CES - SonicBlue unveils networked DVD player

In a world where consumers seek the device that will streamline their digital experience, Sonicblue Inc. has unveiled a strong contender. The company claims that its US$250 GoVideo D2730, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is the first networked DVD player.

In addition to its DVD duties, the slim and sleek D2730 offers the ability to easily stream your digital music, images, and video clips from your PC to your TV. The device works with either a PCMCIA ethernet adapter card (which is included) or an optional Wi-Fi (802.11b) card. It also features a wizard-based setup that, as shown here, was extremely easy to use.

The GoVideo software is loaded onto your PC, which acts as a server. Your TV then becomes the display for GoVideo's easy-to-use interface, featuring a start page reminiscent of Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows XP Media Center Edition, with My Music, My Pictures, and My Video categories shown. You can search for available content in these three categories on your PC's hard drive, and select and play your choices with the included remote control.

PlayBack Powers

The D2730's DVD player has progressive scan capability and a built-in Dolby digital decoder. Formats recognized include DVD, video CDs, music CDs, HDCDs, Kodak Picture CDs, and MP3s filed on CD-R and CD-RW; currently, DVD-Audio is not recognized. The player includes composite, component, and S-Video outputs.

The D2730 can stream MPEG1 and MPEG2 video files that are compressed at bit rates up to 3 megabits per second, which is of a high enough quality that movie trailers downloaded from the Internet play clearly. For music, it can stream both WMA and MP3 formats, and using ID3 tag support, it can display and play the music by its title, artist, or genre. The device also streams JPEG image files, which can then be displayed individually or in slide shows set to music.

The company also made some announcements about its ReplayTV line. Updated version 5 software, available in the first quarter of 2003, will make networking two ReplayTVs seamless and give the system the ability to record shows or movies on the second box if there is a time conflict with the first device. The largest hard drives on ReplayTVs will increase from 160GB to 320GB, which should allow even the most TV-addicted viewers to store all the I Love Lucy reruns they wish, plus much, much more.

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Anne B. McDonald

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