Wednesday, December 05, 2007
One thing that's being pointed out more and more by TV industry analysts is that TV viewers are expected to buy more and more set top boxes in order to add functions to their home entertainment systems. Industry analysts are also pointing out that consumers are tired of all of the set top boxes that they're expected to get. This really shouldn't be surprising when you think about what constitutes the typical American home entertainment center. A TV set is a given but in addition to the TV set, even the most basic home entertainment center will include a VCR and a DVD player. If the home entertainment system is served a TV service provide, then you can expect to find a satellite receiver or a cable box also. Then there are all of the boxes that represent accessories like a TiVo, a box that will download video from a computer or the Internet like a Vudu or an Apple TV, and of course the video gaming system. In addition to all of these devices, consumers are plagued by the huge numbers of remote controls that go with them.
Of course, to some extent the number of set top boxes can be minimized by having on box perform more than one function. For example, there are a variety of digital receivers that have digital video recorders built in, thereby eliminating the need for a separate, standalone DVR. It's also possible to get a VCR and a DVD player combined into the same unit, and fortunately high def DVD players generally play normal DVD's as well. In the case of video gaming platforms like the Sony Play Station 3, it can function as a high def DVD player, a conventional DVD player (that can upconvert normal DVD's to High Definition resolutions), and a CD player in addition to functioning as a video gaming platform. The fact that many devices come with remote controls that can be programmed to control several devices all at once helps minimize the number of remote controls to sift through on the coffee table as well.
Media center computers are one type of technology that takes consolidating various home entertainment center accessories into one device even further. These devices combine all of the features of several different types of home entertainment devices into one. For example, these computers can take the place of the receiver, the DVD player, the digital video recorder, and even the video gaming platform (though the selection of games might be fairly limited). In addition to taking over many of the functions of other devices, media center computers can also be used to surf the Internet and run productivity software- all from the comfort of the living room. One really interesting feature that many of them have is the ability to transfer the video that's been recorded off of the TV signal from their hard drives to DVD-R and DVD-RW discs that can be played on other DVD players. Of course media center computers still don't have high def DVD drives or built in VCR cassette decks, but they certainly go a long way toward defeating "set top fatigue."