Now See This

What's new in online video viewing? The answer is crystal clear.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the April 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Whether videoconferencing with the team, monitoring newsfeeds or managing your website or podcast, there's nothing like doing it in high definition. Clarity improves any business application, as taking a gander at Verizon Business' new HD videoconferencing service will quickly demonstrate.

 

HD's future looks bright, at least if product introductions at this year's Consumer Electronics Show and Macworld are any measure. High definition is the marquee feature of a new generation of PCs, laptops, displays and accoutrements for PC/TV content swapping, including Sling Media's Slingbox PRO-HD. They address a growing appetite for good video and a growing preference for viewing it on web-attached devices.

 

Converting the installed base of PC and networking equipment to HD will take considerably longer, but the opening bell has rung. The declared mission of Hewlett-Packard's flurry of new desktops, laptops and monitors is to "enrich the high-definition digital experience." Even its budget-priced HP Pavilion Slimline s3330f PC packs a high-performance NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT graphics card, a dual-format Blu-ray/HD DVD disc player and a TV tuner for less than $1,000. Besides the usual bevy of ports, the s3330f has an HDMI port for connecting to high-definition TVs like HP's MediaSmart TVs or TV-quality LCDs like its new w2408h Vivid Color 24-inch widescreen flat panel. For a little more, the $1,300 Pavilion tx2000 Series convertible tablet/notebook can give you HD to go. It's equipped with a webcam, a microphone and high-quality audio.

 

Dell has a similar HD lineup due for release any day now. It includes an XPS 420 desktop with a TV tuner and a Displayport that supports multiple video standards. Dell's planned XPS laptop has a 16-inch display with full 1080p resolution and true-HD 16:9 aspect ratio. Both HP and Dell are introducing TV appointments on their PC equipment-such as Dell's CableCard option for the XPS 420 or the expensive HDMI cable that's included in the HP w2408h flat panel's $499 price tag. Both are using Windows Media Center Extender technology for transferring vids, pics and music between TVs and PCs, and Dell uses Linksys equipment to transfer video wirelessly over an 802.11n network.

 

Wireless video delivery is a pretty far bridge, but there are many different compression and networking approaches being worked on. For example, TV/PC display maker Westinghouse Digital Electronics will use ultra-wideband technology for HDMI transfers between broadband, DVR and DVD sources and the LCD TV it plans to release this year.

 

Short-range wireless transfers are less challenging than distributing HD video around our homes and businesses, but dozens of vendors are working on this new type of networking-with or without wires and in various wired/wireless combinations. Besides being covered in various A/V ports, the upcoming Slingbox PRO-HD (due out in fall) will stream TV content up to 1080i (interlaced) around your home to your PC and vice versa, sending PC content to other HDTVs using Sling Media's SlingCatcher.

None of this will happen overnight due to the number of PCs and TVs to change out, but a clear new world is on the horizon.

Mike Hogan (mhogan@entrepreneur.com) is Entrepreneur's technology editor.

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