Intel wants desktop PCs to double up as network hubs and video recorders, a move that could make life tough for the companies that produce those standalone products.
Intel will begin midyear by adding wireless networking technology Wi-Fi to an upcoming pair of desktop chipsets. When manufacturers choose a specific version of one of the two new chipsets, they will be able to add the foundation for a built-in Wi-Fi access point nearly for free.
At the same time, the company is developing the Entertainment PC (EPC), a desktop design based on Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system, which manufacturers can use to create more entertainment-oriented PCs that come with features such as digital video recorders.
Intel sees the addition of those features to its PCs as a vital push to make playback of multimedia content and home networking essential elements in consumer desktops. It predicts that a number of future products, including televisions and stereo equipment will be able to access wireless networks.
The chipmaker said these desktops will provide a relatively easy-to-use access point that allows notebooks and other wireless devices to share a broadband Internet connection and files. Thus, a consumer or a small business that purchases a PC with the built-in Wi-Fi access point will not need any other gear to create a basic Wi-Fi network.
While the concept is attractive, it will take time for these features to migrate to mainstream PCs. The features will mostly be used in higher-end systems in the $1,000-plus range. Lately, the average selling price for a desktop purchased at retail has hovered around $700, according to market researcher NPD Techworld.