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Biostar’s Jason Han, speaking today at the Computex trade show in Taipei. Biostar is looking to home entertainment PC hybrids as a more profitable market than pure PCs, and an opportunity for Biostar to add value which cannot be emulated by inexperienced, low cost manufacturers.

“From the point of view of the user, why should I buy a PC to put in the living room?” asks Han. He cites slow start up times as a roadblock on the

Microsoft Media Center
path to the ideal home theatre PC. Users demand instant gratification, he says, they don’t want to wait 30 seconds or longer to boot up media PCs before than can watch TV.

Biostar’s 300, 330 and 350 series of small form factor PCs all include some media centre features, but Biostar is still working on Linux-based instant-on software – an arduous development process, Han says. Intel and Microsoft can help by shortening boot up and BIOS startup times, he believes.
Microsoft needs to do more to promote Windows Media Center Edition, and other home entertainment initiatives. As other industry observers will attest, current Windows Media Center Edition promotion is oddly low key. Microsoft’s deep pockets allow it plenty of time to ramp up new ideas, sometimes several years, unlike smaller hardware manufacturers.

Despite the difficulty, without a viable instant-on solution from Microsoft, companies are continuing to develop instant-on solutions in house. Many are wary of smaller third party providers, because of possible issues with cost and reliability, and most important, says Han, “we are wary of getting our core tech from other companies – we may lack freedom to change or improve the software in future.” Microsoft’s existing dominance makes it an exception to this rule.

Biostar’s future home theatre systems will include more of its standard SFF PCs, with the in-house instant on solution, and also flat set-top box style systems.

Biostar products are available from Westan.

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