At this week’s 2005 International Funkausstellung (IFA) consumer electronics show in Berlin, Philips demonstrated its forthcoming Showline Media Center, which aims to position itself as a comprehensive hub for in-home digital multimedia without requiring the near-rocket science of managing a computer dedicated to media management.
The Showline Media Center is scheduled to be introduced in Europe in October 2005, and features two integrated TV tuners (so users can watch one thing while recording another), a 250 GB hard drive (for storing photos, recorded television shows, music, and photo collections), and a DVD/CD recorder for saving recorded content. The Showline Media Center connects to users’ systems using a selection of digital interfaces, Wi-Fi, and plain-old analog connections. A multi-format card reader on the front panel can access content from SD, Memory Stick, CompactFlash, and MMC memory cards; two FireWire/IEEE1392 ports (one in front, one in back) and four USB 2.0 ports (two front, two back) support digital camcorders, cameras, and other peripherals.
Perhaps more significantly, the Showline Media Center represents the first product from Philips’ collaboration with Intel. The heart of the unit is a 3 GHz Pentium 4 processor; also inside are Intel’s 945 Express chipset and Intel-developed software support for multichannel audio and HD video. If the unit sounds like a PC inside, it is: the Showline Media Center comes with Microsoft Media Center 2005 and Windows Media Manager pre-installed. The software is intended to provide easy on-screen control, an on-screen program guide, plus immediate access to video, music, games, and even Internet services; at this time, there no word on whether (or how) the unit can handle security updates or protect itself from Windows now-infamous track record of vulnerabilities.
Intel and Philips both say this PC-like media center represents a first step on a longer path, and future consumer electronics products featuring Intel technology will be less and less like their PC forbearers. Intel is currently focusing on a range of networked consumer electronics devices such as advanced televisions. Intel is currently conducting trails of interconnected consumer products with German firms Bertelsmann and Median.
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