Monday, March 19, 2007

An Attempt to Revive the AMD LIVE Program

Informitv reports that AMD still hopes to bring the PC closer to the TV with its new "Active TV" initiative. The basic idea is to enable consumers to view their digital media on their television more easily. Apple TV aims to do essentially the same thing, with a simple and intuitive remote control that doesn't require a detailed operations manual.

AMD says that users can create customized channels and distribute them to television sets around the home, or even share them with family and friends, potentially thousands of miles away. Users also will be able to navigate their media using a remote control and a set-top box or other consumer electronics product that can communicate with their personal computer and other storage devices over a home network.

At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, AMD is announcing their partnership with set-top box and game console manufacturers, middleware providers and content aggregators to deliver Active TV-enabled hardware and software as part of its AMD LIVE! Ready program.

Active TV systems are not limited to AMD hardware and are open to any PC platform. AMD is also looking at targeting products such as games consoles like the PlayStation 2, which has sold well over a hundred million units. A company called BroadQ offers a software product that can be loaded on a PS2 to enable it to browse media on connected devices.

AMD has also lined up a number of smaller set-top box providers to offer support and enthusiastic endorsements for its initiative, which is seen as a renewed attempt to build its consumer brand and extend its reach into the consumer electronics domain.

The AMD LIVE! branding program echoes the Viiv initiative from Intel. Both programs have apparently experienced little success thus far. Each company had previously seen the media center computer as the hub of a home entertainment universe, but neither effort actually improved the user experience for mainstream consumers in a meaningful way.

So far, the convergence of the computer and the television has failed to materialize. The creation of an ecosystem based on open standards could help convergence, through interoperability across several devices. Clearly, it's a worthwhile cause. We'll just have to wait and see how this attempt to revive the AMD program delivers improved results.

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