Feeds

PortalPlayer Photo Edition paves way for Picture iPod

All your digital photos. In your pocket

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.