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Flash firm campaigns to connect USB keys to TVs

Flash drive as content delivery platform, anyone?

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CES 2007 SanDisk this week used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to launch up its latest industry consortium chartered with furthering demand for USB Flash disks. A couple of years ago, it was the U3 takeway-apps technology. This time it's the USB TV Forum, a body whose goal is to persuade TV makers to equip their products with USB ports and the ability to display content stored thereupon.

Here's the plan: folk have photo, video and audio content stored on computers kept away from their TVs. According to SanDisk, USB Flash disks are the ideal way of getting all that material from the PC to the TV. Forget about authoring and burning DVDs, just drag and drop stuff you want to watch onto a Flash disk.

It's not an entirely original notion - Panasonic, for one, makes TVs with integrated SD card slots for much the same reason. And a number of vendors are beginning to equip - or think about equipping - their products with wired and/or wireless networking, again to help consumers get media off computers, NAS boxes and the like onto the small (ish) screen.

Indeed, Philips already makes TVs with USB ports. If the USB TV Forum has its way so will others. SanDisk named LG, Pioneer and Mitsubishi as consumer electronics companies who've taken an interest in the scheme.

But it's not just Flash disks that the USB TV Forum has its eye on. It wants handheld media players - such as SanDisk's own Sansa line - to be able to work in the same way, making it easy for users to connect their MP3 players to their TVs without resorting to TV-out ports. Crucially, it puts the TV remote in control of the content selection process rather than the handheld.

Again, all this isn't new - plenty of iPod dock accessories ship with TV links and remote controls, but a USB-based approach would at least provide a measure of uniformity, and potentially cut the number of remotes from two - TV and dock - to one, the TV's. ®

Read our complete CES 2007 coverage at Reg Hardware

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