As the PC has grown older over time, the way the PC is used has evolved. Twenty years ago most PCs were relegated primarily to business use. Sure, back then there were PC gamers happily picking up the latest title’s from popular studios such as Microprose and Sierra, but the majority of consumers were using their PCs for typing up documents and spreadsheets – PC gaming was nowhere near as big as it is now.
Nowadays gamers and hardware enthusiasts are driving an increasing portion of sales, and hardware manufacturers such as AMD, Intel, ATI, NVIDIA, and many others have recognized this. You wouldn’t drop over $1,000 on two high-end graphics cards for improving your performance in Microsoft Word after all would you?
But another emerging segment of the PC industry that’s beginning to grow rapidly is digital media PCs, or home theater PCs (HTPC) as they’re often dubbed by hardware enthusiasts. These PCs are used for audio/video playback, such as listening to high bit-rate MP3s, and watching DVDs or high-definition TV; and fit right at home in the living room/game room or den, sitting right alongside other home theater components inside the component stand such as your receiver. With the HTPC market continuing to grow, Microsoft, Intel, and many others are investing millions betting than an increasing number of consumers are going to hop on the HTPC craze.
Both Intel and AMD are working on lower-power derivatives of their latest desktop CPUs for use in these PCs, just as ATI and NVIDIA are promoting H.264 support in their latest GPUs (in addition to providing a line of TV tuner cards). Meanwhile, case manufacturers are preparing even snazzier chassis’ that fit into tinier spaces. Finally Microsoft has not only provided an OS custom-tailored for HTPC use (Windows Media Center Edition 2005), they’ve also tied their Xbox 360 to the HTPC platform by integrating support for streaming audio/video media into the Xbox 360. Xbox 360 users with an MCE 2005-based PC can stream audio/video files from their PC to their Xbox 360, including live or recorded TV and high-definition TV.
Ultimately if Microsoft, Intel, and others get their way, the HTPC will be the centerpiece of your media-viewing experience. Whether it’s watching HD-DVD or Blu-Ray movies on your 60” plasma via your HTPC, or streaming audio/video to other computers within your home network, the HTPC will become just as indispensable as the business PC of twenty years ago. Only this time they’re for play rather than work.
One of the key components to making this vision a reality is the hard drive. As anyone who’s recorded a high-definition TV program can tell you, recording a single 30-minute episode of The Simpsons will require gigabytes
rather than megabytes of hard disk space. Just a one-second high-definition recording can take on average around 20MB of hard drive space!
With such great demands, having a large, speedy hard drive is essential for any HTPC. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt for gaming either. This is where Seagate’s latest hard drive comes in: the 500GB 7200.9.