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Device brings remote control to PCs

SnapStream Media on Thursday plans to launch Firefly, a remote control that lets people manage the media and entertainment functions on their computers.

SnapStream Media has figured out a way to get your PC in touch with its TV side.

The Houston-based components maker on Thursday plans to launch Firefly, a remote control that lets people manage the media and entertainment functions on their PCs. Shaped like a TV remote, Firefly lets people control TV tuning, DVD playback, streaming video, digital music players and photos.

The Firefly package includes the remote control, software to manage a computer's media applications, and a remote receiver that plugs into a USB (universal serial bus) drive. The product is compatible only with Windows XP and Windows 2000 PCs equipped with at least a 500MHz processor, 128MB of memory, 100MB of free hard disk space, and a CD or DVD drive. Firefly will cost $49.99.

The product can manage applications including Microsoft's Windows Media Player, Nullsoft's Winamp, Apple Computer's iTunes and QuickTime, and RealNetworks' RealPlayer.

Turning the PC into a home entertainment center has become a growing initiative among the industry's biggest players. Microsoft and Intel, in particular, have begun making noise about supporting technology that turns PCs into home entertainment hubs. The idea is to allow PCs to mirror functions found in consumer electronics components, such as digital video recorders, VCRs and home audio equipment.

SnapStream made its mark by making software that lets people record live TV shows off their computers, acting like a TiVo for the PC.