Linksys media adapter uses content protection: Consumer Electronics Show

A multimedia adapter from Cisco Systems's Linksys Group division will use technology being supported by Intel Corp. and several major home electronics vendors to secure content streaming from a PC to a TV or stereo system.

The Linksys Wireless-G Media Link, to be announced Tuesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is one of a growing number of devices for sending music, video and photos from a PC to consumer electronics devices around a home.

The new Linksys device will include DTCP-IP (Digital Transmission Content Protection over Internet Protocol), which is designed to allow users to share content among many users in a home while protecting it from neighbors within range of a home wireless LAN, said Rob Crooke, vice president and marketing director of Intel's Desktop Platforms Group. Intel and others, including Sony, Toshiba and Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), are backing DTCP-IP as an in-home counterpart to DRM (digital rights management) technology that is designed to secure copyrighted media files over the Internet, Crooke said. Movie studios and online multimedia services including Movielink also are lining up behind the technology, he added.

As long as the PC is on and connected to the Internet, any user in a home can use the Media Link to receive and play audio and video files streaming over the Internet, said Malachy Moynihan, vice president of engineering and product development at Linksys. The device comes with an infrared remote control, and as long as the online content provider offers a software interface that can be viewed on a TV, the user won't have to sit down in front of the PC to choose and navigate a movie or music selection, he said. For content that a user owns and stores on a PC, such as captured CDs or home photos, Linksys will provide its own TV-based interface, he added.

The Media Link can communicate with the PC via either an IEEE 802.11g wireless LAN or wired Ethernet. It can hook up to home electronics devices via standard wired connections, including component, composite and S-Video cables, analog two-channel stereo cable and Toslink digital audio connections. It uses the IEEE 802.11e quality of service specification to overcome delays on the wireless LAN connection, Moynihan said.

The device can stream high-definition video at the 720p resolution (1280 pixels by 720 lines with progressive scanning), setting it apart from other media adapters on the market, according to Linksys.

Using the Media Link requires a PC with Windows XP or 2000. Intel recommends using it with a PC powered by a Pentium 4 processor with Intel's HT (Hyperthreading) technology. With an HT chip, a PC can send multiple entertainment streams to the Media Link while still handling productivity applications such as e-mail, Crooke said.

The Media Link is scheduled to ship in the second quarter, with prices to be announced at that time.

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