New York — Samsung added compatibility with authorized-video download site CinemaNow to a portable media player (PMP) for the first time.
Samsung’s touchscreen-equipped YP-P2, available in 4GB and 8GB variations, joins select Archos PMPs as the only portables offering playback of PC-downloaded movies, TV shows and other videos from CinemaNow.
As part of the announcement, Samsung and CinemaNow announced a co-branded version of CinemaNow’s download store as well as PC software optimized to easily transfer CinemaNow’s protected WMV downloads to the YP-P2. “We’ve effectively created a customized service for the P2 player,” CinemaNow CEO Curt Marvis told TWICE. That allows for “seamless integration” of hardware and PC software in a manner offered by Apple for its iPod and Microsoft for its Zune, he said. As part of the transfer process, the software down-converts CinemaNow’s 1.5Mbps video files to 700kbps or less for P2 playback, Marvis said. The compression enables one movie to consume only 1GB of flash memory, he added.
Only paid-for downloads, not 24-hour CinemaNow rental titles, can be transferred to the P2 and Archos devices, which play back CinemaNow videos as the site’s full 1.5Mbps data rate, Marvis added.
The co-branded video download site, at MPfreedom.com, is also the site at which consumers will be able to download firmware upgrades. The first upgrades, due in December, will enable playback of unprotected-AAC music files and extend the device’s stereo Bluetooth capability to pair with Bluetooth-equipped cellphones. As a result, a user listening to P2 audio via a Bluetooth stereo headset will also be able to take calls through the headset, which automatically mutes the P2’s music when a call comes in. In January, Samsung will make available downloadable games optimized for use with the P2’s motion user interface. In March, additional, as-yet unspecified firmware upgrades will be available.
Both YP-P2 versions are currently available at retail prices down to $249 and $199, respectively.
Senior marketing manager Matt Durgin noted that the P2 is also compatible with video downloads from Amazon’s Unbox service, which sells 500kbps protected WMV files, although the Unbox PC application wasn’t designed to integrate as tightly with the P2 as the co-branded CinemaNow site. Wal-Mart’s video-download site also uses 500kbps protected WMV files, but Samsung doesn’t want to promote compatibility with that site until it runs its own tests, Durgin said.
As for compatibility with Vongo’s video-download service, Durgin called the company a “potential partner.”
The YP-P2 is Samsung’s first portable A/V device with iPhone-style motion user interface, first PMP with widescreen display, and its first with the ability to reorient video for horizontal or vertical viewing.
Its launch with CinemaNow compatibility is part of an effort to build share in the market despite Apple’s overwhelming dominance. Samsung sales and marketing executive VP Tim Baxter contended his company has an opportunity in the market because the industry is shifting from music-only to music-and-video devices and the use of MP3 players and PMPs as primary sources in many home entertainment systems. Marvis noted that CinemaNow offers more than 3,000 movies compared with Apple’s 550.