January 8, 2003 9:00 PM PST

Intel, Microsoft push portable video

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Intel and Microsoft have teamed to help electronics makers expand the market for portable video devices.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft is developing a software environment, called Media2Go, for portable video players (PVPs)--small, portable machines designed to play video and other types of entertainment files, said Bryan Peebler, market development manager in the emerging platforms lab at Intel.

Intel, meanwhile, continues to develop reference designs for building these devices around Intel's Xscale (formerly StrongArm) family of processors. The company unveiled its portable video player design in 2002 and has been licensing it to consumer-electronics manufacturers. So far, Sonicblue and ViewSonic have agreed to market PVPs.

"This is a platform you can use to build PVP devices," Peebler said of the reference designs and Media2Go. Microsoft declined to comment, but is expected to talk about the software this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The first products running Media2Go, which is derived from Windows CE, are slated for release in late 2003 or early 2004, Peebler said. Intel-based products running other software are expected earlier.

Video has become the latest killer app for consumer PCs, at least as far as product-marketing managers are concerned. A growing number of computer makers are including recordable DVD drives in desktops and laptops. Sales of digital video cameras also are climbing.


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The initial PVP designs largely existed to store and play back recorded video, but the capabilities will expand. Upcoming versions will contain wireless connectivity, so TV programs (or music) can be streamed to PVPs over a Wi-Fi connection, Peebler said. Content aggregators are already working on creating Wi-Fi programming, he added.

The basic hardware configurations will also vary. Some manufacturers are tinkering with machines that will include small screens and could cost $199, while others are considering $399 boxes that tout larger screens and hard drives and more memory, Peebler said.

 

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