been cutting deals with various entertainment content companies including 20th Century Fox, MTV, Paramount, and Warner Brothers. The deals let the company provide licensed, downloadable, and ad-supported streaming content for its Torrent Entertainment Network (TEN) entertainment site. The site now boasts over 160 million installed clients, says BitTorrent, and the company also licenses its technology to other companies such as Myka.

Billed as an “open,” DRM-free (digital right management free) alternative to Apple TV, Myka TorrentTV embeds a copy of the BitTorrent client, so users can free up their PCs for other storage and Internet access needs. Available with 80GB (Myka 80), 160GB (Myka 160), or 500GB (Myka 500) hard drives, Myka TorrentTV connects to the Internet through an Ethernet connection or WiFi (802.11/g). It can download content from the Internet, or from networked PCs, and stream the content to an attached TV display.

Myka TorrentTV (rear view)
(Click to enlarge)

The Myka box runs embedded Linux on an undisclosed, recently released Broadcom chip said to offer 450 DMIPS performance — possibly the BCM7405. It appears to boot Linux from 16MB of flash, and has 256MB of DDR memory. It includes two USB ports, says Myka, as well as HDMI, composite, S-video, and S/PDIF ports for linking up to a TV. It offers video-out at up to 1080i, and supports 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, says the company.

The TorrentTV is said to support a wide variety of video and audio formats, including:

  • MPEG-2 [email protected] (ISO/IEC13818) at up to 10Mbps
  • H.264/AVC MP HP up to L4.1
  • VC1 [email protected], simple and main profile
  • WMV 9, simple and main profile
  • DivX 3.11, 4.11 and 5.x support
  • MPEG-4 part 2 SP/ASP
  • Audio: MP3, AAC, WMA, MPEG (Layer 1 and 2)

BitTorrent has managed to avoid copyright infringement lawsuits, but over the last year, it has tangled with another industry giant: Comcast. After Comcast was shown to be sabotaging BitTorrent users' full access to bandwidth on its broadband cable network, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the cable giant. Comcast, meanwhile, accused the company of fostering a technology that hogs bandwidth and slows down Internet connections for others. Comcast claims the technology accounts for half of its Internet traffic.

In recent weeks, however, the two companies have apparently struck a deal based on a compromise. Comcast maintains the right to slow (but not halt) traffic for users who consume excessive bandwidth, but is not allowed to discriminate by type of application (such as file-sharing) or by company.


Myka's BitTorrent is available for order now, with shipment later this summer. The prices are $300 (Myka 80), $350 (Myka 160), and $460 (Myka 500).

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