The year of the digital home

The year of the digital home

After a series of false starts, sales of devices for the digital home will take off in 2007, says Acer's chairman.

Large numbers of users will start to replace their current home entertainment centers with digital devices because the hardware, mostly made from PC parts, is easier to use and connect to other gadgets, and thanks to attractive prices, said J.T. Wang, the chairman of Acer.

"This [2007] is the year all platforms, hardware and software, are ready," he said.

The willingness of the entertainment industry to move forward on selling movies and music over the Internet is another key reason 2007 will the year of the digital home, said Jau Huang, chairman of CyberLink, a developer of media player software and recording on optical discs.

"It's all about content. It's all about experience," he said.

Another important factor is the marketing effort from companies such as Apple and Microsoft to promote new digital home gadgets and services. The iTV from Apple, for example, will put iPod content in the living room for the first time for many users.

"We talked about [the digital home] 10 years ago. What a fragmented market it was then, what a different market," Huang said.

However, Huang lamented one missing link, the lack of an industry standard for DRM (digital rights management) software, since it's a tool that companies can use to ensure users are only able to play their music and movies on certain devices.

He said his company is working with the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), which includes tech industry heavyweights including Intel, Microsoft and Sony, on an open standard, Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), which will include a media management and control standard.

DRM was originally developed as a way to stop Internet music and movie piracy by verifying that a user had paid for the content.

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