By Robert Menta- 04/04/02
For those looking to rip and collect their music in the open OGG Vorbis format, there aren't a lot of options with respect to what devices they can use. Fortunately, such gaps are what draws entrepreneurs like Mike Patnode to create interesting audio boxes that serve niches Panasonic and Sony will dismiss until they become "mass marketable".
Patnode started MP Sharp Technologies last October to "Design, develop and manufacture a remote control, LCD, OGG/MP3 player and CD ripper for use in a home entertainment system". The MPST Digital Jukebox is the fruit of his endeavor.
The MPST Digital Jukebox
Using Linux as the unit's operating system and tapping into the open source community for software, Patnode has fashioned a home stereo component that competes with the likes of the Audio Request Jukebox, the HP Digital Entertainment Center, and the recently released Rio Central. All of those units ship for between $1,000 and $1,500. The MPST Digital Jukebox is presently in the beta phase of its creation and Patnode is offering all those who want to be beta testers for the unit the player for cost of parts (the hardware breakdown can be found here).There are quite a few in the geek community who will be interested in taking him up on his offer. Those interested can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Replacing the CD in your stereo setup, the standard configuration of the MPST Digital Jukebox includes a 30GB drive (though the user can get any size). An infrared remote or an optional touch-screen display controls the unit. A mouse and monitor can also be attached to the unit.
MPST Digital Jukebox features include:
In the works for the MPST Digital Jukebox are the ability to read and burn MP3 CDs and support for Net radio streams.
The unit's present box is a desktop PC painted black, nothing fancy and fairly large. Patnode admits the unit is still much bigger than it needs to be, but he is already working on variants to reduce its size. The MPST Digital Jukebox software is based on modified versions of Mike Oliphant's DigitalDJ and Grip.
Needless to say, the MPST Digital Jukebox is not nearly as refined as something brought out by one of the major manufacturers it plans to compete with. What it does do is offer what those rack components never will, namely support for a codec other than MP3 and WMA. It will also save you a couple of bucks, though Patnode's homebrew won't ever achieve the economies of scale that the likes of Rio and HP can so the final release version of the MPST Digital Jukebox may only modestly less. Of course, Rio and HP don't have OGG support and that is where this player sets itself apart.
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