In his keynote address at the 2006 International CES, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced three new partners delivering Windows Mobile-based Portable Media Center (PMC): Toshiba America Inc., Tatung Co. and LG Electronics.
Bill Gates also highlighted a mobile version of Vongo, a new movie service from Starz Entertainment Group LLC that offers premium full-length movies and other video selections for playback on new Portable Media Centers. Initially more than 1,000 first-run movies and video selections will be available in the United States via a subscription service that provides unlimited access for US$9.99 per month, plus additional pay-per-view movies.
These next-generation devices are packed with features such as extended battery life, support for new higher-resolution displays and wide screens, direct audio/video recording, and direct connections to digital cameras; prices begin at US$299, and the company expects Vongo and these devices will be available in early 2006.
Microsoft says with the addition of full-length, popular movies and other video selections such as extreme sports and concerts from Vongo, there are now more than 100 companies providing a diverse collection of entertainment choices for owners of Microsoft Windows Mobile-based devices.
The Toshiba S Series gigabeat Portable Media Center includes an extended battery life for movies and a 2.4-inch high-resolution screen with more than 260,000 colors. The S Series will come in two varieties: The 30GB gigabeat S30 will have a suggested price of US$299, and the 60GB gigabeat S60 will have suggested price of US$399 (U.S.). Both are scheduled to be available in March 2006.
The Tatung V620 Portable Media Center has a 20GB hard drive with a 3.5-inch QVGA (320x240) LCD screen for watching up to five hours of movies and television shows. Availability and pricing is scheduled to be announced in 2006.
The LG Electronics PM70 Portable Media Center has a 30GB hard drive that connects directly to a television to capture favorite music or shows immediately on the QVGA widescreen. Availability is scheduled for the first half of 2006.
Built on Windows Mobile software, the Portable Media Center platform is designed so that device-makers can choose the features and form factors that are more interesting for their customers. Devices can synchronise music, images and video with PCs running Windows Media Player 10.
Portable Media Centers also synchronize with PCs running Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, software that accounted for more than 47 percent of PC sales in December 2005, according to Current Analysis.
Next-generation Portable Media Centers will also support a greater variety of formats, including popular codecs, including native file support for Windows Media Video (WMV), Windows Media Audio (WMA), WMA Lossless, MP3, JPEG, DivX, MPEG2 and others.