Broadcom’s CES line-up shows off connected, easy-to-use TVs

Broadcom‘s line-up of products for the Consumer Electronics Show next week drives forward a vision for connected TVs and viewing content on multiple devices. The chip maker unveiled new products today that will be showcased at CES.

Among the announcements is a partnership with Myriad Group, whose Myriad Alien Vue gives connected TVs an easy-to-navigate user interface for scrolling through web, video and other content on a TV that is connected to a Broadcom-based set-top box. One of the interesting things about the announcements is that they don’t emphasize the speed of Broadcom’s chips but rather the fact that they enable machines that better connect people to technology and their content. In other words, Broadcom is working on technology that makes our lives easier — a common theme for tech companies these days.

Zurich, Switzerland-based Myriad uses the Android operating system and Broadcom chips to deliver popular Android apps to connected TVs. That opens the door for consumers to access thousands of new and inexpensive apps from the living room couch. It simplifies the delivery of Android content to TVs, as set-tops with the Broadcom chips and Myriad user interface have the horsepower and easy navigation to make the experience snappy for consumers. The boxes support the ability to connect other devices to the TV using the DLNA standard and extend the screen view to other TVs around the home.

Myriad also lets you use your smartphone and tablet as viewing and remote control devices. And it lets you leverage your existing TV and set-top box to access Android apps. The Myriad technology is embedded in every Android device.

Irvine, Calif.-based Broadcom also announced a portfolio of “system-on-a-chip” solutions that integrate Multimedia over Cable 2.0 (MoCA 2.0). That can double the available bandwidth for cable lines that carry the broadband internet from one part of the house to another. It also enhances video quality and broadens the distribution of internet content within the home in a more energy efficient and secure way.

Supporting operators for the MoCA 2.0 standard include Charter, Cogeco, Comcast, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network, Rogers Communications, and Verizon’s FiOS services. Broadcom’s chips will be used in six new MoCA 2.0-capable set-top box and internet gateway products. By putting MoCA 2.0 directly into a set-top box, Broadcom makes it easier to set up faster and more efficient and secure home networks. Those networks are more and more important as users watch video content or play games on multiple screens around the home.

Broadcom also introduced its Over-the-Top Media Player that converts existing TVs into “smart TVs” capable of connecting to the internet and running apps such as simple games. These chips enable set-top boxes that can be attached to any TV and can handle advanced processing tasks such as dual high-definition decoding and transcoding tasks — allowing for better video options on a TV. The chips can run the Android operating system and Adobe Air, enabling new products such as the Netgear NeoTV Streaming Player (NTV200). These devices can help turn 2 billion TVs around the world into smart TVs.

And lastly, Broadcom said that EchoStar’s Sling Media division will integrate the Sling Media software developers kit (SDK) into Broadcom’s latest system-on-a-chip platforms for video. The collaboration means it will be easy to integrate a Sling Box function, which allows users to watch their favorite TV shows on any internet-connected device, even away from home. Broadcom-powered set-top boxes with the Sling Media software will be available by the third quarter of this year. The Sling Media “placeshifting” technology has been out for a number of years, but this is the first time it can be so easily integrated into a set-top box, eliminating the need for a separate box in the living room.

Video consumption is growing rapidly with the proliferation of broadband-connnected smartphones and tablets. In a survey sponsored by Broadcom and conducted by JZ Analytics, about 62 percent of U.S. consumers said they would likely watch live TV on laptops, tablets and smartphones if their TV service provider offered the service for no extra charge.

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