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SONICblue, Intel to deliver portable DVRs

Mon, 09/09/2002 - 8:00pm
Susan Rush

Despite a lingering court battle over its ReplayTV digital video recorder technology, SONICblue Inc. is teaming with Intel Corp. to introduce a mini-version of the DVR device.

The pocket-sized ReplayTV Portable Video Player will enable users to watch time-shifted television programs and movies transferred from their ReplayTV boxes. Users also will be able to transfer video, audio and pictures from a PC to the device.

Intel's hardware and software will power the entertainment-on-the-go player. Specifically, SONICblue will use Intel XScale processors and advanced video codecs developed by Intel's Emerging Platforms Lab.

The device, which is due out next year, made its debut yesterday in prototype form during a demonstration at the Intel Developer Forum in San Jose, Calif. The player will come with a 4-inch screen and a minimum sized hard drive of 40GB, although the exact size of the hard drive has yet to be determined. Pricing has not been set.

The news of the portable player is sure to raise some eyebrows in Hollywood. SONICblue is entangled in a legal battle with several Hollywood heavyweights who claim ReplayTV devices violate copyright laws and are detrimental to the movie studios' advertising revenue. In October 2001, Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc. and General Electric filed a suit to prevent SONICblue from shipping the DVR, but despite the lawsuit, SONICblue began shipping the ReplayTV 4000 DVRs a few weeks later.

The studios charge that the Replay TV unit's ability to send video files via e-mail will violate their copyrights. In contrast, SONICblue says the mini-player will not allow content to be shared between users.

Last week, SONICblue said it planned to eliminate 25 percent of its work force. The move will decrease its employee roster by roughly 400. The company also said it would consolidate certain functions of its Scottsdale, Ariz. and Tigard, Ore. facilities into its Santa Clara, Calif. headquarters.

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