[opendtv] A washingtonpost.com article from: JohnWillkie@earthlink.net

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  • Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2005 16:19:38 -0500 (EST)

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y of washingtonpost.com=20
 Vying for Remote Control
 By Steven Levingston
=20 The race is on to merge the two most powerful entertainment boxes in th=
e home.
 The marriage of the television and the computer moved a step closer yester=
day when the giant chipmaker Intel Corp. unveiled its vision for using a ne=
w technology that blends the two devices. Intel said it is working with mor=
e than 40 companies around the world in the movie, music, television, gamin=
g and photo-editing fields to deliver content to computers using the techno=
logy called Viiv (rhymes with five).
 Due out early next year, Viiv-equipped computers are designed to control t=
he overall entertainment experience. They turn a television into a computer=
 screen with the capability of performing any computer task, including sear=
ching the Internet. Operated by remote control, the system will be able to =
show a movie on the television while downloading music for later listening.=
 The computer will turn on instantly like a television and with an add-on f=
eature will record, pause and rewind live television programs. An entertain=
ment center operated by a Viiv-platform computer will be able to connect to=
 other devices, such as DVD players and portable media players.
 Yesterday's announcement intensifies the competition among cable companies=
, game makers, computer manufacturers, software firms, retailers, entertain=
ment giants and Internet search engines that are all scrambling to find a w=
ay to dominate -- or at least carve out a niche in -- the digital home-ente=
rtainment hub. Companies have hurried to form alliances to strengthen their=
 "It's an epic battle," said Ted Schadler, consumer-technology analyst at F=
orrester Research Inc. "There are a lot of companies from a lot of industri=
es who are trying to figure out where the power is and where the choke poin=
ts are."
 Some companies are banking on the set-top box monopolizing the family ente=
rtainment hub. The digital-recording company TiVo Inc., recognizing the rol=
e of the Internet in the future of television viewing, recently teamed with=
 Yahoo Inc. to allow customers to program their devices through the Yahoo W=
eb site. The deal opens up wider applications for Yahoo, which plans to del=
iver some content to televisions through TiVo by the end of the year.
 Cisco Systems Inc., the huge Internet networking company, recently agreed =
to buy Scientific-Atlanta Inc., a maker of set-top boxes, making a clear pl=
ay to deliver programming to televisions through the Internet.
 Google Inc. also has ambitions to apply its formidable searching capabilit=
y to the family entertainment center. CBS said recently that it was in talk=
s with Google about video on demand and video searching.
 Other companies think the computer will run this show. Since 2002, PCs run=
ning Microsoft's Media Center Edition of Windows XP have incorporated TV tu=
ners and TV-recording software, as well as a "10-foot interface" designed t=
o allow users to play music, view photos and watch video from a couch acros=
s the room instead of a chair in front of the screen. Microsoft says it has=
 sold more than 4 million copies of Media Center Edition.
 Apple Computer Inc. has taken a step toward turning its latest iMac into a=
 television-like screening site but stopped short of providing the capabili=
ty to send content to a real television screen. The new version contains an=
 application called Front Row, which, operated by remote, clears the screen=
 to view video and other content. The computer provides a large, open surfa=
ce and easy remote navigation for viewing from a distance, but the content =
is still locked in the iMac.
 Consumers have demonstrated a growing appetite for on-demand programming, =
and the digital trend promises to give them more control over what they wat=
ch and when they watch it. But as on-demand options expand via the Internet=
, viewers could become intimidated by the complexity of finding and downloa=
ding shows as well as connecting other devices to the system.
 "It will take some time for people to make the transition unless you can m=
ake it very easy -- and if Intel can do that, then that's a big thing," sai=
d Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for the Disney-AB=
C Television Group. He added that, should consumers demonstrate a strong ap=
petite for downloading Internet programming, Disney-ABC will be prepared to=
 provide it. "If consumers find their way to the Internet, you can rest ass=
ured we are definitely working to ensure our content gets to consumers in a=
ll different ways."
 Intel insists the Viiv-platform computers will be easy to use. Spokeswoman=
 Kari Skoog said the company has sought to impress upon all of its content =
providers that simplicity is key in the product's development. She said the=
 computers' set-up won't be much different from what is currently required =
and that next year, software will be available to smooth the process of add=
ing new devices to the network.
 Phil Leigh, a senior analyst at market-research firm Inside Digital Media,=
 said he thinks he will one day be able to search online for a movie and cl=
ick to play it on his television. The next generation, he said, will not re=
member that networks or cable operators once controlled consumers' viewing =
 "Your children are going to look at you and say: 'Dad, you mean you had to=
 watch what was on TV? You couldn't just go to Google and search what you w=
anted?' " he said. "This is exactly where we need to head."
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  • » [opendtv] A washingtonpost.com article from: JohnWillkie@earthlink.net