Samsung And Partners Plan Wireless, High-Definition Set-Top Box - InformationWeek

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Samsung And Partners Plan Wireless, High-Definition Set-Top Box

Samsung's device is apparently aimed at markets in Asia and Europe, where IPTV is more prevalent than in the United States.

Samsung Electronics is planning to release a wireless set-top box capable of receiving high-definition Internet TV over a home network.

Samsung's SMT-H6155 device, built in conjunction with STMicroelectronics and Metalink, is apparently aimed at markets in Asia and Europe, where IPTV is more prevalent than in the United States. The set-top box receives HDTV over an 802.11n-based network. The latest Wi-Fi standard supports data transmissions of 100 Mbps.

Samsung unveiled the SMT-H6155 Monday at the CeBIT trade show in Germany. The set-top box is not yet available, and a release date was not disclosed.

The promise of 802.11n is to enable the transport of multiple HD video streams around the digital home. Set-top box vendors in the United States, in general, are not expected to offer native wireless links anytime soon, because cable and satellite broadcast services, which are the originators of the video streams, are concerned that poor quality video caused by interference could lead to a huge number of support calls that would damage customer relations and profits, experts say.

Samsung, however, appears to be plowing ahead with its sights on the European and Asian markets, says Will Strauss, analyst for market researcher Forward Concepts. "Otherwise they'd starve," he says. In the United States, cable and satellite TV dominate, while IPTV, which is usually delivered over a DSL connection, is more common in Europe and Asia.

The market, however, for wireless delivery of HDTV in the home could grow in time, depending on how standards develop and support from TV manufacturers. "You've got to start somewhere and this is certainly in the early stages," Strauss says.

The Samsung box is equipped with STMicroelectronics' STi7109 chipset, which provides HD video decoding. The device also includes Metalink's 802.11n WLANPlusSymbol chipset, which enables multiple HD video streams.

Samsung was not immediately available for comment but said in a statement that its customers have shown "great demand for high-definition multimedia content via IPTV and the ability to facilitate content using wireless LAN."

"The SMT-H6155 will be a product that consumers can come to trust and believe in as it represents Samsung's highest standard for quality," said Hee-Won Park, VP of Samsung's Set-Top Box Development Group.

Samsung is the leading set-top box vendor in the Asia-Pacific region and the second largest worldwide, according to ABI Research, which predicts that shipments of IPTV set-top boxes would grow to 41.2 million units in 2011 globally from 4.7 million units last year.

Computer makers have been shipping 802.11n silicon in products. Apple has had the technology in desktop and notebook computers since last fall, and Intel has said Acer, Asus, Gateway, and Toshiba use its 802.11n module.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, a nonprofit industry group, is responsible for 802.11n certification in products. The IEEE is expected to ratify the standard, which is currently in draft form, in the first quarter of next year.

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