Wireless HiFi over WiFi from Linksys next month?

by Guy Kewney | posted on 10 February 2003

Wireless music in the home will become a simple matter in April/May, when Linksys launches the Intel-developed Digital Media Adapter.

Guy Kewney

It's a wireless LAN device you plug into your home audio system. Then it looks for any 802.11 network, and then searches for MP3 files, or even images.

<1/> Linksys version of the DMA from Intel

What it can't do - at least, not yet - is pipe full-motion TV to your television set. That's because when Intel designed this last year, the launch of 802.11g was too far in the future, and so the link is restricted to the 11 megabits of 11b.

Unlike other Linksys products, this toy is designed to fit into the living room, not the data den, as our illustration shows.

Price will be around £130.00 say sources inside Linksys.

A version capable of doing video is expected by the end of the year, when new processor technology is released that will be capable of de-compressing the MPEG files.

In theory, if you can get your video in WMA format, you could watch that today; but it looks as if that may be left off the menu for the first version. Intel did show a sample digital media adapter reference design - based on XScale PXA210 applications processor, at last September's Intel Developer Forum.

That sample design was, like the Linksys design, based on 802.11b wireless. It was able to handle JPEG, MP3, and WMA digital content, and would output video to NTSC/PAL/S-video plus AC-97 stereo connections. But Linksys sources were reluctant to speculate too much on features on its product.

A new processor from Intel is expected to be announced next week, however, at the IDF in Santa Clara; it is likely to be called the IXP-422, and it will have the "grunt" to do video de-compression, too.

"The product is Intel's way of selling 3 GHz Pentium 4 PCs into the home," said one source who will be attending IDF. "It will make it possible to take the raw video output of your cable box or satellite set top box, and convert it into wireless transmissions that can be picked up all around your house."

Home purchasers who have been reluctant to upgrade from quite venerable PII hardware because they "didn't need extra power" may find this the incentive they needed to reach for their credit cards, Intel hopes.