The Home Center

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-05-07 Print this article Print

Notice how HDMI blankets the hardware providers, central to closing the digital loop on content control. Notice how Steve Kaneko from the Windows Hardware Innovation Team takes the handoff from Bill and carries it for another first down. First, the new Home Center: "Dual high-definition TV tuners, 802.11 access point, a broadband modem, and a Voice Over IP gateway, all brought together in a very simple Windows Media Center experience."
A quibble—theres no HD recorder here, but you know its coming. Now, lets grab the Tablet PC and head for the hole: "From here, because this tablet is constantly being wirelessly connected to the home center, I can actually watch TV here wirelessly, and use this essentially as a wireless TV in the bedroom, in the kitchen, anywhere else I want to watch TV where its in range," Kaneko pauses for breath, "and its using the second tuner on the home center, so that I could even go into the living room environment while someone is channel surfing, and watch the separate session going on here. The other advantage is obviously that I could be doing other activities, such as reading e-mail, browsing the Web, etcetera."
And now, the coup de grace: "So finally, with that same wireless connection, this Tablet could actually be taking downloaded, recorded content from the home center itself, and allow me to take my media outside the house, whether it be onto an airplane, maybe the back of the car, or even a soccer field, or whoever it may be, pretty neat." Somehow Bill and company have crossed the bleak desert and arrived back at "neat." And "neat" is what it will take to drive this vision of seamless collaborative computing to ubiquity. Steve Jobs has resisted the personal digital device thats at the other end of this Microsoft rainbow, calling music (and his iPod) the killer app because its a background task. But those of us with kids know that Bills Portable Media Center will open wide and big—with the appropriate digital rights. Appropriate means I get to move Dora the Explorer from the TV to the car, allowing my 3 year-old a chance at matriculating in the future. Appropriate means time-shifting All My Children to the car so my wife can listen to Kendall not trusting Ryan yet again for the millionth time while she drives our oldest home from school. Appropriate means I get to listen to my iPod tracks via some sort of DRM bridge yet to be announced. Next page: An Apple a Day...

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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