Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Now Hewlett Packard is leading the industry with products that blur the lines between computers and TV's, and promise to make the prospect of having computer technology in the living room attractive to mainstream Americans. While Americans have historically been extremely reluctant to bring computer technology into their home entertainment centers- at least in the form of actual computers- computer type equipment has manage to sneak in nonetheless. The first example of computer technology slipping into the living room was the video game console. Computer game consoles gradually evolved from the simple Atari type devices to the powerful and realistic Play Station 3 that's available today (and also has a hard drive and optical disc drive- just like a computer- by the way). The next big piece of covert computer technology that made its way into the living room was the digital TV receiver, and that was soon followed by the DVD player. Next came digital video recorders, which have the capabilities of digital TV receivers, but also add hard disks, and full blown computer operating systems (often modified Linux distros) into the mix.
In many ways, by the time people had devices that were essentially computers- in the form of DVR's and advanced video game consoles- hooked up to their TV's, hooking up something even closer to a conventional computer was a logical next step. Hewlett Packard has recently stepped up to the plate to do this. Learning from its past failures, Hewlett Packard has created a series of products that offer features that are overtly similar to personal computers, but with a more TV like appearance and user experience.
One example of Hewlett Packard's new approach can be seen in its MediaSmart HDTV which can download movies over the Internet and automatically adjusts the brightness of its screen according the the lighting of the room that it's in. Another example of Hewlett Packard's innovation that goes more on the side of being a computer is the TouchSmart PC which uses a wireless mouse and keyboard for an Interface, but is primarily designed to be operated through its touch sensitive screen.
Both of these products have been designed largely with the recent upsurge in the number of US households with high speed Internet in mind. Apparently the thinking is that high speed Internet will be the catalyst that makes multimedia computer technology convenient enough to use in the living room. Regardless, we can be fairly certain that these products are a step in the right direction.