I am not a big fan of acronyms. Although these abbreviations may help us communicate complex concepts quickly and easily, frankly I think the world already has too many of them. The consumer electronics industry is littered with acronyms: TV, VCR, CD, DBS, DSS, DVD, VHS, PC and DV are just a few that we use every day. A recent study by industry analysis organization PolkVerity objectively measured levels of customer confusion within the consumer electronics industry. Among the findings, PolkVerity reported that for people to be more comfortable with the growing amount of technology they have to deal with in their homes, things must be simpler to understand and easier to communicate.
So why am I about to go ahead and suggest another acronym anyway? I wouldn’t if I didn’t think it was incredibly important. Acronyms allow us to articulate several descriptive words with little effort. If products had short, one word, names the description would be shallow. When products have longer, two or three word names, they are quite descriptive. I believe that the "video cassette recorder" could not be properly understood without using those three words to describe it. Once a person understands those words and what they mean, the acronym VCR is all they need to communicate the idea.
There is a new product category that is becoming very important to people that watch TV or record video. This new product category is actually a category within another category, hence it is not easy to understand. The product is a "video recording computer." At this time there are many computers that record video. These computers are usually "built" by the customers who use them, typically for some type of video editing application. They install various additional hardware and software components that allow them to capture, record, store and edit video. In just the last few months, several companies have begun shipping computers with these components preinstalled and pre-configured. Even more recently, several companies have announced specialized computers that allow users to record television to a hard drive. Like a VCR, this provides viewers with more control over when and what they watch on their TVs.
The "video recording computers" are becoming very important, but few people realize this because the video recording computers haven’t had a name or an acronym. Therefore, as editor of Videomaker and Smart TV magazines I christen this product category with its own well-deserved acronym: the "VRC." The VRC will change the way that we consume and manage video. The VRC allows us to edit video easily and effectively.
Most of the companies that have created the software for a VRC have done so assuming that users sit two feet away from a VGA computer monitor. Therefore, the user interface is designed for a two-foot experience. I believe that soon, most VRC users will sit 10 feet away from a TV monitor and they will use a wireless keyboard and/or pointing device.
Because of this, VRCs will need to:
- Come with software options for a 10-foot friendly user interface,
- Not require a VGA monitor,
- Capture VHS quality video (AKA 30 fields per second, 640X480 pixels per full screen),
- Tune and capture any video source (broadcast TV, cable TV, streaming video, VCR or camcorder),
- Switch any video or audio source directly to the monitor,
- Eliminate ALL other remote controls.
I suggest that all of the companies (software developers, hardware developers and content suppliers) that participate within the VRC category agree upon the standardized use of this acronym and agree to use a symbolic logo (like the one below). I strongly encourage the major players in this market (Gateway, Dell and Compaq) to offer a VRC this year. This will allow all potential customers to have an easy time of understanding this category. And finally, I suggest that the Electronics Industries Association track the sales of VRCs as it now does VCRs and TVs.
The VRC is a wonderful device that belongs in every living room!