Every time the computer industry tries to make inroads into the home entertainment center by offering products that are designed to use the home TV screen as a computer screen, consumers offer a lot of resistance. Yet, the computer industry persists as evidenced by Intel’s Viiv technology and the fact that the media center version of Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system and several versions of the Vista operating system are designed to make computers a part of the home entertainment center.
While consumers have been busy resisting the incursion of the home computer into the home entertainment center, computer equipment has been sneaking in anyway. This covert incursion can be seen in the form of newer forms of TV technology. DVD players, digital TV converters, satellite receivers, DVR’s, and video gaming systems are all computers in some form or another.
One of the side effects of having all of this new technology so thoroughly computerizes is that there is an unprecedented level of compatibility between computers and the Internet, and the home entertainment center. For example, there are a variety of devices that take advantage of Internet connections to provide their users with more options. The TiVo is a good example of this. TiVos download their program guide information from the Internet and are even capable of being programmed to record specific TV shows from another location over the Internet. Some of the newer TiVos are even capable of downloading movies from the Internet to be shown on TV sets.
Other devices that can do this include some versions of Sony HDTV sets, the Vudu, the Slingbox, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and several others. The Apple TV can fetch video from the home computer(which can get the video from the Internet or from a digital video camera), and the ability to download movies directly from the Internet is expected to be coming soon to the Play Station 3 from Sony.
Another interesting result of the overlap between computers and TV is the introduction of portable video devices. A portable video device is a hand held, battery powered portable device that can store video on a built in data storage system and then display it on a TV screen or its built in screen. These devices come in a variety of sizes and capacities. For example, there are versions with only two gigabytes of storage space and such small screens that you have to wonder why anyone gave them the capacity to play video. At the other end of the extreme are devices that have amply sized screens, the ability to store over a hundred hours of video, access the web over a WiFi connection, and even record video that’s being played off of other devices and store it on their own hard disks. The data storage systems use either flash memory or more conventional hard disks, and the screens can either be conventional LCD technology or energy saving OLED screens. Some of these devices can even download video from some Digital Video Recorders if all of the compatibility issues are taken care of.
All of these devices show the benefits that computer technology can have when applied to home entertainment.