Study: TV to play bigger role in home networks

Popular wish list items include support for high-definition television and multiroom audio, NDP says.

The preferences of people who have networked homes are changing.

Right now, people with home networks are content to share photos over their networked devices, particularly PCs. But television is set to play a more central role in the next wave of home networking, according to a consumer survey by the NDP Group.

Related story

Among new high-tech
kitchenware from Salton:
a bread maker that can
recognize the bar code
on a mix, then prepare
the loaf correctly.

According to the report, which was released Thursday, most consumers still believe that the PC is the best device for managing content on a home network. However, only 26 percent of those surveyed see PCs as adept at sharing images and music with other home devices such as stereos and televisions, NDP said. And less than 20 percent of those surveyed think that PCs excel at sending video to televisions.

Among people who have home networks or who are planning to get them, popular wish list features include support for high-definition television and multiroom audio, NDP said.

Moving photos and music among devices is currently the most popular use for home networks. According to the survey, of those who have home networks, 52 percent use them to share photos among devices. Nearly 17 percent use them to share music between a PC and a stereo or a television, NDP said.

Home networkers will become more demanding in terms of features, but they'll be less concerned about which device they use to access content, according to the survey. For example, users say they will be content to watch movies on a PC. At the same time, NDP said, many users who plan to install home networks believe that the television could be the most effective interface in a home network--even more than the PC.

The market researcher also said that during the past year, the number of home networks has increased, from 28 percent of households with PCs to 34 percent.

A number of technology companies, including device makers like Hewlett-Packard, have lined up an array of entertainment products for living rooms. And Microsoft has been pushing technology that will allow computers to serve as entertainment hubs.

The study also said that consumers place a high level of importance on smooth playback of music and videos--a feature that is not addressed fully by today's wireless technologies.

Disaster recovery is yet another issue. More than 39 percent of home network users and about 48 percent of those planning to buy such networks in the future said they would like to see automatic backup of content.