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One of the most exciting developments at the International Broadcasting Conference in Amsterdam at the weekend must have been UK set-top box maker Pace, bringing out what it believed was the world’s first handheld personal video recorder for pay TV.

The Pace PVR2GOPace Micro Technology is one of the few UK companies that is making headway in the booming US set top market and can live with the incumbent lead US set top makers Scientific Atlanta and Motorola. The new Pace PVR2GO, with a 5-inch widescreen display, and users can download protected TV content onto a 40 GB hard drive, to view on a handheld screen anywhere that they choose: on the train, in the car, on holiday.

It has a robust outer cover with touch screen controls. In addition to television, PVR2GO can be used for audio (MP3 and Windows media audio), viewing jpeg images and playing games.

PVR2GO is intended to be sold with subscription services and Pace is targeting it at operators that want to tailor the service and integrate conditional access systems. Pace recently qualified under Motorola’s stringent US conditional access program so that it can provide set-tops into the US cable market.

Pace says that its own customer research with pay-TV subscribers shows that high income subscribers will be happy watching on the small screen, something that quite a lot of research has thrown doubt on.

Most portable media players, such as those from French company Archos, have the option of viewing either on the small screen or output to a television, and PVR2GO is no different, offering analog TV output.

Connectivity options include USB 2.0 for content downloading and 1394 for multimedia distribution and it can also be formatted to use MPEG-2, MPEG-4 or Windows Media 9 content. Pace also demonstrated at IBC the distribution of video content and personal video recorder (PVR) services to multiple TVs in a household.

The Pace multi-room system is designed to drive second subscription opportunities for broadcasters and capitalize on consumer demand for PVR around the home.

Finally, Pace and Espial put on show a specialist IPTV set-top box for the hospitality industry with built in web browsing, to offer hotel viewers a full range of services such as pay-per-view, video-on-demand, interactive shopping and community information.

Copyright © 2004, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of events that have happened each week in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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