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UNVEILED: Microsoft to release next generation Portable Media Center platform [UPDATE]
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 05.01.06 - 13:37:37 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 11777x
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In his keynote address today at the 2006 International CES, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced three new partners - Toshiba, Tatung and LG Electronics - delivering Windows Mobile-based Portable Media Centers this year and highlighted a mobile version of Vongo, the new movie service from Starz Entertainment Group LLC that offers premium full-length movies and other video selections for playback on new Portable Media Centers. These next-generation devices are packed with features such as extended battery life, support for new higher-resolution displays and wide screens, direct audio/video recording, and direct connections to digital cameras; prices begin at US$ 299 MSRP. The new devices and the mobile version of Vongo, coming first to Portable Media Centers, will be available in early 2006.

According to JupiterResearch, 58 percent of online consumers would prefer to watch full-length movies (owned or rented) on portable media players and 23 percent of consumers would also be interested in watching prerecorded television shows on such a device.1 Vongo gives people a full-length and premium mobile-movie experience for Portable Media Centers, with more than 1,000 first-run movies and video selections via a subscription service that provides unlimited access for US$ 9.99 per month, plus additional pay-per-view movies from the largest provider of premium movie services in the United States.

"Sleeker form factors, improved playback features and a new subscription movie service show that Microsoft is taking the next step to give people more choice in how they experience media on a portable device in a way that fits their lifestyle," said Pieter Knook, senior vice president of the Entertainment & Devices Division at Microsoft. "We've worked closely with our hardware and content partners to deliver the best options for people to access their digital entertainment, anywhere at any time."

With the addition of full-length, popular movies and other video selections such as extreme sports and concerts from Vongo, there are now more than 100 companies providing a diverse and compelling collection of entertainment choices for owners of Microsoft Windows Mobile-based devices. Whether they want music to exercise by or the latest blockbuster to be entertained in the airport, customers can enjoy their favorite songs or videos on the go, selecting from news highlights and sporting events to music videos and audio books from top brands such as, MSNBC, Comedy Central, Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc., FOX Sports, MTV Networks, Napster and TiVo.

"We strongly believe that consumers want the convenience of taking their movies with them wherever they go just like they do with their music," said Bob Greene, senior vice president of Advanced Services at Starz Entertainment Group. "Portable Media Centers allow Vongo subscribers to easily and securely transfer their downloaded movies to these great devices with a robust digital rights management solution from Microsoft built in for protecting the security of the content."

Key features in new devices being announced today include these:

  • The stylish and sleek Toshiba S Series gigabeat Portable Media Center includes an extended battery life for movies and a 2.4-inch high-resolution screen with more than 260,000 colors for a vivid and sharp picture. The S Series will come in two varieties: The 30GB gigabeat S30 will have an MSRP of US$ 299, and the 60GB gigabeat S60 will have an MSRP of US$ 399. Both are scheduled to be available in March 2006.
  • The Tatung V620 Portable Media Center has a 20GB hard drive with a 3.5-inch QVGA (320x240) LCD screen for watching movies and television shows. Availability and pricing is scheduled to be announced in 2006.
  • The LG Electronics PM70 Portable Media Center has a 30GB hard drive that connects directly to a television to capture favorite music or shows immediately on the QVGA widescreen. Availability is scheduled for the first half of 2006.

Built on Windows Mobile software, the Portable Media Center platform is designed so that device-makers can choose the features and form factors that are best for their customers. Windows Media Player 10 makes it simple to synchronize music, video and pictures from any Windows XP-based PC to Windows Mobile-based devices. Portable Media Centers also synchronize well with PCs running Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, software that accounted for more than 47 percent of PC sales in December 2005, according to Current Analysis. Next-generation Portable Media Centers provide these features:

  • More power. New Portable Media Centers are smaller and offer extensive battery life - keeping people entertained for several full-length movies, not just a few short preview clips.
  • Consumers' content in their preferred format. Consumers can get access to a greater variety of content with support for direct audio/video recording and popular codecs, including native file support for Windows Media Video (WMV), Windows Media Audio (WMA), WMA Lossless, MP3, JPEG, DivX, MPEG2 and others.
  • Capturing memories. People can now quickly transfer and capture their vacation memories on their Portable Media Center without the need for a PC. Once they are back home or at the office, people can transfer those files back to the PC for permanent storage.
  • Rocking the Xbox360. Portable Media Centers also provide new levels of connectivity with Xbox 360, allowing people to control and play back their favorite music while they compete with friends and against opponents.

People using Windows Mobile-based devices have a wide variety of content options for personalizing their digital experience on the go. A new Windows Mobile Media portal, available today, will make it simpler to get great content onto devices. This portal has a directory of Windows Mobile content providers, media samples, third-party media applications and how-to articles on topics from podcasting to loading a device with any television show saved to a TiVo or Windows XP-based PC.

Cheers ~ Arne

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