Media home networking has captured the attention of two of the personal computer's biggest companies. Intel and Microsoft rolled out plans at the Consumer Electronics Show last week to make the PC the central hub for home entertainment.
Microsoft talked up Windows Media Center Extender, software that allows the Windows XP Media Center Edition PC to be used as an entertainment hub for the home. The goal is to make it easier for users to store video, audio and photos on a PC and then access them at various points in a home via wireless or other networks. The company said that Dell, Gateway, HP, Samsung, Tatung and Winstron will build TVs and set-top boxes that will support Media Center, making it easier for users to access content stored on the Media PC. The company also introduced an XBox Media Center Extender kit that allows users to access the Media Center PC through an XBox connected to the TV.
"Digital entertainment is not just for enthusiasts any more," said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in his CES keynote. "It's a major part of everyone's life."
Meanwhile, Intel President and COO Paul Otellini has set aside $200 million to invest in companies that complement Intel products and accelerate development of digital home technologies. The company also pointed to its work on products like Microsoft's XP Media Center Edition PC, with entertainment PCs expected to hit a price point of less than $800 by the middle of the year.
Intel also unveiled Cayley, a new technology based on liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS), which it says will allow for manufacturers to cut the costs of HDTV sets while improving the quality.