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Sonicblue, Intel tout mini video player

The companies demonstrate a prototype of a portable video player that can download files from digital video recorders and PCs.

Consumer-electronics maker Sonicblue will team with chipmaker Intel to develop a portable video player that can download files from ReplayTV digital video recorders and PCs.

The companies demonstrated a prototype of the device at the Intel Developer Forum in San Jose, Calif., on Monday. The ReplayTV Portable Video Player, which will begin selling next year, will use hardware and software developed by Intel's Emerging Platforms Lab and designed for use with an Intel XScale processor. The device will come with a 4-inch screen and a hard drive of at least 40GB.

"We're attempting to reduce the risk and speed up and help validate the market for a PVP," Intel spokesman Ken Salzberg said.

Intel has previously developed devices that act as an extension of the PC, such as digital audio players and digital cameras, in the hopes of encouraging consumers to buy computers using Intel chips. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company even had a division that concentrated on developing consumer-electronics devices but closed it late last year because it didn't meet the company's requirements for long-term growth.

Intel and Sonicblue will together determine many of the exact specifications, such as hard drive capacity and battery size. Sonicblue estimates that the device, code-named Galapagos, will cost less than $1,000.

Users will be able to plug the ReplayTV PVP into DVRs and PCs to download video and audio files. Sonicblue will also add technology that allows content on the device to be played on televisions. Because of this, Sonicblue's future incarnations of the device will not use a touch screen like the one included with the prototype being shown at IDF. Such a screen would degrade video quality.

The device "falls under the investment category for Sonicblue," Bullwinkle said. "It will take some time to ramp up, and this is not the sort of thing for a small company to try and tackle on its own."

Sonicblue has been experiencing turbulent times as a company. It recently fired its former chief executive, Ken Potashner, after COO John Todd and CFO David Sugishita left the company earlier this year. Earlier this month, the company cut 25 percent of its staff, including its CTO, Andy Wolfe.