The future of consumer electronics: storage

In the business IT market, EMC has become one of the most significant players on the back of its specialised storage systems. There were signs at the IFA 09 consumer electronics show in Berlin last week that some of the consumer electronics companies are thinking along similar lines:

  • Linksys by Cisco Media HubCisco, whose hubs, switches and routers carry a huge portion of the internet’s infrastructure, also owns the Flip handheld video brand. But once you become an active multimedia producer, how do you manage and store all the digital content you collect? The Linksys by Cisco Media Hub range could be the answer. The products are basically compact data vaults housing one or two 500GB disk drives along with network connectors and a clever bit of management software that seeks out, catalogues and stores any multimedia content it finds on your wireless home network. As well as being a network attached storage (NAS) device, the Media Hub acts as a server that can feed up to three HD media streams simultaneously via a normal browser interface, so you can watch TV in one room, while someone else looks through your photo library remotely over the web and a third person uses the device as a jukebox via a wireless home audio system. Prices start from around £200.
  • Toshiba has something similar up its sleeve in the shape of the Toshiba Media Controller software that will start shipping with multimedia laptops such as the glitzy new Satellite P500 in time for Christmas. The media interface works in a similar way to Cisco’s Media Hub software, but includes extra features to let you create and store playlists on one device (your multimedia PC, for example) and play them on any other device on your network - from the net-enabled HD TV screen to your smartphone.
  • The Toshiba stand at IFA 09 had an even more interesting item for those thinking of a Christmas present for the digitally minded - it was a small, leather-bound digital picture display with a slot for an SDHC memory card - and room for 8 other cards, so you can carry up to 128GB of stuff around with you - imagine being able to set up and run an old fashioned slide show from a device that fits in your handbag or pocket! Sadly, I can't find evidence of the device as a product and fear that it might be nothing more than a cute promotional gimmick. The hunt will continue as this would be a shoo-in for the Christmas Gadget Countdown.

 

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