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PCs to Have a Role in Digital Living Room

While a multitude of non-PC devices will play a role in the connected living room of the future, that doesn't means the PC will fade away. In fact, according to a new study from ABI Research, PCs are destined to play an ever-increasing role in the management, distribution and playback of multimedia content in the home -- with both network-connected PC media servers and in-living room PCs growing in adoption over time.

Both AV form factor home theater PCs and more traditional home theater PCs will grow to an installed base worldwide of 25 million by 2013.

"There are two primary ways the PC can be incorporated into the digital living room," says principal analyst Steve Wilson. "One has a PC directly connected to a client device, a home theater PC, or in the form of a PC integrated with a display. The other involves using an embedded client to extend the PC output to a TV."

Microsoft's bundling of the Media Center application with Vista will help solidify the role of the PC in future living rooms, and clients running over home networks and extender technologies will be by far the leading way to connect a PC to the TV.

However, ABI Research believes these efforts will take time, and there will be some bumps in the road, as shown by the fate of Intel's Viiv program (or the equally disappointing AMD Live!). Further, while new broadband-based services may bypass the home PC initially, the PC model will become more inclusive in the future.

There will still be a small market of home theater PC enthusiasts who buy custom-designed home theater PC systems resembling consumer audiovisual equipment. While all-in-one systems are a bit bulky today, in the future we will see more optimized designs for converging the PC and TV.

"While the custom install market has some appetite for the best high end home theater PCs, it's a very limited demand," says Wilson. "Tech-savvy consumers who understand the advantages of a home theater PC are still price-sensitive and unwilling to pay ultra-high prices."

The "Home Theater and Media Center PCs in the Living Room" report examines the forces driving the home theater PC market and how regional factors are influencing adoption throughout the world. Forecasts are provided on a regional basis for key markets and products.

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