SanDisk has unveiled an industry initiative to create a new USB storage device that allows users to move digital content from their PCs to their television sets for viewing on a large screen.
SanDisk announced the device, USBTV, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where the technology was demonstrated and several vendors also announced their support for the device.
USBTV uses a small flash memory-enabled media player that plugs and plays directly onto almost any television. The idea behind the device is that consumers store personal videos and movies on their PC, where they are pigeon-holed into watch it on a 17-inch monitor. With USBTV, that content can be viewed on any size screen in comfort. Currently the only way to perform that same task is to burn the content onto a DVD.
At a press conference at CES, SanDisk demonstrated a product concept that employs a TV cradle that plugs into the standard A/V sockets and comes with a remote control. A key innovation incorporated into USBTV is a multimedia processor that converts the stored files into various TV video/audio formats for direct playback on any TV without the need for any changes to the TV set.
With industry-wide support, SanDisk hopes the USBTV players will be able to plug directly into new TV sets through a built-in port.
The first pocket-sized players are expected to be available this spring. SanDisk said no wireless set-up or networking equipment is required.
"We believe that USBTV represents an exciting new category of flash-based products that will bring digital downloading of video to a broad spectrum of new consumers who prefer viewing on their TV sets rather than on a PC screen," said SanDisk's CEO, Eli Harari, in a statement.
SanDisk also announced the creation of the USBTV Forum, whose purpose is go garner industry-wide support of USBTV among consumer electronics manufacturers, TV and display manufacturers, content providers and related technology companies.
"USBTV has the potential to become an industry-transforming category as significant as the introduction of the DVD and VHS players, because in the convergence of the Web and home entertainment, USBTV solves in a simple, elegant way the 'last 10 feet' of the content portability problem in the home between the PC and the TV," Harari said.
Other companies contributing to the USBTV initiative include Akimbo Systems, and Guba, an online entertainment destination. Movielink is also working closely with the forum on protecting movies and other rights-managed video content.