TiVo should take solace in the fact that it invented a new product category, the personal video recorder. What it should worry about is how quickly it has gone from being a stand alone device to becoming a tack-on feature in other purpose devices. And if you though that was enough, wait for this new chip from ATI to hit the market. ATI’s new Theater 550 Pro does audio and video decoding on the same silicon – a first for the Theater family – which ensures audio and video remain in full synchronisation. The 12-bit video decoder features 3D Comb Filtering for NTSC and PAL, and five-line 2D Comb Filtering. ATI wants to integrate this chip directly into the PC motherboard, especially for the lap-tops. Acer, Compal, Quanta and Wistron have committed themselves to building the 550 Pro into upcoming laptops, The Register says.
I think this is a brilliant move – add PVR right on the motherboard, and then you give those “download services” a chance to thrive. Why? Well lets assume you have a tiny 384 KBPS DSL connection at home, but a big fat pipe at work. You can quickly download all the stuff you want from one of the “video content” providers, bring it home and well play back on your TV. Of course, you could do the traditional PVR stuff as well, since it is after all a PVR on a chip. (So that you can watch last night’s Baseball Tonight at work, fooling your boss that you are hard at work behind the closed doors. Oh…. now one needs to worry about storage capacity on the laptops. Sigh!