Now that you have so much digital entertainment in your home - from CDs to DVDs to MP3s - you probably need help organizing it all. And many companies want to help you out by selling you a single do-it-all box:
* The latest brainchild from WebTV co-founder Steve Perlman is the Moxi Media Center, from his newly named start-up Moxi Digital. An all-in-one, broadband-capable set-top box, the Moxi combines a satellite receiver or digital cable box with a personal video recorder, CD/DVD player, digital music jukebox (holding roughly 6,000 tracks), Internet gateway and home media server.
It will let you distribute recorded or live TV shows, music, pictures and games throughout the house without wires, by adding optional extension modules in other rooms. EchoStar, the first licensee, demonstrated a Moxi box for its Dish Network with two TV tuners (to watch one show while you record another), an 80-gigabyte hard drive, and speedy wireless networking capabilities. Moxi is expected out by year's end; pricing has not been set.
* Kenwood's Entré Entertainment Hub (just out, $1,500) has a 20-gigabyte hard drive with a built-in CD recorder, but it also links up with Kenwood DVD changers and receivers. Just load up to 400 discs in the changer and the Entré, which has a modem and Ethernet capability, will go onto the Net and get album or movie artwork and other information. Using an easy-to-manage onscreen interface, the Entré also plays Net radio stations and 60 channels of Sirius Satellite digital radio.
Plug Kenwood's Axcess Remote Portal ($500, out next month) into a home phone line and you can send music or Net radio from the Entré to another room in the home.
* Samsung and Microsoft are collaborating on a Windows XP-powered home media center (due in the fourth quarter, no price set) that will control TVs, DVD players, PCs and other devices, distributing entertainment content throughout the house from a home "server."
* Pioneer also announced that it will market a digital library server later this year (about $1,800) that will organize and transmit music, video clips, photos and other digital content throughout the home. A hard drive (at least 60 GB is planned) would hold up to 1,500 CDs' worth of music, plus thousands of photos and video clips. Eventually, DVD movies stored within a connected changer could be watched in different rooms of the home.
The premise of home entertainment networking sounds great, but it is a complicated concept, with a potentially high price tag that may scare off consumers. "That's going to be the challenge, showing the value of this but making it seem undaunting to install," says technology consultant Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications in Bethesda, Md.