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Video dock makes iPod movies look good on big HD screens

Posted: 07 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:iPod movies? big HD screen? video dock?

How could anyone sitting in their living room really enjoy an iPod video, projected on a large-screen, high-definition, flat-panel display, without lamenting the jagged edges of the image, washed out colors, compression artifacts and obvious lack of high definition?

You can't, of course, until now, according to chip vendor Marvell Technology and Meridian Audio, a U.K.-based developer of home entertainment systems. Meridian this week unveiled an iPod HD video dock, called iRIS.

At the heart of Meridian iRIS is Marvell Technology's video format converter, dubbed 88DE2710, announced earlier this year.

Flexible conversion
Meridian's new iPod HD video dock claims to make low-resolution video, originally meant to be viewed on Apple's small iPod display, look good on a large-screen HD display.

"There has been an immense explosion of video sources on the market, regardless the pipe that carries video," said Nikhil Balram, VP and general manager at Marvell. Beyond broadcast, a large screen TV must now now display video content from online, iTune, Sling Box, DVD, Blu-ray or HD DVD, said Balram. "Consumers want to have it all. They want to have the flexibility of keeping their video library close by, and watching it wherever they like" in a living room, in a cabin or in a hotel room."

Typically, when consumers try to display video stored in iPod on a large-screen HD flat panel screen, "it doesn't take a trained videophile to notice" all the things wrong with it, explained Balram. The recurring theme of viewing low-resolution video on a 1,080p HD display includes: lots of analog noise, dots dancing around the edges, compression artifacts, block noise, and loss of brightness and color fidelity.

By rebranding its video format converter Qdeo (meaning "quiet video"), Marvell hopes to crack the consumer electronics market by appealing to CE vendors struggling to differentiate their products and to deal with video content from a variety of sources.

Balram described Qdeo as a "three-legged stool." First, the Qdeo processor removes low-resolution noise and artifacts without causing side effects. Second, it provides format conversion by de-interlacing and scaling video. Finally, it enriches contrast and color.

Highly competitive solution
A number of consumer chip vendors such as NXP Semiconductors and Micronas already offer similar functions in their video processing ICstypically converting video from NTSC or PAL to 1,080p HD. However, Balram said that Marvell's Qdeo differs, because of "its wide adaptability to video formats" scaling from low-resolution video to 1,080p HD formats.

Unlike a few years ago, "a broad variety of video content is available on iTune, and significant video content comes from online today," he added. Among the competitors to Marvell's Qdeo processor is Silicon Optix,. Silicon Optix is a leader in programmable, high performance video processing and unique and proprietary geometry processing ICs.

Marvell said its goal is to offer high-quality video processing on par with Silicon Optix, but to offer its chip "on a broader, high-volume market at a much more affordable price by using Marvell's cost structure," explained Balram.

Marvell, a leading chip vendor in storage and networking markets, hopes to become an IC vendor driving a "digital-connected lifestyle ecosystem," according to the company. "Media processinggood audio/video processingis the last piece of the puzzle" to complete that picture for Marvell, said Balram. Marvell hopes its Qdeo processor will end up in a variety of consumer systems including portable media players, set-tops, DVD players, HD DVD, Blu-ray players, digital media adaptors and HDTV. The Qdeo processor, while not using DSP, contains enough programmability to be used inside different products, said Balram.

The 88DE2710, mass-produced since July, is priced at "less than $30" in quantities of 10,000.

- Junko Yoshida
EE Times

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