Still to this day, the PC world lacks the ability to fully integrate into a home media or theater system. Touching on all the ifs, ands and buts over the last 8 years would add a lot of length but it would add up to some feature or service not being available on a PC making a universal PC solution for all users impossible.
With the release of Windows 7, Microsoft has finally fulfilled the universal PC dream for the operating system.
While Cable Card support finally arrived about a year ago your local cable company may not support it and if it does now, it may not in the future. This is a great example of the barriers that pop up for a universal PC solution. A handful of cable providers are already IP-only, while many other cable providers across the country are in the process of switching over to IP-based cable, preparing to go down that road or considering it, which could force half the market into using their cable box in 5-10 years.
Satellite appears to be the best universal solution of getting first run broadcast SD and HD content to a PC since either provider has uniform standards regardless of where you live. While satellite services remain unavailable, Dish was demonstrating a working prototype. DirecTV indicated that they too had working prototype but did not bring it to the show. There are numerous issues involved to make it a commercial reality. Let us not forget how cantankerous a PC can be or how so many people are challenged by technology, therefore, many of the problems are related to who is going to be financially responsible for service, maintenance and customer education. Of course content protection is yet another pressing matter. Per a DirecTV representative, they are dealing with similar pitfalls as Dish in finalizing a deal although they did explicitly state content protection as the major concern. All parties involved continue to work out the details and they all clearly want to make this happen. No official release date or pricing at this time. Maybe CES 2010 holds a big surprise!
While the PC world has been busy trying to integrate with the main display in our homes as a mass market one box solution for years, the rest of world has not waited. Multi-media has become the recent target of consumer accessibility and the PS3, Xbox 360 and TIVO are already here providing it. The PS3 provides keyboard and mouse support duplicating a PC experience. This year we are seeing multiple products coming to market further expanding your internet choices directly at the display or a shiny disc player.
In the end, this may turn out to be a lot of work and effort for PC enthusiasts only.
Posted by Richard Fisher, December 7, 2009 9:25 AM
About Richard FisherRichard Fisher is the President of Mastertech Repair Corporation, serving north east Atlanta, Georgia, and has been servicing, calibrating and reviewing audio video products since 1981. Tech Services USA, a division of Mastertech, creates sites, communities and libraries for consumers and professionals to share their technology knowledge and learn from each other. These include The ISF Forum and HD Library. HDTV Magazine exclusively publishes HD Library and Forum for Tech Services USA.
Richard is ISF and HAA certified providing calibration and A/V reproduction engineering services. Richard is a technical consultant and also provides performance ISF and HAA home theater systems and calibration via Custom HT. Mastertech Repair Corporation is a factory authorized service center for Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Toshiba and a member of the National Electronics Servicing Dealers Association, NESDA, and the Georgia Electronics Servicing Dealers Association, GESDA.