The living room is the center of a Digital Age gold rush. Globally, consumer electronics racked up sales of $94.2 billion in the 12 months ended in May, says market researcher NPD Group Inc. in Port Washington,N.Y.The number should grow to $120 billion for the current calender year. And it’s the living room that attracts most of the high-margin products. Thanks to the popularity of DVDs, consumers in the past few years have stampeded to upgrade home theaters, the large-screen TV and stereo setups that simulate a movie-theater environment. Cable and satellite companies and content providers also expect to make money selling services such as movies on demand and games through high-speed Internet connections. And PC makers hope “entertainment PCs” will perk up sluggish sales.
PCs, of course, hold gigabytes of data in the form of digital music and pictures. But more and more consumers prefer to share that content with family and friends on Net-connected TVs and home- theater setups. A survey released in June by researcher Parks Associates found that 20% of Net-connected households want to link their entertainment devices to a home network. To fill the demand, Gateway Inc. has just announced a $249 DVD player that also lets you stream music and video from your PC to your home-entertainment system. “The new space is digital multimedia,” says Kurt Scherf, vice-president for research at Parks.
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