updated 03:45 am EDT, Thu September 27, 2007
Windows Media Extenders
Microsoft, Linksys, D-Link, and HP on Thursday offered details about new Extenders for Microsoft Windows Media Center. The Apple TV-like devices, which are expected to be available for purchase this holiday season, will allow easy access to premium cable, high-definition TV, popular video formats including DivX, music, paid movies, photos and more from any TV in the house, with a wired or wireless network connection. In addition, users will be able to pause a recorded show in one room, and then resume it from the same moment in another room. Microsoft also announced that the Extender technology will be incorporated in HP's current line of MediaSmart high-definition televisions and launched a beta test of Windows Media Center Internet TV, which will offer more than 100 hours of ad-supported entertainment from MS Video, including full-length shows, music concerts and movie trailers.
"We are excited to reveal the first series of totally quiet, cool, and sleek-looking Media Center Extender devices, designed to deliver the ultimate entertainment experience to every TV set in your home," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president, Entertainment and Devices eHome Division, Microsoft. "These products are the initial third-party devices that can wirelessly connect a TV with a PC, with features including live high-definition TV, PVR, movies, pictures, music and online services. In addition, the Internet TV beta allows Windows Media Center as well as Extender users to enjoy free* high- quality television from some of their favorite studios and networks in Media Center, directly over the Internet."
Extenders for Windows Media Center support streaming live high-definition TV, including premium cable channels in the United States, along with formats such as high- definition WMV. The D-Link, HP and Linksys devices add built-in support for dual-band Wireless-N networking, while the D-Link and HP devices have expanded support for popular video formats such as DivX, XVid and H.264. According to Microsoft, the drive-less devices allow people to almost instantly start enjoying their entertainment -- without a built-in hard drive to cache the video before viewing.
The Extenders will support the ability to send protected HD content to additional rooms, including recorded TV from over-the-air Advanced Television Systems Committee or Digital Cable tuners. Extenders also support on-demand broadband content from Media Center Online Media partners such as up-to-date sports reports from FOXSports.com, kids programming from Nickelodeon, downloadable TV episodes from Showtime Networks, and subscription movies on demand from Starz VONGO.
HP MediaSmart LCD TVs to get Windows Media Center integration
The HP MediaSmart LCD HDTV, currently available in 42-inch and 47-inch sizes, will support Extender for Windows Media Center technology through an optional software download, expected to be available in early 2008. The MediaSmart TVs support 1080p video, 802.11n wireless, and DivX, XVid, WMV and other video formats -- delivering most of the features of the Media Center Extender platform. Although existing MediaSmart users can already access photos, music, videos and movies by simply connecting their TV to their wired or wireless home network, Media Extender functionality will provide them with a new set of enhanced features -- such as controlling live TV and accessing Windows Media Center Internet TV -- all easily accessible using their TV remote control. The HP MediaSmart TV is available in Best Buy stores around the US (as well as other audio/visual specialty stores).
Designed for the high-end home theater enthusiast, the Niveus Media Extender - EDGE (pictured at right) offers a high-fidelity experience, 1080p video, digital audio and the samez 3-D user interface found on its original Niveus Media Center. Additionally, the Niveus Media Extender features the proprietary Niveus Glacier Passive Cooling System for cool and quiet performance and a sleek and stylish audio/visual form factor. The Niveus Media Extender - EDGE is expected to be available in early November (pricing has not yet been announced).