In the beginning - well, at least 5 or 6 years ago - music stored on a PC generally either stayed there or was downloaded to a portable player. But as more and more audio and video content has become available online, people want to hear and see it on home entertainment rigs.
Clearly embedded somewhere in America's national psyche is an obsession with getting thin. How else do you explain both the celebrity of Nicole Richie and the craze for flat-panel TVs? In fact, with the increased focus on TVs slim enough to be mounted on a wall, the environment for rear-projection HDTVs has gotten a lot tougher.
With its eye-catching design and seamless integration with the iTunes Music Store download service, Apple's iPod has taken the portable-music market by storm. But once you get beyond the iPod's distinctive, sexy styling and crack open its case, you'll find a collection of off-the-shelf components not all that different from those used in other personal media players.
In-wall speakers have come a long way since the first models, which were essentially re-purposed car-stereo speakers. That dramatic improvement over the past decade is due largely to the boom in "architectural" audio products driven by the advent of flat-panel TVs, any-room home theater systems, and whole-house audio.
Lost in the rush of attention being lavished on sleeker and sexier flat-panel HDTVs is the fact that there's still a lot of innovation going on in rear-projection microdisplay sets. In the past year, we've seen developments ranging from the prosaic - bigger screens, more models with 1080p resolution, and slimmed-down cabinets - to the exotic, such as 3-D video.