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iRiver Eyes Sound-Bar-Style Networked Media Center

Vancouver, Wash. — iRiver is targeting late-year delivery of a sound-bar-style home media center that will double as a “wireless filling station” for Wi-Fi-equipped handheld MP3 players and portable media players (PMPs)

The Unit2 incorporates CD/DVD player, FM tuner, TV tuner, hard disk drive with expected capacity of 160GB, DVR and music-storage capabilities, stereo speakers, amplifier and wireless 802.11b/g access point. Music, video and digital images stored on the Unit2 can be transferred wirelessly to fill up the planned W10 Wi-Fi-equipped PMP, planned for third-quarter delivery, and the company’s Wing ultra-mobile PC, due soon after.

The system will also reproduce music and video wirelessly streamed from a networked PC, and it will stream music and video to Wi-Fi-equipped PMPs and to a 7-inch Web-browsing touchscreen controller that detaches from the sound bar. The device will also rip CDs for local storage.

iRiver expects to equip the system with the ability to stream audio and video, including subscription-based content, directly from the Internet through a broadband modem without running a PC.

Unit2 is targeted to retail for anywhere between $799 to $1,000, including the touchscreen controller and a separate Wi-Fi-equipped remote. The remote folds open to reveal a QWERTY keyboard and doubles as a VoIP phone. For now, the TV tuner is NTSC, but the company is “looking into” ATSC, a spokesman said.

The main chassis is 4.5 inches by 14 inches by 6 inches when closed and 22 inches wide when the touchscreen is attached. Video outputs include HDMI.

The detachable 7-inch touchscreen features stereo speakers, microphone for VoIP use, SD card slot and USB port.

iRiver, long known for its portable audio devices, is expanding beyond MP3 players and PMPs to include personal navigation devices (PNDs) and its first handheld computer.

The company also plans its first PMP that turns into a PND with installation of a GPS-equipped cradle.

The planned Wing Ultra Mobile PC, based on the Windows CE Pro OS, features foldable design, Wi-Fi, touchscreen with QWERTY keyboard, 4GB flash memory, Web browser, email and VoIP.