Wireless Systems Design

Media Content Flies Through Home

Bigger and better home entertainment is a consumer fantasy. Yet entertainment systems also must be extremely intuitive. Don't forget that most consumers never even wanted to learn how to program their VCRs. Now, companies want to give users a way to transfer media from their PCs to their home-entertainment products. Linksys (www.linksys.com), for example, has introduced a Wireless A/G Media Center Extender (WMCE54AG) that delivers media-center PC-entertainment content to the living room.

With the new Wireless A/G Media Center Extender, users gain wireless access to movies, music, and photos through connected TVs and stereo systems from Windows Media Center PCs. Consumers can choose the digital video content that they want to watch as well as where and when they want to watch it. They also can watch home or downloaded digital movies and browse digital pictures on a television.

The WMCE54AG lets consumers watch TV shows and record them by series, actor, category, and more. The Media Center Extender comes equipped with a free on-screen program guide, which tells users what is on TV. They can select entertainment from on-screen menus with the remote control. The extender also will perform different functions simultaneously. For instance, one user can watch a recorded TV show in the family room while another can browse through the family's digital-photo collection on the Media Center PC in the den. The product also boasts audio capabilities. Users can listen to a digital music collection and Internet radio through their stereo systems.

Using a Wireless-A, Wireless-G, or wired-Ethernet connection, the Media Center Extender streams homemade or downloaded premium movies and digital photos to TVs around the home. Those movies and photos are stored on a Windows Media Center PC. The Media Center Extender sits by a home stereo and television and connects to them using standard cables, such as RCA connectors. It then communicates with the Media Center PC via a home network using Wireless-A or Wireless-G networking. If users prefer, it also can be connected by use of 10/100 Ethernet cabling.

For the Media Center Extender to work, users must have a PC that runs Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and a Wireless-A, Wireless-G, or Ethernet home network. The Media Center Extender works with the Linksys Wireless A+G products.

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