Here in Atlanta's World Congress Center at CEDIA, Pioneer is showing off a product concept that performs so many media storage and distribution duties - maybe too many - that the company doesn't know what to call it. It's a media server. It's a video jukebox. It's a network platform. It's a Web shopping portal. It's a desert topping.
Right now, Pioneer calls it Project Entertainment Tap, tap as in a metaphor for water spigot, but that's not permanent. How about Whatchamacallit?
Here's what it is/does, or will do, maybe, when Pioneer actually turns it into a product:
It's a box that gets attached to your HDTV. It has multiple analog and digital inputs including HDMI in and out so it's interface gets displayed on your HDTV. You can connect your other boxes — cable, satellite, etc. — to it or connect it to an AV receiver.
It's got a 1 TB hard drive that could be a DVR but really is used to rip your CDs and future Blu-ray discs to to create a huge A/V jukebox (1 TB will store around 30-40 movies). Next year, all Blu-ray discs will allow "managed" copying, giving you permission to rip your new Blu-rays to a hard disk. Ripping your current Blu-ray discs or DVDs is still verbotten.
It can connect to multiple online sites for downloading content and shopping. The Thingamajig will aggregate all your purchases and create one comprehensive invoice you can print out.
It'll do Slingbox/HAVA kinds of stunts, sending your content to any device with a Web browser such as a cellphone or laptop. You'll also be able to control and, by extension, all the devices connected to it, your Whoziwhatzee from any Web-enabled device such as a cellphone or laptop.
It'll do media server tricks, giving you access to all your PC-based multimedia content or photos stored on photo sites such as Flickr and Shutterfly through its simple interface.
Using Control4, you can use the included remote or your cellphone to control the whole business.
Pioneer is currently gathering reactions and input to figure out what to do with it. ETAP is actually a networking software platform, so it can potentially perform lots of other functions. Pioneer hopes to have an actual product sometime next year — as soon as they figure out what to call it.