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The PC based media centre is in serious trouble with several vendors claiming that it is not selling as a stand alone offering, among them Acer and HP. Now news is filtering out that Intel has put on hold its Viiv platform because of a lack of interest from PC manufacturers.

During a recent meeting a senior Intel executive admitted that Intel was “not focusing” on Viiv this year due to a lack of interest.

It has also been revealed that HP is pulling out of the Digital Entertainment Center (DEC) business. The company that pioneered the living-room form factor for Media Center Edition (MCE) PCs has decided to drop the line. The company instead will focus its energy on MediaSmart, a new brand of TVs with digital media adapters built in.

These are not Microsoft Media Center Extenders that link media centres with remote TVs, but HP’s own solution for distributing photos, music, video and other content including Web-based information. HP designed the DEC as a sophisticated product with a full complement of audio/visual ports to connect to any television set, according to Pat Kinley, public relations manager for digital entertainment at HP. The product, more expensive than PCs running Microsoft’s Media Center OS and designed to look more at home in a living room than a typical PC, was pitched to specialty retailers selling custom installations for high-end home theaters, she said. The company will now stop development of the line, although it will sell and support the remaining units in the marketplace.

 

“We have other products on the market now and future products that I can’t talk about that perform essentially the same function in a way that’s easier for the consumer [to use]. We’re moving to a scenario where the TV itself can be attached to the home network, the MediaSmart TV,” Kinley said.

“The home theatre buff is becoming more and more of an endangered species because high fidelity has given way to convenience,” said Josh Martin, an analyst with The Yankee Group. The popularity of portable music players like Apple’s iPod has shown that most users are willing to trade the quality of music recorded on CDs for the mobility of music stored as MP3 files.

This trend won’t reduce demand for PCs running Windows Media Center Edition OS, however. Users still need to manage their personal and Web-based media, and the PC is a far better tool for that job than the TV, Martin said.

HP’s move is logical, according to Richard Doherty, research director at The Envisioneering Group, adding that “no one has tried harder than HP” to make the promise of Media Center software work. But given its other efforts in the digital home arena, such as Media Vault and Media Smart TVs, it makes sense to refocus, he said.


 

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