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Studios Are Buzzing About Hot Spots for the Home

6 Nov, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

The hottest news these days in high-tech circles is WiFi, the technology that lets you walk into a caf? or restaurant with your computer and connect to the Internet without any wires. Among the leaders of this hot new technology is Intel, which recently posted on its Web site a listing of more than 10,000 “hot spots” around the country where customers can access the Internet through Intel's Centrino wireless platform. The list includes several McDonald's burger joints that have installed Centrino-verified hot spots, part of a deal Intel negotiated with the fast-food chain last July.

Now the Hollywood studios are buzzing with a new twist on this: hot spots for the home, so that consumers can put a DVD on their home unit and then stream it to a laptop or other handheld device for later playback in the park, at the mall, wherever and whenever they want.

It's the latest variant on video-on-demand, with the master server being your own DVD player.

I kind of like this model. It's software without much clutter; it gives you the convenience of Internet/cable video-on-demand, but you still get to have physical product in your home — and best of all, it doesn't kill the retailer or deprive us of the hallowed shopping experience.

You still build collections of home movie libraries, but you aren't limited to watching your DVDs in your family room, your computer, or wherever else you don't mind lugging/installing a player and schlepping stacks of DVDs to.

You have the physical movie in your home, but you don't need to take it everywhere you want to watch it.

And best of all, you're not at the mercy of some nameless, faceless and expensive VOD service that might cut you off if you're a day late paying your bill, if the computers are down, if there's a power surge or blackout or a solar flareup or something else and knocks you offline.

I certainly see this as a contender in the future-delivery wars.

As an aside, let me tell you about a little file-swapping that's going on right in my neighborhood. I've got two friends who live a house apart. Each collects DVD. Each has a collection numbering about 1,000 discs, and each is starting to run out of room and panic about what to do.

The solution they're talking about is this: Neighbor A will only buy movies with titles between “A” and “L.” Neighbor B will only buy movies with titles between “M” and “Z.” Then, they'll switch — Amadeus for Zorro, Crash for Tora! Tora! Tora!.

They'll each have their own movie libraries, with access to twice as many titles.

Not exactly video-on-demand, but pretty damn close. How about video by request?

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