Portables Adding Video Features

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Digital portables, or MP3 players, are driving the audio market now, and at January's International CES, suppliers will exhibit more flash-memory and hard-disk-drive (HDD) models equipped for video playback, more models that record directly from a TV and music/video portables small enough to be wearable.

To tap into the growth, LG will unveil its first models under the LG brand, having marketed Zenith-brand models a few years ago. And Toshiba is expected to expand its selection.

At least one other supplier, Samsung, is expected to show the industry's first XM-ready MP3 players that store time-shifted XM content, joining a Sirius-branded model that Sirius shipped in late 2005.

The compressed-music phenomenon will also spread into the boombox market, where at least two suppliers hope to reinvigorate the dying category with flash-memory boomboxes.

At least three companies, including LG, will show their first HDD-equipped portable A/V players, or portable media players (PMPs). In expanding the industry's selection of portables that record directly from a TV, LG will show its first such model, as will at least one other company. They will join Archos, RCA and Cowon in this market.

Another company, Handheld Entertainment, will show one of the industry's first flash-memory models to record directly from a TV.

Dealers will also find more audio and A/V portables capable of playing digital rights management protected music and video downloaded in the WMA and WMV formats, either purchased or "rented." One download service offering authorized rentals and purchases of WMV video is Cinema Now, whose rented downloads must be viewed within 30 days of downloading. Once the video begins playing, consumers can view it multiple times within 24 hours.


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