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'Digital living room' to take more forms than PC

Posted: 08 Dec 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PC  TV  DVD  CD  digital living room 

Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, the PC will not necessarily be the centrepiece of the so-called "digital living room," according to an AMD debuts entry-level dual-core Athlon, cuts prices" target=_blank>Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) executive.

Speaking at the Digital Living Room 2006 summit, Joe Menard, vice president of AMD's consumer business unit, said the concept of the digital living room—the concept of a sophisticated in-home entertainment network—is likely to take many forms to suit various budgets, needs and degrees of technical savvy.

"There is going to be no one usage model," Menard said. "There will be models when PCs end up in the living room. There will be models where PCs do not end up in the living room."

For AMD, Menard said, this philosophy represents a change in thinking that evolved partly from the company's acquisition of ATI Technologies Inc., which, among other things, is a major supplier of chips for digital TVs.

"For AMD, the strategy used to be 'get a PC in the living room'," Menard said. "Now it's to think about the best usage case that a customer wants and how we can provide silicon to do that."

In fact, according to Menard, the digital living room may not look all that different than the average current U.S. living—with a souped-up TV and perhaps one peripheral device. "It's not a big deal to put a disc drive in a TV, or have a TV stream video to another TV in the house," Menard said. "A lot of consumers might want this model—There is one TV, one remote."

Menard described several other potential usage models, including a single peripheral device that might serve several purposes—functioning as a PC, DVD player, CD player, personal video recorder and other things. No matter what the usage model, the dream of a digital living room remains futuristic for most consumers.

Reaching the goal will require more content, better ease-of-use and more bandwidth, he added.

"If there is a big problem in the living room, it's because this stuff is not yet easy to use," Menard said. "And the only way to deal with that is working with suppliers to make it easier to use."

So which usage model will win the digital living room?

"I would not even try to speculate on which model is going to be the winner," Menard said. "We will support them all."

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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