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Skype Hypes VoIP At CTIA, Sling Media Demos Video

Las Vegas — Technology is helping break down the walls of carriers’ walled gardens during the CTIA Wireless convention, here, this week.

Skype is demonstrating a VoIP application that can be used on select cellular phones, and Sling Media is demonstrating its solution for watching your local TV channels or digital video recorder (DVR) from a cellular handset while you’re at a trade show in Las Vegas.

Here’s what they’re doing:

Skype: At the Intel booth, the company is demonstrating its VoIP application for Windows Mobile-based PDA phones and Wi-Fi-equipped PocketPC PDAs. The application lets consumers make unlimited free phone calls to people with Skype loaded onto their PC, laptop or PDA.

On a PDA phone, the application eliminates long-distance charges to overseas locations and help users manage their voice minutes, the company said.

For PDA phones, the minimum requirements are Windows Mobile 5.0 or Windows Mobile 2003 for PocketPC.

Sling Media: Also at the Intel booth, Sling Media will demonstrate software that enables consumers to watch their home satellite- or cable-TV programs and PVR from a Windows Mobile PDA phone located anywhere cellular service is available. The software, called SlingPlayer Mobile, will be available April 26 for $29.99 from the company’s Web site. Within a month, the company will offer software for Windows Mobile smartphones, which lack large touch screens.

Software for remote viewing on a laptop PC is already available.

The software must be used with the company’s $249 1.6-inch by 10.6-inch by 4-inch Slingbox, which connects a home video system to the Internet. The Slingbox connects to home video components via analog audio and video inputs and outputs and an IR emitter, which enables remote control from the PDA-phone. Its Ethernet port connects to a broadband modem.

Users can remotely toggle among three separate video sources but can stream only one at a time. Family at home can watch one cable (or satellite) channel while the user is streaming another cable (or satellite) channel.

Laptops and phones can’t record the streamed content.

Supported PDA phones and Wi-Fi-equipped PDAs include the Palm Treo 700w, the Motorola Q, the Samsung i730, the UTStarcom PPC6700, and handheld computers such as the Dell Axim and HP iPAQ. Sling plans compatibility with other PDA phone operating systems in the future.

The Sling Box, which incorporates an NTSC TV tuner, converts analog audio and video into Windows Media Video for Internet transmission.

No monthly service fees are required to access media through a PC or through a cellphone, other than normal cellular phone charges.

The app functions on any Windows Mobile-based phone or PocketPC PDA and can connect over any type of digital data network, including Wi-Fi. On a small screen, video streamed through a CDMA 1x connection will look okay, the company said, but for larger screen devices such as PDAs, CDMA 1x EV-DO and other networks delivering about 120kbps produce an acceptable stream.