Can a set-top box let you play Crysis on your plasma? UK company demos hardware to stream PC games to HDTVs.

While companies like OnLive are trying to create an infrastructure that will allow them to stream PC-quality games remotely to any type of device, British set-top vendor Pace is trying a simpler approach as part of the European Union-funded Games@Large platform, hoping to make it easier for customers to play PC games on an HDTV than having to hook up your PC directly to the set.

While companies like OnLive are trying to create an infrastructure that will allow them to stream PC-quality games remotely to any type of device, British set-top vendor Pace is trying a simpler approach as part of the European Union-funded Games@Large platform, hoping to make it easier for customers to play PC games on an HDTV than having to hook up your PC directly to the set.

The setup, getting a demo this week at the IPTV World Forum, revolves around streaming the game from a central server in the home (most likely, your main desktop) to a set-top box connected to your TV. While that approach sounds like a no-brainer, it yields as many questions as it answers. Does the setup demand a wired network connection to have enough bandwidth to stream all the data a graphics-intensive game requires? Does the current technology in set-top boxes really have the horsepower to help offset some of the 3D graphics processing, as Pace claims? Finally, is there a big enough market for a set-top box that handles PC titles as opposed to people just going out and buying an Xbox 360 or a PS3? (Granted, the best PC graphics can top these consoles, but they'll get you 95 percent of the way there without another box from your cable company.)

This isn't to suggest that the Pace solution wouldn't work—especially considering that I don't have access to a demo. I am a little bit skeptical that this would be a marketplace winner given not only the console option, but also given that online streaming gaming services will improve and either offer their own hardware or take advantage of other connected devices in the living room (whether TV, media streamer, or Blu-ray player). Then again, maybe the draw of playing Crysis on your big screen while your computer is still in your office is enticing enough for this to succeed. What do you think? Let us know in the TalkBack section.

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