Home Entertainment Hubs Thrive on 802.11a


Home video recorders aren’t just for taping television shows or
playing the latest Hollywood blockbuster anymore. As more home
computer networks transform into entertainment gateways capable of
managing everything but your taxes, consumers are eagerly exploring
personal video recorders (PVR.)

The most widely-discussed PVR does more than digitally record
broadcasts for later viewing. The Moxi Media Server (MMS) from Moxi Digital
was unveiled at the 2002 CES by Steve Perlman, creator of WebTV. The
Media Server plays CDs and DVDs, acts as a firewalled cable or DSL
router, stores digital music, can browse the Web and access Instant
Messaging services.

That’s in addition to serving as a traditional PVR.

802.11 Central to Entertainment Hub Success

The MMS comes equipped with an 80GB hard disk drive to store
incoming content, Firewire and USB ports to connect other devices, and
remote terminals that share audio and video throughout the home via
either Ethernet or 802.11a.

An interface built on Flash 5 is organized into music, video,
advanced Web and Interactive TV areas — all searchable. A customized
version of Linux is used for the Moxi’s OS.

The Moxi Media Server will be available through cable and
satellite providers later in 2002 as a replacement for current
set-top boxes. Satellite subscribers to the Dish Network will be the
first to use the system. Moxi has ties with AOL Time Warner and
Charter on the cable side.

An Updated TiVo

The well-known TiVo PVR will soon release the Series 2. The new
box includes more recording time (up to 60 hours) for less cost
(between $300-$400.)

Following the digital hub trend, the TiVo Series 2 includes 2 USB
ports for digital cameras, MP3 players and other devices. The TiVo
can store broadband video, digital music, photos, and other content.
Broadband Video-on-Demand is also supported.

SonicBlue has tangled with the motion picture industry and
television studios over the ReplayTV 4000‘s commercial skip feature
and Internet access. Despite the court challenges, the new PVR is
shipping.

The ReplayTV 4000 includes an enormous 320-hour storage capacity
using MPEG-2 video encoding. Along with serial and Ethernet ports,
the system requires a broadband connection and home network. In addition to sharing content throughout the home, movies can be shared with
up to 15 people through the Internet. The new ReplayTV even transfers
digital pictures from your PC to your PVR.

Microsoft Turns Entertainer

While Microsoft’s UltimateTV unit recently disbanded, don’t count
Bill Gates out of the burgeoning home entertainment market. At the
center of Microsoft’s eHome initiative and the reorientation of the
PC as an entertainment device is the Homestation.

The Homestation is based upon the Xbox game box. But along with
games, Homestation would play DVDs and digital music, access the
Internet and become a digital video recorder. Homestation would
become the hub of two other Microsoft concepts:

* Mira – a tablet-sized computer allowing users to stay in touch
with PCs as users walk about the home.

* Freestyle – Expands Windows XP allowing PCs to record video,
play digital music and more. “Microsoft is crazy if it thinks people
are going to want to watch TV or listen to music using Windows XP,
counters Moxi founder Perlman.

With personal video recorders and digital entertainment hubs
expected to be in 25 million U.S. homes by 2006, today’s PC-centric
home network is about to change. Analysts say that at the heart of that
transformation will be 802.11.

News Around the Web