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Battle for the Digital Living Room

Chicago Tribune raises questions about the emerging digital home landscape -- First there's the question of how all of this entertainment and information will travel into your home. Through television cables? Phone lines? Fiber? Satellites? Newspapers flung onto your porch?

Then there's the matter of what home device will receive and present this material. A TV set-top (a.k.a. cable) box? A computer? A video game console? An iPod? A superduper cell phone?

And, of course, every device in your household is going to talk to each other, zipping pictures, music, data and voices this way and that. Will all of these machines learn to speak a common language or will standards disputes cause households to continue resembling digital Towers of Babel?

That's just a taste of what's being played out right now in the ongoing Battle for the Living Room. It's a bit of a free-for-all right now, which, to many analysts, means that the consumer has much of the power. For instance, many of us don't care who provides us with high-speed Internet access as long as the price and service are right.

"There's still very little loyalty, and most of the competition is price-based," said Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst for the Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.

Noted Peter Rojas, editor of the Web magazine Engadget: "I think what you're going to see is that consumers are getting savvier by the minute and companies are going to start giving people what they want, which is easy ways to get content into the home and easy ways to push it around once it's there,"

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