DigitalDeck Networks TV, DVD and iTunesAre you ready for networked TV?

Er, of course you are, the market is already flooded with home entertainment networking products.  And here comes one more…  but this one is different.DigitalDeck announced today that its home entertainment networking software and Media Connector hardware are available today for order ($499) on its corporate Web site.  The system, billed as a complete home entertainment networking solution, allows you to network your PC with media devices (like DVD players, VCRs, stereos, and even security cameras) around your house via a wired home network.  The brain and storage hub of the network is a PC running Windows XP.  The Media Connector hardware can then link up legacy devices provided that they have audio and video outputs and an IR remote, which is how the Media Connector controls the device.  So you need need quite a few Media Connectors.  Once a device is connected to the network, the content it provides is available on any TV or PC that’s also on the network, and a universal remote can be used to control it from anywhere in your house.

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For instance, you can start watching a DVD in the living room.  Pause it.  Go upstairs to the bedroom, and resume the movie (by clicking play on the remote once you’re upstairs).  The system can also stream iTunes music around the house, even playing AAC files, as well as WMA.  MPEG-2 video is supported at 6 Mbps.  Plus, you can play .tivo files on the network, and even link into photostreams from Flickr.

The current system cannot network HD-quality content.  However, when I spoke to a company representative today, she assured me that it would be supported by the end of the year.DigitalDeck does not officially offer a Web interface for remote programming control (like Slingbox).  Although, I did receive an unofficial tip that Orb Networks works really well for this purpose.  Wink.  Wink.  Nudge.  Nudge. I saw my first demo back at CES 2004 and was impressed enough to bring it on CNN for a Best Of CES segment.  Needless to say, I’m chomping at the bit to see the new system in action but I have to admit that I’m a little worried about video quality.  I’ll fill you all in when I get my hands on some testing units.

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