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All-in-One Devices and Internet–TV Functionality Will Fuel the Home Theater PC Market

On 10 June, Hewlett-Packard announced its release of a “new generation of all-in-one PCs,” designed to boost user experience with enhanced multimedia applications presented in a touchscreen interface through a high-definition display. PC manufacturers such as Sony, Dell, and now HP, are using all-in-one designs with rich multimedia capabilities to appeal to new usage models around the home.

In a recent report, ABI Research unpacks the home theater PC market, and details the growing competition as manufacturers attempt to lead the industry by setting new technological and usability trends.

“The act of combining standard PC form factors with high-resolution multimedia capabilities is the new evolution with respect to all-in-one device design,” says principal analyst Steve Wilson. “Moreover, this combinational trend is emerging in the budding relationship between TV and the Internet. For instance, both Samsung and Panasonic have announced TVs where the user can connect directly to the Internet. However, these likely will be limited to specific Web sites and services and cannot yet provide the full flexibility of a PC connection.”

Conversely, CinemaNow, an online movie service, announced in May 2008 that it has joined with Microsoft to rent and sell nearly 3,400 movie titles and TV shows within Windows Media Center. Using a direct PC-to-TV connection, the user can watch content directly on a TV; or, the user can employ the burn-to-DVD option, permitting access of purchased content across the full range of devices: from the PC, to the TV, to the DVD player.

With technology, industrial, and interface improvements, the role of the PC in the digital living room continues to evolve: all-in-one devices may become the norm, and TVs with PC/Internet functionality may be established as the next evolutionary plateau. The all-in-one device format, arguably brought to light by Apple’s iMac, is gaining favor as a space saver and as a platform upon which interactive digital entertainment can be accessed on-the-go or at a specific location. [ABI Research]

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