Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How IPTV will Compete with the Media Center Wow Factor

As readers of Geektonic already know, I'm a Home Theater PC enthusiast in every way imaginable.  So you might think I would say that HTPCs will "rule the TV" of the future right?  Well I actually think that is a battle we'll see happen over the next three years where either Home Theater/Media Center computers and CE devices will go head-to-head with IPTV for the masses.  There is no clear winner at this point, but I can see a time when IPTV will make a very, very competitive move on even the most advanced HTPCs.  The purpose of this article is to introduce why IPTV will be a force for HTPC software makers in the very near future.
IPTV currently is pretty rare,

What is IPTV?

IPTV, short for Internet Protocol Television, is a system where a digital television service is delivered to your home via a broadband connection using Internet Protocol.  Instead of being delivered through the traditional broadcast and cable formats, IPTV is sent to the end-user's home using a computer network.  Typically IPTV is bundled with other internet services such as VOIP (voice over IP), internet access etc.  You probably know IPTV from the AT&T U-Verse and other IPTV services being sold to customers.

Microsoft Set to Gain from IPTV with Mediaroom?

You might think Microsoft could lose their investment in Media Center if IPTV takes off right?  Well, actually Microsoft has a pretty significant investment in IPTV via their Mediaroom product.  At CES this year, Microsoft announced and demonstrated several new features to their IPTV product.

Features of MediaRoom IPTV Product demonstrated at CES:

  • Restart Anytime - viewers can rewind or restart currently airing preogram even if you hadn't selected it to record or had been watching another channel
  • Live Anytime - basically a network PVR (stored on the cable companies server) that allows the viewer to scroll back through the program guide (EPG) to view programs that have previously been transmitted - not from the "recorded shows" but right from a EPG even when you didn't set it to record.
  • Download anytime - viewers can download programs to their set-top boxes for those with "slower Internet connections" to view at a later time - when bandwidth is at a premium.
  • Widgets - check out the video below to see examples of how content providers could integrated extra features (and advertising) into a program whether it be live or prerecorded.
  • Multiple TV angles - think sporting events where you could switch from different views to see what you want to see for that sporting event.
Watch the demonstration below to get the full impact of what IPTV could offer.

CES 2009: Mediaroom is the real deal of IPTV

I am and continue to be a HTPC enthusiast and I believe the best way for the enthusiast is to have as much control over content as possible, but I can see a day when the content providers and the cable/satellite companies move towards IPTV and "control" that content more than they do today.  And at the same time offer enough power via the IPTV interface to convince many HTPC users to just give up the fight and go with IPTV.  Don't get me wrong, I think HTPC is the way to go and both could exist together, but its good to know what else is out there.   Anyone using Uverse or another IPTV provider?  Let us know in the comments what you think of the service good and bad.

video and some information via