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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 06:41 GMT 07:41 UK
Week Three: New Media Family
By Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent, BBC News

The year 2007 is shaping up to be the year of a new media revolution - and one family in Gloucestershire, UK, is at the cutting edge.

New video-on-demand services are launching almost weekly and more and more music is being sold online.

So the BBC has fitted out the Boston family with the kind of kit you might need to take full advantage of a world where all the media you want arrives in digital form down your phone line.

But even during the few weeks that our New Media Home has been up and running the landscape has changed. As the family enters the final phase of their time with the technology, we look at how they have been getting on.

BOSTON FAMILY GADGETS
Apple TV
Samsung 37inch HDTV
Belkin Wireless router
Acer Aspire iDea 500 media center PC
Apple TV (pictured)
Apple MacBook
Sonos wireless music system
Kodak wireless digital photo frame

The big broadcasters - the BBC, ITV, Sky - have been unveiling plans to deliver more video online. And a host of new services with big ambitions and wacky names - from Joost to Jalipo - have been launched.

I dropped in on the home to see how impressed the family had been by all of this.

In the kitchen, I found Suzanne Boston surfing on the wireless Apple laptop. She had expected to be wary of the new technology, but the family says she has been the one who has led the way in trying things out.

On the laptop screen is one of the new services, Jalipo. Its system involves buying credits to watch its TV channels, and Suzanne's stock is running low. "It wasn't too difficult to make it work," she says, "but I'm not impressed with the content."

Having browsed the channels and found nothing worth watching she isn't going to spend more on the service.

Screen break

Upstairs Suzanne's daughters are each using different aspects of the new technology.

In her bedroom, 13-year-old Olivia has the Sonos wireless music system installed.

Boston Family
The wireless music system has proved popular

This very expensive piece of kit - we've installed a system which would cost 1,800 - sends music from computers to speakers around the house.

Olivia is using it to listen to Radio 1 - but when we ask her to switch to the family music collection, the system freezes. It turns out that the computer downstairs isn't switched on.

Olivia admits there have been a few problems making it work, but it has been a popular addition to the home.

Next door, 17-year-old Emily is plugged in to a video iPod. She is watching a video podcast featuring Scott Mills from Radio 1.

The family have also been downloading YouTube clips which they watch on the iPod, or on the HD television.

But Emily insists they're not spending hours camped in front of the TV.

"The fact that we can record stuff on the Sky Plus, and watch on an iPod whenever we want, means we don't actually watch as much television."

TV trouble

Downstairs in the living room, Dean Boston is playing with the Apple TV remote control, flicking through the family's collection of photos, music and videos which are streamed from the laptop to the main television.

A Windows Media Centre PC is also hooked up to the TV, and the family has been playing around with both systems.

"It took a bit of time to work out the Apple TV, but I'm now finding we're using it more," he explains as he watches a Comic Relief sketch downloaded from YouTube.

The family has also enjoyed using the Media Centre to surf the internet or send e-mails on the big high definition screen, but they have been less convinced it is a good way of accessing television.

"It's just a bit too much bother," says Dean.

Very soon we will be taking the technology away from the Bostons. Will they miss it - or are the attractions of online video and music being over-hyped in the latest internet bubble?

We will find out the next time we meet the New Media Family.






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