Technology Blurs Lines Between TV and Computers

In the future, the home entertainment center will probably be replaced by more of a home information center. The home information center would blend access to information and entertainment in such a way as to make it possible to access movies, listen to music, make video phone calls or normal phone calls, play video games, surf the Internet, enjoy virtual reality, read and answer email, and utilize a variety of productivity software programs all from the same room in your home. In short, the home computer and the home entertainment system will become one.

There has been technology capable of doing all of these things on the market for years. They’re generally marketed as media center PC’s or other as other similar names. The most recent mainstream product that attempts to make this marriage of the computer and the home entertainment center is Intel’s Viiv chip set running higher end versions of Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system. The Viiv technology can act as a TV receiver and Windows Vista can manage video in the form of digital video recording.

There have been a couple of impediments to getting Americans to invest in home information centers in the past. Historically, Americans have wanted to keep the easy to use home entertainment system components in the living room, while sequestering the relatively difficult to use home computer systems to the home office or study. As computer systems have gotten easier to use, people seem to be less interested in maintaining this boundary, but nonetheless there still is that boundary because of older prejudices. The other impediment is the high price of these systems- a factor that’s even worse when you consider how quickly computer systems become obsolete!

One development that has probably helped to bridge the gap between home computer systems and home entertainment systems is the Digital Video Recorder. The Digital Video Recorder helps to break down this prejudice because it is essentially a computer, yet it’s easier to use than many of the home entertainment system components of the past.

One product that brings the home computer system into the living room under the guise of a DVR is the Monolith Media Center. The Monolith Media Center is marketed as a DVR, but when you look at the details of what it can do, it becomes very obvious that it is in fact a home computer with a lot of features added on. The Monolith MC comes with multiple TV tuners that can handle standard definition television as well as HDTV and relies on a free version of an on screen program guide so that no subscription is necessary like with other DVR’s such as the TiVo. This device can also play audio through your home stereo system.

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