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Home Media Network - the next step in home entertainment?

Soon, people will listen to music anywhere in their home via a Home Media Network, which will ultimately replace the conventional video, DVD and hi-fi. And it's all possible now...

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The problem with conventional home entertainment is that typically there is a large television and hifi in the main living area, but everywhere else in the home has just a small TV, maybe a portable stereo, or maybe nothing at all.

It would of course be possible to wire up speakers all over the house, but most people don't want to go to the trouble of doing this. And it is actually quite some trouble if you don't want to see the wires once they are installed.

Another answer is to use conventional wireless methods. But somehow that hasn't caught on, perhaps due to the restrictions on the use of radio frequencies in many countries.

But suddenly, something different is on the horizon. And that something different is the Home Media Network.

Already, many homes have discovered that several computers can be linked to the Internet by Wi-Fi - a wireless data transmission protocol. This works amazingly well. And Wi-Fi-enabled computers will find the network for themselves; there's hardly anything for the user to do.

Now it doesn't take much intelligence to realize that once you have a computer network, you also have a media network. For example I can take my laptop anywhere in the house or garden and stream music from the PC in my home office. I just use I-Tunes software (on my PC laptop) and click on links on a website in my personal intranet.

And believe me, if this had been any trouble I wouldn't have bothered.

Of course playing music on a computer is not ideal. Those pesky alert sounds keep intruding for one thing. But manufacturers are starting to see the possibilities and soon there will be network client devices that will 'tune in' to your own media server.

There's nothing to stop these devices showing video either.

Bearing in mind that the whole point of music recording is to provide material that people like to listen to, the way in which they listen is very important knowledge for anyone involved in the production of music.

It's well worth getting involved and investigating further right now.

By David Mellor Monday February 28, 2005
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