By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Monsoon Multimedia set-top boxes will extend TV place-shifting to Windows Mobile and Symbian-based smartphones and PDA phones in the coming months.
The set-top units currently place-shift to remote computers and laptops that are broadband-connected, to local computers connected to the same home network as the set-top box, and to Nokia's Linux-based palm-sized N810, a Wi-Fi-equipped Internet tablet. The application for the N810 will also work on the planned N810 WiMAX Edition, due in time for the launch of Sprint's Mobile WiMAX network in select cities in coming months.
Place-shifting applications for versions five and six of the Windows Mobile Professional and Standard OSs are due in April, followed in the second quarter by an application for Symbian S60-based smartphones, said Thierry Doyen, sales and marketing senior director. The mobile applications are free.
Monsoon offers four HAVA place-shifting set-top boxes, the first of which became available in mid 2007. The set-tops, priced from a suggested $129 to $249, enable consumers to place-shift live video from a connected TV tuner and stream recorded video from a connected DVD player or DVR. PCs and laptops must be XP and Vista PCs equipped with a Monsoon application. An application for the Mac OSX might be available in the third quarter, Doyen said.
All four models, including the opening-price HAVA Gold at a suggested $129, connect to up to three video sources in the living room, including cable or satellite tuner, DVD or Blu-ray player, and DVR. From a networked local PC or remote device, consumers can control all video components as well as program the DVR, which can be programmed by inputting channel and recording time. An electronic programming guide is planned.
The $149 HAVA Platinum HD adds component inputs and the ability to transmit an HD program in widescreen aspect ratio, though not in full HD resolution. Platinum takes a 720p or 1080i signal and converts it to standard-definition resolution before streaming it over a network or over the Internet.
Platinum also adds PC software that stores streamed content, enabling the PC or laptop to pause, rewind and fast-forward streamed content. The stored program can also be burned to DVD. The storing capability isn't yet available for mobile phones or for the N810 but is in the works.
At $249, the HAVA Titanium HD adds Wi-Fi to make a wireless connection to a Wi-Fi-equipped broadband router or modem, and it features two USB ports. One is for plugging in an external USB HDD drive that can then be used as a DVR. The other USB port is for the included Wi-Fi 802.11g adapter, which sits in a cradle and is connected to a 3-foot USB cable so the adapter can be located in a spot with good reception.
Also at $249, the HAVA Wireless HD features built-in 802.11 b/g card and analog NTSC/cable tuner. It lacks connectivity to an external USB HDD. An add-on digital-TV tuner, however, is in the works for connection via USB to HAVA Titanium HD.
All four set-tops enable multiple networked PCs within the home to simultaneously view live TV or DVR content, with the number of PCs and devices limited only by the bandwidth of the network or broadband connection. Only one remote client at a time, however, can view a space-shifted program, but the remote device can be watching while multiple home PCs watch the same program. Only one video source at a time, however, can be streamed simultaneously to all of the networked PCs and remote device.
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