Digital Home Edges Nearer
Doubts about reliability are something Windows users should have in excess. Various reports on Microsoft's new home entertainment program noted that very few consumers have purchased Microsoft's Media Center software, intended to put the computer in the heart of home entertainment systems everywhere. Sony has already made an attempt at this market with its Media Center PC, as has Hewlett-Packard, whose new version of the media PC was launched almost simultaneously with Microsoft's announcement. HP also has a sweetheart deal with Apple computer to sell its iPod music players wearing the HP badge. The next generation of HP home entertainment gear will be based on the Linux operating system rather than Windows. Chipmaker Intel is also hyping its own "entertainment PC."
Microsoft's new Media Center PCs will sell for as little as $600 without inboard TV tuners, less than half the price of the original models. The devices will be able to stream photos, video, audio, and graphics to other devices within the home. Microsoft has loosened its licensing terms in an attempt to draw more consumer electronics manufacturers within it sphere of influence.
Dell, Inc. has also made announcements about its intention to be a serious player in the home entertainment market. On Thursday, October 14, the Round Rock, TX computer giant debuted its first plasma televisions, both of them 42" screens with twin NTSC tuners.
The $3600 Dell W4200HD is a high-def monitor with 1024 x 768 resolution; its $2300 sibling boasts a resolution spec of 852 x 480. Unlike competitor Gateway Computer, Dell isn't going to go bust with a chain of retail stores. Instead, Dell flat panel TVs will be sold through mail order and via the company website, just like its computers. Dell flat panels go on sale October 27.