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Silicon Image Shows Off New Input Features

10/03/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

SUNNYVALE, CALIF. – Silicon Image recently expanded
its popular InstaPort technology for HDMI-enabled
TVs and source components with InstaPrevue, a
system designed to take the guesswork out of switching
between HDMI sources.

The company said that sets carrying its Mobile
High-definition Link (MHL) technology are also heading
to market soon.

The InstaPrevue technology, which SI will embed on
next-generation chips carrying InstaPort, will enable
viewers to see a preview of what’s on each connected
device by providing small picture-in-picture images
corresponding to each HDMI port. Users simply select
the input to call up on the main screen.

The company expects the technology to appear in
TVs and basically anything else that takes HDMI inputs,
starting in late 2012 or 2013. Silicon Image’s InstaPort
technology is currently carried by nine of the
top tier-one TV brands and most of the tier-two and
-three brands.

InstaPort is a system invented by Silicon Image to
speed up the HDCP authorization process so that a
viewer instantly sees content streaming over an HDMI
connection the second the input is selected, without
having to wait four to seven seconds for an HDCP authorization
process to be completed.

The forthcoming Silicon Image core processors combining
both InstaPort and InstaPrevue will also be MHL
enabled, permitting easy wired connections of smartphones
and media tablets to play back content from the
portable devices on the bigger TV screen in the home.

A handheld device using an MHL-enabled connector
will attach to legacy display devices via the TV set’s
HDMI connection using a special adapter. Some device
makers and cellphone service providers will provide
those to consumers, said Tim Wong, MHL, LLC
president. But with the new MHL-enabled chips and
inputs soon appearing in as-yet-unannounced new TV
models, no adapters will be necessary — only an connection
cable.

Toshiba recently became the first TV maker to
build MHL into a display — the 46-inch and 55-inch
WL800A-series LCD TVs announced last August in
the Australian market.

MHL, which is not connection specific, can transfer
up to 1080p video content from a handheld device to
a large-screen display. The connection also allows the
handheld unit to recharge its battery while it is connected
so the device won’t lose power during the playback
of a movie, video game, PowerPoint presentation
or what have you.

So far, MHL-equipped phones have been announced
by Samsung and HTC, with a number of other major
brands set to announce products in the near future,
said Alex Chervet, SI products business group senior
marketing director.

“The original thing we thought people would do
with this was view photos and movies and things, but
it turns out that they play games and do a lot of other
stuff too. I think it is going to open up new use cases
that people don’t even have today.”

Apple, the 800-pound gorilla in the market, doesn’t
let partners speak for it, and nothing has yet been announced
with regard to MHL, but Wong said that “it
makes sense” that they would add it.

“MHL is about the only thing out there that is not
connection specific -- USB, HDMI all have connectors,
and MHL is connection agnostic, so Apple’s connector
is not a problem, and the charging capability is
a tremendous capability for an iPad,” Wong said.

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