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SONICblue Inc. was looking for a way to add some more bells and whistles to its new line of ReplayTV 5000 digital video recorders, and has turned to Universal Electronics Inc. to make it happen.

The newly signed agreement calls for UEI to provide a custom-designed wireless controller and embedded connectivity software that will enable a direct link from the DVR to cable and satellite set-tops. In essence, UEI's technology will enable the ReplayTV 5000s to talk to set-top boxes to ensure the seamless delivery of digital media.

"ReplayTV is a vital component of the connected home of the future and making it easy to use is critically important," said Nikhi Balram, vice president of product marketing for SONICblue's connected home products division.

SONICblue introduced the 5000 line earlier this week as an alternative to its more expensive 4000 line. Prices range from $299.99 to $899.99 and offer recording capacities of between 40 and 320 hours. The ReplayTV 5000s also have USB connections to link one unit to another throughout the home.

The ReplayTV box is battling for market share with TiVo set tops. The two companies have taken different approaches to lure customers. ReplayTV has relied on retail outlets, including Best Buy and Circuit City, while TiVo has spurred its growth through partnerships with operators including DirecTV and AT&T Broadband.

According to research firm The Yankee Group, the DVR market is poised for growth. Roughly 1.8 million homes own digital recorders, and that number is expected to skyrocket to 19 million over the next four years.

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