Silicon Image Shows Off New Input Features

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Silicon Image recently expanded its popular InstaPort technology for HDMI-enabled TVs and source components with InstaPrevue, a system designed to take the guesswork out of switching between HDMI sources.

The company said that sets carrying its Mobile High-definition Link (MHL) technology are also heading to market soon.

The InstaPrevue technology, which SI will embed on next-generation chips carrying InstaPort, will enable viewers to see a preview of what’s on each connected device by providing small picture-in-picture images corresponding to each HDMI port. Users simply select the input to call up on the main screen.

The company expects the technology to appear in TVs and basically anything else that takes HDMI inputs, starting in late 2012 or 2013. Silicon Image’s InstaPort technology is currently carried by nine of the top tier-one TV brands and most of the tier-two and -three brands.

InstaPort is a system invented by Silicon Image to speed up the HDCP authorization process so that a viewer instantly sees content streaming over an HDMI connection the second the input is selected, without having to wait four to seven seconds for an HDCP authorization process to be completed.

The forthcoming Silicon Image core processors combining both InstaPort and InstaPrevue will also be MHL enabled, permitting easy wired connections of smartphones and media tablets to play back content from the portable devices on the bigger TV screen in the home.

A handheld device using an MHL-enabled connector will attach to legacy display devices via the TV set’s HDMI connection using a special adapter. Some device makers and cellphone service providers will provide those to consumers, said Tim Wong, MHL, LLC president. But with the new MHL-enabled chips and inputs soon appearing in as-yet-unannounced new TV models, no adapters will be necessary — only an connection cable.

Toshiba recently became the first TV maker to build MHL into a display — the 46-inch and 55-inch WL800A-series LCD TVs announced last August in the Australian market.

MHL, which is not connection specific, can transfer up to 1080p video content from a handheld device to a large-screen display. The connection also allows the handheld unit to recharge its battery while it is connected so the device won’t lose power during the playback of a movie, video game, PowerPoint presentation or what have you.

So far, MHL-equipped phones have been announced by Samsung and HTC, with a number of other major brands set to announce products in the near future, said Alex Chervet, SI products business group senior marketing director.

“The original thing we thought people would do with this was view photos and movies and things, but it turns out that they play games and do a lot of other stuff too. I think it is going to open up new use cases that people don’t even have today.”

Apple, the 800-pound gorilla in the market, doesn’t let partners speak for it, and nothing has yet been announced with regard to MHL, but Wong said that “it makes sense” that they would add it.

“MHL is about the only thing out there that is not connection specific -- USB, HDMI all have connectors, and MHL is connection agnostic, so Apple’s connector is not a problem, and the charging capability is a tremendous capability for an iPad,” Wong said.


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