Saturday, January 07, 2006

Home Theater PCs Finally Get Practical (sort of)

HTPCs are novelty hunks of wires and metal that don't do anything you don't already have some other blinkin' lights box doing. DVD, Tivo, whatever. But Microsoft and DirecTV just announced a deal. Your HTPC (aka Windows MediaCenter PC) will be able to take the place of your DirecTV settop box! (Ditto XBox 360 and some other thingies). At last the HTPC has an actual practical place in the universe.
It's not a cheaper alternative, but it can take the place of your Tivo/PVR, DVD/CD player and DirecTV box. That's something. It may not be easier to use (no one over 50 will ever be able to set it up), it may not be cheaper, and it may not do that much more than what you had. But it will eventually nibble away at all those problems. I think this is the real start of computers in the living room.

When Cable companies follow (they will because they would rather have You buy your own HTPC than pay for your set top box), then the transformation will begin in earnest because that's a much bigger market than DirecTV and it will also have broadband internet access (including music and video downloads) - and probably VoIP too. That's the real potato. If only it would work nice with Apple's iPOD and Video service. HTPCs (that will work with Cable/Satellite providers' systems are Microsoft-centric, so will never really integrate well with iTunes/Apple DRM.

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