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Stream Machine Enables TVs and Stereos to Connect to Home Networks

Device decodes networked digital audio and video streams for playback on TVs and stereos (November 27, 2001)
Stream Machine today began shipping a complete reference design for Spigot, a small, low-cost home electronics device that decodes networked digital audio and video streams so that they can be played back on existing analog consumer electronics such as TVs and stereos.

Spigot acts as a thin-media client to the home media server and supports MPEG-1, -2 and -4 standards to allow consumers to play the widest possible selection of media on their televisions, including MPEG-4 files that have been downloaded over broadband connections. Using an Infrared controller and the user-friendly on-screen menu, consumers, from any location on their network, can conveniently communicate with a central home media server to select the content they want to watch. This type of application requires an advanced processor and other capabilities that easily handle streaming media bandwidth at consumer price points.

"Stream Machine has been driving the concept of the next-generation PVR with networking abilities for quite some time," said Brian Heuckroth, VP of Marketing at Stream Machine. "We believe that the time is right to link consumer electronics with PCs and broadband connectivity to drive this networked entertainment revolution. The Spigot is the missing link that enables legacy analog devices to share the benefits of home networking and also makes the home media center truly accessible from any location within the networked home."

"Philips Semiconductors developed the Trimedia Media Processor for streaming media types of applications such as the Spigot reference design," said Jan Grotenbreg, Director of Marketing, Business Line Media Processor, Philips Semiconductors.

Benefits to End-Users: Current home networking solutions are digital-centric and provide an excellent "lean forward" PC experience for sharing broadband accesss and data files. However, they exclude the vast reservoir of legacy analog players - the "lean back" TV and stereo experience where consumers traditionally enjoy their entertainment.

In addition to now including these legacy analog players within today's inexpensive digital home networks, Spigot decentralizes control of the household's media resources. Viewers can independently access stored or live media files and can benefit from whatever digital appliances are on the network, for example, sharing the set-top box or DVD player, monitoring security cameras, or time-shifting live broadcasts through the Home Media Center.

Additionally, people can enjoy their MP3 audio collections on their home stereos by connecting them to their Home Media Center and even broadcast them throughout the home during a party. Hobbyist videographers who edit home movies on their PCs are able to show those movies on the big screen in the living room without burning CD or DVD copies.

Benefits to Service Providers: The intention is to enable low-cost thin clients to be used to connect all the TVs and stereos in a home to a central server of audio and video content. The many improvements in flexibility and enjoyment with home content are an opportunity for service providers to reinforce their brand and consumer loyalty as well as cost-effectively generating additional revenue streams. Multiple Service Operators (MSOs) will be able to supply one advanced STB with a streaming function and multiple low-cost thin clients instead of multiple expensive STBs when rolling out new services to consumers, so that video delivered on demand can be enjoyed throughout the home, not just in the living room.

Pricing and Availability
Pricing for the Spigot Reference Design is $5,000 and includes a board, software, schematics, Gerber files, and a bill of materials. The Spigot Reference Design is included at no charge with the Maestro Home Media Center Reference Design, which acts as the server on the home network. Spigot Reference Design is available now with Ethernet connectivity and will be available by the end of 2001 with wireless connectivity.

Customers desiring to produce products with the combination of media processor and software can purchase these together from Stream Machine as a bundle, which is priced at less than $29 in volume.

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Related Keywords:DTV Professional, Stream Machine, Spigot, home electronics device, decodes networked digital audio and video streams, played back, existing analog consumer electronics, TVs, stereos


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