Computer- and internet-delivered media content to the living room is big business. Or at least, it will be. For those of us looking for a decent all-in-one computer-based media system for the living room, there's quite an array of choice, but not much in the way of standards.
Any system with decent graphics and sound can be the backbone to a decent media system. All the other bits and pieces are really down to personal choice. The only limiting factor so far has been your choice of operating system. If you want a Windows-based solution, then you are either looking at Windows XP with a third-party media centre application on top, or Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE).
There's a problem either way - Windows XP can be purchased non-OEM so you can build your own system if you're so inclined, and have the time and expertise to make it work. If you don't, then Windows MCE is for you, but that can only be purchased OEM. So, it's off to the computer store you go.
System manufacturers have invested a lot of money into creating MCE systems, but again there's a lack of standards. A machine running MCE could be running absolutely anything under the hood.
Into the fray comes Intel Viiv, released earlier this year. It's not so much a technology as a set of technologies, all designed to give manufacturers a set of system guidelines, and consumers the guarantee that their new system is up to a particular ratified standard. Leveraging off this is the whole "Viiv experience" - content and downloads available to the proud owner of a Viiv system.