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The high-def streaming media adapter gains good network security: Since I regularly criticize consumer electronics and handheld devices that lack full Wi-Fi security stacks, I should also point out when that changes. The Mvix USA MX-760HD is a kitchen sink full of audio and video streaming options that work with high-definition up to 1080p. It can even hijack a video DVD in a computer's drive and play it using an encrypted stream (and a licensed process, the company says).
But they didn't have WPA, although an update was promised. Now the $300 can be upgraded at no cost for both home and enterprise WPA (WPA Personal and WPA Enterprise, which is WPA over 802.1X). Good going!
One of the sets that HP has announced at CES has 802.11a/b/g: The built-in Wi-Fi in the SLC3760N can stream media via Wi-Fi using Windows Media Connect's technology. Because this is an end-to-end connection for the media, content restrictions are bypassed because digital rights management is employed.
We can see that the product puns will just keep coming: Beamforming antenna chip designer, consumer electronics (CE) gateway maker, and muni-wireless customer premises equipment (CPE) developer Ruckus introduces RIOT: Ruckus Interoperability and Open Testing. Ruckus is pushing hard in the home, and this program may let them offer CE makers an alternative or supplement to 802.11e and its Wi-Fi certified form known as WMM.
The idea here is to offer a testing program designed for the home, not all environments. WMM tests for particular characteristics, such as frame bursting (reducing wasted airtime) and packet prioritization into queues tagged by media content. RIOT, on the other hand, will test for interoperability and performance in home-like environments for streaming media.
Ruckus has gained remarkable traction in a short period of time. I'd be tempted to dismiss RIOT as marketing, except for how fast Ruckus has spread into multiple segments and signed up partners.
Sonos' wireless mesh music system is shipping: I just spent a few days with the Sonos system--two ZonePlayer units and a Controller--and wrote the linked review for Personal Tech Pipeline. My take is that the kind of person who might consider spending $499 per node for the best possible digital music system will love this. If $499 per node seems insane to you, you're not the audience.
There's so much care taken with almost every aspect of the system that once I overcame a networking problem--with my network, I should note--it was trivial to set up additional units, configure them, add music libraries, and so forth. It's price beyond my needs and means, but I can highly recommend it to those who want the best possible device currently available.
The ZonePlayer unit uses a wireless mesh system that is not interoperable with Wi-Fi, and, as far as I can tell, doesn't seem to interfere with Wi-Fi, either. You can connect up to 32 ZonePlayers in a network, but when you reach those numbers, the company recommends that several of them are connected to an Ethernet backbone to reduce the load on the mesh.
Today's podcast is a 6-minute interview with the editor of Mobile Pipeline, who is at CES: David Haskin, editor in chief of a fine publication for which I now write, was gracious enough to spare some time from overcoming his jet lag in Las Vegas to talk about what he's seen so far at the Consumer Electronics Show. We talk about MIMO and the proliferation of it, Wi-Fi phones, and UWB.
Some folks have reported difficulty in retrieving the MP3 file of the podcast if they don't have software that does it automatically, so I've provided tow links: plain MP3 file and a ZIP archive of the MP3. Both files are 1.3 MB.
Roku has announced a version of its SoundBridge technology intended to be embedded in consumer electronics: Roku has received rave reviews for its stylish and technically adept--though expensive--devices for bridging sound and other media over wired and wireless networks. Their SoundBridge module includes all of the digital media playback technology and the pieces necessary for 10/100 Mbps wired and secure Wi-Fi networking.
There's a lengthy list of protocols, music formats, and DRM-based streaming music services they support: Microsoft Windows Media Connect and Windows Media DRM 10 and OpenTalk, UPnP AV, Rhapsody, Internet radio...WMA, AAC, MP3, AIFF, WAV and LPCM file formats...protected WMA content from music services like Real Networks' Rhapsody, Napster, MSN Music, Musicmatch and Walmart.com.
The only one missing? Apple's FairPlay protected version of AAC sold by the iTunes Music Store.
In related news, Roku has released a beta 2.0 update for its PhotoBridge HD1000 digital media player that allows it to play unencrypted AAC files.
Roku adds SoundBridge M500 for $199 with Wi-Fi: Audio streaming products that use a Wi-Fi network are dropping in price and jacking up in features. Roku makes two more expensive models, the M1000 ($250) and M2000 ($500). The three models are virtually identical except in size of their display. Radio Shack gets first dibs on selling the units through the end of 2004.
David Pogue reviews wireless speakers, and finds that only two out of five he looks at have real worth: Pogue looks at 900 MHz wireless speakers which don't employ any real networking protocols--they're essentially spread-spectrum remote sound systems using a base station plugged into a stereo and speakers that pick up the signal so that you can untether your sound. Range is generally poor and interference prevalent. But he does find two sets of speakers that have both good range and few compromises: for outdoor use, the Advent ADVW801 ($70); for indoors, the Acoustic Research AW871 ($120).
Roku today said that it would add Wi-Fi for free to its streaming music players: Wi-Fi used to be offered as a $50 add-on. The move may be an indication that Wi-Fi may become standard on household digital music players.
c|net reviews SoniqCast's Wi-Fi-enabled MP3 player: The device gets 7.7 out of 10 points for its good featureset, small form factor, and easy Wi-Fi configuration. The retail price at Best Buy is $300. Transfer speeds are quite slow -- just a few hundred kilobits per second -- whether via USB 1.1 or 802.11b Wi-Fi. WEP support is built in; WPA support due later this year. It has a FM receiver for that older form of wireless music transmission. It stores 1.5 gigabytes.
In two sizes at $1,000 and $1,500, the portable LCD uses a base station to access 802.11a, b, or g networks: The LocationFree Portable Broadband TV will ship this fall with two options: a 5 pound, 12.1-inch, 800 by 600 pixel display for $1,500, or a smaller 7-inch, 800 by 480 pixel unit for $1,000. The screens connect remote to a base station which has Ethernet, two USB ports, and an NTSC tuner, plus an infrared blaster needed to tune set-top boxes which don't produce tunable signals.
Interestingly, the base station can feed content over the Internet if you have an upload speed of at least 300 Kbps on your local network. Sony can't guarantee the quality of this kind of remote viewing, but has built early 802.11e-like support for quality of service (QoS) packet prioritization and scheduling for crisp local viewing, according to the report. The larger unit has a Compact Flash slot; the smaller, a Memory Stick slot. The portables can view images stored on those cards.
Oddly, the article doesn't mention battery life, but a posting from earlier this year on AkibaLive notes that it has a lithium-ion battery that offers 100 to 180 minutes of viewing on a charge depending on the unit's brightness setting.
Rudeo Control offers a remote control interface for Pocket PCs to control a Windows XP Media Center: The Pocket PC needs Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and it allows a high level of control over music and media playback. The real question is how many people own both a Windows XP Media Center (early adopter home user) and a Pocket PC (middle adopter business user)?
A leaked early press release reveals Philips 23-inch LCD, 802.11g TV: The $2,699 unit will ship this fall and will let you stream video, images, and music. The brief article makes it sound like it's also an access point of sorts. [link via Engadget]
The Sharp Aquos 15L1U features built-in Wi-Fi, battery, but runs a cool $1,600 for flat-screen, luggable perfection: David Pogue reviews the high points of the Sharp unit in the New York Times, noting that it's a jaw-dropping product which executes quite well on all of its selling points. It weighs 11 pounds, and can transfer video without a hitch even as you carry it around a house.
But you have to rewire your home video system, deal with delays in remote controls, and cope with a 1 hour, 45 minute battery life. It can be easily plugged in, however, to both power and a direct video connection. Pogue also found that the unit functions best within 35 feet, not the 50 feet in the manual or 100 feet in the marketing literature.
It also, unforgivably, uses 802.11b (11 Mbps), not 802.11a or g (54 Mbps). 802.11a might seem like a bad choice except that the unit comes with a dedicated base station and receiver; it doesn't work over an existing wireless network. The base station also has the infrared and video adapters.
Intel has a number of ideas for wirelessly sharing data among devices like TVs and computers in the home: It demonstrated a concept PC that runs on Microsoft's Media Center version of XP. The PC connects to a TV, can share content wirelessly, and can be controlled by a remote control instead of a keyboard.
Intel is also working on a couple of new chips including Grantsdale, which includes integrated graphics, support for dual monitors and DDR2 memory. Intel is also working on a chip it's calling Alderwood which will let PCs act as access points.
Intel hopes to have its 802.11a/b/g product shipping early next year. This writer wonders why anyone would want the throughput offered by 802.11g. People want to do exactly what Intel hopes they'll do once 802.11g chips are embedded inside TVs and stereos--stream audio and video.
Omnifi ships its Digital Media Player: It's a 20 Gb hard drive that can be used in a car or attached to a home stereo system, and using Wi-Fi (802.11b flavor) to transfer data. The system can schedule data transfers, and if your garage or parking spot is close enough to your wireless network, you can take advantage of car-area networking.
Reuters reports that Wi-Fi is stealing the show at Computex in Taiwan: Manufacturers at the trade show focused on linking Wi-Fi-enabled computers to stereos, TVs and DVD players. Gateway came out with a DVD player that can stream music, photos and videos from a PC to a home entertainment center.
For now, however, there aren't standards that let these devices communicate with each other. So a TV couldn't communicate with another device like a stereo. But apparently a bunch of chip and computer makers and consumer electronics companies are working together to form such standards.