The networking of audio and video electronics devices in the home, in much the same manner as computers are networked, has long been predicted. But predictations are about all that has happened so far. However, according to a report from Instat, more than 50 million homes will move to home media networking this year. Now that is good news.

With devices, services and standards in the works for already several years, home media networking could begin to take shape this year, Instat says. According to the market research firm, total media networking connections in homes will grow from more than 50 million in 2005 to more than 200 million in 2009, at an average growth rate of 29 percent per year.

The growth is expected to be driven by PC vendors, who are rolling out media center PCs that fit the living room in terms of style and function. Entertainment PCs (EPC) are positioned to become the hub to serve all entertainment needs of the future home from data-sharing, audio and video streaming to gaming. Intel displayed at last week's IDF several devices that you see life within the coming months: The units were equipped with dual-core processors to run several tasks throughout the home simultaneously and included upgraded capabilities such as ADAT audio support.

Entertainment PCs are not expected to dominate the home media networking scene forever, with TiVo-style and future high-end set-top boxes due to appear that should be able to connect to other set-top-boxes and PCs.