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Microsoft outlined the capabilities of its next-generation Extenders for Windows Media Center PCs and demonstrated models from Cisco/Linksys, D-Link and Niveus Media during CEDIA Expo, here.
The first of the new Extender digital media adapters (DMAs) devices will be available for the holiday selling season, joining Extender-enabled Xbox 360s in streaming audio, photos, live HDTV programs, and time-shifted HDTV programs to a connected A/V system from networked Media Center PCs running Windows Vista Home Premium software or Windows Vista Ultimate software. They new models will replace previous-generation models built for Windows XP PCs.
Details of individual companies' Extenders will be revealed later this month, but Niveus Media displayed its model, custom-tailored for the custom-install market.
Extender DMAs will include standalone set-top boxes, but the technology will also be built into DVD players and TVs, and they will include high-speed wireless 802.11n to stream HD video to up to six rooms simultaneously, Microsoft said. Also for the first time, Extenders will support the DivX and Xvid video codecs, but they will continue to support Windows Media Video HD files.
The new Extenders also add the ability to receive protected HD content, including TV programs recorded from over-the-air ATSC or Cable Card tuners as well as movies and music downloaded from such providers CinemaNow, MovieLink and Napster. With Media Centers' first-time support for quad Cable Cards, up to four cable-HD channels can be streamed simultaneously.
The new devices will also support such Media Center features as Reuters news feeds, National Public Radio broadcasts, up-to-date sports reports from the FOX Sports Lounge, and subscription music from XM Radio. The devices also offer parental controls.
The new Extenders "make it easy to get a wide range of personal and Internet content not only on someone's main TV but on all the TVs in the house," said Dave Alles, Microsoft's eHome general manager. "Whether it's a high-def show recorded from digital cable, new Internet video, or your personal library of pictures, music and videos, it's all on your television [and] just a remote-click away."