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
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
“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 720×320 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.