Convergence--the notion that computers, televisions, stereos and telephones would all become one--was the buzzword du jour a decade ago. Media and computer executives were quite taken with the "multimedia PCs" that had just come out, and many fancied that computers would soon be so capable that they would become the natural hub of communications and entertainment in the home. But the technology was actually not that capable, and the executives were soon distracted by a new fad called the Internet.
Now convergence is back, with grand pronouncements by Philips, Pioneer, Samsung and other big gadget makers promising that their forthcoming products will make our sofa-bound hours of entertainment that much more pleasurable. Communications, in this go-round, has been shoved to the backseat. The current thinking is that consumers will not add these novel devices, referred to as home media servers or digital media receivers, to their already cluttered entertainment centers because the gear is useful. They will buy the things because they are fun.
This article was originally published with the title Converging on the Couch.