ViewSonic Displays Home Networking Interest

By Ed Sutherland

September 08, 2004

Most wireless media adapters still use the PC as a server, but ViewSonic's new equipment puts the multimedia right on the wireless adapter.

ViewSonic of La Jolla, Calif, -- best known for its displays and tablet PCs -- is getting into the home networking market. Noting that the market segment could be worth $8.5 billion by 2008, the company today announced three wireless home networking devices, along with its hire of a General Manager of Wireless Technology.

"ViewSonic's complete home networking solution will give consumers the freedom to enjoy digital media anywhere in their homes without being tied to the PC, and the ability to experience it at better than DVD quality," says Todd Greenberg, director of product management at ViewSonic, and a former Microsoft exec.

ViewSonic's Media Networks plan includes a wireless media adapter along with two 802.11g media gateways. (The company web site also lists products such as broadband routers, a desktop PCI adapter, a print server, and an AP/repeater/bridge combo unit, all under "data networks" rather than "media networks.")

The company's Media Networks initiative provides "an integrated, seamless solution for transparently moving digital content among displays, devices and platforms -- whether in the home or in a business setting," according to a prepared statement. It "furthers the company's vision of a display-centric world."

"While the convergence of consumer electronics is key, the display will remain the cornerstone of entertainment in the home," said Greg Avera, the newly announced General Manager of Wireless Technologies for ViewSonic Americas. He's a a former Vice President of D-Link U.S. Channel Sales.

ViewSonic's WMA100 wireless media adapter promises "outstanding video streaming" while boasting of "better-than-DVD-quality video." The $299 adapter uses a one-touch autosync feature to find and connect with a home network gateway (router). Users can also select from available networks within the adapter's range. Once connected, photos, music and video can be stored in the user's "My Photos," "My Music" and "My Videos" folders on the networked media gateway.

"By storing content directly on the gateway, users will achieve better video streaming performance by eliminating the multiple distribution stops necessary when using a PC as a server," said the company.

The media adapter can connect to VGA, S-Video, DVI, composite and component-video sources, and supports MPEG 1, 2 and 4 video formats. The ViewSonic device supports MP3, unprotected AAC, WMA and WAV audio formats. JPEG, GIF and PNG photos can be displayed with the adapter.

ViewSonic is offering two media gateways -- the 80 Gigabyte WMG80 or the 120 Gigabyte WMG120. Consumers can attach the WMA100 adapter to either gateway to form a home media network capable of delivering video, music or photos to one or more displays.

The gateway can also be used as an 802.11g router, or as a network attached storage (NAS) device which also works as a print server. By combining either gateway with the ViewSonic media adapter, consumers can create a home media network able to wirelessly stream digital content to one or more home displays.

Eliminating the PC as the main server allows ViewSonic to provide "glitch-free simultaneous distribution to two or more displays," according to the company.

The gateways are compatible with Windows 98 SE and above. Available in the latter part of 2004, the devices will be sold in bundles with the WMA100 media adapter.

Avera says future ViewSonic networking products will target enterprise customers using, for example, media gateways to serve up videos for clients waiting in an airport terminal.



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