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Entertaining PCs

Media-ready computers just months away

Evesham, Hi-Grade, Mesh and Time are among a handful of computer manufacturers teaming up with software giant Microsoft to provide Media Centre Edition PCs by the end of the year.

The Media Centre package turns PCs into digital media hubs, allowing users to integrate in-house entertainment units, in other words TVs and Hi-Fis, and then control them all either through the PC or via one remote control.

Microsoft will also include a free online TV program on the package, enabling consumers to search TV listings and then record via their PCs. Other applications will include live television, personal video recording (PVR), video and audio streaming.

A report released earlier this year, from research firm Forrester, recorded a marked increase in digital content consumption.

"The largest increase in home PC usage centres around entertainment, 44 percent of owners listen to music on their PC, 40 percent view photos and 21 percent view DVDs," said Paul Jackson, senior analyst at Forrester.

The firm predicts these changing customer needs will spur demand and drive sales for so-called pleasure PCs over the next five years.

Centerprise International, Elonex, HP, Packard Bell, PC World and Toshiba will also be releasing Media Centre PCs.

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