My brother write a blog entry yesterday about home networking and powerline technology. And without knowing, he’s actually commenting on a subject dear to my professional heart.

    My company produces very nice DRT (digital television recorder / PVR) products, some of the best in the industry (so the man from Sony tells me). We are really trying to lead the industry when it comes to this product range and my job is to help influence that.  It is my feeling, and that of many others, that there will be a consumer device, probably in the lounge, probably grown out of a DTR product and probably it will extend it’s reach well beyond the lounge. My first hope is to secure support for DLNA, this technology makes it easy for network connected devices to share resources or control each other. From a media point of view this means that content can be streamed from one device to another without complex user intervention.

    Power line technology is a lovely idea, unfortunately from a manufacturers perspective to integrate it into a product is very expensive. The cost of the module is easily more than the cost of an HD decoder chipset. This means that I struggle to justify putting it into a product when I know that the majority of consumers will never actually use the technology. I am also a bit dubious about putting signals over wires that weren’t designed to handle them, the mains in the UK is about 240V at 50Hz, the cable is designed for that and works well enough. But when you start putting complex noise signals at wide bandwidth over them you are going to have some effect at some point. Powerline delivered broadband already has a huge objection from the HAM radio groups and radio astronomy groups, thousands of low cost PLT home devices can’t be much better (even if they are lower power).

    We are however striving to add ethernet ports to as many products as possible and we are working on some decent software to exploit it to the full. I do conceed however using these plug adaptors could be an easy way to avoid the fact that wireless never delivers even close to it’s stated bandwidths and most consumers don’t want to rewire their house for Cat-5e/6. Although remember that current electrical installation requirements in the UK now often require a professional electrician to do the install otherwise you can’t sell your house.

In response to a blog entry by Euan Semple :

Since I have moved jobs my relative profile has increased, through press releases and now because I have stuck my oar in on DigitalSpy to correct some speculation about my companies future products.

I have always been a prolific tart when it comes to socialising (especially on-line), but recently I was ‘found’ on Facebook by someone who is an avid user of our products. I decided that, although this person is known to me, I would deny this ‘friend’ request just because by many measures I don`t actually know them.

Euan and I have met only very rarely in person and in our previous lives interacted on-line as part of his now famous community at the BBC. This makes me comfortable considering hm one of the loose social network of on-line friends that I have, but without some personal connection or professional relationship, if the association is too loose I don’t feel I can ‘friend’ someone.

I invite comment… 

Now that my profile has become a fair bit more public I get asked quite alot if people can have pre-release hardware for products that are arriving soon. The truth is, it's not that simple, we are a mass-manufacturing company and for us to produce something in low volume (such as samples) it is incredibly expensive. It takes a certain amount of time to set-up a production run, then the sample run may only produce a fraction of a full production run, or another alternative is that the boards assembled by hand, anyway there are various methods all producing expensive hardware. This can be one of the most significant single expenses we might have in development after paying the developers.

Once the software is tested and all the bugs tidied up we can actually start manufacturing completed products in a couple of days, the turn around is amazingly quick because of the preparation that happens in advance. So the time between the last bug fix and the shelf is actually very short when there is a pressure on time from the customers.

So, please, first there is no point in asking for prototype hardware, it's too expensive and second you'll get products when they are ready we don't delay for our fun! We need the return on investment as soon as possible, so we release at the most appropriate moment for everyone.