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Is 2006 the Year of the Digital Home?

Digital Home magazine reports that as the dust settles after this year�s CES, it�s becoming easier to pick out the key technologies that will shape 2006. Think high definition video, entertainment computing, Internet-based content delivery and portable digital entertainment.

In many ways, these are the same set of technologies that dominated CES last year, but in 2005 they had little mainstream impact due to either (a) the absence of core content to drive them forward or (b) the lack of available (and affordable) hardware.

While the US, Japan and Australia enjoyed HDTV broadcasts in 2005, Europe was only just starting the switch to digital television; Media Center was still struggling to win living room acceptance; and TV companies and Hollywood studios were questioning the flaky security of IP content delivery, while publicly nit-picking the specs of next-generation disc formats.

Only portable digital entertainment was making any serious in-roads into the global consciousness � Apple�s iPod was leading the MP3 charge; but portable video players were little more than overpriced curios, waiting for a TV/movie download service to give them some relevance.

A year on and everything�s changed. Could 2006 be the year of the digital home? Despite some major steps forward, the answer is probably �no�. While devices are getting better and cheaper, the digital home idea still lacks an overriding system to glue its many elements together -- a system that will enable you to download movies and watch them on your TV, program your PVR from a mobile phone, let you watch anything you own, any time, and anywhere you choose.

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