Intel is taking aim at the future digital home, introducing a family of remote-controlled PCs for the market.

PCs with the "Viiv" brand name (rhymes with five) will start appearing in the first quarter of 2006, said Don Macdonald, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group, in a keynote address Wednesday. No PC vendors were present to announce their support for Viiv, but Macdonald said he expects several companies to be on board with the program.

Representatives from Dell and HP declined to comment on unannounced products. However, the PC market share leaders have a history of working closely with Intel's branding and product strategies.

Viiv must meet high expectations

The move into consumer electronics is seen as a way to stimulate the fortunes of the PC industry. Some vendors already sell entertainment PCs, which are slim, desktop-like devices that bear a greater resemblance to consumer electronics devices like DVD players or stereo receivers.

Viiv PCs will extend the concept of the living room PC by guaranteeing a quality experience and improved performance, Macdonald said. New cool-running. dual-core processors like Yonah and Conroe will provide enough performance to stream video content to multiple rooms in a home, he said. A quick-boot process will allow users to push a button and start using the Viiv PCs instantly.

Intel will also use technology developed as part of its work with the Digital Living Network Alliance to create standards for entertainment PCs, said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. This will help ensure that consumers purchase movies and other content that will work with their Viiv PCs, he said.

But analysts warn that consumers have a much higher level of expectations for consumer electronics devices like DVD players and televisions than they do for buggy, virus-prone PCs. The thinking is that while users tolerate a certain amount of trouble from their PCs, they won't stand for the same experience while trying to relax and watch a movie.

Defining tomorrow’s digital media rights

Left unaddressed on Wednesday, but certain to be discussed in the future, were details about digital-rights management (DRM) technologies used in Viiv PCs to ensure content providers will get on board with the delivery of digital content over the Internet.

Intel has taken great pains over the past year to chart a middle course between the content industry and consumer advocates when it comes to DRM, but it did not explain how it will prevent users from using or making unauthorized copies of digital content on Viiv PCs.