Over fifteen years old and this little piece of technology has been a cornerstone of our video library since we bought it, back in 2006. Our Neuros OSD has been a reliable workhorse, providing us with countless hours of care-free movie watching and recording; and this is my little tribute to this overlooked and under-appreciated media player.
The Neuros OSD was produced by the Chicago company, Neuros Technology and first released to the market back in September of 2006. More about the device can be found here, on it’s Wikipedia page.
I was interested in it because back then, we recently experienced our second failing DVD recorder in just a couple years. I wanted to find a way to preserve the hundreds of movies and television shows my wife and I had recorded on VHS tape. Unfortunately, we were finding out that DVD recorders (at least back in the early 2000s) were very unreliable. They would either not finalize a disc properly, or the player would just stop reading its own discs. We also found out that some recorded DVDs were unreadable on other DVD players. They were a real pain.
The other problem with them was the cost – and storage – of the DVDs, themselves. We had a huge collection of VHS tapes and to put them all on to DVD would mean we needed a lot of them. Back then, DVDRs did cost a considerable amount of money, especially when a good deal of them failed to burn properly and became shiny coasters. I wanted to find a better, more reliable solution than burning to DVDs. It is then when I discovered the Neuros OSD.
The marketing idea behind the OSD was: archive, organize, and play your video collection on any device you choose. It’s major advantage was that it did not lock you in to any proprietary video format and that it could record from any video source that produced a composite signal. This was a big selling point to me, as we had problems with our previous DVD recorders not being able to copy DRM protected movies on VHS. It’s also a Linux based device, which is a big plus, at least to me. No DRM or proprietary formats for us!
I suppose for many people, a drawback of the OSD is that it does not record in HD. It uses MPEG-4 to encode it’s MP4 videos at a resolution of 672×440 at 30fps (aka 480p). But, for me, this is perfectly fine, as most of what I’ve recorded has come from ageing VHS tapes. I’ve also recorded most of our Laserdisc and DVD collection with it to save some wear and tear on the discs and players, themselves. We don’t see much of a difference in video quality between disc and digital version, as we are still watching our movies on our 36” Toshiba LCD television. It’s not an HD television, so our OSD MP4 files look just fine to us. Okay, so playing them via the QKK Mini Projector isn’t ideal; but, you know, it isn’t “unwatchable”. File size-wise, one hour of video takes up roughly 1GB of disk space.
Along with the console, Neuros also included a programmable remote control with the OSD, which has been great to have on-hand. Although the thing has been used so much that the lettering has rubbed off many of the keys, the remote itself still works perfectly. It’s comes in real handy, being able to program it to operate our Toshiba LCD T.V., as it’s own remote control has started to have issues with some of it’s buttons.
Having a lot of our collection stored on eight 1TB USB hard drives has been quite convenient. With our current limitations on physical storage space, we would have never been able to bring our collection of VHS tapes after our last move. We barely have enough space for our Laserdiscs and DVDs. So, the OSD really has been a lifesaver, in this regard. We really do wish we still had our VHS collection, but at least with the OSD, what we once had isn’t lost forever. We still enjoy the digital copies we made before our move. However, a good portion of our VHS recorded (that we recorded off of T.V.) didn’t make it to digital format. We just ran out of time… which was a real shame. I do regret leaving those tapes behind.
But the OSD can do more than record and playback MP4 video files, it can also play audio files (AAC, MP3, OGG and WMA), as well as display image slideshows (BMP, GIF, and JPEG). It’s also capable of playing other video files, like AVI and ASF. You can even program the OSD to control other A/V components, like your VCR or cable boxes, with the IR “Blaster” remote control sensor. What this device did was allow the OSD to power on a VCR or cable box, change to the appropriate channel, by emulating their remote control units. This gave you the ability to time-shift and record programs at predetermined times and not have to leave the VCR or cable box powered on the entire time. The OSD could power on the cable box, change it to the proper channel and then start recording for the duration that was set.
The OSD also uses very little electricity, requiring only 5 volts of power. So it’s well suited for our home’s solar powered system.
More recently, our OSD was very useful in recording the few movies and programs we enjoyed watching on Netflix (when we used to subscribe to it). Because of our bandwidth limitations, we had to be very selective as to what we streamed from Netflix (we no longer subscribe to any streaming service). If we wanted to watch a movie from Netflix more than once, we had to record it to save on bandwidth.
So, even after all of these years, our Neuros OSD is still a major component to our home media centre. We’ve also been adding to our collection of VHS and Laserdiscs, so it’s time that I get another USB hard drive and do some more recording. I think I’m going to have to keep an eye out for another OSD on-line, just in case this one ever packs it in. I’d hate to be without my Neuros OSD!