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Home Entertainment Nets ?Work in Progress

Cheap Won?t Get PC in Living Room; Wild Card in Next-Gen DVD Race By Miles Weston

Would you believe it?  A fantastic 12% of the American households are networked and that is going to drive home entertainment networks.

Or if you look at the numbers another way, 88% of the American homes dont have networks.  Add the fact that 35-45% of U.S. homes (depending on whose numbers you believe) dont even have a computer, so the ?surge shrinks a little more.

The big problem is ?ordinary people dont want a PC in their family or living room.  When was the last time you sat on the couch to surf the Web, do your emails, edit your photos or videos and produce audio CDs?  How about never?

The concept looks fantastic.  Who wouldnt want all of their content music, photos, videos and movies streaming to every room in the house or the ability to play video games with others in the house or across the country?  Naturally your living or family room entertainment center, like your stereo or TV, would never have to be rebooted, would it?  This great device has to be easy-to-use and easy to connect with all of those other devices.

Ironically, the store for the common man (and woman), Wal-Mart, has plans to tap into this pent-up demand, non-computer market with $300 PCs.  But if these homes are going to be computerized it will probably happen because of Steve Jobss mini brick and the copycat units youll see over the next few months as well as Sonys PS system. These units could be just what the market needs to push more people to buy something for their living/family room that does more than just word processing, email or Internet surfing. 

Will CE Users Use Windows?
It certainly wont be Windows or the long-in-the-horn Longhorn-based product.  People who want their content anywhere cant be expected to leave their equipment on all the time as Microsoft recommends.  They dont want to wrestle with all of the set up ?fun.  Rebooting?  Yeah, right!

Wired networks are the most reliable but they are a pain to set up which is why most of the home networks involve connecting PCs so you can share the Internet connection and peripherals.

Only the brave souls choose one of D-I-Y home networking kits to string wires along the baseboards and thru the walls to connect the systems and peripherals. If they are dedicated and creative, they are even moving up to sharing their audio, video and photo content around the house.

But home networked entertainment wont happen until we come to grips with camouflaging the PC so it is simply a source for storing and accessing the households MP3 collection, videos, photo albums and satellite music.  The second and vital ingredient is to solidify the wireless networking specs so universal plug-and-play becomes more than just a great PR spin.

Wireless Progresses
Intel, Cisco and the Digital Living Network Association (DLNA) are really pushing the home wireless agenda. Wireless universal plug-and-play (UPnP) is proceeding in committee fashion but it is going to take time to get the products CE simple.  As long as techies set the ground rules youre going to have to be a geek (we mean this in a nice way) to do this stuff.  A few firms like ADS Tech are implementing the UPnP idea across their product lines. ADS has its ME squared (media entertainment evolution) program that says that any product carrying the logo will work other ME squared UPnP products.

Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research, notes that the PC industry is doing everything in its power to move systems into more homes and hopefully more living and family rooms.  He points out that all of todays systems   even the least expensive is 3D-powered.  In addition to ?Free-D, he has also been taking a cursory view of the budget PC arena. 

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Related Keywords:Blu-ray, Home networking, DVD, m Miles Weston, HD DVD, Holographic Versatile Disc, HDV, DVD recorders, music, photos, videos, movies, streaming, video games


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