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Cellphone-Based A/V Place-Shifting Sees Gains

There are more options for place-shifting audio and video from the home to a wireless handheld device now that two companies have launched products for use in conjunction with a broadband-connected home PC.

Avvenu of Palo Alto came to CTIA’s Wireless convention with software applications that enable Windows Mobile-based smartphones and PocketPC phones, as well as remote browser-equipped PCs and laptops, to stream songs stored in a home PC’s iTunes application.

Separately, Honest Technology (Honestech) of Austin, Texas, launched a hardware-software package that enables users to stream live or recorded TV from their home PC to a Windows Mobile-based smartphone, PDA phone or Wi-Fi-equipped PDA loaded with Honetech’s mobile player software.

For cellphone streaming, both companies’ solutions require the use of a cellular wireless-data subscription.

These products join hardware-software packages from Sling Media, whose Slingbox line of products lets users watch content from their living room TV tuner and DVR from a remote PC, laptop or Windows Mobile-based cellphone.

Honestech’s My-IPTV Anywhere Mobile package, retailing for a suggested $99.99, consists of an analog-cable TV tuner that connects to a PC via USB 2.0, server and player software for the PC, and a software application for Windows Mobile-based smartphones and PDA phones.

My-IPTV Anywhere lets users stream live TV programs from their PC in real time in the MPEG-4/H.264 codec, change channels from afar and schedule recordings remotely. In the future, users will be able to view programs recorded by the PC’s DVR application.

Honestech already markets other video-related PC hardware and software. For the cellular package, the company is exploring all distribution venues, including retail stores, distributors, cellular kiosks, carriers and the like, a spokeswoman said.

For music lovers, privately held Avvenu had begun offering a beta version of its Avvenu Music Player, currently available on its Web site as a free download, and a companion client for Windows Mobile 5.0-based mobile devices such as smartphones, PDA phones and Wi-Fi-connected PDAs. The music can also be streamed to a remote PC or remote laptop via the PCs’ Web browser.

Once consumers load the Avvenu Music Player on a home PC and the companion client software on their handheld device, they can wirelessly stream songs that they had imported into the home PC’s iTunes library. On the mobile device, users will see an interface that displays playlists, artist names, album names, song names and musical genres.

When the home PC is accessed via a remote PC’s Web browser, users are also presented with an interface that displays playlists, artist names, album names, song names and musical genres.

Consumers get wireless access to their full iTunes library only when the home PC is left on, but with the home PC turned off, users can still stream up to 250 songs and also let friends remotely access those songs for up to five days. The offline features work like this: When the user chooses playlists to share, the playlists and songs are automatically copied to Avvenu’s secure media center for streaming playback to remote PCs and portable devices.

Avvenu streams music stored in the MP3, unprotected AAC and unprotected WMA music file formats. The plan is to keep the basic service free and profit from a combination of advertising, premium service subscriptions and affiliate relationships for music purchases, a spokesman said. Pricing wasn’t available. The company expects to be out of beta in late May.

Avvenu also offers other applications enabling remote access and sharing services that lets anyone access and share photos, files and music stored on their computers. The company’s four venture-capital owners include Motorola.