Home Networking

I’ve been eying off the new Foxtel IQ hard disk recorder/digital tv box. Mainly because I keep forgetting when my favourite programs are on. After missing Battlestar Galactica yet again I checked out the IQ web site – and had a fit when I discovered IQ would cost me $500 to install, and that’s the rate if you are already a Foxtel digital subscriber.

It’s also a pretty limited offering – basically it’s a harddisk recorder pretending to be a video recorder. Sure, it has a couple of neat tricks – it can record a couple of things at once, it can do a bit of time shifting, so you can ‘pause’ a live program then come back later and pick up.

But it’s nothing on the Tivo in the USA for example, which learns what you like. Tell it your interested in Alfred Hitchcock and it will automatically chase down relevant programs and record them.

However, I reckon all of this is a short term thing. Charles Wright has a good pieceon his Bleeding Edge site highlighting the blurred line between TV, computers and video recorders. We’re rapidly approaching the era of the networked home, where you have a centralised media systems hooked to tv, internet and other communication channels, and distributing content around your home.

There’s some big companies playing hardball with this technology, including Microsoft with its Windows Media Centre, and Intel with its East Fork project. Plus independent producers – have a look at the Home Media Centre from D1.

It makes me wonder how much of a time window Foxtel has. As the general public becomes more educated about networked homes, and the big players bring out accessible, consumer-oriented and priced products, it’ll render Foxtel’s IQ box old technology very quickly. I certainly wouldn’t buy it. I’d rather put the $500 towards a second hand PC running an open source software like MythTv.

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