Microsoft and Thomson have reached an agreement to develop a broadband and home network-enabled version of the MSN TV Internet receiver, the companies announced.
The new MSN TV terminal, said to be "a complete overhaul of the existing [dial-up] device and service," is based on standard Microsoft technologies and adds advanced technology from Thomson, according to an advance statement given to TWICE.
The product will be available through major retailers, including Best Buy, Circuit City, Amazon.com and others, beginning in October at a $199 suggested retail. It will ship with a wireless keyboard and remote control.
The unit will be equipped with an Ethernet port for either wired or wireless in-home networking solutions. Among the capabilities of the new system will be the ability to link to a home PC to stream digital music, video and digital image files from a remote PC's hard drive to a home entertainment system connected to the MSN TV device.
The terminal will directly stream video and audio programming from the Internet for playback on a home TV or entertainment center, but it is said to have only limited built-in downloading and storage capabilities to prevent vulnerability to virus attacks and to keep unit pricing affordable.
Users who have installed in-home networks would be able to download certain files to their PC's hard drive and play back the content through the MSN TV terminal, according to a source. A printer port will also be included in the device.
The terminal was said to be based on the Windows CE operating system. Microsoft said it would discuss "further details and specifications" at a later date. The company is also still determining the monthly subscription fee for the broadband MSN TV service.
"Thomson is a valued partner that shares our vision of making it easy to connect the digital world to your living room," said Sam Klepper, general manager, MSN TV, in a prepared statement. "That's why we selected them to design and manufacture our next-generation system. It is a giant leap forward that will appeal to a much broader set of consumers."
"For the past four years we have partnered with the MSN TV organization to give consumers the ease of use, reliability and affordability they value in accessing the Internet on television. As a leader in delivering interactive video solutions to consumers, we are excited to be working with Microsoft on product innovations that will make MSN TV's service more appealing for users at all levels — including digital media enthusiasts with exciting new options," said Keith Wehmeyer, Thomson's IP decoders general manager.