Sun, Apr 17, 2005 - Page 10 News List

TV on the brink of true mobility, experts predict

DIGITAL Industry insiders say recent advances are enabling consumers to enjoy a seamless, wireless connected entertainment experience both inside and outside their home

AFP , CANNES, FRANCE

Whether by way of computer screens, home entertainment centers, game consoles or mobile phones, industry experts agree that TV is on the brink of going truly mobile.

The rapid development of mobile networks and handsets as vehicles for accessing entertainment content is transforming the television landscape and dominated the influential MIPTV/MILIA audiovisual and digital content trade show that closed its doors here on Friday.

"TV is about to go mobile," Dawn Airey, Managing Director of satellite broadcasting giant BskyB's Sky Networks, said in a keynote speech here this week.

Television will become available on PC screens, game consoles and "increasingly on mobile phones," Airey emphasized to a packed-to-capacity audience that included many of the world's key players in the audiovisual and digital high-tech sectors.

The growth in the popularity of digital TV is tremendous, Airey stressed, noting that there is now a free, open TV market. The stage is now set for more channels and more ways in which to watch them, she said.

Europe is taking a leading role in digital TV as well as adopting the so-called high-tech "triple play" offer, which provides TV, telephone and internet access in homes via broadband ADSL.

These technological advances also open up the possibility for consumers to enjoy a seamless, wireless connected entertainment experience inside and outside their home.

This was the cue for Software titan Microsoft to come to town and present its digital home. This "entertainment PC" provides a "one-stop-shop," which, used along with an inexpensive Microsoft set-top extender, replaces the TV, DVD player, personal video recorder (PVR) and PC, to name but a few.

Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 will mean the kids can watch a movie upstairs on their Xbox gaming console and surf the Internet at the same time, whilst Mum is the living room catching up with her favorite reality show on a TV display screen and Dad is in the den avidly following a football match on another channel.

And that's not all. The Media Center also allows users to download video, TV, music content and digital photos onto a Microsoft handheld portable media center or burn it to CD or DVD.

"We're committed to creating a compelling consumer experience," said Joe Belfiore, general manager of Microsoft's Windows eHome division. The whole set-up is simple to use, switches between services almost instantaneously and is controlled by one handheld remote control.

"It is the most entertaining experience you can get, if you take digital pictures, if you're into music, if you're into TV," Belfiore said.

"Interactivity will increasingly be a way of deriving revenues from outside advertising," Airey emphasized.

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