Pioneer Project ET

Atlantic Technology isn't the only company with a concept product at CEDIA. Pioneer is showing its Project ET (Entertainment Tap), a networking paradigm that could be incorporated into a real product by next year. The Linux-based box being demonstrated at the show holds a 1TB (terabyte) hard disk, optical drive that can read Blu-ray, DVD, and CD as well as burn DVD and CD, HDMI I/O, and USB and RS-232 ports; in fact, up to 128 USB devices can be connected, including more hard disks.

Functionally, this thing is an all-singing, all-dancing powerhouse that can serve as a Blu-ray player, media server, and online-content streamer. Even more impressive, it's the world's first device that can rip a Blu-ray to its hard disk according to the rules of "managed copy," which is required by the Blu-ray spec but has yet to be implemented by studios or hardware manufacturers. The copy is encrypted using Blowfish, the same encryption used by Carbonite online backup service—in fact, Pioneer is negotiating with Carbonite to provide a backup service for the hard disk.

Other features include social networking—for example, you can hit the Twitter button as you're listening to a piece of music, and a message is sent to your followers about it, along with your rating of the tune. Also, you can record content and view it remotely, much like the Slingbox. Then there's media-based online shopping—you hit the Shopping button, and the system goes online to find merchandise and content related to what you're watching or listening to.

Pioneer claims the system can be configured by end users, and the high-def user interface is very simple and intuitive. It implements Zigbee 2-way remote control, which means various devices can be used to control it, and it's also compatible with Control4 protocols. I was very impressed with the demo, and I can't wait to see a real product.