Why the Media Streaming industy is still in its infancy

7 May 2007 No Comment Mike Evans

One day in the not-too-distant future, media streaming as a technology will be so ubiquitous, we’ll look back on this period as the prototype phase, when all manner of devices were released by many different electronics companies, each offering something vastly different from the other.

Apart from being amused by the fact that you need a separate box to wirelessly connect your PC and home entertainment system, we’ll be most amused by the fact that no-one can actually decide what to call the box! Is it a media streamer, a media receiver, and media extender, or a media hub?

This on its own is one reason why the media streaming (for want of a better word!) industry is in its infancy – you know a market’s young if no-one can agree what to call it! But there are other reasons that – much worse reasons in fact.

One thing that’s worse than not knowing what to call a product is releasing a product that doesn’t actually work, which is unfortunately true of many media streamers. Sure they work in principle – but in practice, once you start trying to hook them up wirelessly to your PC and then then actually start using them via the supplied remote control, things rapidly go downhill.

Either their full list of media streaming abilities don’t work (such as the Mediagate MG-350HD not actually streaming video all that well), the user interface is so awful as to be unusable, or they’re simply too buggy to work for any consistent length of time (e.g. Pegasus Cynalynx and Netgear’s Digital Entertainer).

This is a real shame, as these devices are clearly the future of home entertainment, at least in some form. What’s the point in a home entertainment system if all your media are stored on your PC? You need some way to connect the two, and a wireless media streamer fits the bill perfectly.

But until one of them’s built that actually works as claimed, and the industry can actually agree on a common name, people will stay away in droves, and the only people who will buy them will the be the early adopters.

Hopefully Apple’s new Apple TV can change the image of the media streamer by providing a box that actually works, looks cool in the home, and has a large amount of hype behind it to give it enough visibility that it appeals to a wider marketplace. Hopefully. I’m not holding my breath though!

We’ll keep you up to date on developments in media streaming technologies, as it has to come good soon, and when it does, a media streamer will be a device you can’t live without.

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