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All About Convergence: 2006 Edition
By Adrienne Maxwell
September 2006

What is convergence? In a world that’s growing ever more connected, perhaps the better question is, what isn’t convergence? The simplest definition I found for the word “convergence” at www.dictionary.com is: “The process of coming together or the state of having come together toward a common point.” Of course, the site goes on to provide definitions of the word’s specific meaning in mathematics, physiology, biology and even commodities trading.

Try to narrow down to the word’s meaning to consumer electronics circles, and you’d still have to wade through myriad possibilities, from telecommunications companies that are merging voice, data and video services to the portable-electronics trend of housing a cell phone, camera, MP3 player and PDA in one handheld device. Okay, what if we narrow it down even further, from consumer electronics to home entertainment? You’ll soon see that even this encompasses a whole lot of stuff, but we’re essentially talking about the way that computer and audio/video technologies have come together toward a common point: our entertainment.

In the evolution of this convergence, there have been several important milestones. The day when first we unleashed the CD from its five-inch circular shell and changed it into something our computer could play with, permanently linking what were formerly separate home and office entities. The day we first we digitized our photos. The day companies like Replay and TiVo decided that computer-based hard drive technology might come in handy for TV watching. And especially the day that we welcomed the Internet into our homes.

For the past few years, we’ve been waiting to see how all of these different developments would, well, converge. There’s been a lot of buzz about convergence’s ability to utterly transform our home entertainment experience, but the product offerings have really been limited to specific audio or video functions. Only now are we beginning to see solutions that truly meld every aspect of home entertainment and control.

The question you must ask is, how much convergence do you really need in your life? Maybe you only need an audio product that makes it easier to play your iPod through your entertainment system, or maybe you want to surf the Net, watch a movie, do a spreadsheet, or adjust your home’s thermostat without having to move from the couch. The trick is to know what you’re looking for, so here’s an overview of some of the products and technologies designed to unite A/V and PC.

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