Digital Multitasking Systems: All-in-One Media for Your Unique Lifestyle

Published: Thursday, Feb 21, 2008
Imagine a system capable of streaming video, television shows, music, and podcasts all through the Internet. Picture photos and movie trailers appearing with a double-click of your mouse. Now imagine watching it all unfold in the sanctuary of your living room, on your 52-inch plasma screen.

Until the advent of the Internet, medical students were pulling research solely out of those abandoned storage facilities we call libraries. Now, computer companies have made the mutual exclusivity of information, entertainment, and communication a thing of the past. Responses to a poll for our 20 Ways to Connect, Manage, and Relax article last month echoed this perception. When asked "what do you do when you're not in the office treating patients?" 65 out of 454 physicians polled mentioned taking photographs, listening to music, watching movies, and playing video games. Because these particular activities are of interest to our readers, we would like to offer a little insight into the world of the all-in-one digital system.

One-Stop Shopping

Consider the convenience of a 7-11: quick access to the staples like bread, milk, and eggs, as well as your standard over-the-counter meds and lottery tickets. Multimedia systems work much the same way by providing the same quick access to information as they do video games or movie downloads.

Taking into account that the average American spends approximately four hours a day watching the boob tube (, it's clear we like our television programming, and we know how we like it. Add that number to the average 108 minutes we spend searching, the Internet daily, and you have a media audience that spends nearly a quarter of its day partaking in some form of digital entertainment.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) offers a couple options to assist people in accomplishing this: the HP Pavilion Media Center TV m7780n PC and the HP MediaSmart LCD TV. Representatives from HP wrote to MDNG, stating that the Pavilion Media Center TV delivers high definition movie playback with six times better resolution and three times better audio capability than standard DVD--a perfect addition to any home. The 37-inch MediaSmart TV allows users to access and view their photos, music, videos and a range of Internet services wired or wirelessly through their television--truly a breakthrough in digital convergence, wrote the HP reps. In fact, the HP MediaSmart LCD TV was named a 2006 Electronic House magazine Product of the Year.

Apple is another corporation that is combining the features of the computer with those of the home entertainment system. The recent launch of Apple TV, scheduled for general release this month, was accompanied by claims it would change] the way you watch digital media. The system connects to your TV via an HDMI port or component video and audio ports. Its wireless capability syncs iTunes customers' library to both Macs and PCs. That goes for digital photos, too. Think of the recreational time that you, the busy physician, will save by having it all in one place.

An October 2006 report by Gizmodo, the gadget guide, noted similar findings in the still-steady demand for TiVo, which, in case you've been living in a cave, is a video recorder that automatically finds and digitally records all your favorite shows. By recently teaming with cable provider Comcast, TiVo has made the ease of digital recording even more accessible to its subscribers. Similarly, Microsoft Corporation has stepped up its access to the wonderful world of television with the introduction of the MSN TV 2 Internet Media Player. Unlike many multimedia systems, MSN TV 2 is not a PC and does not require any software to buy or install. Rather, a broadband connection and wireless keyboard are all the tools you need to stream TV and all the typical Internet features, including Instant Messenger.

MSN TV is a set-top box that simply connects to a TV and telephone [or broadband] line, enabling the user to connect to the Internet and read/write e-mail, says Scott Crissman, Senior Marketing Manager, MSN Access for Microsoft Corporation. An advanced functionality of the product is the ability to connect to a home network. This would allow the user to stream photos, music, and videos through the home network to a TV or entertainment system [if the entertainment system is connected to the TV/mediacenter]. Demos are available for free access at

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