This page provides a topical index to material on this website covering
integrated home networking designed to move audio, video and data around the home
Articles are listed by date of the newsletter they appeared in—newest to oldest.
Audio Video Bridging -- The Missing Link In Home Networking (BBHR 9/10/2009)
Until now, there has been no standardized mechanism to keep high-speed media and data streams from interfering with each other. Today's home isolates the streams into separate islands of digital technology. Audio video bridging (AVB) will provide the missing link required to interconnect the islands -- just when new applications need it.
Home networking is moving quickly into the consumer electronics space. At CES we saw lots of CE devices incorporating some form of networking: MoCA, G.hn, HomePNA, UPA, HomePlug, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth were all well represented. Broadcom showed new chips with integrated MoCA, G.hn continues to gain traction, and Wi-Fi keeps expanding.
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.
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.
Solving all the problems of media networking is hard. One media networking company we wrote about enthusiastically has pulled back from direct marketing, deciding to focus their efforts on developing and then licensing their intellectual property through well known consumer brands.
Getting video entertainment to the home is simple compared with distributing the video signal within the home. In addition to various wired approaches, multiple wireless technologies are competing for video distribution. Both 802.11n and multiple approaches to ultra-wideband (UWB) are in the game for multi-room video distribution.
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.
A mass consumer market for media networking is dependent on new high-speed networking technologies that don't require new wiring. Many of these technologies are now reaching the market and fighting for market share.
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.
We have been following DigitalDeck for more than two years, and are delighted to be testing their system in our house. In a first impression, we report on a product that lets you share and play video stored on DVDs, PVRs and PCs on any TV, anywhere in the house. We also report on the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, a tiny but high-quality Internet terminal.
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?
We have written extensively about the transition from the analog world to the digital one and the lack of connection between islands of technology in the home. But it took the experience of a real-world project to bring home to us how many separate factors are in flux at the moment--and how difficult this makes the decision process for someone trying to design a coherent solution for both today and tomorrow. In the first of three articles about "the digital home," we review the many factors and the ways in which they are currently in flux.
Media and Broadband In Our Condo: Some Answers, More Questions (BBHR 3/6/2006)
Between August 2005 and January 2006, we completely remodeled our condo, tearing out some walls and installing new wiring throughout. This was a perfect opportunity to consider what wiring and systems we should install to support networked media and communications--video, audio, data and telephone services--both for now and for the future. We uncovered some answers--and more questions.
Coming away from our experiences in choosing wiring and systems to support networked media and communications in a way that worked both today and for the future, two key areas remained unclear: the "right" interconnect for high-quality television, and the role of PCs for television. We describe the numerous interconnects users have to cope with today, and highlight several key initiatives that will influence the relationship between PCs and television over the next few years.
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.
Home networking is approaching a new milestone. Many emerging consumer applications require networking technologies capable of moving video around the home. Depending on whom you talk with, you'll hear very different views of the roles of wireless, powerline, coax and telephone wiring. We believe that just as the last generation sorted itself out, with Wi-Fi that generation's winner, one of these new technologies will grab a larger chunk of the market than the others -- and some may be relegated to a footnote in home networking history. We overview some scenarios and the technologies vying for the winner's circle.
To provide IP-based television services, companies need a way to move video streams from the home gateway to the TV set. That's where the next generation of "whole-home wireless" technologies and products are important. Recent announcements from Ruckus Wireless, Metalink, and a big one from EWC are all pieces in the puzzle of how quickly 802.11n standards will be adopted and products get to the market.
How many remember HomeRF, @Home, Enron broadband backbones, or the broadband subscriber base so small that we reported annual growth rates of 75%? As we reach the fifth anniversary of publishing our Report on the Broadband Home, we look back at where we were in 2000, where we are now and some of the key directions for the next five years. The journey isn't over. Before the end of this decade, we look forward to real "whole home" networking at 100 Mbps, personal broadband and lots more.
Since we first used Wi-Fi in our home in 2000, the technology has made fantastic strides and the latest generation of devices based on MIMO is another leap forward in both throughput and range. We summarize here the results of our third round of tests of Wi-Fi devices, which showed us how far the technology has progressed.
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.
802.11a for Consumers: An Interview with Atheros Communications (BBHR 8/15/2004)
We met with Atheros Communications to learn about the future of 802.11a, and looked at some technology advancements for consumer applications.
Wireless Video Networking -- Update on Bermai and ViXS (BBHR 1/22/2004)
With growth of flat screens and HDTV on the upswing, the quest for wireless video networking has taken on greater importance. The ideal is to be able to create home networks that carry multiple channels of high quality video plus other data and voice traffic wirelessly, not just within rooms but around the home. At CES we got an update on Bermai and ViXS, two companies that are trying to satisfy these wireless video networking needs.
DigitalDeck -- Another Piece of the "Whole Home Networking" Puzzle (BBHR 12/14/2003)
The emerging world of "whole home networking" is like a big jigsaw puzzle with lots of pieces including a wide variety of current and emerging networking technologies. DigitalDeck is working on a key piece -- it manages all the content and moves it around the house from whereever it is stored to wherever you want to view it. We interviewed their VP of Strategic Development and saw an impressive demo.
We look into several emerging wireless networking technologies targeted at high-definition television and "whole-home" networking. While 802.11n will leverage the Wi-Fi bandwagon, several technologies based on 802.15 may get to market first--and be the winners.
As another facet of the "whole home networking" story, we interviewed two officers of Entropic Communications, a start-up developing a home-networking system operating over existing coaxial cable. It will complement wireless networking to form a complete solution.
This Canadian start-up has announced a "video networking processor" chip designed to transmit digital video over home LANs. We think XCode is worth watching because it promises to enable true broadcast-quality video over the next generation of home networking.
"Advanced" digital set-top boxes have promised much and delivered precious little in North America. "Moore's Law" makes it difficult for such a box to have much payback. Two companies offer radically different solutions for cable operators: ICTV puts most of the functionality at the cable headend, while Ucentric puts more in the home to create consumer value. ( www.ictv.com ) ( www.ucentric.com )