MILPITAS, Calif., and REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 30, 2004 — Sigma Designs Inc., a leading provider of digital media processors, and Microsoft Corp. today announced that consumer entertainment devices powered by Sigma processors feature support for Windows Media® Audio and Video 9. These devices are now being shipped around the world by an increasing list of companies including KiSS Technology A/S in Europe, I-O Data, Buffalo in Japan, and LITE-ON IT Corp. Networked DVD players, digital media receivers, and Internet Protocol television (IPTV) set-top boxes are among the applications taking advantage of the advanced compression capability offered by Windows Media Audio and Video 9 and Sigma processor innovation. Sigma Designs also announced support for the PlaysForSure program, with new chip designs that will allow device manufacturers to ship networked devices that work seamlessly with Windows® XP-based PCs and with the widest variety of online music and video services using Windows Media DRM 10 for networked devices and Windows Media Connect.
“The proven quality and compression efficiency of Windows Media Audio and Video are leading to its further wide-scale adoption in a range of new consumer devices,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “The new series of Windows Media-capable media processors from Sigma Designs that will support features such as Media Connect and Windows Media DRM 10 form an excellent basis for a variety of leading-edge products.”
Sigma Media Processors Deliver High-Definition Windows Media Video Resolutions
Sigma Designs is rapidly moving forward to make Windows Media Video 9-based consumer products a commercial reality. Since April of this year, Sigma has been shipping its first generation of media processors that support Windows Media Video 9, and it is making a substantial investment in a series of application-driven chips and software that will enable single-chip implementation of IPTV set-top boxes, digital media receivers, networked DVD players and portable media devices. Sigma’s first chip, the EM8620L, offers a wide range of media-processing functions for video decoding, audio decoding and graphics processing featuring the highest-quality image possible on high-definition (HD) displays. It currently offers Windows Media Video 9 support for up to 720p resolution, Windows Media Audio and Windows Media Audio 9 Pro, Windows Media DRM 10 for portable and networked devices, and Windows Media Connect implementations.
“Demand for Windows Media Video is taking off, which is evidenced by the amount of customer interest for next-generation digital media devices,” said Ken Lowe, vice president of strategic marketing at Sigma Designs. “The availability of new Windows-based technologies, including Media Connect and Windows Media DRM 10, and Sigma chipsets has made it extremely convenient to take advantage of Windows Media Audio and Video for greater compression efficiency and HD support.”
Windows Media Video-Enabled Networked DVD Players
Advanced DVD players have been popular with entertainment enthusiasts, and a major expansion of this segment is now emerging with the addition of Windows Media Video playback. These new DVD players will enable playback of Windows Media Video 9, Windows Media Audio 9, and Windows Media Audio 9 Professional content coming in from a number of different sources including CDs, DVDs and the Internet.
KiSS Technology. Exemplifying this new class of Windows Media Video-enabled DVD player is the latest product from KiSS Technology, the DP-600 networked DVD player, which includes a wide range of groundbreaking capabilities. A key focus for the DP-600 design is its rich layer of interactivity with linkages to an extensive range of online services, such as gaming, weather forecasts and Web radio. This new player will offer the entertainment enthusiast the option of accessing Windows Media Video content in high-definition resolutions and other digital entertainment through published, downloaded or streaming media. This player will be available in retail outlets in December in Europe, with potential U.S. availability in 2005, for an estimated retail price of $299.
“Windows Media Video compression efficiency and video quality are fueling the emergence of an enormous breadth of online content and high-definition video for everyday consumer use,” said Martin Manniche, director of sales for KiSS Technology. “Support from Microsoft and Sigma Designs for this technology has created a high-quality solution that we are sure will excite premium users across Europe and elsewhere.”
I-O Data also has begun shipping a Windows Media Video-capable DVD player. It is the first company to launch these consumer products for the Japanese market. The LinkPlayer2 provides playback of a wide range of video, music and photo formats, including standard DVD, Windows Media Video (including HD resolutions), Windows Media Audio and MP3, and supports output to plasma display, LCD and standard CRT-based televisions. The LinkPlayer2 is available at selected retail outlets in Japan.
Buffalo offers another networked DVD media player with support for Windows Media Video. It is being sold in Japan under the Link Theater brand name. Link Theater is a convenient, multifunction product that offers all the features of an enhanced DVD player, as well as the ability to network wirelessly with two or more PC networks through Buffalo’s LinkStation.
LITE-ON IT has begun shipping an OEM version of its advanced DVD player with Windows Media Video support as a continuing part of its movement toward providing a full line of integrated DVD products.
Windows Media-Enabled Digital Media Receivers
Relative newcomers to the scene, digital media receivers (DMRs) support the seamless flow of video content to TV sets throughout the home using wired or wireless connectivity. DMRs work with a Windows XP-based PC to offer seamless access to the growing consumer collections on PCs of digital photos, music and video within the home. Sigma Designs is a leading vendor of chipset solutions for digital media receivers, taking advantage of the same feature set and streaming video software developed for the IPTV industry.
Recently, a number of companies have begun shipping digital media receivers based on the EM8620L that offer a wireless network connection along with support for a wide range of media formats, including Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series, and other audio, video and image codecs. Device implementations include the following:
Vertex Link Corp. was the first company to launch a Windows Media-enabled DMR in Japan with its MediaWiz HD, a networked digital media adapter that provides playback of a wide range of video, music and photo formats, including Windows Media Video, at high-definition resolutions. Its 802.11g wireless network connection enables streaming of DVD-quality movies and video via wireless LAN.
Twinhead International Corp. also has begun shipping its digital media receiver with built-in Windows Media support. This new offering, called Digishare, features an 802.11g Wi-Fi network connection and a broad range of supported formats including Windows Media Audio, Windows Media Audio 9 Pro and Windows Media Video. Additional features include a Web browser and infrared remote control.
More products are on the market on an OEM basis and form the platforms for a number of branded retail versions to be introduced shortly. OEM offerings are available from AboCom Systems Inc., Delta Networks Inc., Kinpo Inc., MiTAC International Corp. and USI Corp.
Windows Media Video 9 for IPTV Set-Top Boxes and Services
Broadband Internet connectivity, highly compressed digital media and a fundamental need for entertainment alternatives are paving the way for IPTV delivered over DSL. As more telecom providers in Asia and Europe start tapping into these potential revenue streams, many are taking advantage of the compression efficiency and complete solutions available for Windows Media Video 9. Sigma is currently one of the main suppliers for IPTV solutions with its Windows Media Video 9-capable EM8620L silicon, enabling telco operators to push ahead with comprehensive set-top solutions for trial and deployment.
The North American telco industry also is showing signs of increased interest, with several announcements following on the heels of the mid-November TelcoTV 2004 show. WEGENER, one of the leading set-top box suppliers, launched a new Windows Media Video 9-capable IP video set-top that was demonstrated for the first time at TelcoTV on Nov. 15. The SMD 515 Streaming Media Decoder delivers high-definition video and audio to DSL high-speed Internet users. Providing subscribers with a brilliant, widescreen TV experience, the SMD 515’s advanced technology can deliver theater-quality movies with as little as 5 Mbps of data. Available digital and analog video and audio outputs make the unit compatible with virtually all subscriber entertainment systems. WEGENER has used its innovative digital TV expertise with Sigma’s advanced decoder chips to accelerate access to Windows Media Video 9 and MPEG-2 high-definition and standard-definition video.
About Sigma Designs Inc.
Sigma Designs (Nasdaq “SIGM”) specializes in silicon-based MPEG decoding for streaming video, progressive DVD playback, and advanced digital set-top boxes. The company’s award-winning REALmagic® Video Streaming Technology is used in both commercial and consumer applications providing highly integrated solutions for high-quality decoding of Windows Media Audio and Video, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. Headquartered in Milpitas, Calif., the company also has sales offices in China, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at http://www.sigmadesigns.com .
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release may contain forward-looking statements, including statements about the projected timing and extent of customer shipments as well as the expected use of Sigma’s MPEG decoder products. Actual results could vary from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including worldwide economic conditions, changes in the customer’s ability or desire to complete the roll-out, consumer reaction to the new products and services being offered, the ability of Sigma to deliver sufficient quantity and quality of MPEG decoder chips, prices for the Sigma chips, alternative offerings by competitors, and the ability of the parties to work together successfully to achieve the rollout.
Microsoft, Windows Media and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
REALmagic and Sigma Designs are registered trademarks of Sigma Designs.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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