For some time now computers have been used in the entertainment industry. Movie special effects and such are almost all done on a computer these days. Graphic design, advertising, even animation has in many cases, migrated from the world of the artist / designer to that of the computer programmer.
Some technologies migrated to computers only after they became popular. For example, CD’s existed in the home entertainment market long before computers. At one time it was actually a novelty to have a CD-Rom in your computer. On the other hand DVD’s were introduced to both market places at about the same time. Most newer model computers now come with CD & DVD players or recorders.
This dual function capability is leading the way into newer and newer technologies. Most of the newer LCD & Plasma TV’s can now be attached to your home computer. From there you can surf the internet on your TV screen. In fact high tech TV resolution is often quoted in terms of computer resolution 800 x 600, etc.
New Personal Video Recorders come with built in hard drives with the ability to store up to 100 hours of recorded television programs. They can even record two programs simultaneously, while you watch a third program. The built in computer technology allows you to scan and select recorded programs to watch or erase once you have seen them. The recording quality of these devices far exceeds that of VCR’s as well.
Other units such as DVD Recorders allow you to record to DVD’s and transfer the disks to your computer to view them on your laptop on a plane for example. The cost of DVD media has dropped to as little as 50 cents per disk so this method of recording has become quite economical. DVD writers in computers also function as excellent data backup devices.
This gradual merging of computer and entertainment technologies may have reached its peak in the latest Media Control Centres available from companies such as HP. They are basically high-end computers equipped with CD & DVD players and writers and powered by Windows XP Media Edition.
Windows XP Media Edition goes one step further in the quest to integrate computers and home entertainment. Computer menus allow you to turn on devices, record and playback programs, run slide shows of your digital camera pictures and videos, etc. In many ways this makes a lot of sense since many people duplicate a lot of the technology currently located in their computers within their home entertainment systems.
Audio Video Receivers, CD & DVD Players, VCR’s, Personal Video Recorders, DVD Recorders etc. could be replaced with one user friendly media control centre. Sounds like a good idea but some caution needs to be exercised before you run out and buy one of these units. These are some of the drawbacks over individual components:
Cost – These Media Control Centres usually cost anywhere from $2000.00 to $5000.00
Reliability – Computers and Windows do have their bad days. In this case your entire system could be down for the count.
Quality – Audio Video Receivers have been around for a while and it is unlikely that the sound quality of a computer sound card will match that of a good quality Audio Receiver.
While the day may not yet be here where your computer does all things, it is definitely getting closer as witnessed by the ongoing changes in both the computer and home entertainment technology marketplace.