I recently wrote about televisions that will have satellite service receivers built-in. A company named Digitrex is taking a different approach, and one that I think may ultimately be more successful. They are building network support into their LCD HDTVs. They come ready to connect to both wired and wireless (802.11b/g WiFi) networks. They are Microsoft “Plays for sure” certified, which means that they will automatically find Windows Media PCs on the network that are running Microsoft Media Connect.
This means that you can then stream video, or music, or still pictures from a server PC to the television. The Digitrex HDTVs also have the standard connectors so you can still hook up to a set top box or DVD player or game console if you want.
I like this approach. It routes the content through a central computer (or computers) that then makes it accessible throughout your network. The wired and wireless support mean that you have maximum flexibility to configure your home network. With a wireless connection, you can move a TV to another room without having to worry about having a wired connection, as you would with cable or satellite. I’ll agree that home networking has to get easier, and Media Center software needs to be more like a VCR and less like a computer, but we’re making great progress along these lines. I think it makes a lot more sense than tying yourself to the services from a single source, such as your cable or satellite service provider. I think that networked “smart components” like these new LCD HDTVs are the future of home entertainment.