Topical Index: Multimedia Applications and Appliances
This page provides a topical index to material on this website covering
digital media adapters and networked appliances
human interactions with those devices and applications
industry standards and specifications
Articles are listed ordered by date of the newsletter they appeared in—newest to oldest.
Internet Content on the TV: Let Us Count the Ways (BBHR 4/8/2008)
A friend who knows you work with the Internet and computers says: "I'd like to connect my PC to my TV. How should I do it?" This simple question leads to a bewildering number of choices. No wonder few people have done it yet.
Home networks don't replace everything when a new generation of technology appears. Ubicom is a software/hardware company which helps users get the best out of what they have. Their solutions do pattern recognition on the streams, identifying and prioritizing media traffic ahead of normal data traffic. Their latest gateway design is targeted for supporting HDTV, "toll quality" VoIP and online gaming in wireless networks with 802.11n.
Second-generation networking technologies are finally starting to reach the market, and we're about to subject them to the same kind of in-home testing we did nearly five years ago on the first generation. We're planning to augment our quantitative throughput testing with qualitative observations of networked high-definition video.
This year was different. Every year we come back from CES and people ask what exciting new toys we got to play with. This time, instead of just talking about new chips and technologies, Sandy cut short the chip interviews to play with new portable media and IP voice toys. It was fun, but expensive.
DLNA's certification logo is appearing on lots of products. A new DLNA consumer Web site explains to the curious what that logo on their new gizmo means and which products carry it. There's lots more work ahead, but "DLNA is on a roll".
DLNA has added link protection guidelines, but content owners require more in order to allow their premium digital content to be transferred between devices. SVP is a hardware mechanism to protect digital content end-to-end.
Media Networking 4--Intel, Microsoft and the "Networked Video PC" (BBHR 7/26/2006)
The "networked video PC" will play a central role in television viewing. The new Vista/Viiv PCs will act as high-definition PVRs and will be able to distribute streaming and recorded video to any screen in the house using the new networking technologies.
Media Networking 5 -- Entertainment Video On the Networked PC (BBHR 7/26/2006)
In another aspect of the networked video PC, we discuss how consumers will be able to get the full array of high-definition entertainment video into the PC.
How do 802.11n, HomePlug AV, Viiv, Vista, PVRs, new sources of video, your old A/V equipment, IPTV, codecs and portable video players come together to make a difference in people's lives? Through personal examples, we describe some of today's answers and explore how these pieces will evolve and interrelate in the future.
Media Networking 3--How Did We Live Without DigitalDeck? (BBHR 6/19/2006)
We've been searching for a good way to distribute video around our house. We've wanted to view content coming from a device in one room on a screen in a different room. DLNA addresses one piece of the problem: making digitally-stored content available on any device. But what about video from legacy devices like PVRs and DVD players? DigitalDeck isn't perfect, but we wouldn't want to live without it.
As digital video takes its place front and center in the home, standards are needed to simplify interconnection, networking and remote operation. DLNA has been developing interoperable networking standards for some time. Now a new alliance--the High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance (HANA)--is developing standards specifically for networked high-definition video. Its narrower focus and sense of urgency have led it to embrace different standards than those chosen by DLNA. Will the home need two networks for digital video?
Now that the excitement and PR machine from CES have faded, we asked ourselves what products and trends will make a difference in 2006? For us, the big focus was progress toward how users can move content around the home, interact with and control all the entertainment devices in the home and use their content with any electronic device--both inside and outside their home. It's not a done deal yet--but we're on the way.
Making Things Connect: The Digital Living Network Alliance (BBHR 10/31/2004)
The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) has taken on the daunting but critical role of establishing specs so that many kinds of media devices in the home can "talk" with each other over home networks. We interviewed the group's Chairman—Scott Smyers of Sony Electronics—for an update on their progress. Products based on their initial specs are being shown at trade shows, and work is under way on additional specs.
With the enormous success of home Wi-Fi, the segmentation of who bought what flavor of 802.11 had settled down: consumers bought 802.11b/g and enterprises bought 802.11a. It turns out that was just a stop along the road to full home networking of video as well as voice and data. New chips and products based on them suggest that 802.11a will be a big part of the consumer solution for video networking. We expect to see an increasing number of a/b/g devices as new networked video products hit the market. Microsoft is playing a big role in pushing it along.
The Changing Face of Entertainment -- FastNet Futures 2004 (BBHR 4/26/2004)
There's a constant flow of announcements about new products and services that promise to improve our ability to get the entertainment we want, when and where we want it. These include new digital media adapters, entertainment PCs, broadband movie and music services and portable flat screen TVs. With all these individual announcements, it's difficult to see the big picture of how these ingredients will come together to create the easy-to-use experiences consumers are looking for. At FastNet Futures, we pulled together some experts to explore key efforts to bring coherence to this still-emerging market.
The long heralded marriage of the PC and the TV is on the horizon; products enabling a cozy relationship are here today. Digital Media Adapters (DMAs) and their relatives are now undergoing a wave of experimentation and innovation to find the features, functions and pricing for devices that bridge the PC and home entertainment. Standards are on the horizon. While confusing today, winners will emerge; this category has a bright future.
When we agreed to act as broadband architects for the Home by Design showhouse, our goal was to demonstrate the ideas we write about and get more hands-on experience in the realities of implementing broadband infrastructure, home networking and a wide variety of interesting and useful applications on a host of products that can be bought today. We packed lots of experience into a short time and share some of what we did and learned from it in this abbreviated version of "our broadband odyssey".
Intel's proactive approach to growing the market for their chips is once again in high gear. Even as their Wi-Fi blitz is going full stream ahead, their technology and corporate planning folks are laying the groundwork for the huge market that exists within consumer homes for linking together PCs, home entertainment and more. We interviewed the experts on their Digital Home Initiative and their membership in the Digital Home Working Group to learn what we can expect next.
We saw lots of media networking at CES, letting users record and store pictures, music and video on one device and playing it on another device in a different room. We saw proprietary approaches, multi-vendor approaches, and some pointing toward interoperability.
PRISMIQ showed us their new MediaPlayer, a low-cost device that connects to your TV and sound system on one side, and over a home network to a capable PC on the other. It provides audio, video, Internet browsing and chat on the TV screen, leveraging the horsepower of the PC you already have.
Twenty-five German households are particpating in a field trial of networked home appliances, controlled by an OSGi-based residential gateway. Users will be able to know when the washing machine has finished or can switch an appliance on or off when away from home.
Microsoft and HP have brought to market the first product based on the "Freestyle" concept Bill Gates debuted at CES last January. It's a good first step to fulfilling the promise, although one purposely targeted to a specific segment of the market.
Setting a Context for Networked Appliances IWNA4 - 4th IEEE International Workshop On Networked Appliances (BBHC Presentations)
The bottom line of our invited talk at this IEEE event for networked appliance designers: assume homes will have broadband connections, home networks and UNnP capable control points.
Fulfilling the Vision of the Broadband Home - A Visit with Ucentric Systems (BBHR 11/14/2001)
We visited Ucentric Systems. One of the most ambitious companies in home networking, Ucentric sees the need for a "whole-home converged services" system: a common platform addressing all the family's networking needs for communications and entertainment. This includes the full range of services -- data, voice, audio and video -- and all of the current and future devices appropriate to those services.
New Applications and Services - It's More than the PC and the Web (BBHR 11/5/2001)
Personal computers and Internet applications have been the main driving force pulling broadband into the home and will continue to drive the growth of home networking. Many new broadband devices and applications are entering the market to move beyond Web browsing and email. We reported on new initiatives covered at Broadband Home Fall 2001.