Saturday, November 18, 2006
HP Technology Promises Harmonious Marriage Between Computers and Televisions
HP has recently announced a new lineup of products available for the coming holiday season that combine High Definition television technology with computers. HP is offering a notebook computer capable of displaying High Definition content on a separate High Definition display. There's also a new desk top model that has an HD-DVD player, a Digital Video Recorder, and a TV tuner all built in. This desk top model also features Intel Viiv technology which allows it to display computer graphics and television alike on a television display. HP is also introducing an external HD-DVD ROM Drive which can be used to watch High Definition movies on a wide screen notebook computer. There's also the new HP Media Vault which allows multiple computers and television screens to access digital content across a home network. To round things out HP is also introducing a 2.5 inch USB hard drive in eighty and one hundred twenty gigabyte versions which can be used to transport a variety of media, including movies and television shows back and forth between computers.
Historically mergers between computers and television have been a difficult sell. The technology to combine the two has existed for decades, and some consumers have expressed enthusiasm for the idea. Unfortunately for the electronics industry, consumers have been much less enthusiastic about the reality of the marriage of the two technologies. Recent surveys indicate that a relatively small portion of the population is interested in watching television on their computers and an even smaller percentage watches video streamed off of the Internet with any regularity. Reasons for this abound, but what it really comes down to is that computers are complex and exist in work settings while television technologies are relatively user friendly and exist in relaxing settings. The flip side is that the same surveys indicate a gradually increasing interest in a merger of television and computers among consumers.
These new products from HP may be just what's needed to make the merger of computers and televisions convenient rather than frustrating. For example, ever since notebook computers first featured DVD drives and active matrix screens, people have been watching DVD movies on their laptops. Many laptops even have video outputs that are compatible with most TV's. Therefore, if somebody- especially a busy person who travels a lot- needs a laptop and wants a DVD player, it makes sense for them to combine the two. The same thing may be true with High Definition DVD players, and since the HP Pavilion dv9000t Series Entertainment Notebook PC comes with a built in HD-DVD drive and an HDMI port which allows it to play HD content onto an HD television, it may be just the device for people who want a laptop computer and a portable HD-DVD player.
Unfortunately the HP Pavilion Media Center TV m7600n Series PC, despite all of it's bells and whistles, is a lot more like other attempted mergers between television and computer technologies in the past, and for that reason is less likely to bridge the gap. Even though it has impressive features it lacks the portability of a laptop and is therefore more complicated to integrate with a living room television display, and does nothing to change the fact that consumers aren't very interested in watching TV at their computers.
The HP Media Vault mv2010/mv2020 shows more promise. Since users can access it's contents (up to 1.2 terabytes worth!) over a home network, it's ability to store up to three hundred and forty hours of video in a central location may be very attractive to even the least computer savvy consumer.
With the increasing degree of similarity between television and computer technologies the two will inevitably blend together and HP is to be commended by thinking outside of the box for ways to make them mesh in a way that allows them to enhance each other's strengths rather than exposing their weaknesses.