Monday, August 28, 2006
Audio CD players, VCD, DVD players etc are consumer devices that can play content off optical storage devices. However, there is a lot of content available on the internet. Movie-On-Demand and streaming models of content distribution also use the internet as the distribution medium.
But I can’t watch these on TV, unless my TV is ‘internet enabled’. And my TV needs to have all the software in place in order to play the content viz. protocols for streaming media (Real-time Transport Protocol, Real-time Transmission Control Protocol ) and codecs for the zillion proprietary and open formats in which the content gets distributed.
So, would be neat if there is a consumer electronics device, which can stream content from the network, and also provide audio and video line-out functionality so I can connect it to my existing home entertainment system. Due to the nature of the device, it might be necessary that the device have a processor of some kind, either a general purpose low power processor or one specific to the application in mind.
Nowadays a lot of noise is being generated about Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs). These are computers that (seem to) fall somewhere between a smart phone and a tablet PC. UMPCs are ‘internet enabled’ and have all the software support needed for streaming media content. So it can get be used exactly for what I just mentioned. Actually what is needed is a modified version of it. We can probably strip the display unit off the UMPC, since the display is external in any case.
It can connect to a network, either home or external to stream content and also provide for any buffering so as to eliminate jitter and give smooth uninterrupted playback. Maybe it can even download and store the streamed content for playback at a later time. This is like the ASUS WL-700gE router, which can download torrents with the PC turned off.
Now, if the device has a normal low power processor and a general purpose OS running, then I can probably have a browser installed on it too. So I can check mail on a BIG screen. :)
And since the device can connect to a home media server, it might also fall in place with entertainment solutions like Intel® ViivTM.