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What in the heck is a...

 
Matt Midcap
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... "set-top box"
I feel as though my geek ego has been deflated. I keep seeing reference to it while researching the J2ME topic but nobody wants to define it. Sun said it's "an appliance almost as powerful as a computer".
So what the heck does that mean???
 
Frank Carver
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I think the main reason nobody wants to define what a "set top box" is, is that few (if any) actually exist!. I view the term as meaning a computing device designed for a specific purpose in the home. This might be an email box, a TV/web/MP3 entertainment system or whatever. The "set top" in the name implies that they will allow/require the use of a TV set as a display, but also implies that they will be as easy and robust to use as a cable box or a VCR.
This suggests several goals:-
1. At least TV output
2. Some sort of remote input device appropriate to the application
3. Instant on/off
4. Very robust software and excellent error recovery.
5. Styling to suit home appliances
6. Competetive pricing
So a minimal VM and minimal set of APIs would help to reduce memory and processing requirements, and thus cost.
 
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