On top of it being the holidays, work, interacting with family, buying gifts, cooking turkey and the occasional Xbox 360 gaming session, I've been extremely busy working out the kinks with a new side project that is really starting to take shape.
Of course, now that I've invested a significant amount of time I've discovered that there is a bit of competition out there on the product that I'm building; however, looking at what they offer, I'm sure that I can build better. The only hiccup with this is that now I need to raise my level of entry on the initial release in order to be competitive, thus delaying the initial release. :-(
Not to big of a deal though since I can do what it seems every other company in the world is doing. Release it as a revolving beta. ;-) Not really, though I will be releasing it as a “early adopter program” release; meaning as a beta that you have to pre-purchase the product in order to participate. Once the beta ends, if the person “testing” decides that he doesn't want to continue, everything can be returned for a refund. Since the solution requires hardware and I'm funding the project out of my meager savings, it seems to be the best route to take. Besides, what better way to get feedback then from someone who has actually spent money. ;-)
So what is this project I speak of? The tentative name is Dvd Jukebox. Essentially it's a combination of hardware and software that will control “any“ of the available consumer DVD mega changer devices. Right now the limit is (realistically) about 18 players; however, if you mix and match players from different manufacturers, you could theoretically have 36 or more holding 13,200 DVDs. Currently I have it setup utilizing four Sony 400 (two different models) and two Pioneer 300 disc mega changers, the receiver acting as the audio amplifier and the television / separate video switcher switching the various video inputs (component video). Of course all of this is configurable. I've got two beta testers active; one with a Pioneer mega changer, TV and receiver using S-Video; the other with a similar setup except using a Sony 400 and utilizing component video.
Although not the first time I've created a product from it's inception to it's delivery to an end consumer, it is the first time that I'm doing this utilizing my own resources (time, funding, etc.) Some interesting things have already happened. I've already mentioned being made aware of competing products. One way that I've been made aware of such competitors is through what I would like to refer to as “email trolls”. Essentially an email came in dissing the product (which has been barely announced with nothing more than a “coming soon”) and comparing it to another. I was initially concerned with the initial price point, but because of this trolls ignorance, it turns out that the price point is right on target. This competitors product sells for $60. Well, not really. That is just one component that is an add-on to another product that in turn requires additional hardware to be purchased. In the end, the price of their product is more than mine... and I'm not nickle and dime'ing my consumers by hiding the total price. But, as I said, I need to gear up a bit more before making the first “official” release since there are products out there today and the competition will be a bit more mature.