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Network Vendors Target The Home Market

Moving the industry closer toward the convergence of PCs and consumer electronics devices, an array of networking vendors at this week’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas demonstrated products designed to ease wireless video sharing in the home.

Several companies already offer media servers that move audio and digital image files between networked devices. But the latest series of products at CES now support digital movies, recorded television programs and more robust audio. Most of the devices, which accept streaming media via the 802.11g wireless standard, connect directly to television and stereo systems.

Buffalo Technology, for one, on Thursday unveiled the Link Theatre High Definition Wireless Media Player. The wireless unit, which resembles a typical DVD player, streams Windows Media high-definition movies, music and digital images, and contains a built-in DVD player. It also supports MovieLink and CinemaNow, two of the leading movie-download services. Buffalo expects to ship the device in February at a price of $349, representatives of the Austin, Texas-based vendor said.

Earlier this week, Linksys, Irvine, Calif., announced the Wireless-G Media Link, which includes USB ports to add external storage or flash readers to the network. Linksys expects to release the Media Link in the second quarter for $249. Linksys said the device will also support downloaded movies from MovieLink and Cinema Now, both in Microsoft's high-definition format.

Meanwhile, representatives of D-Link said the Irvine, Calif.-based vendor would soon release several versions of its MediaLounge wireless media player. One will have a built-in DVD player, and another is expected to include 80 Gbytes of built-in storage. Both will contain a USB port. Pricing for the products hasn't been finalized, they said.

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