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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
** NOTES **

1. Posted with permission of AVS

2. This is going to be my only "commericialized" thread... I just want you all to know why I had to change the price structure

*********


Hi all!


I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss Digital Theater Pro and it's

pricing structure (those that already pre-ordered a copy of DTP or made a DT donation are already covered... you'll get access to all versions of DTP up to the final version 1 release at no extra cost! :)


After talking to a number of AVS members and pricing out the cost of

equipment to expand DTPs compatability support we came to think that DTP's initial price was set a bit too low in order to cover the cost of the

equipment and future expansion plans (I have some really cool and crazy

ideas for DTPs immediate and distant future).


As an example, DVD changer support is going to run $2,500 - $4,000 in

equipment costs to cover different models of changers... I'd like DTP to

be able support firewire, serial (RS232), and Sony S-link changers... to make matters worse, it seems that some companies charge extra for a developers license in order to write programs that use their hardware (it should be the other way around... they should be paying US)!


I am trying to budget for the equipment, however, by purchasing equipment that can act as a conduit to multiple solutions... A serial changer, for example, would pave the way for generic DTP serial support, while a S-link changer would pave the way for generic Sony S-link support by providing integral DTP support for the Slink-e device.


The following will be the new DTP pricing structure:


** Short Term Plan **


1) $35 for immediate pre-orders (think of it as a blind-faith discount!)

2) $45 for pre-orders (this price will go into effect immediately following

the posting of screenshots of DTP's GUI (should be ready in one week)

3) $55 for the first release of DTP (post beta, pre-final version)

4) $65 for the final release of DTP


For those who pre-order (1-3)... All of you will receive a FREE upgrade to

DTP Final once it has been released.


Right now, I'm taking pre-orders from my PayPal account: [email protected] ... I will have a website dedicated to DTP publicly available at the same time I post the screenshots.


DTP WILL NOT be "vaporware". I've gone too far (over 14,000 lines of code) to stop the project... there WILL be a DTP!


** Long Term Plan **


In the long term, DTP's price will slowly increase after each wave of

upgrades (additional application and control plugins) by a small price that

is appropriate for the level of upgrade provided.


The reason for small fees for additional control plug-ins is 2-fold...


1. Development time


This is a really important factor because each plugin takes around 100 hours of developement time, sometimes more. Also, most future plugins involve an expensive equipment purchase.


2. The "Other" Guys


DTP is priced to beat traditional theater control companies in both price

and expandability. There is no other product out there that can equal its

capabilities at any price. Period. Products for Crestron and Panjo start

in the $1,000's of dollars and are limited in their functionality. Even X10

control software will cost $200+ and that's only one of DTPs many proposed features!


** Conclusion **


My goal with DTP is to make it the best product of its kind! The DTP

project is extremely complicated, but will be well worth the wait. The

current program is at 14,000 lines with an estimated version one completion size of around 20,000-25,000 lines of code (that's almost 600 pages). The future plugins each take close to 100 hours to write and require from 1,000 to 10,000 lines of code each. DTP has even altered from its original plan so that a HTPC is no longer necessary in order to use DTP. Those with "traditional" systems can use DTP on computers (plain, tablet, etc) to control just their A/V equipment - no HTPC needed! The final V1 release will be able to do anything that the Pronto can... DT Pro is a bargain when compared to Pronto, Pronto Pro, and Pronto Neo systems!


My goal is to harness the best and most sought-after technologies at a price that is ridiculously low compared to anything else in the world and I

promise to do my very best to accomplish this!


Thanks again for your help and support,


Stan Eisenberg
[email protected]
 

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Hello Stan,


I understand and fully support the small increase in price. (glad I pre-orderred when I did!;-) )


I know some friends who do hardware reviews for various websites. They 'borrow' the hardware from friendly vendors in exchange for plugs on their website. Perhaps there is a way to do something similar for equipment to write driver support for. Maybe they could bundle DTP with their installed systems in exchange for use of their demo hardware for you to develope on?


Anyhow, thanks for the file you sent me a while back. It helped me understand the concept that I was having trouble with!


Also, the UIRT2 kits shipped last Fri. from Holland, so when it arrives I'll send it out to you. (after assembly and test of course) I hope it will be here in another week or so.


Also, take a look at www.premisesystems.com and tell me what you think?



-PGPfan
 

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Good luck with the program and I hope it works out...


Personally I want to see something and even possibly trial something to see whats usable in my setup so I am guessing I dont get a blind faith discount :D !!!


My personal vote would be to charge for what a user needs... Eg it is better to get something out so we can see where the project is going (and get some registrations) while still in its infancy... this way you get tiers of use and see what options are worth investing time and money into persueing depending on what users cry out for...


A basic front end package would allow people to start to play and see if it fits them... Then as plug ins come this would get more registration and user base... Also with a community you may find you are not the only plug in writer...


just my $0.02 !!


Again good luck with this... I have been looking forward to it for a long time..
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi PGPGan, and Phat Phreddy! :)


PGPFan:

Thanks for your understand, as always you've been so super supportive! :)


I've tried talking to hardware vendors about working out deals for equipment but have had mixed results so far... the problem is that it is hard to show that you're serious (and not trying to just get a hardware discount) when there is no tangible product to show them.


Once Post-DTP Beta1 is finished, I'll have my chip and will start contacting all the major hardware manufacturers (PowerFile, Escient, Sony, SonicBlue, JVC, Phillips, etc) to see if I can get them behind me.


Anyways, I'm glad you got that file I sent you (it only took 2 tries! lol)... things have gotten a lot cooler since then!


Checked out your SYS link... really cool! DTP will be able to do almost all of that, especially when the X10 support rolls out. Their main advantage is that they also sell custom hardware for their interface to control, but who knows... maybe DTP will be there too in a few years! :)


Phat Phreddy:

A trial will definately be available (see next post after this one)! :)


The need/charge plan is definately a viable option... V1 is going to be the base HTPC package, but I was also thinking about coming up with different packages for different usages or levels of usage... right now everything is up in the air until Post-Beta1 is officially released!


I've been looking forward to this for a really long time too... this is something that I've dreamed of since I saw a Crestron system in '95 and bought my Pronto in '00...


Unlike DT where I was thinking about all the things it couldn't do when I was programming it, with DTP I'm dreaming of all thing things it can do, should do, and will later be able to do while programming it... it's torturous!!! I'm programming one thing while thinking about the next thing to program... sort of like having to eat the entire meal, because that's the only way that Mom's going to let you have dessert! LOL


Stan :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi All,


Here is something that I can't believe I forgot to mention previously!!!


DTP WILL have a demo/shareware version that people can play with before buying it!


The demo/shareware version is due to be released at the same time as Post-Beta1 (that's the first public release of DTP) and will let you run around and play with the interface and server!


I'm still unsure about all that the freebie version is going to do, but it'll definately let you play around with the interface, it's settings, and will fully support the DVD catalog feature!


Just FYI in case I forgot to mention this in any of my previous threads!


Stan :)
 

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Hi Stan,


I think you may have missunderstood my recommendation. I wasn't talking about negotiating with a dealer for a "discount" on hardware. I meant negotiating with a dealer to "borrow" a demo unit for a few weeks to do dev work on and then return it. Win-Win for all involved. You get to see a wide variety of hardware to do plug-ins for, and the dealer gets some mighty cool software that only helps his business.


You'd also be able to "pick and choose" the equipment that you 'really' want to purchase, and maybe THEN you might get a discount. The real idea is to just BORROW the hardware to develope on. Hope this is a little more clear.


I just had another idea. Perhaps as a further incentive for the dealer to lend you hardware you could "brand" his copies of DTP with his logo or something like that to personalize it to the specific dealer that is helping you get hardware. Just an idea.


-PGPfan
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
PGPFan,


Ahhhh, my bad! Yeah, I was thinking about doing that... ofcourse the only problem here is that the local dealers are Best Buy and Circuit City, but I may be able to find someone elsewhere to work with...


The main reasons I'm concerned with purchasing the equipment is because we have no good local small dealers and with developement you always think of cool new features to add later or you end up with bugs that need to be fixed...


I'm basically trying to get one of each type of device for long term developement... the DVD changers was not really an accurate example...


For DVD changers, I was thinking about getting a Firewire changer and a S-link changer, that would take care of both DVD changing and Slink-e support.


For serial, I was actually thinking about picking up something like a ReplayTV... then I can work on ReplayTV & Serial support at the same time. I'm not sure how TIVOs are controlled, but I'll have to look into that in more detail.


IR support is always the handy backup since it will control anything IR, but that means the control would be without feedback... I'd like to experiment as much as possible with interacting with the different types of systems to create a truly multi-media environment.


What would also be really cool would be if I could work some kind of deal out with TVGuide.com to either get access to their DB or to rip the data off their service... I'd really like direct access since ripping is a pain, but who knows... that one is up to them! I might also try contacting some of their competitors to see if they're willing to come up with some cool solutions instead...


Who knows... the sky's the limit! :)


Stan
 

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ReplayTV huh? Hmmm, if you have an extra hard drive lying around and dont mind a few minutes of Linux hacking, I have a ReplayTV (model 2003 if I remember correctly) that you can have to play with (keep) no charge. That's the good news. The bad is that I have 'seen the light' and upgraded to MS UltimateTV, so the Replay developement work probably won't benefit me.:(


That's a shame that there are no good AV hardware dealers around. "Best lies" and "Circuit ******" don't leave many decent options. You might want to see if there are any 'enthusiasts clubs, or user groups' both in town and on campus. Might be some hardware support with something like that also.


-PGPfan
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi PGPFan,


Sweet! Getting a hard drive should be no problem and I'm sure there are a lot of usenet groups that can help me out with the linux hacking to get it up and running!


Does the thing have a serial port or some kind of port that I can jam a plug in to communicate with it? LOL


Also would like me to PayPal some shipping money over to you? I'd hate for you too have to pay for all this stuff (darn conscience! lol) :)


Hehe, don't worry about being left out... I'm trying to get around to everything... if it CAN be controlled I'm going to try my best to figure out HOW to control it...


Ofcourse DSS or anything with a dish might be a little hard, but I might be able to work a deal out with my appartment complex to get a dish in here...


I've had a really tough time finding places to work with here... obviously "super stores" aren't worth the try and all the good small stores with the crazy stuff that I know of are in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas (1-3 hours away)... I might have to start digging through the yellow pages to see if I can find something cool and local.


No luck with campus either, I've yet to meet another person with HD capabilities, DVD changers, etc (although I know a TIVO guy who won't part with it)...


Over here, the closest thing I've seen to a HTPC (other than mine) is either a TIVO or a Comapq Presario with a DVD-ROM running a MediaPlayer based DVD program!


Friends come over and see all the weird prototype stuff I have running and they can't believe that there are actually thousands of you guys that are also playing the HTPC arena!


Thanks again PGPFan! :)


Stan
 

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Hi Stan,


No worries on the shipping. I just need the address you want me to ship it to. (you should have my email at MS) I believe that it does in fact have a serial port for control on the back. The UltimateTV doesn't however.


I think I've got the utility software to format a HDD for use on the Replay, I'll look around tonight and burn it to CD for you. I don't have the remote for it, but you can get the codes from www.remotecentral.com and just use the pronto until you have rs-232 up and cruising on it.


I'm actually looking forward to the serial plug-in since my CRT projector (Ampro 3300) needs hardwired remote to function. I currently use a little app one of the other forum members wrote running on a 'thin client' (x86 powered) and I'd sure like to integrate it into DTP.


Anyhow, if you could shoot me the address, I'll see if I can get the Replay out to you this weekend.


-PGPfan
 

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I'm a little confused. Can it still be "pre-ordered" now? What's the current cost, $35?


Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks again PGPFan!


Email is on it's way! BTW, you just earned yourself a lifetime of *FREE* DTP upgrades from now on!


No problem about the remote, my Pronto will do until DTP takes over! lol


The RS-232 is going to be hard, but I see it as a necessity... I need to start gathering data on the different comm formats used by the different vendors so I can figure out a good and generic comm scheme, but it WILL be done! lol


Thanks again, PGPFan!


Stan
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi Mike,


Sorry about the confusing post... I had to change it for the time being while I iron out some technicalities...


But anyways, yes, DTP can still be pre-ordered... the current pre-order price is $35 (the equipment cost is hurting me!) and can be sent via PayPal ([email protected]) or snail mail :)


Sorry about the confusion!


Stan
 

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Perhaps if you are looking for control codes and interfacing info you may want to look up Dean Roddey and the Charmed Quark Control... IIRC Dean has been battling serial control codes for lots of devices out already... May be able to save you some time and give you a head start
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
AWESOME! Thanks PP!


I'll definately get ahold of him... he should know a lot about how the different serial comm schemes work as well.


I'll be tackling serial for the G2 (generation 2) wave up plugins and his knowledge would be very useful!


Stan
 

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Hello,


I've been away for a while, but followed some of the original threads. Have any screen shots been posted yet, for the pro version? This would probably help me feel more comfortable with a "blind" purchase.


Also, here is another vote for pricing based on functionality needed. How many people have slinkes or dvd changers, here? I would think the majority have dvd drives in their HTPCS. So requests for money to pay support on items most don't have, might fall on deaf ears. I may be wrong, of course.


Thanks,


Adam
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi Adam,


No screenshots yet (that's why it's a blind-faith discount! lol)... but I'm hoping to have some shots of just the GUI in action within the week... I'll be posting a second batch of screenshots once I have DTP working with applications...


I was thinking about the functionality pricing and was thinking about doing something like this:


1. DTP being sold in 2 flavors:

__a. DTP Base (most necessary plugins)

__b. DTP Full (all avail plugins)


2. DTP upgrade packs in 2 flavors:

__a. individual upgrades (1 plugin)

__b. package upgrades (2 or more plugins - discounted, ofcourse)


Personally, though, I would rather just have whole package pricing... the reason is because it's actually much cheaper just to throw a bunch of plugins into a package than to have them all singled out.


The main reason though (everyone, please post your comments on this one!) is that I have a feeling that many of you out there are like me... I don't buy anything until I can find a use for it.


For instance, I was never planning on getting a DVD changer until I thought of all the cool things I could have DTP do with it... the same thing for X10... I really could care less about X10 but I now want it because I'm thinking of all the cool things that I'm going to make it do...


I guess the 2 step plan mentioned above should solve everyone's problems...


1. Minimalists can buy just the stuff that they need

2. People like me can buy the package that supports everything

3. Those who need support for something immediately can buy it before enough plugins are gathered together for a "package"

4. Those with patience can wait and buy packages once they are ready


How does this sound as a proposed idea?


Let me know what you guys think! :)


Stan
 

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I like that idea... Modular and buildable... You will also get input and feedback via which plug ins are popular as to which direction to go...


X10 is high on my list

IR is high on my list

Application control is high on my list


CD changers will never interest me now as I have just gone for a HD solution...


A pronto pro style touchpad device for X10 control systems may go down very well with the homeseer crowd... Perhaps once rolled out (esp with IR out support) you can let David Tonks over at remote central have a look.. It will be a long way from his normal line of stuff but may get his interest and a lot of exposure...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi PP.


Yeah, X10, IR, Girder, App support, & DVD changer supprt are at the top of my list too.


After that I wanted to try tackling some crazier ideas like TIVO/ReplayTV/etc, Serial, Slink-e, and some other stuff... ofcourse market demand will be the greatest driving factor to see what comes next! lol


When everything is ready, it would be interesting to see what Dave Tonks thinks... DTP is a "remote control"... just a very very fancy and crazy one that can control all kinds of stuff aside from IR! :)


Once the IR plugin is out, DTP will be able to do anything that a Pronto can... actually, out of the box the DTP/IR/Girder combo will do that too, but it'll just be a little harder to setup.


You said, "CD changers will never interest me now as I have just gone for a HD solution... "...


Did you mean CD changers or DVD changers? Also, am I correct to assume HD means hard drive instead of High Def?


DTP's MP3 plugin (standard plugin) will take care of HD CD solutions...


There are also many people that are using HDD solutions for DVDs, I'm going to try to setup the DVD catalog (also a standard plugin) to allow support for this as well!


Stan :)
 
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