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Philips BD HTiB, Wireless HDMI, PMPs On Way

6/02/2009 04:09:00 PM Eastern

New York — Philips plans fourth-quarter shipment of its first wireless-HD transmitter/receiver system and late-June shipments of its first Blu-ray-equipped home theater in a box (HTiB) system, which will retail for a suggested $599.

The HTiB is from P&F, the Atlanta-based Funai Electric subsidiary that markets Philips-branded TVs and HTiBs in the U.S. under a licensing agreement with Philips. The wireless HDMI device is from Stamford, Conn.-based Philips Consumer Lifestyle (PCC), which markets MP3 players, iPod-docking speaker systems, digital media adapters, DECT cordless phones, remotes and other accessories.

At a press event here, PCC also unveiled multiple new MP3 players and portable media players (PMPs), including its first 16GB models.

For the $799-suggested Wireless HD Link, P&F is switching from previously planned ultrawideband (UWB) technology to Amimon’s 5GHz-band technology, which is the foundation of the Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) standard. WHDI transmits uncompressed 1080p HD video through walls up to about 100 feet to stationary or portable devices, Amimon said. The technology uses the 5GHz spectrum also used by which IEEE 802.11a/n.

Philips marketing manager Scott McGlinchey called the Amimon solution “cleaner” than UWB. UWB’s promoters have said UWB uses compression, whereas Amimon’s solution is uncompressed.

The Wireless HD Link includes a transmitter that incorporates two HDMI inputs and two component-video inputs to connect such HD video sources as set-top boxes and Blu-ray players, which can be placed in inconspicuous locations or in a media closet. The sender transmits a single HD video stream at a time from a connected source to a receiving unit that can be attached to the back of a flat-screen TV.

The Wireless Link is designed as a one-to-one solution, not a one-to-many solution, McGlinchey said.

In HTiBs, P&F revealed more details about its BD 5100, which has been upgraded to the 2.0 spec to stream Internet-connected BD-Live content. It comes with 5.1 wired speaker system, decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats, 1080p 24 fps video playback, DivX and DivX HD playback, Deep Color, SD card slot for use with the BD-Live capability, HDMI 1.3 CEC and picture-in-picture option for viewing BonusView content.

The 5100 matches the price of competitors’ opening-price models. Opening-price Blu-ray HTiBs announced this year include a Sony model at an everyday $600, a Panasonic model at a suggested $599, a $699 JVC model and a $549 (street price) Samsung model.

In portable devices, PCC added five new MP3 and PMP GoGear devices, some available in two storage capacities. They consist of:

--the 16GB Muze PMP, due in June at a suggested $169 with noise-canceling headphones, wide-QVGA screen, A/V playback, RDS-FM tuner, and compatibility with the Rhapsody subscription-download service and Audible spoken-word files. Supported audio and video codecs were unavailable.

--the GoGear Aria PMP, just shipping in 8GB and 16GB capacities at a suggested $79.99 and $99.99, respectively. It features 2-inch wide screen, FM, and Rhapsody/Audible compatibility. Audio codecs include MP3, WMA, FLAC and AAC. Video codecs were unavailable.

--the Vibe PMP with 1.5-inch screen, available in 4GB and 8GB versions at a suggested $49.99 and $59.99, respectively. It features FM tuner, voice recording, Audible and Rhapsody compatibility, and playback of MP3, WMA, AAC and FLAC audio files. Supported video codecs were unavailable.

--the SA018 MP3 player, due in July in 2GB and 4GB versions at $39.99 and $49.99. It features stainless-steel case and MP3/WMA audio playback.

--the 4GB Mix MP3, available at a suggested $44.99 with push-out USB connector, voice recorder and FM tuner. It plays MP3 and WMA files but doesn’t support Rhapsody or Audible.

Six iPod/iPhone-speaker docks shown at the event consisted mainly of previously announced models. Almost all are shipping, including the $149-suggested one-piece SBD8100. It’s an AC/DC unit with motorized front-panel clip that rotates an iPod or iPhone into portrait or landscape model for viewing videos. The $99.99-suggested one-piece DCM278, due in September, is a DC model with vertical CD mechanism, FM tuner, 2x5-watt RMS output, and USB input to select music from USB-equipped MP3 players and USB drives.

The $149 DC-only DCM-250, shaped like a semicircle, features slot-load CD, FM tuner, USB input and 2x15-watt RMS output. A $169 version with HD Radio was announced last December, but it isn’t clear whether that model shipped.

None features video output to display iPod video on a TV.

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