Ten P2P Devices You Never Saw Coming

Hollywood execs reportedly got all giddy when they heard about the P2P-powered Vudu box. The jury is still out on Vudu’s actual chances in the market place, but the device is a good example for a growing trend of P2P leaving the safe and boring world of the desktop P2P.

There are tons of non-PC devices out there that offer media swapping and P2P streaming capabilities. Some of these features are part of a commercial offering, others are the result of some good old tinkering. Some of this stuff is still in early development, other solutions have been in use for years. Some implementations are pretty obvious, others might surprise you.

The P2P set top box. Santa Clara-based Vudu Inc. is working on a device that utilizes P2P streaming to deliver video rentals on demand directly to your TV. The service has been dubbed “instant NetFlix.” But will people really pay 300 bucks just to be able to pay more for each movie they watch?

The BitTorrent cell phone. Hungarian researchers have developed a BitTorrent application for Symbian-based smart phones, complete with an integrated tracker and the ability to use private torrent sites. Too bad the constant data transfer is likely to eat up your battery life in no time.

The Emule cell phone. Developers of the open source eDonkey offspring eMule have found a solution to these battery problems years ago. MobileMule remotely controls downloads from your phone while your PC does the heavy lifting. The Java-based application even offers previews for downloaded video clips by sending single video frames as pictures to your phone.

The P2P PS3. Rumor has it Sony is working on integrating P2P video sharing into its new Second Life-like PS3 community called Home. The service is supposed to allow commercial video downloads as well as the exchange of user-generated content. Sony does have the technology to do something like this after buying P2P video-sharing community Grouper in August 2006. But they also know it ain’t easy: Grouper got sued by Universal Music in October.

The BitTorrent router. You got a device that’s connected to the internet 24/7, featuring a strong-enough processor do run some basic apps, plus direct access to network attached storage? Why don’t you just install BitTorrent on it? That’s exactly what Asus did.

Speaking of storage: QNAP’s network attached storage servers also feature an embedded version of the official BitTorrent client.

Apple Torrent TV. It was only a question of time before someone tried this. There’s no solution available for the masses yet, but it looks like people are working on it.

Apple Joost. Also inevitable: A hack that brings you P2P-powered TV streaming in your living room and makes for lots of silly puns. Tutorial Ninjas have a detailed step by step guide.

The Lamabox. A Dutch company is selling this P2P set top box that downloads content via BitTorrent and the eDonkey network. It’s basically a glorified media center PC, and it’s costing at least as much: The top-end model, featuring a DVD burner and 500 GB hard disk space, sets you back $785.

The Xtorrentbox. Don’t want to spend that much? Then just get a used Xbox for 100 bucks on eBay and make use of the Xbox Media Center. There are some great tutorials for using the Xbox together with your PC for BitTorrent downloads, and there are even some experimental scripts that allow direct torrent downloading straight to the box.