Parks Associates Blog

Monday, January 12, 2009

ViewSonic ViePC/LinkPC - why bother with the home network?

This announcement from ViewSonic caught my eye. They've developed something called the ViePC (although it looks to go by the name of the LinkPC, too). It's a $399 low-cost PC that runs Windows XP and can attach to any VESA-compatible TV.

If companies can get into the low-cost PC market with computers that include at least some media capability (maybe it's the ASUS Nova P20 or the Mac mini), why wouldn't I use that to get media on my PC instead of a cumbersome and often disappointing home networking experience? You know the run-ins I've had with products like digital media adapters and even the ZvBox (buzz and all). I'm still hopeful that we'll see a decent (and affordable) PC shifting device come to market that will provide a low-cost and easy way to display what's on my PC on my high-definition television. I was pleased to have Robert Eisses from Icron on one of my CONNECTIONS Summit at CES panels last week, and they are doing work with different PHY networking companies to shift the PC to the TV. That may be a great solution for me to watch Hulu on the TV or listen to my favorite Internet radio station through the whole-house speakers.

However, I wonder if the real momentum will be made by PC manufacturers who marry some basic media capability, low-cost, and some basic industrial design elements to finally give us a feasible solution for the Internet TV. Why not provide the low-cost PC plus an RF-based remote control to access the content?

By the way, the title of this post wasn't meant to imply that home networking wasn't important. Obviously, these "AV PCs" are going to use a wireless or "no-new-wires" network to connect to the router and to the other home network devices to pull content.

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