Linksys goes Hollywood with wireless DVD player

Two of the hottest consumer technology trends will come together early this year in a combined DVD player and wireless multimedia adapter from Cisco Systems Inc.'s Linksys division, introduced Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Linksys DVD Player with Wireless-G Media Link (WMLD54G) plugs in to a TV and home stereo via standard composite, component or S-video cables. It operates normally as a DVD player but can also bring in streaming audio and video and still images from a PC over an 802.11g wireless LAN, according to the company.

Users will be able to stream video files in MPEG2, MPEG4 and Divx formats and audio files in MP3 and WMA (Windows Media Audio) formats from a PC or other storage device to the TV or stereo. The files can be sent over the wireless LAN or over wired 10/100M bps (bit-per-second) Ethernet. The 802.11g standard allows for a maximum carrying capacity of 54M bps. Users can also send digital photos from a wirelessly connected device for viewing on the TV, along with music to accompany them. Viewing and listening can be controlled using the included remote control.

The DVD player can even be linked directly to an Internet connection, over either a wired or wireless connection, and stream music from Internet radio stations without the need for a PC, according to Linksys.

The device will go on sale through resellers, at stores and online before the end of the first quarter, priced under US$300, according to Linksys spokeswoman Karen Sohl.

By the end of February, Linksys also will roll out a wireless adapter specifically for music that can stand alone or work with a home stereo. The Wireless-B Media Link has a LCD (liquid crystal display) that measures about 4 inches by 2 inches, Sohl said, and can be fitted with optional speakers for use in a room without an existing stereo. Consumers can send digital audio stored on a PC or other storage device to the Media Link via a standard 11M bps 802.11b wireless LAN or via wired 10/100M bps Ethernet.

Using the LCD and remote control, users can select songs, play lists and services. They can also access Internet radio stations and music streaming services directly from the device. Pricing has not been finalized but will fall between US$99 and US$129, Sohl said.

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Stephen Lawson

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