I am currently using a Dvico TVIX M6600-A media streamer:
It's about 9"x9"x3" so it fits easily on my entertainment center. It does
not need a fan for cooling, so it is completely silent. In theory you can
install an internal hard drive and tuners, but for me that would defeat the
advantages of streaming over my network.
Basically, I have my "main" computer in my home office. That's the machine
I use to record TV shows, download content from the web, rip DVD's, etc.
That keeps all the noise and heat of the PC in the office instead of out in
the living room. It also means that when I upgrade my main computer,
everything related to TV recording gets upgraded too.
Since my video content is saved on my main computer, it gets backed up with
the rest of my data in case there is a virus, drive failure, etc. (I have
many home videos going back 50 years that are irreplaceable).
I have a small program that runs in the background on my PC that acts as a
media server. I simply point my media streamer to the server on the
network, and I can stream all of my video content in full 1920x1080p HD
video with 5.1 audio.
The M6600-A does not play back 4K video, but I don't have any 4K material
to stream anyway.
The M6600-A is no longer available, but it does everything I need it to.
I've had it several years, but if I need to replace it in the future I
would probably look at the
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
or the Mede8ter 600x3D:
That's basically the way the media streamers work, except you have a tiny
dedicated streamer instead of a full blown PC at each TV.
In theory, I could install a media streamer at each TV in our house and
each could stream their own content from my main PC. But, I just have the
one streamer in our living room.
By the way, if you don't need streaming and just want to play back content
on an isolated TV, you might have a look at the Micca Speck:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
It is very tiny, about 3"x3"x1". I have one in our bedroom for the few
times we watch shows in there. I can copy movies or TV shows to an SD card
and plug it into the Speck in our bedroom. We don't use it a lot, but it
works great when we do.
I have a gigabit network in our house, but even a simple 100Mbps network
should be enough to stream most content. Depending on what you're
streaming, many people even stream over Wifi connections (I still recommend
How are your videos encoded? The only time I have issues with streaming is
with really high bitrate video (i.e. 50mbps MP4 or something). Most shows I
record over-the-air are 14Mbps or less MPEG2 in an MKV container. My
personal home movies are all 30Mbps h.264/AC3 MP4 files.
Video eats hard drive space like crazy! :) At the moment, my video files
are using about 350GB on my hard drive. Of course, I need the equivalent
space on my backup drives in order to back up those videos. I use external
Western Digital 3TB USB drives for backing up my computer.
You can use a Roku box (or other device) on each TV and turn a PC into a
You also have the issue of getting the content onto the server from your
cable or satellite service.
For an OTA DVR you can use a Tablo with Roku boxes, but it won't work
for you since you don't have OTA.
Of course the easiest way is to get a satellite box with a DVR but you
have to pay monthly fees for that.
And which voltages are supported by each variant? I have machines (and cards)
with 3.3V interfaces, 5V interfaces, PCI-X "wide" busses, PCI-e x16/x1, etc.
"Standards are great; everyone should have one!"
Sure they do! The space is *in* the PC! The PC tends to be larger
as it needs to house the power supply -- which must be capable of
powering the additional cards (even if none are ever installed!)
There are usually additional interfaces (disk, USB, keyboard) that
also require real estate and power.
There are more watts POTENTIALLY dissipated in the case so the case tends
to need active cooling (fan) -- which also takes up space.
I currently use:
at each TV. They'll eventually be replaced by boxes 1/4 this size
running on a couple of watts (i.e., *almost* battery powered; in
practice, powered *by* the network so the power supply takes up
no space in the device).
No disk in them so no need to power (or cool!) it.
IIRC, the Dell boxes draw ~15W; the HDHomeRun requires ~10W -- and
that power (heat) is distributed in different places in the home.
So, two live programs on 2 displays requires ~40W (in addition to whatever
the displays' requirements might be). When a display isn't required,
it's ~15W goes away. When not "capturing" OTA broadcasts, those 10W
go away as well.
You can, instead, let the HDHomeRun talk directly to a NAS to create
a DVR. And/or a wireless router so it can serve video via WiFi
(think: tablets, phones).
You have to either:
- let the PC that houses the capture card(s) act as media server, or
- push the content from that PC onto a UPNP media tank that will later serve it
I keep the HDHomeRun devices on the lowest shelf in a kitchen cupboard -- near
the VOIP gateway, PoE switch, UPS and database server (I store audio/video
*in* a database just like any other "data" -- including its metadata).
I can record 4 DTV channels simultaneously (and add 2 tuners at a time
almost indefinitely -- no "card slot limitations" in a PC to worry about!)
AND serve ~30 SD live/stored products simultaneously (using a slow 20MB/s
USB disk) where the number of "screens" on which a product is playing doesn't
factor into that bandwidth calculation (i.e., if you happen to show the SAME
content on 4 different screens in 4 different rooms, it counts as *1*).
[My design target was a family of 4 with each person watching one show
while recording TWO others. Adding two more users just means another
dual-tuner box attached to the antenna feed]
The key word is "extra" space. Adding a card to my PC does not increase the
space I need under my desk. It's all neatly contained within the existing
PC case. I don't have an additional box to find a place for and more cables
and wall warts running everywhere to connect things.
I've already maxed out the network ports on my router, so I would need to
add a network switch if I wanted to add a network tuner. Another box,
another power supply, more cables...
I have a 650Watt power supply, even though I rarely use more than 120 watts
I use my computer for a LOT more than just recording video, so the upgraded
power supply and other internals are already there. I'm just better
utilizing what I already have.
Yes, but it's space I'm already using, and the fans are there already. I
don't have to do anything extra to plug in a TV Tuner card.
I have no idea how much power my M6600-A media streamer draws, but I doubt
it uses much. It puts off virtually no heat, it barely feels warm when you
put your hand on it.
I'm sure my tiny Micca Speck uses even less power, and no heat to speak of.
Yes, that's the method I use.
I could theoretically have 8 tuners (4 cards) in my computer, but I only
have nine channels available anyway. I used to have two tuner cards (4
tuners), but rarely record more than two shows at once. When one card died,
I didn't bother replacing it and haven't missed it.
Yeah, it takes very little processing power to serve even HD video. I
frequently record two TV shows, while streaming HD video to the living
room, and my wife is doing Facebook on the computer.
As long as I'm not hammering the hard disk editing video or something, it
And now the PC under your desk has to be running in order for you to
We don't have "more cables" or wall warts, here. The (network) cable from the
wall plate to the "display server" carries power and command/content. I can
actually power an external USB disk drive from the power available on each
The antenna cables to the HDHomeRuns are in the kitchen cupboard -- along with
the cables from the (land line) telephone company (to the VOIP gateway), the
cordless phone base station, a cable modem (when/if we ever go that route),
the PoE network switch, the database server and the two UPS's to back up the
entire system (including the bits of kit that are scattered around the house;
so, we don't need 48 wall warts to power the cameras, speakers, irrigation
system, wireless access points, microwave link, etc.)
[I don't like "kit" to be visible!]
Ah, I have a 72 port switch for the house; 24 more ports just for the
office and another 16 to handle the printers and NAS boxes.
But you are *requiring* it to satisfy a need that could be addressed
by something smaller, less costly, less dependant on THAT particular
E.g., I can let one of my PC's act as a telephone answering machine.
I can let it email incoming messages (as sound files) to me when I
am out of town (so I don't have to pay toll charges to "check my
messages"). Or, I can have a little box that effectively does the
same thing and leave my computers OFF when out of town.
Except keep the PC running in order to use the tuner card!
Yes, but they are *appliances* intended to NOT be power hungry. A PC
is typically not designed with that in mind.
Here, I can power up/down each bit of technology that I use to control
the house "under program control". E.g., if there are things in the
yard that need to be watered, the PoE switch powers up the irrigation
controller; the irrigation controller loads its software from the database
server (the only "persistent storage" that I have) and then waters
whatever needs to be watered. When done, the irrigation controller
The same is true with the network speakers (power them up when I want to
listen to music, TV, podcasts, etc -- then power them down when I'm
done), the security cameras, front doorbell, HVAC controls, etc.
[I haven't yet designed the "network display" as TV technology is
changing far too quickly to make a long term design decision -- only
to discover that 8K TV's will be the norm in a couple of years, etc.]
But you're just thinking about *your* house. I have to have a scalable
solution. E.g., you could install my automation system in a hotel
and feed video to 100 different rooms for 100 different "guests".
And, ensure the heat/ACbrrr is properly controlled in each of those
Or, in a commercial business/office where each employee/department may have
different A/V needs (video conferencing, etc.).
Coming up with a solution that scales well is a lot different. A business
isn't likely to want to have to discard all the kit they bought last year
just because they can't buy a particular add-in card *this* year.
It also takes very little bandwidth! E.g., even a USB2 disk is more than
up to the task (no need to tap my 320MB/s disk farms).
And, you can talk to a disk with very little hardware. E.g., I can
plug a pair of disks into an NSLU2 (the size of a pack of cigarettes)
and now they're a NAS:
Interfaces are becoming narrower and narrower. "Wide busses" cost a lot
to implement (add-in cards). And, most people don't want/need to
"expand" -- other than disk size or memory. (e.g., laptops and tablets
[My first PC had the floppy controller and serial/parallel ports on an
ISA card; the video was another card; the sound was yet another card; SCSI
HBA ate another slot, network interface still more, etc. Now, all of these
(except SCSI) are built onto EVERY motherboard -- and, for modest video
needs, even the video is on the motherboard!]
We saw disk drives go from the two-ribbon-plus-power ST506 interface to
the 40 conductor IDE to the serial ATA standard. 25 pin serial ports
were downsized to 9 pins then they -- and the parallel ports -- were
exchanged for 4 wire USB interfaces. Ditto mouse and keyboard.
In the embedded system world, the USB interface is the swiss army knife
of expansion; why bother adding a disk controller to a device when you can
just plug a USB disk into it? Even if that connection is entirely
hardwired INSIDE the device?
On 4/1/2016 11:02 AM, email@example.com wrote:
Yes -- they aren't designed with power efficiency in mind!
E.g., the HDHomeRun's two tuners, CPU and network interface
draws less than 10W.
And, you don't have to leave it powered up if you don't need it to be!
Cable and satellite boxes sit there 24/7/365 keeping warm just in
case you *might* want to use it.
On 4/1/2016 12:24 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
We currently have one SFF PC in the living room that acts as a DVD
player (we check out lots of DVD's from the local library -- probably
10-15 per week). It also has SWMBO's daily exercise videos stored
on it. And, can act as a PVR with the HDHomeRun boxes.
The other TV's pull their "content" from the HDHomeRun *live*...
or, from material stored on that little PC delivered locally via
these Optiplex FX160 boxes.
So, if we want to watch "video" in any other room, we have to turn
that PC on, first.
In the future, the STB ("network display" for want of a better word)
for a particular TV (display) will be powered up by the PoE switch.
The software that makes it a "network display" will be delivered
over the network. And, the "content" of interest similarly
delivered (if that means powering up an HDHomeRun for "live TV"
then the network connection to that HDHomeRun will be powered
up thereby powering up the HDHomeRun, in the process).
None of this requiring us to push buttons on a "front panel" or
a "remote control" (which you would then have to keep track of!)
On 4/1/2016 4:58 PM, email@example.com wrote:
The "real" PC (i.e., it actually has a disk in it) is located in
the living room. The other TVs are located in other rooms. None
of the TV's are smart.
These devices are on their own private network -- so they don't
muck with any of my work machines (*or* talk to the outside
The "real" PC has to be up and running in order to make available
the software image that the little Optiplex FX160's download
(TFTP/NFS) in order to display video on their respective TV's.
If I had another box running 24/7 that could serve up these images,
then the FX160's could fetch their software and then send a "magic
packet" to the "real" PC to gain access to it's disk drive (movies).
But, the only box that is up 24/7 is on my "work" network -- not
accessible by these machines.
[I could install a laptop drive in each of the FX160'S (or even
thumb drives with the required software configured to boot via usb)
but, that's not how I want these devices to operate in the final
implementation (so, I want experience to see how things can fail
*if* they fail)]
It runs 365/24/7 anyway as it also controls our outdoor lighting, our hot
water recirculating pump, and our fresh air ventilation fan.
It also runs backups every night while I am sleeping, in addition to the
hourly backups it performs during the day.
In the middle of the night it also processes the TV shows I have
recorded, removing commercials, renaming the files, and moving them to my
I have a UPS (Uninteruptable Power Supply) for my computer, so it all
keeps running even when the power goes out.
Those network cables have to come from somewhere right? Maybe a network
switch or router? That's not much different than my centralized PC setup.
Hmm.. I have food in my kitchen cupboards, but whatever floats your boat.
72 ports? Wow. I've got a five port router in the office (2 printers, the
computer, a VOIP phone, and a line running to an 8 port switch in our
The 8-port switch runs to my media streamer, my blu-ray player, my
daughters computer, a wireless access point in the attic, and the rest go
to wall plates that I never use anymore.
I've used other options in the past, dedicated timers and whatnot. I much
prefer the centralized location as it's easier to make changes and
upgrade when needed.
My phone system records calls too, but if it is unavailable due to a
power or network outage, my VOIP service records the call and sends the
WAV file to me by email too.
My computer is always on, so I make a strong effort to select components
that use little power and are very quiet. Once I turn the monitor off at
night, my computer typically uses less than 90 watts. I use quiet fans
that are virtually silent so there is no noise overnight either.
I use Insteon switches to control lights, a pump, and a fan. Then use an
Insteon interface and software to control them with my computer.
This allows me to control the lights on our detached garage, even though
there are no separate cables running to that building (it's out of wifi
Correct, my house is all I'm concerned with. I'm not running a hotel or
Only one box here runs 24/7 -- the DNS/TFTP/font/NFS/NTP/RDBMS/etc. server.
It's implemented with one of those FX160's as it sits under my dresser
(no display or keyboard; telnet/ssh to it when I need to do maintenance)
My goal is to only run what I need to run based on *when* I need to
run it. E.g., the answering machine only powers up when the VOIP
gateway indicates an incoming call; the irrigation system only powers
up when something needs to be watered; the network speakers are only
powered on when I need to listen to something, etc.
I have a UPS on each workstation (I think 11, at last count). The
switch for the automation system has a pair of SmartUPS 1500's.
But, I will replace them with a 48V unit (lets me get more efficiency
in the PoE capability as I don't have to develop the 48V just for
the switch; let the UPS develop it for the battery pack!)
The alarm system has it's own battery backup (literally a battery as
it is PoE powered, as well).
There's no way around needing a switch (wireless is too vulnerable and
means you then need to distribute power via some other means -- and
back it up in all those locations!). I you put a bunch of PC's in a
central closet, then you need a switch to let them talk to each other,
Powering everything from the switch lets me avoid lots of wall warts
around the house. And, lets me back up (power) everything from one place.
As the switch lets me power down individual "drops", I can scale back the
services that I offer during a power outage (i.e., probably not important
to water the citrus trees if they *should* be watered but power is down).
We have *no* storage inside the house -- beyond the bedroom closets,
a "guest closet" (that also stores the vacuum and carpet cleaners)
and the kitchen pantry and cupboard.
The master bedroom's closets are full of clothing and some artwork
(can't store art in the garage!). The office closet is full of
test equipment, "supplies", magnetic media, etc. The guest bedroom
closet has laptops, A/V equipment (stored), laser/dvd's, etc.
I've commandeered the lowest shelf in the pantry (I never to know whether
to call it a pantry or cupboard; it's the larger of these two "kitchen
storage spaces") plus the floor beneath that shelf. The UPS's sit on the
floor. The VOIP gateway and HDHomeRun boxes connect to antenna and phone
feeds that terminate/originate there. All of the network cables terminate
on a patch panel -- from which they can be cabled to the network switch
that sits there. An SFF PC sits on the shelf with external USB drives
tethered to it (to implement the data store for the RDBMS that runs
on the PC). There's a 1U console on slides that I can pull out to
"talk to" the PC -- and, from there, to the rest of the system:
It's hard to imagine a *smaller*/denser implementation!
24 of the ports are "uncommitted". E.g., there are 4 drops in the
living room, two in the kitchen (counters), 1 each on the back and front
porches, 2 in each of the three bedrooms, 2 in the dining room, 3 in the
family room, one in the front hallway (and I'm forgetting a few).
The remaining 48 are wired to bits of technology hidden in the ceilings,
- HVAC & swamp cooler controllers
- water, utilities (gas/electric) controllers
- 11 security cameras
- 10 network speakers (ceiling or high on walls)
- laundry, garage door, water heater, landscape lighting
- 5 localizer beacons
- 2 wireless access points
- 2 UPS's
- CATV, POTS and DTV interfaces
The drop in the office connects to the (regular) 24 port switch that
feeds the machines located there (2 PC workstations, 2 Sun workstations,
2 X-Windows terminals, 2 1U servers, 2 2U servers, SWMBO's computer and
laptop, 3 printers, several COTS NAS's, a couple of pieces of test
The drop in the guest bedroom talks to the (regular) 16 port switch that
handles the multimedia workstation, my DNS/TFTP/etc. box, another printer,
a (docked) tablet PC, several FX160's that implement my "custom" NAS, etc.
[I have a LOT of kit! Perhaps you can understand why I am obsessed about
hiding any *other* kit that the *house* might "require"?? :< ]
Ah, but the distributed system *appears* as a single cohesive system!
It just looks like dozens of "cores". Instead of having all of the
field wiring coming to one GIANT multicore machine, the cores are
located with the I/O's.
[The "program" that runs the irrigation system does not NEED to run
on the node that has the irrigation system I/O's wired to it! The
system can dispatch that program to some other node as it deems
appropriate (because the irrigation controller might be busy
detecting commercials in some video that is being recorded by
another processor, somewhere). Likewise, if the system needs more
computational resources, it can power up a node that is currently
"off" and use it's CPU/memory to address some other task for which
it needs resources. When done, it can power that node down to
We don't use a VOIP service. We have POTS service *to* the house.
We use VOIP *inside* the house. I.e., a daemon watches the VOIP
gateway for signs of an incoming call. When detected, a task is
dispatched (fetched from the RDBMS's persistent store) on a
"processor with available resources" that answers the call, decides
if it is someone that we want to talk to, decides if we are
"available" (i.e., not asleep, in the shower, in the back yard, etc.)
and then notifies us of the call -- which we can elect to route
to the answering machine, etc.
If, for example, *I* am calling, I might want to issue commands to
the house ("water the roses", "let me know if I left the garage door
open", "give me my messages", "record a message for Bob when he
calls, later", etc.). Likewise, if we're out of town and have a
neighbor watching the house, they can call and tell the house to
perform certain actions (instead of having to come over, let themselves
in and tell the house directly).
When walking around the neighborhood, I can carry a cordless phone
(NOT a cell phone!) and talk to the house -- or, have the house
talk to me ("A package was just delivered for you", "Bob is waiting
for you at the front door", etc.)
My machines have lots of I/O's -- tablets, cameras, motion controllers,
SCSI peripherals, etc. So, lots of I/O cards in each machine. I run
three monitors on each workstation so multiple video cards. etc.
[One reason that I have so many different workstations is due to the
number of I/O's that I support; it's just not possible to connect
everything to *one* machine]
If I leave a workstation on 24/7, it shows up in our electric bill!
I'll *buy* a "solution" for lighting. It's just too much work to
try to control loads with "custom" hardware. (And, I don't want
to be in that market)
I've invested a lot of effort in the system design and the hardware/software
implementation. It would be foolish for me to be limited by "a family of
As I want to show folks how you can make products accessible, I want to be
able to demonstrate that I'm addressing *big* projects, not just "token"
I can easily see taking modules from my design and deploying them in
an assisted living facility ("help I've fallen", video conferencing so
residents can "visit" with their neighbors while otherwise not mobile,
local HVAC controls, etc.)
Or, in a business office environment.
Or, in an "institutional" setting (school for blind).
Or, in a hotel.
Individual modules can stand alone to address particular needs
(security system, IP cameras, HVAC controller, irrigation controller,
answering machine, etc.). By designing them as appliances (instead of
"software running on a PC"), they can be "ported" as-is... no need to
redesign "PC hardware and software" to fit in an appliance form factor!
[I have never liked "do overs" in product development. Get it right
the first time, then move on to some other challenge. "Version 2"
is nothing more than a chore, in my book!]
And to think this thread started because I wanted to record NCIS for my
wife ! Y'all are way way more involved in computerizing/automating things
than I have any desire to .
To quote Don Williams , "I'm just a country boy."
The "involvement" is a consequence of the immaturity of computerized products.
Even the "appliances" aren't (yet) "turn-key".
Consider how "involved" it was to cook *inside* a home, wash clothes there,
refrigerate the interior air, etc. before we had appliances to do those things.
Consider how "involved" it was to operate an automobile. etc.
But, those technologies have all "grown up" and become mainstream. (people
don't even look under the hood of their vehicles anymore!)
Yeah, threads can drift off topic sometimes. Sorry about that.
For what it's worth, you can access full episodes of NCIS from:
With the right software, you can save those episodes to your computer for
viewing on other devices.
The problem lies with the fact that most of these "tech" devices
are "too technical". They force much of the knowledge and responsibility
for their use onto the user.
Your *car* knows that it needs to advance the ignition timing as
RPM's increase -- *you* don't have to tweek that each time you
alter the pressure on the accelerator. It knows to disconnect the
AC compressor's clutch when the car is under load (for improved
performance) -- so *you* don't have to do so. It knows to keep
the coolant liquid in the block while the car is warming up -- so
*you* don't have to manually open/close a valve.
I.e., all you have to do is point the car in the right direction
and poke at the gas and brake, accordingly.
When it comes to tech products (anything "computerized"), the
device expects *you* to know what's appropriate for its use.
*You* have to tell your TV to scan for available channels
(even though it KNOWS that it is fresh out of the box and
has no idea what "market" you are in!). *You* have to tell your
PVR *when* to start recording a particular show ("a few minutes
before I *expect* the show to start until a few minutes after I
would imagine it will end"). *You* have to tell your irrigation
controller when to water and how much to water. etc.
Part of the problem is rooted in the culture that is present
where these devices are designed -- often by "engineers" who
have their own preconceived notions of how a device should be
*used* (or, worse, by marketing droids with NO knowledge of
engineering and only a tenuous grasp on what their "market"
thinks -- most folks don't know what they WANT; but, they
*do* know what they DON'T want... after they've seen it!)
Ever been to a web site that wants your name, address, billing
information, etc. BEFORE it will tell you what the shipping
charges will be? (yeah, you can't be *certain* unless you
have an exact address, residence/business, etc. BUT you could
give folks a rough idea -- or, look at their IP address and
give them a *refined* idea without even having to ask for their
Young engineers/designers often think they're going to "go the extra
mile" -- and let EVERYTHING in a product be configurable. Shirley,
this gives the user the most flexibility in tailoring the product
to his particular needs (instead of imposing some sense of how it
should behave). In reality, they are simply abrogating their
responsibility to come up with a REALISTIC configuration that
they can justify to their users.
Imagine a car that let you set the shift points of the transmission,
the amount of ignition advance at each engine speed, etc. You could
tweek its performance to suit *your* driving style, fuel efficiency
Now, imagine you can't take the car out on the road UNTIL you've done
this! And, of course, the manual that describes the process was
hastily thrown together and contains many errors and omissions. :<
So, the wiser "young engineer" learns to come up with a reasonable
"default" configuration that is enough to get the new owner up and
running -- letting him later tweek it IF HE SO CHOOSES. But, the
defaults have been picked with some rational argument behind each choice
so they "make sense" -- even if they aren't appropriate for all users!
A next level of "design maturity" has the designer learning NOT to
impose his particular usage style on the product. E.g., NOT requiring
a "name" BEFORE an "address"; allowing a form to be completed in
whatever order the user chooses. Letting the user decide which
radio/TV preset should be associated with each "station" -- instead of
assigning them in some fixed order (yeah, it might seem logical that
channels be placed in a list in numerical order. But, if I'm always
using channels 6 and 32, then why do I want all those other channels
in the middle -- just to have to skip over them as I move between 6 and 32?
(OTOH, I don't want them ELIMINATED as I may refer to them from time
Yet another level of sophistication is ANTICIPATING the user's needs.
E.g., the driver's seat moving into position for you based on your
identifying yourself by the KEY you use to gain entry to the vehicle!
Or, the radio tuning in "your favorite station" when you start the
*Or*, knowing that you listen to the news radio station on your morning
commute but listen to jazz when driving around in the evening!
Despite having the *brains* to do these things, most computerized products
aren't ambitious enough in how they interact with their user(s). They
"play it safe" and expect the user to *tell* them everything -- often
in extraordinary levels of UNNECESSARY detail (why can't I just say
"music" and have the stereo know what *I* want to listen to, now, and
"news" when I want MY favorite news channel tuned?)
Add to this the lack of consistency between products -- and the differences
between manufacturers and its no wonder such a large percentage of product
returns are due to "its too difficult to use" (IIRC, that figure is now 25%)
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