BitTorrent Coming to Routers, NAS Devices

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File-sharing bad-boy BitTorrent has been making efforts to go legit in the last year, removing links to copyrighted material from its search engine and inking a distribution deal with Warner Bros. to legally distribute content to BitTorrent users—and while much of the traffic carried by BitTorrent still keeps the RIAA and MPAA up and night, a growing amount of material available is being distributed legally.

Now, BitTorrent has inked a deal to put client software in Internet-connected products like routers, network attached storage (NAS) devices, and other "digital home" media product. And BitTorrent already has partners lined up, with ASUS, Planex, and QNAP already announcing BitTorrent-enabled products.

"CE manufacturers are still searching for the Rosetta stone of the connected entertainment market," said Harry Wang, research analyst with Parks Associates, in a statement. "To move beyond the early-adopter stage, CE manufacturers must ally with content and service providers, software developers and silicon designers to build elegance and usability into the product design and bring popular digital content to consumers’ fingertips anywhere in the home." Parks Associates estimates that by the year 2010, some 30 million U.S. households will have some sort network-based home entertainment in place.

Asus, Planex, and QNAP are the first manufacturers to announce plans to embed BitTorrent download manager and client software into their digital home products, which currently include routers, media servers, and network attached storage (NAS) devices. In theory, embedding BitTorrent will enable users to locate and schedule downloads to system on their home networks, without using a traditional PC, and even when users are away from home.

BitTorrent support is planned for the following products:

The Asus and QNAP products will be available in the United States, although it’s not clear whether the companies will implement BitTorrent support through firmware updates or by issuing new hardware. The Planex units will be available only in Japan.

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