Lusting for more PC input gear (turning into the Enterprise Command Center)

Lately, I’ve been thinking of adding more ways to manage interaction with our PCs for multimedia consumption and creation. Here are some items I’m considering buying:

  • ATI Remote Wonder (review) to access DVD, divx and mp3 playback software why not at the keyboard. This could make the act of watching divx movies on the TV a practical reality (running between the PC and TV sucks, I don’t want to bother converting files to VCD, but this means my next TV will need to have an S-Video port, cause I’d rather not mess with Peritel adapters again).
  • Contour Design ShuttlePro (reviews) looks slick for video editing, and it could prove "useful" (some amount of irony here) for gaming as well.
  • Tascam US-428 Interface Controller (review), an integrated USB low-latency sound card and control surface, seems a good base to build my home studio around. It’s supposed to work for video editing too though it’s not its primary purpose, and I wonder if it could enable mp3 DJ-ing too (both through keystroke emulation support).
    The people who claimed that the PC would die by a thousand cuts inflicted by dedicated hardware had it all wrong. The exact opposite is happening. The PC is finally delivering on its versatility promise, and dedicated environments are migrating to it. As new powerful software makes its way on generic PCs, hardware vendors build specific interfaces to complement the usual keyboard and mouse combination (think of force-feedback wheels and joysticks as other examples, which I happen to already own, freak that I am).
    Moore’s law took time to deliver, and OS stability was of course an issue, but we’re getting there, and and it’s only getting faster in absolute terms. AMD just added 333 MHz to the top of their product range. New hard drives top previous models by dozens of gigabytes, while their prices quickly get down to the same level. You’re basically adding the power of a whole PC each time you change generations (every six months or so). The PC industry is so big that proprietary hardware solutions can’t keep up on price/performance, and more and more, on absolute speed as well. To take just one example, soft samplers (which play back digital sounds of musical instruments) are now simply more powerful than dedicated hardware solutions.
    Then there’s the ease of integration. Having all these tools on the same environment (networked PCs) makes it easier to, say, compose your music then mix it with your video, then integrate the result as an intro to your game mod. BTW, here I’m talking about PCs in the broad sense (including Macs), though I do think that Wintel PCs benefit most from these positive network effects.

    My challenge is to build a full digital environment which will provide us a lot of fun, and that we can use to educate our daughter as well. It’ll need to be rock-solid, open to all sorts of possibilities, and easy to use. That’s a lot of work, and it’s shooting at a moving target, but we’re getting there step by step. Right now Elo

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