Benq to ship combo DVD player

Taiwanese hardware maker Benq Corp. plans to introduce a portable DVD player, called DVD Gem, that can function as an external DVD-ROM drive and play CDs and music files in MP3 format, the company said this week.

Weighing in at 550 grams and small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, the DVD Gem can be used with either a PC or a television set and offers the option of viewing DVD video in a widescreen 16:9 format. When connected with a PC via a USB 2.0 connection, the device can function as an external storage device, operating as either a 6-speed DVD-ROM drive or 24-speed CD-ROM drive. It will be available next month, the company said.

Disc formats supported by the DVD Gem include CD-Audio, CD-ROM, CD-Plus, Video CD (VCD), S-VCD, Photo CD, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-Video and DVD-Audio. In addition, the device can play discs that contain music files in MP3 format.

The DVD Gem supports Composite Video and S-Video connections to a television and offers a coaxial digital audio output for DTS (Digital Theater Systems) sound and a Dolby AC-3 decoder. In addition to a USB 2.0 connection that can support USB 1.1, the DVD Gem also offers optional Firewire (IEEE.1394) and PCMCIA connections.

The DVD Gem will begin shipping in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, during September for around US$213, company officials said. While Benq does not plan to sell the device under its own brand, the company is negotiating with undisclosed sales channel partners to sell the device under their brand names, it said.