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ReplayTV founder launches digital TV player

With the new company, Anthony Wood hopes to target a high-end market of big screen TV buyers that may also desire using the advanced visual quality of the screen to display more than just programming. At about $500, the HD1000 connects to any HDTV and offers a high-resolution canvas for digital media such as photos, art, music or other media applications.

“The TV can be used for more than just watching TV,” he told Reuters in an interview. “I think there is a tremendous opportunity for a company … that is focused on media players for the home.”

High-definition television offers high resolution digital images, and are among the most popular sellers in electronics stores this year, and Yankee Group projects 46 million U.S. homes will have them by 2007. However, there has been a lag in available programming that takes advantage of the technology.

Wood said he expects to sell 20,000 units of the device in the product’s first year at specialty electronics retail stores such as Magnolia Hi-Fi and Tweeter Home Entertainment Group Inc.There — unlike at high-traffic stores such as Best Buy Co. Inc.  — employees have more time to explain the machine’s function to consumers.

“We are worried that it is not going to sell through fast enough at Best Buy,” he said. “At Tweeter, the customer will see our stuff and say ‘yeah, I want that too.”‘

“Our goal isn’t to sell millions of units right away, it is to make money this year,” Wood added. “We think that we can by being very targeted in the market.”

Wood’s last invention, ReplayTV, first unveiled in 1998, is just starting to hit a mainstream stride. The digital video recorder (DVR) is key in the competition between satellite and cable TV providers. Wood in 2002 left ReplayTV, which is now owned by Digital Networks North America, a subsidiary of D&M Holdings.

Unlike ReplayTV, the Roku device does not include a hard drive or any kind of recording option. The HD1000 takes most flash memory cards, including CompactFlash, Secure Digital and Memory Stick, and can be linked to home computer networks.

Software available for the device include images of classic works of art, for about $70.

Wood says other products are in the works at Roku, which is privately held and situated in Palo Alto, California.

Source: Reuters