This week convergence buffs got a big boost with the intended announcement of Microsoft buying WebTV. At last we will have somewhere to hang our video monitors. But before you start popping the champagne, I have a simple and personal question: where do you folks watch TV? Is it the same room of your house where your computer (assuming you have one) is?
Until we can feel comfortable placing both devices either next to each other in the same room (or using the same device), convergence ain't gonna happen. I offer my own sad example for your inspection:
For the past year, we have been in renovation mode here at Chez Strom. And with the last room of our abode finally seeing some new paint and refinishing, we are now faced with the ugly reality of convergence. So where do we put all of our audio/video/computing gear? Previously, we had our TV in our living room, and computer in our front room. Both rooms have phone lines, and we don't have a cable connection.
Now I don't know what to do. I floated a trial balloon of moving the computer into our living room: that went over with The Boss like another high-concept Internet IPO. My daughter is lobbying heavily for moving the TV into the front room, which (she says) she will fill with her own toys that have been strategically placed in every room of our home.
Ironically, the PC we now have came with a video tuner card that can play video programming right here on my VGA monitor. The first night I had the machine home, my daughter watched one of her tapes this way - although the picture quality was so bad that she hasn't asked to do it again.
Meanwhile, I'd like to buy into DVDs but am pissed at Hollywood for missing the opportunity to have a truly convergent, recordable digital media. For those of you that are still having trouble with technology: computer DVD drives can record but not onto PC-based CD-R formats. Audio/Video DVDs can only playback, although can play ordinary CD audio as well. Neither works with the coming HDTV format. And don't get me started about dealing with surround sound. This has turned into a real mess.
The big movie moguls were scared that DVD would spell their digital demise, and as a result blew a convergence opportunity. Meantime, the real convergence is the consolidation happening in the board rooms: look at the proposed mega-mergers announced in the past week (Ascend/Cascade, Rational/Pure Atria, etc.).
So here is one frustrated consumer, trying to cope with his product configuration. I am sure I am not alone in this frustration.
And I also wrote a review of Hilgraeve's latest HyperAccess terminal emulation program for Windows. It appeared in Infoworld last week.
The week after next I'll be in Reno, giving the opening keynote speech at the Enterprise Network Association, which used to be called the Banyan Users Group. You can check out the speech, entitled, "Is it time to take the NT plunge" (never one to avoid controversy) here. You'll need to download the Freelance player to view it.
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entire contents copyright 1997 by David Strom, Inc.