May 23, 2006 11:35 PM PDT

AMD: Vista only a tiny step to convergence

SEATTLE--Windows Vista is a step in the right direction, but major obstacles remain before PC technology can make it big in the living room, a senior Advanced Micro Devices researcher said Tuesday.

Advances in Windows Vista, such as increased support for high-definition video and new DVD standards, help PC technology in its battle for consumer living rooms, Rod Fleck, a fellow with AMD said in a presentation at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference here. But a new operating system doesn't solve the broader industry issues.

"What I would love is fewer standards and more people that adopt the few that we take," he said. Windows Vista is the successor to Windows XP, slated to be broadly available in January. Certain editions of the new Microsoft operating system will include an update to capabilities found in today's Windows XP Media Center Edition.

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The PC industry, with players such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Intel and AMD, has tried to move into the living room for years, without much success. A new operating system alone won't solve the challenges, Fleck said, apologizing if he was upsetting Microsoft with his stance.

Aside from the lack of generally accepted standards to make devices work together, the industry faces a number of hurdles, he said. These include unreliable home networking technology, software that's too bulky and hardware that is too expensive, too noisy and generates too much heat, Fleck said.

"PCs are too big, they look ugly, they generate too much heat, they don't fit into a consumer electronics environment," he said. "We've got to bring the cost down and need smaller designs. If you're going to put this in your bedroom, you really don't want to hear it."

Ultimately, consumers want their technology to work together and they want to have a good experience, Fleck said. So he called on the consumer electronics and the technology industries to come together and solve the challenge. Ultimately, this should lead to a connected home where various devices interconnect over a quality home network.

Fleck struck a chord with Mike Dellisanti, a researcher at Bose who is attending WinHEC. "It's a tough time for us as well, we're all in the same boat," he said. Bose had to invent its own streaming audio technology to deliver sound throughout a house, because of a lack of standards when it did so, he said.

All a consumer really wants, Dellisanti said, is for products to work. Today, there is no telling if a DVD, when it is inserted in a player, will actually work, for example. "It should be a simple thing."

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9 comments

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Hardware - Software solution
Of course we are all eagerly awaiting Vista fun and the new 'hot'
media-centre systems that will bring us our permitted
entertainment.
I do need to point out that my old Mac Mini 1.25GHz G4
is functioning FANTASTICALLY as a DVI Dell LCD HDTV
entertainment, and has been for a year. It doesn't make a noise.
It is small. It is reasonably user-friendly, if DVD player doesn't
play the DVD , then VLC always works. (OS10.5 and Front-Row
upgrades
will undoubtedly improve the multmedia convergence
experience and result in a smaller - more efficient system
software footprint) I do apologise if I have missed the point of
the article that AMD is explaining the real world to Microsoft,
both companies, I of course, admire. This isn't an advertisement
for Apple, it's just that they seem to get there first , and usually
better.
Posted by Hardrada (359 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Missed the point.
I think you did miss the point of the article. I also have a Mac Mini, and it doesn't come with a TV tuner, DVR software, or other components to make it an entertainment center device. That's why Apple does not market it as such.

This article is about making a simple convergence device - buy it, hook it up, and start having fun.

Such a device would not require consumers to determine which TV tuner works best with their satellite/cable/OTA signal, buy the tuner, shop for or download DVR software, acquire a remote that controls the DVR sofware as well as other media software (pictures, videos, etc.)...

A new standard for cable-tv tuner cards is available, so we should start to see cards that can tune digital cable without an external box. The same is needed for satellite TV.
Posted by just_some_guy (231 comments )
Link Flag
reasonably user-friendly
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/saab_9-3_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/saab_9-3_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Ipod Apple (152 comments )
Link Flag
Hardware - Software solution
Of course we are all eagerly awaiting Vista fun and the new 'hot'
media-centre systems that will bring us our permitted
entertainment.
I do need to point out that my old Mac Mini 1.25GHz G4 is
functioning FANTASTICALLY as a DVI Dell LCD HDTV
entertainment source DVR etc, and has been for a year. It
doesn't make a noise. It is small. It is reasonably user-friendly, if
"DVD player" doesn't play the DVD , then "VLC" always works.
(upcoming OS X 10.5 and Front-Row upgrades will undoubtedly
improve the multmedia convergence experience and result in a
smaller - more efficient system software footprint). I do
apologise if I have missed the point of the article that AMD is
explaining the real world to Microsoft, both are companies that
I, of course, admire.
This isn't an advertisement for Apple, it's just that they seem to
get there first , and usually
better.
Posted by Hardrada (359 comments )
Reply Link Flag
sorry, I'm typing this from Windows Millenium edition
thinks dornt seem two wirk in WinMe
Posted by Hardrada (359 comments )
Link Flag
Living Room?
In reference to where the "family entertainment" room is, my family/household has used a computer (PC technology with a DVD-ROM before actual DVD players were even popular in stores) since 1998 in place of a DVD player.

PC technology has already made it "big" in my homes' family entertainment room this entire century! A few other people from my high school were also using a computer in their "living rooms" over 10 years ago; well before me. I pretty much used the DVD-Rom as the one excuse to watch movies and place one in the family room. And I'm usually 1 to 2 years behind most of my friends, but I figured I was just about 3 years, a bit, ahead of the general public.

However, it's been about 8+ years now; the majority of people still do not use a computer in their family entertainment (living) rooms??? Wow... Nothing wrong with that, but it sort of juggs my perception back to reality. I really should talk to more people. LOL

With the statement "PCs are too big", I agree. That is why one uses a notebook and possibly dock one in the family entertainment room.

As for noise, with moderate fan noise and with one constantly going 24/7, people normally will ignore the sound. It just takes getting use to like the one in my kitchen.

But I know I'm a bit odd because I watch music videos from the web via a notebook and actually walk outside carrying the notebook while getting the (physical USPS) mail about 100 ft away. As well as running 6 to 8 different anti-virus/spyware/adware applications on each system and running them all before going to bed.
Posted by ranoco (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Still awaiting these....
A small step indeed, I'm still waiting for...

The computer that has the infrared port that will work with the remote control. I don't know anyone willing to go back to life without a remote.

TV tuner. I have seen some graphics cards that do offer this ability but not in stock PC's.

HDTV jack. Still, you can find this on some graphics cards, but not in stock PC's. If the family is going to watch a movie, it's not going to be on a 17 inch flip up display on a laptop, it's going to be the big screen the laptop is sending the signal to.

Simple functionality. I do not have to "log on" to use the TV, I'm not going to do it with a computer to watch TV. I should be able to turn it on, sit in the lazy boy, and use the remote just like I can now. Most of all, I do not want to "please wait" for several minutes while it boots before I can pick a channel.

Environmentally friendly. I don't have to listen to fans running on the TV or stereo, it should be the same with the multimedia PC.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista 2006-2009 vs. next generation Mac OS
Of course I had to try to install Vista Beta 2 on one of my Mac
Mini Dual Core using Bootcamp.

After overcoming a few hurdles I got it to run although I didn't
get audio to work. Great I thought and it was a positive surprise,
but then I quickly wondered what is it I am getting now that I
truly need and didn't get before...???

It wasn't the few crashes I experienced as much as the lack of
really something new I needed that made me go back to Mac OS.
The Mac Mini is still the best computer out there for home
theatre use with Frontrow; and think twice before you wish for a
crappy tuner in your noisy huge virus collecting home theatre PC
engineered for engineers.

Of course Apple's roadmap for Mac OS improvements will
continue so I'm pretty sure that the next version will further
challenge Vista and Microsoft will probably keep Vista fairly
unchanged for several years.
But compared to XP, Vista seems to be provide more eye candy,
ease of use and functionality and only thing I really hate are the
frequent security questions coming up and the fact that learning
a new OS adds little value in itself, so I guess I'll get back to
Vista soon...at least on my desktop and laptop PCs. My home
theatre Mac Mini with Mac OS and Frontrow is just fine as it
is...at least at the moment nothing else is coming close to it.
Posted by peter.mortensen (119 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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