By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Technology is helping break down the walls of carriers' walled gardens.
At the CTIA show, Skype demonstrated a VoIP application that can be used on select cellular phones, and Sling Media demonstrated its "place-shifting" solution for watching local TV channels or content from a home's digital video recorder on a cellular handset.
The two services are available independently of the carriers.
Here's what the companies showed:
Skype: At the Intel booth, the company demonstrated its VoIP application for Windows Mobile-based PDA phones and Wi-Fi-equipped PocketPC PDAs. The application lets consumers make unlimited free phone calls to people with Skype loaded onto their PC, laptop or PDA.
On a PDA phone, the application eliminates long-distance charges to overseas locations and help users manage their voice minutes, the company said.
For PDA phones, the minimum requirements are Windows Mobile 5.0 or Windows Mobile 2003 for PocketPC.
Sling Media: Also at the Intel booth, Sling Media demonstrated software that enables consumers to watch home satellite or cable TV programs and PVR content from a Windows Mobile PDA phone located anywhere cellular service is available. The software, called SlingPlayer Mobile, will be available April 26 for $29.99 from the company's Web site. Within a month, the company will offer software for Windows Mobile smartphones, which lack large touch screens.
Software for remote viewing on a laptop PC is already available. The software must be used with the company's $249 1.6-inch by 10.6-inch by 4-inch Slingbox, which connects a home video system to the Internet. The Slingbox connects to home video components via analog A/V inputs and outputs and an IR emitter, which enables remote control from the PDA phone. Its Ethernet port connects to a broadband modem.
Users can remotely toggle among three separate video sources but can stream only one at a time. Family at home can watch one cable or satellite channel while the remote user streams another channel.
Laptops and phones can't record the streamed content.
Supported PDA hones and Wi-Fi-equipped PDAs include the Palm Treo 700w, the Motorola Q, the Samsung i730, the UTStarcom PPC6700, and handheld computers such as the Dell Axim and HP iPAQ.
The Sling Box, which incorporates an NTSC TV tuner, converts analog audio and video into Windows Media Video for Internet transmission.
No monthly service fees are required to access media through a PC or through a cellphone, other than normal wireless subscription charges.
The application functions on any Windows Mobile-based phone or PocketPC PDA and can connect over any type of digital data network, including Wi-Fi. For larger screen devices such as PDAs, CDMA 1x EV-DO and other networks delivering about 120Kbps produce an acceptable stream, the company said.
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