By Steve Zurier

Senior Editor

SAN JOSE, Calif., May 7, 2003 (Hanley-Wood News Service) - Intel offered the chip maker's vision of a digital home centered on a personal computer to kick off the 2003 Connections conference here.

The presentation by two execs from Intel's desktop platforms group, supported by a multimedia presentation with a 30-second punk rock tribute proclaiming "The Digital Home is Here,'' began the seventh annual conference. Co-sponsored by Parks Associates and the Consumer Electronics Association, the conference runs through Friday at the Fairmont Hotel.

The three-day event is small -- only 560 attendees and 44 exhibitors. But what's of note is that tech heavies such as Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, IBM, Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard sponsor the conference and are pumping considerable effort and resources into home technology. Consumer electronics companies Panasonic and Philips also are among the event's sponsors and exhibitors.

Louis J. Burns, vice president and co-general manager of Intel's desktop platforms group, said the chip maker has been working behind the scenes for about a year on its vision for the digital home.

Burns talked about two megatrends that are driving home technology:

  • All devices and content are going digital.
  • People want access to their digital content.

Essentially, Intel's vision is for the PC to be at the center of letting people view and listen to digital content throughout the home. Burns said Linksys is set to release a wireless digital media adapter in the next month or, so based on Intel technology that will let home PC users view and listen to PC and Internet content on their TVs and stereos.
"What we're doing is building on our concept of the extended PC we launched three years ago at the Consumer Electronics Show,'' Burns said. "A lot of what we found in our research ? is that people want to take their digital pictures and add music. People also want wireless, they want to take the device out of the box and not run cables.''

Intel's PC-centric view of the world is a step or two removed from what most builders are concerned with. Only a handful of builders, most notably Village Homes in Colorado, have started separate divisions to market home technology. Most builders prefer to run structured wiring and refer all other home technology to installers.

Tim Shaughnessy, director of Netgear's solutions marketing and alliances, said while most existing homes will move to home networking via wireless, structured wiring still makes the most sense for new home construction. "The bottom line is Ethernet (wiring) is less expensive, more reliable and more secure,'' said Shaughnessy.

Shaughnessy said builders should strive to blend wired and wireless technologies, thinking in terms of an infrastructure that includes a cable modem, wireless router, Ethernet switch, cable splitter and, in large homes, possibly a wireless access point.

Copyright 2003 Hanley-Wood, LLC