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Intel Snags TiVo as Viiv Partner

Looking to boost the number of computers whirring away in living rooms, Intel Corp. on Wednesday unveiled its first list of companies whose products are expected to work with the chip maker's upcoming Viiv entertainment PC platform.

So far, about 40 companies that develop TV, movie, music, gaming and photo-editing products are testing and verifying services, programs and gadgets that will interact with the Intel technology, said Kevin Corbett, an Intel vice president in charge of content services.

The goal of the Viiv label, he said, is to avoid consumer confusion and questions over interoperability. It also will ensure the products will work when the PC is being controlled from a distance via a remote control.

Intel, which is best known for its Pentium microprocessor, followed a similar strategy in 2003, when it launched its Centrino technology for laptops. Along with a big marketing push, it worked to ensure that gear carrying the Centrino logo worked with laptops branded the same way.

"We basically accelerated the heck out of Wi-Fi," Corbett said. "We plan to do the same thing around digital entertainment."

Digital video recorder pioneer TiVo Inc. plans to use the technology to make it simple not only to transfer from a TiVo set-top box to a Viiv PC but also allow for the transfer of shows on the PC to a TiVo. Viiv also will make it easier to move the content to a DVD or handheld player.

Other participating companies include Afendis AG, LoveFilm.com, British Sky Broadcasting, MovieLink, Telecom Italia, VirginMega, Ubisoft Entertainment, Adobe Systems Inc., Ulead Systems Inc., and Sonic Solutions.

Corbett declined to comment on whether Apple Computer Inc. is participating in Viiv. Earlier this year, Apple announced that it would start using Intel microprocessors in its Macintosh computers, and it also has released entertainment PC-like software for its latest iMacs.

PCs based on Viiv, which rhymes with "five," are expected to be available in a variety of forms, ranging from the size of a stereo system component to a more traditional PC tower. All will run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Center operating system.

After the initial boot, Viiv owners will be able to put their PCs in a standby state with the press of a button and reawaken it instantly the same way. The machines also ship with 5.1 surround sound, with an option to upgrade to 7.1.

Viiv systems will include a configuration wizard to walk users through setting up network components using their remote control.

In addition, the systems will have a media server "engine" that reformats digital content for viewing on a variety of devices.

Viiv is expected to be available in the first quarter of next year.