A prototype version of the USBTV, complete with box - Image courtesy Engadget

The USBTV unit is actually a combination of flash drive and remote - Image courtesy Engadget
It reads off USB media to output a signal to the TV, hence the name USBTV

One of the most common efforts shown at this year’s CES is enabling consumers to easily move digital content from their PCs to their televisions for viewing in full, big-screen comfort. At its CES press conference, SanDisk Corporation introduced the USBTV, which, as the name suggests, hopes to accomplish the feat using the USB interface.

USBTV is a new platform that will enable consumers to transport downloaded digital content from a personal computer by using a small flash memory-enabled media player and plug-and-play it directly on virtually any TV. While more consumers are watching video on the Internet, their preferred entertainment center remains the TV. Once they've taken the time to download and store personal videos and movies on their PC, consumers often want to enjoy that content with others in the living room. Today, this process typically requires burning blank DVD optical media so that it can be played back on the DVD player attached to the TV, which some may find to be a cumbersome and time-consuming proposition.

A USBTV player can tackle the problem by plugging directly into the USB port of virtually any personal computer where it acts as a USB storage device for a rapid "drag and drop" of any desired file. At a press conference at CES, SanDisk demonstrated a product concept that employs a TV cradle and a remote control, allowing USBTV to connect to virtually any TV set. A key innovation incorporated into USBTV is a multimedia processor that converts the stored files into various TV video/audio formats for direct playback on virtually any TV without the need for any changes to the TV set.

The first pocket-sized players expected to be available this spring, allow consumers to access an on-screen guide where they can pick and choose from content they've stored on the USBTV player and play it on a TV. No wireless set-up or networking equipment will be required. SanDisk has not revealed pricing on USBTV products but did comment that it will be priced affordably.

"We believe that USBTV represents an exciting new category of flash-based products that will bring digital downloading of video to a broad spectrum of new consumers who prefer viewing on their TV sets rather than on a PC screen," said Eli Harari, SanDisk CEO. "USBTV has the potential to become an industry-transforming category as significant as the introduction of the DVD and VHS players, because in the convergence of the Web and home entertainment, USBTV solves in a simple, elegant way the ‘last 10 feet' of the content portability problem in the home between the PC and the TV," he said.

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