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Our Broadband Condo: Looking Forward
(February 2006) At this time, we still have some outstanding issues to fully address the needs we identified.
We discussed some of these issues on the Networked Video/Television page:
We also have another minor issue to resolve:
Consolidating the Interconnects
Interconnect cables are unnecessarily complex and confusing.
Everyone agrees that the A/V world of the future is digital. We expended a lot of time and effort trying to connect a small number of digital devices together—and it looks like we'll need to use four different kinds of digital interconnects:
Why should we (or any other consumer) have to think about so many different interconnects? Why can't one interconnect do most or all of this?
Some key players in the consumer electronics industry have been thinking along the same lines, and we've started talking with them to learn about the new approaches being proposed to unify the A/V interconnects.
We'll keep you posted as we learn more.
Using the PC for Television
We started thinking about these issues a year ago when we first bought the condo, and we made our initial decisions soon afterward. As we planned the remodeling, we tried in incorporate the latest thinking we've heard about the future.
As television moves to digital and high definition, one of the biggest questions is the role of the PC. Should PCs play a role in the future television environment? What roles should PCs play? How should the PC and the TV be integrated? Should they be connected together in the same room or connected through a network in different rooms?
The industry is certainly not of one mind on the answers to these questions. As we reported last month in Vista, Viiv and Video: "With Viiv and Vista, Intel and Microsoft seem to be expressing somewhat divergent views on the role of home networking." Intel wants a new advanced PC in the living room as part of the entertainment center; Microsoft wants a Media Center PC somewhere in the house, with a Windows Media Extender at each TV.
Meanwhile, many companies in the consumer electronics industry would like to see video servers in the house—but most don't think they should be PCs. Video service providers have become enthusiastic about providing DVR functionality in set-top boxes they provide—but aren't sure how they should deal with video servers purchased by the consumer.
The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) has brought many of these players together to define how video servers (which might be PCs) can interconnect and talk with video screens. Some products based on the initial DLNA specs were shown at CES 2006, and should appear on the market soon.
Vista, Viiv and DLNA will probably all be part of the future of high-definition television. As these products appear in 2006 and 2007, we should have a better idea of how these devices will work together.