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Philips builds bridge between TV and PC

The consumer-electronics giant shows off a wireless device designed to let TVs and similar home electronics tap into video and audio stored on PCs.

LAS VEGAS--Philips Electronics is looking to let your television tap into the video and audio stored on your PC.

The company's connectivity group demonstrated its Wireless Home AV Platform device at the Comdex Fall 2002 trade show this week. The software and hardware product is designed to allow people to wirelessly access content stored on a PC via a consumer-electronics device such as a television or home stereo.

"We see the lines between PCs and (consumer electronics) devices blurring, and we're taking baby steps towards a single 'converged' device," said Engelbert van Pelt, a general manager at Philips.

The consumer-electronics giant is one of a number of companies that have expressed interest in bridging the world of PCs and consumer-electronics devices, though there have been several failed attempts at converging the two. Others that have invested in similar efforts, including technology heavyweights Intel and Microsoft, as well as a handful of PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell Computer and Gateway.

However, many companies have toned down their attempts at producing fully converged PC and consumer-electronics devices after taking their licks from earlier tries.

"The buzzword is not convergence, but connectivity--getting devices to talk to one another," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research. "Consumers resoundingly rejected convergence, so these companies have to be careful about making devices easy to use. Consumers don't have to figure out how to get devices to talk to one another."

The Wireless Home AV Platform is expected to start out using 802.11b wireless networking technology and to be upgradeable to 802.11a. Van Pelt said that Philips views the PC as the data server for consumer-electronics devices.

Philips has working products and is looking to other companies to brand, market and sell the device. The company is expected to make partner announcements at the Consumer Electronics show, scheduled for January 2003.

The Wireless Home AV Platform is expected to be available in some form early next year, costing anything from $300 to $800, depending on features--for example, whether it has the ability to stream audio and video content from a PC.

The connectivity group that developed the device is part of Philips' consumer-electronics group, following the

In related Comdex news from Philips, the company's optical storage group unveiled the DVDRW 416, a 4x DVD+RW drive that should sell for $319. The group also introduced the Jack Rabbit 32x CD-RW, a USB 2.0-compatible portable device that can read and write CD-RW discs and play DVD discs.