By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Pinnacle Systems, the leading supplier of video editing software, is expanding its reach into the home networking category, with the delivery of the ShowCenter set-top box that will enable the playback of music, videos and digital photos from remote PC hard drives, on home theater TV screens.
Pinnacle ShowCenter, which is shipping this fall at a $299.99 suggested retail price, is a dedicated set-top device that connects to wireless and wired home local area networks (LAN) to stream multimedia files from any PC on the network to any television or home entertainment system in the house.
"ShowCenter is a digital media player — or digital server — for the home," said Scott Taylor, Pinnacle business and consumer video division marketing VP. "We've designed the box to look more like a home theater component than a USB peripheral."
In addition to running on home networks, the ShowCenter will connect, peer-to-peer, to the Ethernet port on a PC. The box ships with 30 feet of cable for such applications. For more distant connections, it includes a PCMCIA slot to accept an 802.11b wireless receiver card.
Outputs include digital audio output (optical and coaxial), two sets of standard composite audio outputs, composite video, S-Video and component video outputs supporting interlaced NTSC signals. The initial unit will not support HDTV output.
The current product roadmap calls for HD output support for still images in the next generation device, due early next year, and HDTV video output in the third generation.
"The cool thing about this technology is that it is going to continue to evolve," said Jerry Thompson, Pinnacle Systems general manager. "What's important to retailers is both the pace of development, and the fact that price points can stabilize. We have planned to continually upgrade this product to help keep the price stable. We already have four advances planned that will take us out for the next 18 months."
To aggregate and present media files to users, the ShowCenter includes a user-friendly graphical user interface which makes it easy for consumers to navigate and access digital files.
Pinnacle ShowCenter is bundled with Windows-based software that loads on a PC to organize and manage multimedia files both on the computer and through the network-connected set-top box, using a supplied remote control. The software provides media management to help users organize and easily locate files, create and play music playlists and run photo slideshows.
The software application also gives users comprehensive import and export functionality such as the ability to burn CDs and DVDs.
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