A new contender in the Media Center space?

Up to this point the two main contenders for controlling your living room of tomorrow has been Microsoft with their Windows Media Center solution and Apple with their AppleTV/Frontrow system. At least in terms of media coverage. In reality it is still a very open and fragemented space with a host of systems being offered from a long list of vendors and groups. In the open source space we have of course projects such as Freevo, Elisa and MythTV.

But with Sony’s announcement yesterday of their Play TV add-on for the PS3, turning your PS3 into a HD content PVR I am wondering if Sony is actually going to take the throne soon. The media handling features of the PS3 has been steadily improved since its release and even with Paramounts HD-DVD agreement from a few days ago I think its clear that the PS3 is causing Blu-ray to win the HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray war. I have blogged before about their support for the PS3 being a DLNA client and its already a nice cd-ripper and handler of music. Its main weakness at this point its support for some common video formats out there, especially DivX clips which are very common.

Sony also did the clever move of allowing people to upgrade the internal harddisk of the PS3 themselves so that even disk hungry media center needs can be taken care off. I am sure a lot of shops selling PS3’s will soon start offering harddisk upgrades as a service for those customers not feeling comfortable doing it themselves.

And with the TV/PVR functionality announced yesterday the PS3 suddenly is starting to look really serious as a contender in the space. Of course it will hinge on what kind of TV streams etc., it is able to connect to. I think a minimum for it to be a success it will need to work with DVB-T, but maybe Sony can manage to convince DVB-S providers to also let the PS3 interface with them.

Another cool feature announced is the PSP integration with this system. Being able to program your PS3 to record your favourite show at home and then stream it to your PSP which you have brought with you on your trip might be a killer feature for both systems.

Anyway, interesting times for those of us working in the multimedia space. Hopefully also Sony’s efforts to improve the hardware access when running Linux on the system will pay off so that you have the choice of using linux based media center solutions on this hardware too.

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