Released by Microsoft:
Microsoft launches Portable Media Center and Windows Media Player 10
Microsoft is making a number of announcements extending its digital entertainment leadership. Firstly, it confirmed availability of Windows Mobile-based Portable Media Centers from Creative Labs. Also, it announced Windows Media Player 10, which will make it faster and easier for consumers to discover, download, play and transport their digital media.
Note that Windows Media Player 10 is available for download from September 2nd only in the US and France. Other language/country versions will be available when service providers are integrated into the Digital Media Mall.
Here's a summary of the key points relating to Europe:
Portable Media Center:
Portable Media Center is a new category of device that allows people to enjoy all the digital entertainment they store on a PC - recorded TV, music, movies and photos - on one handheld device.
The Creative Zen Portable Media Center is available on September 2nd in the US and from mid-September in the UK and Nordics. Other countries will follow in a phased launch by Creative in the Christmas quarter. It will retail at £369.99 in the UK.
Features of the Creative Zen include:
A 20GB HD which will be sold for an RRP of £369.99 in the UK
A replaceable, rechargeable battery capable of seven hours of continuous video playback and 22 hours of continuous audio playback
Storage capacity that allows up to 85 hours of video, 9,000 songs and tens of thousands of photos
A vivid 3.8" TFT LCD screen
o Features of Windows Mobile-based Portable Media Centers, include:
Easy-to-use buttons and intuitive navigation
Fast content transfer using Windows Media Player 10 and Auto Sync technology. On average, it will take less than 60 seconds for a 30 minute clip and less than three minutes for a two-hour movie.
TV Out/Stereo Out functionality to share memories with friends and family through a PAL or NTSC TV.
The ability to directly playback WMV, WMA, MP3, JPEG and compatible with MPEG, MPEG 2 (if user has an MPEG-2 decoder installed on PC), DVR-MS (Media Center TV files), ASF, AVI, WAV, MIDI, Photostory
"Portable Media Centers are vanguard devices that will change the way we think about digital entertainment on the go," said Todd Warren, corporate vice president of the Devices, Services and Experiences Group at Microsoft. "Today we're seeing just the tip of the iceberg in how content companies are envisioning a future where people can take all of their digital entertainment wherever they go - on vacation, while they commute, at the gym."
Online movie site CinemaNow will host more than 200 titles available for Portable Media Center playback at CinemaNow.com in the US, with more to follow later in the autumn. This service is expected to extend to Europe soon. Microsoft is working with several additional content companies to make a variety of digital entertainment available for download; more details will be released in the coming months.
In addition to online video suppliers making programs available to transfer to the Portable Media Center, Windows XP Media Center Edition PCs have a built-in personal video recorder (PVR) that lets you record TV directly through a cable connection to the PC. The TV shows will appear in Windows Media Player 10 and can be transferred to the Portable Media Center using Auto Sync. If you don't have a Media Center PC, you can record TV directly onto a PC using a TV tuner card and third-party software.
The TV tuner card industry is also announcing support of Portable Media Centers and video on the go. Now anyone who has a TV tuner card in their PC can record television directly on the PC and transfer it to their Portable Media Center. TV tuner card companies ATI Technologies Inc., Hauppage Computer Works, nVidia and Pinnacle Systems have announced that their platforms will support Portable Media Centers.
Windows Media Player 10:
· Windows Media Player 10 lets consumers easily discover, play and transport digital media around the home, on the PC or on portable devices. It is the only solution for accessing content from a broad range of online stores and services, managing and playing media, and taking digital media anywhere on a wide range of devices.
· "Windows Media Player 10 gives users the power of more music and choice, and for the first time makes it possible to 'sync' high quality music, video, and photos to the latest portable devices," said Will Poole senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows Client Division. "Windows Media Player 10 is a key element of Microsoft's strategy to enable digital media everywhere, with even more to come later this year - more music & video, and more amazing devices for use in the home and on-the-go."
· Windows Media Player 10 offers a host of new and improved features:
· New design. Windows Media Player 10 has a significantly updated look, making it quicker and more intuitive for users to perform common digital media activities. The player includes new ways to manage and enjoy a broader range of digital media - music, video, and now also recorded TV and more - and makes it easier than ever for consumers to create their own music CDs.
· Choice of online stores. Windows Media Player 10 includes the first built-in Digital Media Mall, where users can easily discover, sample and download music and video from a myriad of leading online stores and services, including MSN Music preview, Napster, Musicmatch, MusicNow, Wal-Mart Music Downloads and CinemaNow in the United States. , with more stores and services to come later this year.
· Enhanced device support. Windows Media Player 10 works with more than 70 portable devices, making it easy for consumers to take more digital music with them on the widest range of devices. The player also supports Windows Media Digital Rights Management 10, enabling consumers to transfer and play subscription and promotional content on portable devices, from Portable Media Centers available today to a range of new devices hitting the market this autumn, including those connected via home networks. The new Auto Sync feature in Windows Media Player 10 will also work with certain existing and new devices, enabling users to automatically sync their music, video, pictures and recorded TV to portable devices.
· Smart Jukebox features. Windows Media Player 10 includes features to help users find and play exactly the digital media they want, quickly and easily. Users can also rip their favourite CDs into their choice of the most popular formats; high-quality Windows Media Audio (WMA) and now high-bit-rate MP3 ripping are built in.