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Technology Update:

The Tech Blender

by Mark Bright


The lines between traditional tech categories are being blurred like the ones between the SUV minivan and the SUV family sedan. And like the car industry, there are some winners and some real losers. We will use the Pontiac Aztec as the moniker for the losers and the Ford Edge for the winners.

Right now we are seeing the merging of the TV and the computer—Internet TV—and at the moment it is on the Pontiac Aztec side of the equation. I should make a footnote here and let you know that a lot of the issues with the blending of TV and the Internet is not the fault of the hardware manufacturers or the software programmers, but the aging and outmoded contracts of the entertainment industry.

The producers, agents and traditional distribution networks are not sure how this whole Internet broadcasting thing is going to affect their bottom line. There are some forward-thinking networks that have embraced the future, like NBC and FOX, who are the foundation for www.hulu.com, but there are also a lot of shows on those networks that are restricted by contracts that were signed well before the explosion of broad-band and its ability to handle full-screen video feeds.

Back to the Internet TV. Right now there are a few stand-alone units like the Roku and Sony’s Google TV. There is also a lot of competition for eyeballs and the competitors are not playing well together.

So here is the answer for the time being. There is a Dell computer and a Gateway computer that are intended to be used with your HDTV and, as such, they have HDMI ports on the back of them. These are desktop computers in a compact size that can do all the things that your standard computer can and, in effect, will turn your TV into a giant computer monitor. Almost all Intel Core I3, I5 and I7 laptop computers have HDMI jacks on them and do the same thing as the aforementioned desktops. Intel also has a new chipset that has a built-in multimedia transmitter that broadcasts your computer’s AV content wirelessly. It does however need an additional receiver to hook into your TV. These receiver units have an HDMI interface that you can plug into your TV.

This is a new technology and as such it is not quite stream-lined, but I am excited about what the future holds, like broad-casting directly to a projector and not having to run a 100-foot cable or downgrade the output signal of my computer to analog VGA. In a few years when this becomes the standard on projectors and computers alike I believe we will see these receivers making their way into consumer TVs.

Why is this a big deal? We have been waiting for this wed-ding for a long time here at K-House. As a matter of fact, I hooked up my first computer-TV combo over four years ago. We are excited about this because we see the great potential to bring multimedia content over the Internet and onto your TV. Home group and family study materials can now be down-loaded over the Internet and viewed in the living room. While this technology has been out for a while, it is just now mature enough that we feel confident that we can deliver content that will play on most devices and look good on full-size screens.

Over the next few months, we will begin to release all of our DVD content as MPEG4 files that will be available for down-load. We will be releasing all of our Briefing Packs first, fol-lowed by our Commentary Series. We are also excited about the potential for a global impact, as people around the world will be able to download the Bible study videos directly from the Internet, which can then be shared with their fellowship and family.

Next month we’ll look at e-reader technology—not only the various reader “hardware,” but also which of the four electronic software formats will still be in use and relevant 30 years from now. Electronic distribution is still in its infancy, and for the most part we have not thought about how it will affect our purchases 10 years out. This is akin to purchasing a VHS or BETA home video player or, in more recent times, HD DVD vs. Bluray. Stay tuned!


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