Chip vendors hope to turn phones into HD media players

Smartphones that can handle movies at 1080p will ship next year, according to ST-Ericsson

Both Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson are demonstrating at Mobile World Congress concept smartphones that can connect to and play HD content on TVs.

The chip vendors booth's give a glimpse into what the next-generation smartphones will be equipped with. One of these features is the ability to connect to TVs using an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable and show HD content at up to 1080p.

ST-Ericsson is showing its upcoming U8500 smartphone platform, which can handle 1080p content, according to a statement. Smartphones based on the platform will start shipping during the first half of 2011, a spokeswoman said via e-mail.

Qualcomm is demonstrating a concept smartphone based on the MSM7630, which supports video at 720p and will show up inside real smartphones later this year, according to a Qualcomm spokesman. Qualcomm's smartphone is also able to play four separate video streams at the same time.

Qualcomm is also working on chipsets that will be able to play 1080p content, according to a public road map.

The chipsets are able to handle the extra processing load added by 1080p by using multiple cores.

Currently, the phones use cables to connect the phone to the TV, but ST-Ericsson says this connection will eventually go wireless using 802.11n and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), which is a standard used to connect and share content between consumer electronics products.

But Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson aren't the only ones who think that consumers want their phones to be turned into HD media players. Version 3 of Symbian has built-in support for HDMI and will be able to play content at 1080p, the Symbian Foundation said on Monday. Version 3 will be ready during the third quarter, at the earliest.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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