Tablet and In-wall Touchscreen Extender Concepts

I refuse to give up on Pika.  I know, I know, Microsoft and OEMs seem to be
lagging way behind were they need to be getting them into the market.  While I don’t agree with Microsoft or their
OEMs for being so slow (it’s not clear if it’s Microsoft or the OEMs that are
the problem) I think that Pika could bring some very interesting devices.  We already know that DVD Players with Media
Center Extenders will likely show, as will Media
Center Extender HDTVs

But what about what could also be released, pending some
smart OEMs.  The Pika development kit
from Sigma Designs is rather small and could be put several exciting
places.  If I had to guess I would say
the broad is about 7×4.5in, which means it is very compact in comparison to the
cases these things are put into.  This
means it could be nicely made into a small Tablet Touchscreen Extender or In-wall
 Touchscreen Extender!

I would love to see a $500 (or so) 10” Touchscreen Tablet Extender
that I could walk around the house and view recorded TV on.  Battery life might be issue with one of
these, as it always is with any portable device.   However, it would (technically) be able to
decode HDTV, including that recorded on from a CableCARD.  I think if someone could manage 3 hours of
battery life this concept would be great! 
Removable battery would be a huge plus.

(Yes, this does not exist) 

Or what about an In-wall Touchscreen Extender.  This would be an interesting concept for an
OEM to tackle, because any good way of doing this would involve smashing some
holes in your walls for the install plus running power, Ethernet, and optional
external speakers.  Those are instant
turn-off’s for most OEMs.  However,
pending that a 6” In-wall Touchscreen Extender would bring your home to your
figure-tips much like Exceptional Innovations current XPe Touchscreens do (w/
Life|ware).  This would be a great
addition to multi-zone audio and home automation people.

(This too does not exist, artist rendering) 

Mix the above with Sideshow (which I have not covered very
well here) and your really getting into the connect lifestyle idea that Media
Center should be the center of.

What do you think? 
Are these devices that would interest you and are there any more that
you would be interested to see?  Clearly
the Zune as a wireless Media Center Extender is up there, anything else?

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16 thoughts on “Tablet and In-wall Touchscreen Extender Concepts

  1. yeah. this devices are very cool. we building homeautomation software for media center (2005 and vista).

    this is what we are waiting for. this devices in the wall, or build in a wall, start the music, configure recordings, control the lights and so on – i love this idea.

    we are waiting for this :).

  2. Don’t you already have this with the Origami/UMPC?

    What I need, is not another Extender, but a fancy remote.

    Imagine a device like the one you describe here. But instead of being a Extender with build-in speakers, you use the device to remote control you Media Center PC, which is hooked up to your HiFi Stereo.

    What I’m after here is a remote which always show the same screen as the Media Center itself (thing VNC). Thus when you select and play some music, it’s the Media Center which plays the music.

    This way you overcome the biggest problem with the Media Center PC. You have to walk to your living room, turn on the 42” Plasma TV, switch to the MCE input, before you can start doing anything. Then you leave your TV on all day, while you listen to you music. Or you turn it off to prevent burn-in, and have to do it all over again, when you want to hear something else. Hurray!!!

    With a device like I’m describing, you can sit in you couth, at you dinner table or anywhere else, and control you HTPC. Think Sonos ( The Media Center needs an official remote control device like this, before my wife will ever use it for music.

  3. I have to agree with Thomas here…

    The best option would be a tablet/UMPC kinda machine, but with RF ( radio frequency ) control build in !
    IR ( infrared ) and Wifi are good, but RF just gives better performance throughout the home.

    So the pc can talk with the domotica part of the house and control the media center for entertainment.

  4. So I know that this is not exactly what you want, but could you use a touchscreen that is attached with a long cable back to your HTPC and controls it? Sort like having a touchscreen case, but the touchscreen is on a really long cable back to the HTPC.
    That would be a cool start. I would love to mount a 10″ touchscreen in my kitchen, tied back to an HTPC (maybe in the basement) or to my server that would let me watch movies, listen to music, etc. etc. It would be very cool if it had the feature that the HP system has with the schedule and “Sticky notes”.

  5. That would work, but a huge advantage of Extenders is that they create a new session, with means it’s not multi-user.

    Running a long cable off the PC means that whatever someone is watching on the PC also will be seen on that touchscreen.

    Using an Extender, both of these can be different.

    On the “Sticky Notes,” I’ve got another post planned for that one sometime soon (although, it’s not a the software to do it, more of a request to the developers out there to do that and more)

  6. Chris,
    I absolutely agree with you about the extender. But was thinking that having inexpesive pc’s with extended touchscreens could be a good “baby” step. I currently have a HTPC running my Panasonic plasma, and use by Xbox 360 in my library for games and (using transcode 360) to view divx and such. I will be adding a headless server with an E-SATA raid to store the content. If I could use an old PC remotely located and have a “thin client” in the kitchen with touch screen, that would let me play music and watch movies which is 90% of what I want anyway. You are right, a TabletPC would be awesome, but just too expensive!

  7. Oh yeah, it could be a baby step. However, I think it needs to go much further. Media Center has been around nearly 5 years now, baby steps should be long gone.

    There are various things we can do today to help extend Media Center, but Microsoft and their OEMs just need to get the true Extenders out the door, now.

  8. psssst.. ricavision makes sideshow panels. just need a little power, a nice wall mount kit and poof, in wall control..

  9. Very true, but that only helps if you have MCE in the same room or you have a second audio/video feed from the PC (in which you can still only have one session without using an Extender).

    Sideshow will be amazing for 2′ control, but Extenders are still needed for 10′ control and viewing.

    Plus, Sideshow currently only has modules (at least, Ricavision’s) to control the EPG, start Recorded TV/Live TV, and control My Music. I don’t think it has control for everything in side of Media Center yet.

  10. You should be able to do most of that now (in theory).

    1. Use Hava ( to stream live TV to the UMPC/panel wirelessly
    2. Install embedded automation for home automation
    3. Get Autononic Control ( to control other Media Centers

    Use MCE to playback live TV locally, recorded TV from across the network, control lights, etc and use as a IP based remote for the other Media Centers.

    Not cheap, but still better than a crestron/amx solution…

  11. It’s exactly what should be happening now with extenders. Why this isn’t available now with the release of Vista is baffling. Microsoft for what ever reason keeps draging it’s feet and slows down what should be an exciting release of wmc. I want extenders mounted in the walls of most rooms to control temp, irriagation, security, music, tv, ect to indivdual zones. when not in use they could display picture slideshows of art or photos. and the portable unit could be taken out in the yard by the pool to control entertainment out there or surf the web. Thats the great thing about extender tech is that each unit is not dependant on the other so that more than one person can control the mc functions simultanously. one kid in the bedroom could be setting up a timer for recording a tv show, at the same time mom in the kitchen could be looking up a recipe on the web, dad could be changing the music in the office, all at the same time using one central Vista server.

  12. A remote or an extender? I think we need both options. I’ve had pretty good success using Vista Ultimate on a Tablet PC for playing back music, recorded TV (through mapped drives) and pictures in my kitchen. It works pretty good, but no live tv of course (and the sound sucks coming out of the tablet’s speakers). I would still like a remote for my projector downstairs though (where my main media center is connected to) so I don’t have turn it on. So I think there is a market for both? It will only be a matter of time… I hope!

  13. OK, I totally dig what Chris is saying, and a wireless extender is something I would buy in a heartbeat, but in the meantime, are there any currently available touch screens that can be used with Vista media center? Ideally a 10-15″ touchscreen that can be hookedup to a media center box (wired is fine), that can then operate Vista media center and maybe do some web surfing. The sideshow units are cool, but a little small for what I envision.

  14. any reason why the xbox division doed not just come out with a extender? thin, silent? since the 360 already can do it, it would take very little effort on there part and if they sold them guess what they would be sold out, people want them, if the oem’s can’t do it then microsoft should do it, why let apple tv take all the spotlight when it comes out?

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