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GPS, TV Place-Shifting Come To Archos PMPs

4/28/2008 04:11:00 PM Eastern

Greenwood Village, Colo. — Archos is adding navigation, place-shifting of live TV and more video-streaming options to Wi-Fi-equipped portable media players (PMPs).

For navigation, Archos plans its first GPS-equipped car cradle, which holds the Archos 605 Wi-Fi PMP to the windshield and turns it into a navigation system delivering turn-by-turn driving instructions. The $129-suggested cradle works with the 4GB, 30GB, 80GB and 160GB versions of the PMP, and it will be bundled with the 30GB player at a suggested $399 when it ships in May.

The cradle incorporates GPS receiver and antenna, TeleAtlas maps of the United States and Canada, a points-of-interest (POI) database, RDS receiver to obtain live traffic updates, and FM transmitter to deliver turn-by-turn driving instructions via voice through a car stereo system. Voice instructions can also be delivered through the PMP’s embedded speaker.

Other companies that have announced GPS cradles for their PMPs include Cowon and iRiver.

In entering the TV place-shifting market, the company plans May availability of a downloadable plug-in that permits place-shifting of recorded- and live-TV content from its recently shipped Archos TV+ DVR. Content can be streamed to all versions of its 605WiFi and 705 Wi-Fi PMPs as well as to Ethernet-connected laptops and select cellular smartphones and PDA-phones. The plug-in, called TVportation, will be available for $49.99 but will be free to current owners of TV+, which has been available for three months in a $250-suggested 80GB version and a $350-suggested 250GB version. A person cannot remotely view a program when someone at home is watching the connected TV or DVR, a spokesperson noted.

Place-shifting apps for cellphones will be available at launch, including apps for Windows Mobile Professional and Smartphone edition cellphones and Symbian-based cellphones, a spokesperson said.

Sling Media and Monsoon offer TV-place-shifting set-top boxes, though without embedded DVRs.

Archos’s DVR also transfers recorded content via high-speed USB to a variety of Archos PMPs, and it doubles as a Wi-Fi 802.11b/g-equipped digital media adapter (DMA) that streams content from a networked PC to a connected TV. The DVR also streams and downloads music and video from Archos’s portal directly through a wireless broadband router and modem.

For additional on-the-go viewing options, Archos plans May availability of firmware upgrades for the two Wi-Fi PMPs. Archos will upgrade its Adobe Flash Player support to version 9, upgrade its WMV support to version 9, and add support for the On2 video format for the first time. Adobe Flash is need to view videos from on-demand sites such as Fox News and MTV Networks and social-networking sites YouTube and MySpace.

Similarly, Archos plans May availability of a $19.99 Web TV and Radio plug-in for its Wi-Fi PMPs to stream radio from 9,600 Web radio stations, 600 Web TV stations, and 110,000 live podcasts.

For in-home viewing, the company announced a deal with Paramount to preload select movies for purchase on the TV+ DVR and to add Paramount titles to Archos’ download portal for no-PC downloading to the Wi-Fi PMPs. Details will be announced in the summer. Archos didn’t say whether the Paramount downloads would be rentals or purchases, but the company did say additional content partnerships would be announced in the summer.

Archos’s portal already delivers Wi-Fi movie-and-TV downloads for purchase or rent from CinemaNow, Wi-Fi music and music video downloads from Burnlounge.com, and Wi-Fi streaming of videos in the Adobe Flash format.