Intel has created a brand name for home entertainment PCs that the company believes will stand for the same quality experience promoted by its Centrino home technology, it announced yesterday at the IDF (Intel Developer Forum).
PCs with the Viiv brand name (rhymes with five) will start appearing in the first quarter of 2006, said Don Macdonald, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group, in a keynote address yesterday.
There will be no keyboard; instead consumers will operate their Viiv device solely by remote control. Once booted up, Viiv machines instantly power on and off and can provide a range of home-orientated and distinctly non-PC like functions. In a demonstration, Macdonald showed a Viiv device that could control the temperature and offer other forms of home automation. He demonstrated the reference Viiv model providing video messaging, online services such as booking tickets and verifying travel arrangements, as well as time-shifted television streamed from a nearby digital media adapter.
The final format of Viiv devices will be down to OEM manufacturers and Macdonald was at pains to point out that Intel will not be involved in producing any Viiv products of its own. Instead, it has put together a set of reference instructions for manufacturers keen to create Viiv devices.
These specifications include dual-core processors such as Yonah and Conroe that were announced earlier at IDF as well as a network controller. A Wi-Fi chip is not a prerequisite but Intel says all Viivs will offer at least 5.1 audio (some will offer 7.1 surround sound) and support high-definition TV. A TV tuner is also optional rather than required.
Intel has signed a content deal with actor Morgan Freeman’s ClickStar to make films available on the internet the same day they are released in cinemas, adding to Viiv’s appeal. However, Intel is less clear on the specifics of how DRM (digital rights management) will be handled.
As well as small form factor PCs, notebooks and smaller portable devices along the lines of Portable Media Center will carry the Viiv brand.