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RealTime IT News

Software Turns PlayStation 2 into A/V Gateway

Sony, which has long been pursuing a convergence strategy when it comes to home audio/visual equipment, got a boost from Austin, Tx.-based BroadQ Monday, as the software firm unveiled software which takes advantage of Sony's network adapter to turn the consumer electronics giant's PlayStation 2 game console into the gateway hub of a digital home theater system.

BroadQ said Monday that it has begun shipping a Preview Edition of its QCast Tuner software for $49.95, and all those who order it will receive the gold version of the software for free.

Sony's ultimate goal is to hook consumers' home theater systems to the Net using the PlayStation 2, or other networked audio/visual devices like its forthcoming CoCoon PVRs, televisions and mobile devices. But while QCast won't take users to that summit, it will allow them to network their PCs to their televisions and stereos using the PlayStation 2 as a hub. This in turn will allow them to play PC-based digital media -- both video and music -- on their televisions and stereos.

"Whether it's your favorite movies, or gigs of MP3s, or a popular prime time series, QCast Tuner provides PlayStation 2 owners with a direct path to enjoy computer-based entertainment in the living room," said Stacy Cook, president and CEO of BroadQ. "Our QCast Tuner software is the true coming of age for the digital media. Digital music and videos aren't anchored to the computer anymore and the PlayStation 2 isn't just for games."

To make the convergence of home AV equipment a reality, BroadQ forged deals with a number of digital media leaders. QCast Tuner depends upon strategic partnerships with SnapStream Media, MoodLogic, and DivXNetworks.

SnapStream provided its Personal Video Station TV recording software for the PC for the effort, and the software will come bundled with QCast Tuner. SnapStream's patent-pending technology allows users to record television programs onto their PCs hard disks for later playback without the need for an intermediary PVR.

Meanwhile, MoodLogic added its music management software to the mix, giving QCast users the ability to organize and manage their digital music on their televisions using a remote control, and then play selections through their stereos.

"Imagine you are in the mood for some smooth Jazz or a good mix of mellow Blues tracks that were recorded in the '70s," said Tom Sulzer, president and CEO of MoodLogic. "MoodLogic allows for such intuitive playlist generation without any manual effort involved. Our music identification process labels songs correctly and enriches a user's song collection with powerful metadata. Combined with QCast Tuner software, one can now enjoy this convenience in bringing MP3s out of the computer and into the places people want to listen to music, such as the living room."

BroadQ's partnership with up-and-coming digital media codec firm, DivXNetworks, completes the picture by allowing QCast users to play back videos encoded in all versions (5.xx and earlier) of DivX video at resolutions of 720x320 and below. The software also supports MP3, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. The two companies also plan to continue to work to integrate playback support for advanced DivX video features at higher resolutions in future versions of QCast.

The entire package requires a Sony PlayStation 2 console, Sony PS2 Ethernet adapter, at least a Pentium II 300 MHz PC with 64 Meg RAM and 20MB+ of free hard drive space. It also requires an Internet connection, as BroadQ plans "dynamic, continuous updates" of its software. The software currently supports Linux or Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP, though support for Mac OS 9/OS X is planned for the near future.