Digital media adapters, which will allow users to share music, images and video files stored on their PCs with consumer-electronic devices such as TVs and stereos, are set to hit the market from several leading hardware vendors in 2003, said Louis Burns, vice president and co-general manager of Intel's Desktop Platforms Group, speaking to hardware makers at the Intel Developer Forum here.
Companies that are set to launch digital media adapters next year include Dell Computer Corp., Legend Group Ltd., Mitac International Corp. and Gateway Inc., Burns said. The adapters will use Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) technology to connect PCs with consumer-electronic devices .
"Those platforms will come out in a variety of flavors," Burns said. Low-end models will connect over wired Ethernet networks while more sophisticated models will incorporate wireless networking technologies, such as 802.11b, he said.
The digital media adapter, which is based on a reference design developed by Intel, is part of a wider initiative to connect the PC with other electronic devices inside the home. Part of that effort includes working with Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. to develop standards, Burns said.
"None of this can happen with a single company driving its own proprietary view of how it will work," Burns said.
Even though the first-generation of digital media adapters will hit the market next year, there's a lot of work to be done. While standards exist for device discovery and control (UPnP), network protocols such as IP (Internet Protocol) and the physical network (Ethernet over wired or wireless networks), work still needs to be done in areas like media formats and data exchange, digital rights management, and applications and services, Burns said.
"Once these standards are established, the ability for this vision (of connecting the PC with other devices in the home) to become true is very, very real," he said.