Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Getting Your Pirated Films to Your Living Room

Written by Karl Bode

As we mentioned Monday, there's a push from hardware vendors like Netgear & D-Link to provide consumers with devices that can stream the content they've downloaded from their PC to their living room, stunted in part by the delay of getting the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard to market. Apple meanwhile promises their iTV service will do the same thing starting in 2007, and Microsoft offers their solution now with their Xbox 360 Media Extender. There's obviously a slew of home-brew options available as well, from modding a first-gen Xbox to MythTV - but the real money will be made by offering a simple device aimed at Joe User.

However thanks to DRM and other industry fears there remains disconnects when it comes to how well many of these mainstream solutions work. Netgear and D-Link's solutions still use 802.11g, making them impractical for users who move a high-volume of high definition content. Microsoft's solution requires the purchase of an Xbox360; impractical for non-gamers. Apple hopes to grab the common man's attention in this market.

But telcos, cable providers, and DBS providers are getting into the game as well, and probably have the best shot at cornering the market, provided they don't shoot themselves in the foot by offering crippled units. Over the next several years AT&T users will get either U-Verse IPTV service or the hybrid DSL/DBS Homezone device. Verizon recently unveiled their multi-room DVR, which the company promises will someday allow the transmission of media from PC to living room.

Now today we're noticing that DirecTV is teaming up with Intel to create the "DirecTV Plus HD DVR" (not to be confused with the new HR20-250), a device that will tie your DirecTV service to a Viiv enabled PC. The company announced yesterday that software updates will turn existing DVRs into digital media adapters. This is coming from a company that for the longest time has forced users to update their DVRs via copper phone line, instead of letting them simply use the included ethernet jack.

The question with all of these services is just how locked down they'll be as the companies struggle with digital rights management. Will customers only be able to view DRM'd content? Will the units allow customers to browse all Internet content freely, or only content from marketing partners (the current case with AT&T's Homezone)? The simplest solution, offering the greatest freedom to consumers, will obviously bring home the mainstream streaming crown. What's your preferred solution?


Post a Comment

<< Home