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 Media center functions


In addition to streaming servers and insufficiently certified devices there are media center PCs with the new Viiv ™ standard by Intel. Here, Intel assumed the following basic functions:

Easy connecting of all components

The media center PC or HTPC forms the centre of the new multimedia world to which all play back devices like TV sets, stereos, DVD players, etc. are connected. Moreover, network compatibility of the media center computer allows connection of hi-fi systems or TV sets located in other rooms and further media center PCs.

 


Media-Center PC von FSC

Fujitsu-Siemens FSC Media-Center PC

No communication difficulties

Also the problem with different audio and video formats is supposed to be finally solved: until now many devices have not been capable to play back certain formats. Though many DVD players are able to play back DVDs and SVCDs they usually refuse to detect DivX-coded films.

The media center PC recodes a DivX-format film on the fly and sends it to the player in the required format. MP3 files or audio data with specific formats purchased at Internet shops can be recoded in the same way in order to be deployable for the stereo system.

 

Several functions in parallel

The dual-core processor makes the media center computer so powerful that e.g. a film can be recoded and played back on the living room TV while at the same time your daughter is surfing the Internet or playing her favourite music in the adjoining room.

Another certainly pleasant function will be recording and time-shifted play-back of TV broadcasts. Already during recording you can watch the beginning of a film and even skip the commercial brakes.

No longer slow booting and shut down

Through the Intel Quick Resume Technology the media center PC can be instantly switched on and off (after initial boot) at the push of a button. Thus, after switching on it won’t take 30 seconds or longer any more until the appliance is finally ready for use.

In the stand-by mode the appliances is not supposed to consume more than 2 to 5 W. However, if the media center PC was switched off through the remote control the stand-by power consumption is definitely higher as video or audio signals are still being provided for other network appliances. nly if no tasks are being carried out the power saving mode is fully activated. Due to this Quick Resume Technology the media center computer is only in the sleep mode and not switched off.



New contents via the Internet

The media center computer and fast Internet connection offer you more possibilities than watching TV, listening to music, or playing back videos.

For example, while sitting on the sofa one can surf the Internet (which is certainly not very easy with only a remote control), download films or pieces of music from online distributors and watch/listen to them immediately, view your latest vacation photos on the TV set and make them accessible on specific platforms to a wider audience, and much more.

A problem for many TV stations might be the fact that people are not dependent on broadcasts via cable or antenna/satellite anymore.

Thus, if one is dissatisfied with the evening TV programme he or she can watch other broadcasts provided over the Internet, some of them even in the high definition format.






Central storage location for all data

Provided that the hard disc drive of the media center PC is large enough, all music CDs and/or pieces of music downloaded from the Internet can be centrally stored here. One can play them anytime without getting up off the sofa and looking for the desired CD. This data can be made available in the whole network as well.

However, in that case there might be problems with music licence (see “Rights management for protected contents”) .



PC utilisation

Of course, the media center PCcan be also deployed for all “traditional” computer tasks, such as text writing, sending e-mails, surfing the Internet, burning CDs and DVDs, editing photos, etc.

It is doubtful however that one would like to do these things in the living room with a keyboard on the lap and using a big TV set. Insofar, one should think about placing the media center computer in the workroom (if available) and doing spare-time activities at connected appliances in the living room or wherever.



Data storage

Through integrated Matrix Storage Technology by Intel you can either store your data very safely or retrieve it very quickly.

If two hard disk drives are integrated in the media center PC they can be operated in the following ways:

  • In the configuration called RAID1 data is mirrored from the first hard disk drive to the second. The advantage is that in case of failure of the first hard disk drive all data is available on the second hard disk drive. One doesn’t have to search for it again or regenerate it.
  • In contrast the RAID0 called configuration is interesting for many gamers, for film editing, or for other memory-intensive processes. Reading data form today’s hard disk drives is still considerably slower than their processing by the media center processor. That is, the process of loading data from the slow hard disk drive to the quick main memory is the bottleneck for memory-intensive processes (e.g. loading a new game environment or a new film sequence). However, if this data is distributed on several hard disk drives they can be read out simultaneously, which results in quicker data supply.


Rights management for protected contents

If the media industry is supposed to actually fill Viiv™ with exclusive contents they must be enormously protected against copying.

That is supposed to be standardised for media center PCs in the same way it was realised in other media branches.

Intel deploys several standards for its "Digital Rights Management" (DRM):

  • HDCP (High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) is being already used for the digital video interface HDMI.
  • DTCP (Digital Transmission Content Protection) and CPRM (Content Protection for Recordable Media) are forming a whole system for protected contents, called “Content Protection System Architecture" (CPSA).
  • NMPR (Networked Media Product Requirements) is a specification for networking digital consumer electronics.
  • DMI (Digital Media Infrastructure) makes protected contents available to all users of a home entertainment network.

In respect of the operating system Microsoft adds the following standards:

  • PMP (Protected Media Path)
  • PVP (Protected Video Path) prevents video signals from being intercepted on the way to the player.
  • PUMA (Protected User Mode Audio) prevents audio signals from being intercepted on the way to the player.





 


 

» What is a media center?


TV sets, recorders, DVD players, hi-fi systems - Media-Center replace your entire electronic equipment.

With a remote control you control playback of your films or mp3 audio data as well as recording of your favourite series using the "electronic program guide" via Internet.

Media-Center can be purpose-built (e.g. KiSS VR-558) or media center PCs, which are personal computers enhanced by Microsoft's "Media Center Edition".

Network Attached Storage (NAS) multimedia servers with huge hard disk drives allow streaming to all kinds of appliances via WLAN.

WLAN radios / phones / loudspeaker systems are also available.







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