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  5. Home Entertainment PC: Developers' Stories (1)

Home Entertainment PC: Developers' Stories (1)

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DESKPOWER
The perfect blend of Digital Entertainment & PC power. A 32-inch Widescreen Home Entertainment PC that fulfills your every digital desire. Thanks to an innovative fusion of cutting edge technology, ultra stylish design and ease-of-use, this latest introduction is set to redefine your expectations in home entertainment.

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DESKPOWER TX emerged as a theatre style PC with a large LCD screen. Since this product is exceptionally innovative, the developers involved new ideas and technology used in existing personal computers. This developers’ story aims to introduce various emotions and the perfectionist nature of the Home Entertainment PC developers. In part 1, we interviewed Mr. Mikasa, Manager of engineering, and Mr. Nakaiso, Manager of Marketing Department, about the fundamental concept of the Home Entertainment PC.
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Yasuhiro Mikasa
Manager, Engineering Department I
Desktop Products Division
Personal Systems Business Unit

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Takayuki Nakaiso
Consumer PC Marketing Department
Personal Products Marketing Division
Personal Systems Business Unit

Where did the concept of “watch, record and save’” come from?

Mikasa: As both of us are in important positions that manage the whole flow of the project development, we emphasized to all of the developers involved to set aside the conventional mindset of personal computer manufacturers. Our vision for the Home Entertainment PC was not to create a high performance personal computer with lots of functions, but one which will bring enjoyment to people’s lives. We tried to figure out what we could do to achieve this, and we concluded that it is fundamental to change our mindset. We found that everybody related to the development of this product must share the same mindset, be flexible, and empathize with what the customer is expecting from a TV and DVD recorder rather than a PC. Let us put it this way, we wanted to create “something like a PC, but at the same time not a PC”,
Nakaiso: I have also personally studied all the home entertainment appliances, especially LCD TV sets. I paid special attention not only to their designs and user-friendliness, but also peripherals such as packaging.

When I saw a packaging box of a LCD TV set at a retail store, I found that the box was designed to have only one pair of grips in a good position, allowing a person to easily carry the box. I was so impressed by this design, because such brilliant design ideas cannot be invented by a traditional PC manufacturer.
Mikasa: Another part of our job was to watch out for technical trends. When we researched the industry trends in year 2003, we found out that penetration of large LCD panel had increased drastically and that gave us ease in obtaining related components. So, first, I thought we should not miss out on the opportunities based on these facts.

Second, by utilizing this opportunity, screen size of the PC can be substantially larger than before, and main usage of PC with such large screen is to enjoy TV programs and movies.

Third, if the main usage of the Home Entertainment PC is to enjoy TV programs and movies, then this device should be located at a distance away from the user, rather than on the desk in front of user. This was the logic behind how we came to decide on implementing wide screen LCD.
Nakaiso: I wanted to create something that would bring about enjoyment in all situations. I want to enjoy TV and DVD programs, enjoy recording video, enjoy saving video and still image from camera and then replaying them.

Keeping to our mantra of enjoyment, ‘Watch, record, and save’ is the catch phrase that illustrated this development concept very clearly and accurately.
Mikasa: Part of our development activities was also to check other products and evaluate them. We have intensively evaluated various LCD TVs, DVD recorders and PCs. For this evaluation, the only criteria that mattered, and what we asked ourselves was, “can we enjoy using it or not.”

I believe that we must enjoy using our products if we expect our customers to do the same. That is why developers and us come to work everyday to discover what we enjoy best – people might even be envious of us when they know what we are doing at work…enjoy ourselves.

On product development, what are the factors you persisted in to achieve this Home Entertainment PC (in this case, sticking to perfection in personal preference)?

Nakaiso: Based on the concept of “PC to watch, enjoy, record and save”, the Home Entertainment PC was developed as a cumulation of the developers’ individual factors of consideration. Among these, the following four points were adhered to:

First is the design - consumers will want to enjoy the Home Entertainment PC as a television set, and it is highly possible that the Home Entertainment PC will be placed in a living room. Therefore if its appearance is that of a traditional PC, it will look out of place. So, we designed it to be stylish furniture piece that is also a classy home appliance. (Explanation in detail in vol. 2)

Second is the ease of use - For example, when you enjoy music comfortably tucked in the couch, you cannot relax if you must operate keyboard and mouse, can you? Therefore, we implemented a software which you can use to select and replay music, photos, and images with the touch of only one remote controller. To tell you the truth, the most difficult part of development was to define the specification of the remote controller! (Explanation in detail in vol. 3)
Mikasa:
football game
Third, it is the image quality. Naturally, the images must be sharp and clear for the user to enjoy what is playing on the screen. For example, when we watch a football game on an impressively big screen, we will definitely lose interest in the game if the after-image shows the orbit of a flying ball. Therefore, it is an absolute condition to have clear and sharp image quality. In fact, the technology that is applied to the Home Entertainment PC has never been used before in this industry. (Explanation in detail in Vol. 4)

Last but not least, we know the sound quality matters greatly. We can enhance the user’s enjoyment if we hear a sound which is rich enough to cause a vibration in our stomach, especially when we watch on explosion scene in a movie. Therefore, we decided to integrate sub woofers, though there were opinions suggesting that it is too luxurious. Because we were pioneers in the industry to develop a PC with integrated sub woofers, actual engineering work based on trial and error was not easy. (Explanation in detail in Vol. 5)
Nakaiso: We continuously remind ourselves of our philosophy. It does not mean developers’ self-satisfaction, but creation of completeness based on thorough consideration of our customer’s point of view. Hence, we are proud to say that the Home Entertainment PC will certainly satisfy our customer. We are very pleased if our customers feel our persistence by actual experience of “Watch, record, and save.”