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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 10:43 GMT
Ten techs for the digital living room
The digital living room is finally becoming a reality for millions of people as technologies become cheaper and easier to use.

Here, the BBC News website picks some of the key technologies on offer at the Consumer Electronics Show for grabbing, watching and listening to music, television and films anytime and anywhere in the home.


Rory Cellan-Jones in the home of the future

Many of the technologies on show at CES are designed to live alongside people in their homes or make a house easier to manage.

Network control panels, TVs linked throughout the house - is this the digital home of the future?

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones took a tour of type of house we could soon be living in in the digital age.


Buffalo server
Home servers are now affordable

As the prices of storage has tumbled home server technology has become a practical reality.

The boxes are often designed to be tucked away under the stairs and can hold terabytes of data.

The networked devices can be used to store movie, film and music downloads that can be accessed by any computer on the home network.

On display at CES were boxes from Promise Technology and Buffalo. Some come packaged with media players that can be plugged into the TV to access the content directly.

Microsoft is also pushing its Home Server software at the show. The program allows users to backup and store files from multiple machines on to a home server.

The centrally stored content can then be accessed by any networked machine anywhere in the house or in the world.


Sandisk Sansa TV
The device includes a remote control

For those people baffled by home networking, companies like SanDisk have come up with a solution for moving TV around the home.

The firm's Sansa Take TV looks like a USB memory stick but also includes an infra red remote and media player.

Downloaded files can be dragged and dropped on to the device from a PC.

The 4GB or 8GB gadgets can then be plugged into a cradle that connects directly to the television.

The remote control allows the user to browse and watch files.

Like other hardware manufacturers SanDisk has struck content deals with film and TV studios.

Programmes for the mini media player can be downloaded from the company's website Fanfare.


dlna logo
The alliance aims to make the digital living room a reality

One problem with the digital future is that there are so many different wireless standards and proprietary systems that many devices are incompatible.

But now a consortium of companies hopes to change that.

The Digital Living Network Alliance (DNLA) is made up of more than 250 companies and is trying to standardise wireless and wired networking.

Products that are certified by DLNA will communicate and share content with each other regardless of who made them.

A DLNA certified camera for example will automatically be able to talk to a certified television, printer, picture frame or media player.

Already there are products from the likes of Sony, Nokia and JVC that conform to the standards.

The alliance is also trying to negotiate standards for digital rights management (DRM) systems so that copyrighted content can be moved between different devices.


Sharp TV
The viewer can watch Tv and download real time feeds

Smart televisions that connect directly to the internet were on display at CES.

Sharp for example showed off a range of televisions that have an Ethernet port on the rear.

The televisions connect directly to a service the firm has called AQUOSnet.

The facility allows users to download widgets that appear as small windows at the side of the screen that can display sports scores or weather information, for example.

Sharp says it will also offer customer support over the internet link.


logitech Squeezebox duet
The device plugs into a hi-fi system

For those people who want to listen to music through a stereo but have a large music collection stored on their PC, help is at hand.

The Slim Squeezebox has offered a solution for a number of years.

Now owned by Logitech the firm's latest offering is the Squeezebox Duet, a device that plugs into a standard hi-fi.

The wireless box automatically detects music stored on networked computers and allows it to be played through the stereo.

A remote control with an LCD display allows users to browse their music collection using a scroll wheel. It can be used with multiple receivers.

The box also allows users to tune in to internet radio providers such as Rhapsody and Pandora.


Toshiba printer
Projectors are becoming smarter

For those people that want a big screen experience without splashing out on a large screen television, projectors offer one solution.

At this year's CES, Toshiba showed off its latest wireless projector.

The device is able to create a massive 60in image from less than one metre away for a wall.

It can project a bright 120in image from less than two metres away.

As it is wireless, it can pick up streaming content from a networked PC and also has inputs that allow it to connect to an Xbox 360 or DVD player.


Man watching 3d TV
3D TV can have other uses

With more and more choice of television and films, conflicts over what to watch on the living room TV naturally arise.

But dual screen TVs could offer a solution.

At this year's show, Samsung showed off a 3D plasma television that used polarised glasses.

And, according to the company, the same system could be used to show different images to different people at the same time.

The drawback is that both would have to wear spectacles to watch their favourite show.


logitech diNovo mini
Universal remotes do away with clunky keyboards

As the PC moves into the living room and connects to the TV, manufacturers are looking to do away with the clunky keyboard and mouse normally used to control them.

One product that allows users to do this is the Logitech diNovo Mini, a handheld keyboard and remote.

The palm sized clamshell device has a backlit keyboard, so that it can be used in the dark, and media control keys.

A circular touchpad can also be used as a cursor for navigating through menus.

The device uses Bluetooth to control the action from up to 10m away and comes complete with rechargeable batteries.


Picture frame
Digital picture frames are becoming more affordable

On of the problems with digital photography is that to display them around the home, a person would need to print out the image.

But increasingly the humble picture frame is going digital and becoming smarter.

At this year's CES there were frames with slots for memory cards; wireless frames that would stream pictures from the nearest networked PC and others that contained near field communication (NFC) technologies.

If the user had snapped a picture on their mobile phone it could be instantly uploaded to the frame by putting the two in range of each other.


Panasonic Life Walls
The Life Wall is a prototype

Although probably still many years away from commercial televisions, several companies are starting to talk about facial recognition for the living room,

Panasonic showed off its Life wall - a huge interactive display - which incorporated the technology for what it called "stay-with-me-TV".

The technology would use facial recognition to follow a persons movement around the room and optimise the size of the display depending on their position and distance from the screen.

Other companies, such as Sony, talked about using the technology to automatically switch on parental controls if a child was viewing the set.

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