Feeds

PortalPlayer Photo Edition paves way for Picture iPod

All your digital photos. In your pocket

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

PortalPlayer, the company behind the hardware, software and processor technology that powers Apple's iPod, will soon launch a upgraded version of its chip/firmware combo that paves the way for a Photo iPod.

PortalPlayer Photo Edition will support synchronising digital photos between portable devices and host PCs, along with on-device playback, according to CEO Gary Johnson, interviewed by EE Times.

The Photo Edition comprises new, 180nm system-on-a-chip silicon based on two 80MHz ARM cores, plus a real-time OS updated with photo handling code that supports the JPEG and Motion JPEG picture formats. The device's software package supports picture manipulation features like editing, rotating, cropping and red-eye correction. It can also allow users to add music to slide-shows. All these features handily replicate functionality provided on the desktop by Apple's iPhoto.

The platform supports TV output, USB 2.0, Firewire and Ethernet, along with high-resolution colour LCDs. In addition to small form-factor hard drives, it can use Cornice's new 1in micro drive system. PortalPlayer has also incorporated support for a two- to three-megapixel digicam into the unit.

Interestingly, PortalPlayer has support for multiple Digital Rights Management (DRM) regimes, enabling device manufacturers to support a variety of online music services. It's unlikely that Apple, as a provider of such a service, would add that feature to future iPods, but it paves the way for iTunes Music Service support in non-Apple devices.

Speculation the Apple is working on a video iPod has been a constant topic on Mac fan forums, but one CEO Steve Jobs has dismissed a couple of times this year. But if the time isn't right for a portable video player - it can be done, but do punters really want to watch movies on a tiny screen when notebooks provide a far better portable playback experience? - the boom in digicams suggests that a portable photo library is a logical follow-on for the iPod line.

With its PDA-style calendar and contact book functionality (courtesy of Apple's iCal and Address Book software), adding photo support would broaden the iPod's appeal as a portable personal data carrier. It also helps to continue to differentiate the Apple product from the horde of music-only clones the compact, hard drive-based machine has spawned.

As for PortalPlayer, the company needs to work quickly. Microsoft's attempt to muscle in on the sector, the Portable Media Center platform, is due for release during the second half of 2004, with devices available next Christmas. Based on Windows CE .NET, PMC offers photo library functionality, TiVO-style TV recording and video playback, as well as music. Microsoft has already won the commitment of Creative, Viewsonic, iRiver, Sanyo, Samsung and Tatung.

PortalPlayer has the advantage of a more tightly integrated software and hardware system, but just as Apple's vertical integration has led to advantages and big disadvantages as the computer market has evolved, Microsoft's horizontal approach may cause PortalPlayer problems.

The real loser, however, will be the likes of PalmSource and PalmOne. All these technologies will, we reckon, define the 21st Century PDA - a portable personal data archive, kept fed from a computer but allowing individuals to take all their most precious information with them wherever they go. Even without direct data entry, these devices will provide a powerful alternative to today's PDAs, already under threat from smartphones. And both Microsoft and Apple have powerful handheld data entry technologies they can add to their respective offerings.

Many people want single devices, but quite a few don't. But the number of handhelds they are willing to carry around isn't large. A phone, certainly, and probably one other device. Increasingly that second unit will be a hard disk-based machine that holds not just PIM data, but music, photos and probably video too. And a lot of it. ®

Related Stories

MS 'Windows for iPod' delayed but still marks death of PDA
Gateway reveals iPod clone
Sony unveils 'video iPod'
Sony to offer $60 iPod? Not likely
Dell debuts iPod killer, music store
'Social Hardware' nears with Bluetooth iPod

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder
Carrier is 'aware' of cockup, working on a fix NOW
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
Google's so smart it's discovered SHARKS HAVE TEETH
Congratulations, world media, for rediscovering submarine cable armour
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?