SMC Networks began shipping its EZ-Stream wireless home entertainment device this week. The $249.99 EZ-Stream Wireless Multimedia Receiver (SMCWMR-AG), distributes multi-media entertainment throughout the home via WiFi.
The networked entertainment receiver streams, plays and shares audio (including MP3 and Internet radio), pictures and video from the networked PC to the Home Entertainment Center. Music, photos and videos are stored on a computer’s hard drive – it links them to televisions and stereo receivers, via standard A/V connectors. It uses 802.11a/g chips from Atheros.
The EZ Installation Wizard that makes loading its software on the PC “a breeze”. Additional high-performance Universal Wireless 802.11a/g products will join the EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver over the next several weeks, to optimize connections between the server and computing, gaming or other network-capable devices.
The Linksys Wireless-B Media Adapter (WMA11B) is a similar device. The $199 Wireless-B Media Adapter sits by the television and stereo and connects to them using standard A/V or S-Video cables. Then it connects to your home network by Wireless-B (802.11b) wireless networking. It allows users to enjoy digital music and pictures stored on their PC to view and play on their TV and stereo system. A Wireless-G Media Adapter is, no doubt, on the way.
[Is it only me or does this seem like a product category only a geek could love. Set up and operation may be too complicated for the average person (me). How about a TiVo-like settop with Network Attached Storage? That would be easier to use and understand. Plug and play].
On the other hand…
CinemaNow, an IP-based video-on-demand service, supports Microsoft’s Media Center 2004. Users can browse, purchase and watch movies on-demand by using their remote control and television set or PC display. Of course it’s really meant for more advanced nations – the United States has the lowest broadband penetration of any industrialized nation and is stuck with slow-as-molasses duopoly DSL and cable service.
Media Center PCs, with built-in tv tuners, are available from Dell, H-P, Gateway and Toshiba. Toshiba’s Satellite P25 laptop comes with Media Center 2004, 1GB ram, a DVD burner, 17″ screen and NVIDIA graphics. How many karaoke plasma screens could that drive? How many archived videoconferences? Individualized instruction – for a coffee shop/computer clubhouse – is a click away. Five bucks an hour.
Access television is so twentieth century. Burn it.
Unintended applications might include NW-Radio in 31 flavors like the Boom Box Bass Station or sensor triggered video art. Imagine speech-triggered, real-time visuals – graphic synonyms, really. As you talk, the screen shows different photos or graphics related to each word you utter. Put that on a 4 Gig CF card and smoke it.
Or wait ’til 802.11n.