South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. will enter the competitive market for portable media devices in the U.S. in April with three products all of which play video and one of which can directly record video, the company said Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The players include the PM70, a portable media center device with a 30GB hard-disk drive and video recording capability, the hard-disk drive-based JM53 player and the flash-media based FM30 player. All three support MPEG4 video and several different audio playback formats. The PM70 will record MPEG4 video directly from a composite video input, said LG.
By entering the market, which is dominated by Apple and its iPod line of players, LG hopes it can win market share by emphasizing the player’s support for a range of formats. iPods use Apple’s proprietary DRM (digital rights management) system, FairPlay.
“There is a high-end segment of the iPod market that doesn’t want to be locked in [to a particular format],” said Bob Perry, vice president of consumer electronics sales and marketing for LG’s North American unit. “Once people pay for their video they want the flexibility to move their media around.”
LG’s devices will likely be based on Microsoft Corp.’s Janus DRM system and they are currently undergoing certification for the “Plays for sure” label. Perry said the LG is committed to leaving control of content in the hands of consumers and that it would look to add other DRM systems to the players should that make sense.
“LG is better positioned than some smaller companies like Creative [to compete in the portable media device market],” said Richard Doherty, research director of The Envisioneering Group. The ability to record video directly into a device has been very successful for companies like Archos Inc., he noted.
The PM70 runs the second version of Microsoft’s Portable Media Center operating system and has a 4.3-inch wide-screen display. In addition to video recording, it also has a video-out so it can be hooked up to a television. It will cost $549. The JM53 has an 8GB hard-disk drive and will cost $299 and the FM30 has 1GB of flash memory and will cost $199.