NEC introduces Lui, the home networking ace

NEC's Lui promises to network all our home media devices, but do we really need it?

Life with Ubiquitous Integrated Solutions, or 'Lui' to its friends, is not the title of a new movie about lovable childlike robots. Instead it's the clumsy branding NEC has applied to its latest attempt to get all our digital entertainment devices talking to one another.

Lui consists of a platform through which a central server streams media to terminals around the home, be they TV sets, PCs or odd little dedicated portable devices that no one really wants.

All for the show

It's in the latter category that NEC has introduced three Lui devices ahead of the iEXPO networking show in Japan this week. These will be available in Japan in the first half of next year, although there's no word on pricing or availability elsewhere.

The central plank of Lui is a home server PC that contains two digital terrestrial TV tuners and has the ability to serve two other high-definition streams to elsewhere in the house. NEC claims the televisual functions have no impact on the PC performance, leaving it free to be used as a regular computer too.

Remoters in disguise

In the portable category, there will also be two products awkwardly dubbed 'PC Remoters'. The PC Remoter Notebook has a 10.6-inch screen, weighs just 650g and connects securely to the server by VPN. Meanwhile, the PC Remoter Pocket is a 250g PDA-type device that has a 4.1-inch touch-sensitive screen for displaying media received from the same server.

Neither remote terminal has onboard storage, so content remains locked to the server, which will seem like a restriction to pretty much everyone, as far as we can see. Then again, most home networks are about tying our hands, rather than freeing up our media.

Future plans see NEC introducing an add-on that transforms an ordinary PC into a home server and terminals that can be hung on a wall or are waterproof.

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.