Chip-maker Intel Corp. launched its Viiv entertainment PC platform Thursday and announced a slew of deals with entertainment and other tech companies to provide content for the new systems.
Viiv PC owners will be able to watch video that’s stored in Google Inc.’s video service, high-definition highlights from NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics and classic TV shows from America Online. In all, Intel has signed dozens of content deals.
Viiv computers will be capable of replacing the array of standalone boxes that surround the television — such as a digital video recorder, DVD player or cable box. Intel also says it’s working to ensure a Viiv PC works seamlessly with other equipment. By focusing on more than chips, Intel hopes its technical and marketing muscle will help make entertainment PCs easier to use — and more appealing.
The approach is similar to the strategy Intel followed when it launched its Centrino technology for wireless notebook computers in 2003. It not only supplied the chips but also marketing support and a quality-assurance program to ensure the technology worked.
Also Thursday, Intel launched its Core Duo chip, which the company claims has lower power requirements and higher performance. The processor, which has two computing engines built into a single chip, is expected to enable smaller, living-room friendly Viiv systems and will power the next-generation mobile platform, the Centrino Duo.
‘‘With our new platforms, we’re not only boosting wireless computing, but also advancing digital entertainment a few steps closer to effortless,’’ Intel CEO Paul Otellini said during a speech at the International Consumer Electronics Show.
Viiv-branded PCs also can be built around Intel’s Pentium D or Pentium Extreme Edition processors. The company also will provide some software, but the operating system is Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP Media Center Edition.
Some of the options include support for a technology that allows Viiv users to quickly turn their systems on and off after the initial boot. Machines also will ship with at least 5.1 surround sound and support for high-definition video. TV capabilities are optional. Also Thursday, Pioneer Electronics and Samsung Electronics introduced MP3 players that also include service from XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.
The Pioneer Inno and the Samsung Helix XM2go are about the size of a deck of cards and can store a listener’s own music collection ripped from CDs as well as XM programming. Both devices save music in the popular MP3 and WMA formats.
Listeners can also bookmark songs heard on XM, then later purchase downloads of the songs for 99 cents from the Napster music download and subscription service.
The Inno and Helix XM2go will both retail for about $399 and will be available by March.
Samsung is also offering an even smaller music player called the Nexus. The two units will not have built-in XM tuners, like the Helix. Instead, they’ll receive XM signals when placed in a docking station along with the XM Passport, a small 1.3-inch by 1.65-inch cartridge that serves as a portable satellite radio tuner.
When taken out of the docking stations, the $200 Nexus 25 will play up to 25 hours of recorded XM radio content or songs, while the $250 Nexus 50 will hold 50 hours.