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Why the media centre PC is destined for the home office

The forthcoming update to Intel's Viiv will see the media centre PC move from the living room to the home office.

Desktops
Asher Moses, CNET.com.au

commentary The forthcoming update to Intel's Viiv will see the media centre PC move from the living room to the home office. Asher Moses explains why.

Before anyone mentions it, no, we haven't been smoking any particularly potent herbal products lately, nor were we repeatedly beaten over the head with a two by four on the way to work this morning. Hear me out.

Thus far, every play to bring the PC into the living room has revolved around plonking an entire machine down in the lounge, right next to your existing home theatre equipment. In our opinion, this method was doomed from the outset.

The only moderate success of Windows Media Center-equipped PCs has highlighted the fact that most consumers aren't interested in having an all-singing, all-dancing computer in their lounge room. We're not interested in editing word documents, manipulating spreadsheets, browsing the Web or playing games in a three metre interface from the couch (as opposed to sitting directly in front of the screen like we normally do when interacting with a PC). Rather, we'd simply like to watch/record TV, view DVDs and play other audio/video files on-demand through a simple, intuitive interface.

This is where the genius of Viiv comes in. Shortly, Intel will release a range of "digital media adapters", which connect to your existing home theatre components (e.g. your TV, stereo system, etc) and can stream content wirelessly from any Viiv-certified PC. Bingo!

The existence of digital media adapters will totally remove the need to have a media centre PC taking up space in your living room, unless you're one of the few users that finds it practical to do anything other than passively soak up multimedia content whilst relaxing on the couch.

As a result, the PC in your home office will likely act as a digital media hub, distributing content wirelessly throughout your house to various media adapters. And since the Windows Media Center Edition operating system used by all Viiv-enabled machines is virtually identical to Windows XP when it's not in media centre mode, you can go about your regular office-related tasks -- word processing, web browsing, etc -- while others are seamlessly streaming content in the lounge.

Such multi-tasking makes dual-core processors a necessity, which explains why Intel requires all vendors of Viiv machines to adopt a dual-core processor before gaining certification.

Suddenly, the logic surrounding some manufacturers' decisions to offer Viiv machines in an office-like tower form factor -- for example, the Acer Aspire e650 -- is beginning to make sense.

What do you think? Will the PC pull out of the lounge room, leaving your home office machine to act as both a media hub and a productivity workhorse? Have your say below!

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