Multimedia appliance
US 20020070960A1
(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2002/0070960 A1
(43) Pub. Date:
Maine et al.
(54) MULTIMEDIA APPLIANCE
(52)
(76) Inventors: Stephen G.T. Maine, Paradise Valley,
AZ (US); Christopher Porter,
Scottsdale, AZ (US); John Berkheimer,
Scottsdale, AZ (US); Christopher
Chevalier, Tempe, AZ (US); Chuck
Kraft, Cave Creek, AZ (US); Fergus
Pollard, Scottsdale, AZ (US)
Correspondence Address:
Damon L. Boyd
(57)
Jun. 13, 2002
Us. 01. ............................................................ .. 345/723
ABSTRACT
The present invention is directed to an multimedia appli
ance. The media appliance is suitably seamless, that is,
transparent to the user, through its interconnection, control,
signal routing, multimedia content management, and the
like. In accordance With one aspect of the invention, the
Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.
One Arizona Center
400 East Van Buren
media appliance enables the vieWing, listening, multimedia
searching and fetching and similar functions While simulta
Phoenix, AZ 85004-2202 (US)
timedia content through a single user interface.
(21) Appl. No.:
09/907,395
(22) Filed:
Jul. 17, 2001
neously providing the ability to record or store other mul
A media appliance of the present invention includes a
disc-playing mechanism and a drive for storage. The storage
drive may be a magnetic memory, such as a hard drive. The
disc-playing mechanism may be an optical disc carrier. A
Related US. Application Data
media appliance may also incorporate connectivity to the
(63) Non-provisional of provisional application No.
60/218,603, ?led on Jul. 17, 2000.
Internet to facilitate the transmission and receipt of various
?le formats for audio and video reproduction. The media
appliance may be coupled to a television monitor to display
images transmitted by the media appliance. The media
Publication Classi?cation
appliance may also be coupled to one or more speakers for
(51)
Int. Cl? ..................................................... .. G09G 5/00
the reproduction of audio signals.
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Jun. 13, 2002
US 2002/0070960 A1
MULTIMEDIA APPLIANCE
While a movie theater has several advantages over the
television set, including the larger picture siZe and the
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
controllably dark venue, there are various inconveniences
present in movie theaters, including the possibility of loud,
large croWds, and the relatively high expense of drinks and
[0001] This application claims the bene?t of provisional
application serial No. 60/218,603, ?led Jul. 17, 2000.
food items, compared to the costs of those items at grocery
stores and the like.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[0011] The advent of the videocassette recorder and vid
eotape rental facilities, such as Blockbuster Video, resulted
in various changes in the movie industry. Consumers
became able to vieW movies in the privacy of their home on
their television sets, Without being interrupted by commer
cials. Consumers also have the ability to choose the timing
of the vieWing of the movies. They could also stop the movie
to, e.g., take a phone call; reWind a portion of the movie to
rehear a line of dialog they missed; and they could eat and
[0002]
1. Field of the Invention
[0003] This application relates generally to multimedia
devices and more particularly to a multimedia appliance that
performs a variety of content manipulation functions.
[0004] 2. Background
[0005]
Before the late 19th century the only manner in
Which to listen to music Was by live performance. That
drink foods and drinks at a loWer cost than the overpriced
fare typically present at movie theaters. These changes have
changed in the late 19th century and early 20th century With
the populariZation of the phonograph. The phonograph
alloWed people to listen to famous performers and compo
resulted in the addition of billions of dollars of revenue to
the distributors of movies.
sitions of music in the comfort and privacy of their oWn
home. The phonograph Went through a series of evolutions
[0012] As With the music industry, the movie industry is
trending toWards digital delivery of its products, With the
including changes from the foil cylinder, to the 78-rpm
recent commercial success of DVD (digital versatile disc).
The DVD presents many of the convenience features that
enabled the CD to overtake the audiocassette in popularity,
such as quick access to scenes; higher quality of both audio
and video; and a medium that does not degrade With normal
shellac disc, to the 331/3 rpm vinyl disc.
[0006] The advent of analog magnetic recording also
eased the manner in Which consumers could listen to and
record music, from open-reel tape recorders, to 8-track tape
recorders, to the modern analog cassette recorder.
[0007] In the 1980s, the populariZation of digital recording
and media delivery marked a further change in the delivery
format of music: the 12 centimeter compact disc eventually
became the primary form of music products purchased in the
United States.
use.
[0013] With regards to broadcast and cable television, the
VCR has played additional roles, such as time-shifting and
archiving. Time-shifting alloWs consumers to tape a televi
sion program and Watch it at a later time. Archiving alloWs
consumers to save, for eXample, home movies made With a
camcorder.
[0008] As for the home recording of music, While the
analog audiocassette remains the dominant form in this
country, higher quality duplication is becoming more popu
lar With each passing year. While Digital Audio Tape
(“DAT”) and the MiniDisc Were the ?rst forms of digital
[0014] There have been several advances in VCRs in
recent years. For eXample, digital VCRs, Which record the
video and audio signals in a digital format, have recently
become popular in camcorders.
recording available to consumers and today, the neWest form
[0015] In the arena of television, digital cable and digital
of digital recording to gain Widespread popularity is the
satellite are making inroads in the home as a neWer delivery
recordable CD, popularly knoWn as CD-R, and the re
Writable CD, popularly knoWn as CD-RW. With a CD-R, a
consumer can create their oWn disc that contains the music
medium of television signals, providing a high-quality sig
nal and the possibility of greater vieWing choices. In addi
tion, the videocassette recorder has recently been joined by
that the consumer Wishes to hear. Unlike an analog audio
neW competition in the recordation of television shoWs.
cassette, hoWever, a CD-R, if created With the proper equip
ment, contains a near-perfect digital replica of the digital
information stored on an audio CD, thus resulting in a
negligible loss in sound quality.
[0009] Another area of recording to gain popularity in
recent years is MPEG-1, layer 3 (“MP3”) encoding, Which
compresses sound ?les to as little as 10% of the original siZe,
alloWing the storage of many more musical Works in a given
[0016] The populariZation of the Internet, coupled With
various ?le compression formats, has also resulted in many
changes in the audio and video ?elds. For eXample, it has
noW become very easy to send still photographs to locations
around the World (e.g., using the JPEG format). Similarly, it
has also become much easier to send audio ?les (e.g., using
MP3 compression or various “streaming” ?les including, but
not limited to, Real Audio®) and video ?les (e.g., using
amount of memory than uncompressed CDs. Although, at
MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 compression or various “streaming”
one time, one could only play back an MP3 ?le on a
computer, there are noW CD players on the market Which
Will play MP3 ?les stored on a CD-R.
?les including, but not limited to, Real Video®, Quick
time®, and Microsoft WindoWs MediaTM) to people
throughout the entire World.
[0010] Many advances in the movie industry have also
[0017]
occurred in recent years. At the beginning of the 20th
in audio/video technology described above. One problem
century, movies Were silent and black and White. Within a
feW decades, movies had sound and Were available in color.
HoWever, movies still had to be vieWed in a movie theater.
With the advent of neW technology is that each particular
There are several draWbacks to the recent advances
format requires different signal processing systems and one
must typically purchase a separate unit for each particular
Jun. 13, 2002
US 2002/0070960 A1
format. The number of products may create a cluttered living
area. This is shown in FIG. 1, Which presents an exemplary
audio/video system 100, Which contains a large number of
audio/visual gear.
[0018]
A television 102 is used to display the various
pictures that may be from broadcast television or from a
videocassette recorder 104 or a DVD player 106, a cable boX
108, or a PVR 110. The audio signals Would be presented
through a pair of speakers 112 and 114. The speakers receive
a signal from a poWer ampli?er 116. PoWer ampli?er 116 is
con?gured to convert line-level signals to a signal usable by
speakers 112 and 114. The line-level signals are received
from a pre-ampli?er 118. Pre-ampli?er 118 operates to
sWitch signals from various sources, such as an AM/FM
radio tuner 120, a cassette deck 122, or a CD player 124. A
user may substitute a surround sound decoder (not shoWn)
for pre-ampli?er 118 if the user is desirous of playing back
audio over a surround sound speaker system (not shoWn).
[0019] In addition to the products described above, a user
must also have various types of Wires to interconnect the
various pieces of equipment. Because of the number of Wires
needed, there is a potential for a higher cost, a potential for
user confusion due to the number of Wires and the connec
tions to be made, and a potential for Wire clutter.
order to be vieWed. Because the cassette is in the only
available video cassette carrier, it is impossible to insert a
separate cassette for recording the program.
[0023] It is desirable to interconnect these mediums so that
copies of a recorded event can be made. For eXample, one
might Wish to record a home movie and make a copy to give
to others or as a back-up copy should the original be
damaged or destroyed. The advent of digital recording
technologies has made such uses promising since degrada
tion in quality can be drastically reduced.
[0024] Another draWback is the fact that the bene?ts of the
Internet are largely unavailable through a person’s home
entertainment system. Computers are largely independent of
home entertainment systems, resulting in the dif?culty of
incorporating computer audio and video in a home enter
tainment system. In addition, a user may Wish to control an
entire home entertainment system from one position, ideally
With one remote control.
[0025] It Would be bene?cial to have a product that
handled a variety of the above-described functions While
occupying a relatively small amount of shelf space. Further
still, the ability to distribute the operative components of the
multimedia devices to remote locations is likeWise desirable.
It Would also be bene?cial to have a product that can be
[0020] An additional problem is the dif?culty of modern
audio/video equipment is the dif?culty in learning to use the
upgraded When neW technology becomes available, so that
multiplicity of products. There may be a number of different
bene?ts. It Would also be desirable to incorporate Internet
units, possibly from different manufacturers, that each need
connectivity to an integrated Media Appliance.
to be learned, and a number of different remote controls to
use. Another problem With the neW technology is the obso
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
lescence of older technology. For eXample, older CD players
have no capability to record onto CD-R and CD-RW and
may have problems With reading a CD-R or a CD-RW. In
addition, many current CD players have no capability to play
a CD-R or CD-RW containing compressed MP3 ?les. Fur
thermore, in order to play DVDs, one must have a DVD
consumers need not replace the entire unit to receive neW
[0026] The present invention is directed to a multimedia
appliance that satis?es the above-stated needs. The media
appliance is suitably seamless, that is, transparent to the user,
through its interconnection, control, signal routing, multi
media content management, and the like.
player. Consumers need a single appliance that is extremely
[0027] The multimedia appliance generally comprises a
easy to install, easy to use, and requires virtually no learning.
user interface and an eXecutive. The eXecutive suitably
[0021] Another problem is the lack of upgradability in
most of today’s products. While several manufacturers, such
alloWs and/or controls the manipulation of data content 106
in accordance With instructions from a user. That is, the user
interface alloWs the user to access appliance and direct it to
as Madrigal, create “modular” units With replaceable parts,
those products are generally very eXpensive. A related
perform various functions. For eXample, the user accesses
problem is obsolescence. Once a neW format is in the
market, a consumer’s eXisting equipment cannot use the neW
format. For eXample, a CD player cannot play a DVD. A
mouse, etc.) and instructs the appliance to perform a par
traditional, video DVD player cannot play the DVD-Audio
portion of DVD-Audio discs (although some neW DVD
Audio discs contain information that is compatible With
the interface (e.g., through a remote control, keyboard,
ticular function. Generally, the appliance is capable of
performing nearly any desirable function through upgrades
and add-on hardWare and softWare.
traditional DVD players, that information is not the same as
[0028] In one embodiment, a media appliance of the
present invention includes a disc-playing mechanism and a
the high-quality information that is played back by DVD
Audio players). In addition, certain DVD players cannot
memory, such as a hard drive. The disc-playing mechanism
play CD-R discs. There is a need to provide a means of
upgrading such that a product is kept current after it is in a
customer’s hand.
[0022] Another dif?culty Which arises With standard
VCRs and other formats is the inability to play back a
recorded event from one medium While simultaneously
recording another event. For eXample, a user may Wish to
vieW an event such as a rented movie. HoWever, the user
drive for storage. The storage drive may be a magnetic
may be an optical disc carrier. A media appliance may also
incorporate connectivity to the Internet to facilitate the
transmission and receipt of various ?le formats for audio and
video reproduction. The media appliance may be coupled to
a television monitor to display images transmitted by the
media appliance. The media appliance may also be coupled
to one or more speakers for the reproduction of audio
signals.
may also Wish to simultaneously record a television shoW.
[0029]
With a single-deck VCR, that is not possible. Single deck
VCRs require the rented movie to be inserted and played in
media appliance enables the vieWing, listening, multimedia
searching and fetching and similar functions While simulta
In accordance With one aspect of the invention, the
Jun. 13, 2002
US 2002/0070960 A1
neously providing the ability to record or store other mul
When a user “pauses” the television shoW, the user is
timedia content through a single user interface.
instructing the PVR to record the program in the background
While freeZing the display on the television screen. When the
user decides to start Watching again, the user is instructing
the PVR to play back the shoW recorded from the hard drive,
instead of playing back the television program in real-time.
In addition, one can record desired television shoWs Without
having to ?nd a suitable videotape. Many PVR devices also
[0030]
In accordance With various aspects of the present
invention, the storage drive suitably alloWs a user of the
media appliance to change and/or upgrade the functionality
of the appliance. For example, should the user Wish to add
DVD functionality, appliance softWare driver directed to
such DVD functionality could be loaded onto the storage
drive through a variety of means. For example, the softWare
functionality could be loaded on via a CD/DVD-ROM disc
through the optical disc carrier or alternatively, through
doWnloading from the internet. Likewise, it should be appre
ciated that nearly any other functionality could be added to
the media appliance. For example, softWare directed to
DVD-audio, MP3, CDs, and the like, may likeWise be
loaded onto the media appliance to change/upgrade the
appliance’s functionality.
use a telephone line or other means to obtain programming
information. Thus, a consumer can record a television shoW
merely by ?nding the shoW in the programming information
and pressing a single button.
[0038]
That being said, With reference to FIG. 2, a block
diagram of an exemplary embodiment of a multimedia
appliance 100 in accordance With the present invention is
shoWn. Multimedia device 100 generally comprises a user
interface 102 and an executive 104. As described in addi
tional detail beloW, executive 104 suitably alloWs and/or
[0031]
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
controls manipulation data content 106 in accordance With
FIG. 1 is an exemplary audio/visual entertainment
instructions from a user through user interface 102. That is,
user interface 102 suitably alloWs a user to access appliance
system of the prior art;
[0032] FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an exemplary embodi
ment of the present invention;
[0033]
FIG. 3 is an exemplary embodiment of an inte
grated media appliance and input interface in accordance
With the present invention; and
[0034] FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an exemplary embodi
ment of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY
EMBODIMENTS
[0035] The folloWing descriptions are of exemplary
embodiments of the invention only, and are not intended to
limit the scope, applicability, or con?guration of the inven
tion in any Way. Rather, the folloWing description is intended
to provide convenient illustrations for implementing various
embodiments of the invention. As Will become apparent,
various changes may be made in the function and arrange
ment of the elements described in these embodiments With
out departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
[0036] Additionally, While various aspects of the descrip
tion of the present invention are directed to an appliance
having a magnetic memory (e.g., a hard drive) and an optical
disc carrier, in accordance With various alternative embodi
ments of the present invention, the multimedia appliance
may suitably comprise other sources of multimedia content
delivery systems, both remote and local in nature. For
100 and direct it to perform various functions. For example,
in a non-limiting embodiment, With momentary reference to
FIG. 3, user interface 102 comprises a panel or display (or
other input means Which suitably alloWs a user to input and
understand the functions of appliance 100). The user
accesses interface 102 (e.g., through a remote control,
keyboard, mouse, etc.) and instructs appliance 100 that the
user desires appliance 100 to perform a particular function.
As Will be described in more detail beloW, appliance 100
may be capable of performing nearly any desirable function
through upgrades and add-on hardWare and softWare. HoW
ever, a summary list of functions might include video
playback, audio playback, video record, audio record, data
storage, broadcast programming access, personal calendar
features and many other multimedia features. After/during
performance of the functions, the manipulated data content
is output 108 in various forms. For example, output 108
might include placement on a storage medium for later
retrieval, or alternatively, immediate playback to an output
device such as a video monitor or audio speakers.
[0039] It should be appreciated that interface 102, execu
tive 104, data content 106 and the various hardWare and
softWare components Which embody these aspects of the
present invention may be realiZed in many forms; Wherein
they all reside in the same unit (local) or, alternatively,
Wherein the components are separate and distinct from one
another (remote). For example, appliance 100 may comprise
multiple, remotely located components. In one such case,
user interface 102 may comprise a display panel similar to
example, various analog and/or digital systems including
a home theater component (VCR, DVD, etc.) front panel
magnetic tape, optical storage, solid-state memory, or any
With options such as “play”, “record”, “search” and the like.
other removable or non-removable media, may be used.
In such embodiments, the display panel interface is likely
Likewise, one or more of these decks may be included into
found in a living room environment similar to other home
the multimedia appliance.
theater components. This type of interface is accessed
through any number of means, but typically Would include
remote controls, keyboards, joysticks and the like.
[0037] For example, a personal video recorder (PVR),
Which enables consumers to record to a hard disk instead of
to a video tape may be integrated into the appliance. The
recording to hard disk enables consumers to “pause” tele
vision shoWs as they air, enabling one to, e.g., ansWer the
telephone Without missing a portion of the television shoW
they are vieWing. What is actually happening in that situa
tion is that the PVR is continually recording in real-time.
[0040]
Optionally, user interface 102 may comprise an
onscreen display (OSD) that interacts With a user control
device, including, but not limited to, an infrared remote
control unit, a keyboard, or a mouse and displays content on
a television monitor to Which the appliance is coupled. For
example, in the living room environment, interface 102 may
Jun. 13, 2002
US 2002/0070960 A1
include the ability to display commands and functions on a
dations for content of a genre the user has shoWn a predis
television screen. The user interface may also include a
position for (e.g., in the cases of television programming—a
display that is located directly on an embodiment of the
present invention. Such a display may also include a series
type of shoW).
of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) units or Light Emitting
Diode (LED) units Which collectively display information
including, inter alia, the timing of a particular musical track,
the currently selected input, the currently selected television
content 106 can comprise any number of forms and may be
located in any number of locations. Moreover, data content
channel, or the current time. Further, in various alternative
embodiments, interface 102 may comprise nearly any “inter
facing” device. For example, such devices may include
PDAs, cellular phones, text messengers, Web pads and the
like.
[0041]
Executive 104 is the content manager of the system
Which suitably determines the functions Which appliance
100 has been instructed to be performed and ensures those
functions are carried out. Executive 104 is preferably a
softWare enabled manager for organiZing, distributing,
retrieving or otherWise controlling data (in Whatever form
the data may be). In its various embodiments, executive 104
[0045]
Similar to interface 102 and executive 104, data
106 may suitably comprise multiple content streams. For
example, data content 106 may comprise ?xed sources such
as CDs, DVDs or other optical media. Alternatively (or
additionally), data content 106 may comprise magnetic
media such as video/audio cassettes, hard disk drive media,
broadcast or Internet streams. Thus, generally, any data
content 106 means/device may fall Within the ambit of the
appended claims. Moreover, data content 106 may be locate
in any number of locations. For example, When data content
106 comprises an optical medium such as a DVD, content
106 may be located locally on media appliance 100 or
otherWise in proximity to interface 102 (e.g., in the living
room). HoWever, in various alternative embodiments, con
as on a server or computer in another location (e.g., a home
tent 106 may be located remotely from the other components
of appliance 100. For example, in one exemplary embodi
ment, the DVD carrier might be located on the computer
containing executive 104. In still another alternative
embodiment, content 106 may comprise an entirely remote
of?ce), so long as executive 104 is suitably connected to
source of content such as an Internet delivered video and/or
interface 102 such that interface 102 and executive can
communicate. For example, the components may be con
audio stream. Thus, in any event, it should be apparent that
content 106 may be located anyWhere it is feasible to store
data.
may be located at a remote location from interface 102. For
example, as mentioned above, While interface 102 may
comprise a living room display panel, executive may be
embodied in a softWare application located elseWhere such
nected by standard cable netWork connections (e.g., via a
home network) from both local and remote locations such as
local area netWorks (LAN) and Wide area netWorks (WAN),
such that content may be provided from locations other than
Within the multimedia device itself. Such con?gurations
suitably alloW a user to Watch or listen and record various
analog and digital sources, Where a playing device and a
recording device (physical or virtual) together create a
multiple deck media appliance.
[0042] The components may also be connected by any
number of Wireless means. For example, infrared, Wired, or
Wireless remote controllers can be used as netWork devices
as they often require a predetermined protocol Which gen
erally does not con?ict With other infrared or Wireless
devices activated in the same vicinity. Thus, the present
invention alloWs commands and data to be sent or originated
through a local or remote netWorks.
[0043] In accordance With another optional aspect of the
invention, executive 104 suitably provides the ability to
multi-task. That is, executive 104 enables multiple functions
to be carried out simultaneously (or near simultaneously).
For example, common multi-task functions may include the
vieWing, listening, multimedia searching and fetching and
similar functions While simultaneously providing the ability
to record or store other multimedia content.
[0046]
In accordance With various additional aspects of
the present invention, appliance 100 is suitably upgradable.
That is, the functionality of appliance 100 may be altered by
installing neW softWare on its various components and/or by
linking neW components to it. For example, should the user
Wish to add DVD functionality, an appliance softWare driver
directed to such DVD functionality could be loaded onto
appliance 100 through a variety of means. For example, the
softWare functionality could be loaded on via a CD/DVD
ROM disc through the optical disc carrier or alternatively,
through doWnloading from the Internet. LikeWise, it should
be appreciated that nearly any other functionality could be
added to the media appliance. For example, softWare
directed to DVD-audio, MP3, CDs, and the like, may
likeWise be loaded onto the media appliance to change/
upgrade the appliance’s functionality.
[0047]
NoW, to illustrate an exemplary embodiment of the
present invention, the user, through interface 102 might
instruct appliance 100 to play a movie from a video content
source. In such a case, interface 102 instructs executive 104
that it should perform a video playback function. Executive
104 locates video content 106 in any number of its possible
forms. For example, the user may have instructed appliance
to play a DVD or to order a “pay-per-vieW” (PPV)-movie.
Executive 104 then determines hoW content 106 Will be
[0044] In accordance With still another optional aspect of
the invention, executive 104 suitably provides the ability to
located and manipulated. For example, if content 106 is in
customiZe options for distinct users. For example, in one
embodiment of the present invention, a user Would input an
the form of a DVD, executive 104 Will determine that the
DVD carrier should be operated and cause the DVD content
identi?cation code (numbers, name, etc.) into appliance 100.
to be processed and output to a video display. Similarly, in
If executive 104 recogniZes the user, various functions might
become available. For example, pre-recorded content not
previously available to other users might become available.
Similarly, appliance 100 may be able to provide recommen
the case of PPV content, the PPV content Would be located
and directed to the video display. Of course, executive 104
can suitably “order” any number of content manipulation
functions. Examples include a user ordering appliance 100
Jun. 13, 2002
US 2002/0070960 A1
to record content 106 for later retrieval. Other functions
might include ordering executive 100 to search for particular
genres and content titles.
[0048] Additionally, it should be appreciated that the play
back function (or other functions) may be accomplished in
any number of Ways noW knoWn or as yet unknoWn in the
art. For example, in various embodiments of the present
invention appliance 100 comprises a processor platform
With storage media having drivers for various audio and
video formats, such as DVD, CD Audio, MP3, MPEG, or
any other formats.
[0049] In accordance With another aspect of the present
invention, “quick boot” systems may be used to speed up the
time needed to transition the appliance from an “off” state to
state in Which the appliance is ready to accept user input.
[0050] In accordance noW With another exemplary
embodiment of the present invention, a multiple deck media
appliance Which alloWs various combinations of intercon
nections, control, signal routing, and management of mul
timedia content is provided. For example, in this embodi
ment of the present invention, the appliance comprises a
single component containing an optical disc carrier (e.g., a
carrier capable of playing DVDs, DVD-ROMs, DVD-Au
dio, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, photo CDs, etc.) and a hard
drive. Preferably, the DVD carrier and the hard drive are
seamlessly integrated such that a user can sWitch betWeen
the various decks and formats as if the multimedia device
comprised only a single source.
[0051] In accordance With this embodiment of the present
invention, the multiple-deck media appliance suitably
includes seamless integration of multiple consumer elec
tronic appliance functions through a single front panel or
remote control. Additionally, the media appliance may
include the ability to route analog or digital audio or perform
video sWitching, as desired. Still further, the media appli
ance preferably alloWs the copying of audio or video infor
mation With or Without fully decrypting, decoding, or re
encoding source information. Thus, preferably, there is no
need to decode or encrypt source information and then
re-encode the information at the destination device.
[0052] With reference to FIG. 3, an exemplary exterior of
this embodiment of the present invention is shoWn. Appli
ance 200 is similar in appearance to a typical DVD or CD
player. Present on the front panel 202 is an optical disc
carrier 204 and a plurality of buttons 206. Carrier 204 may
of an internal hard drive of appliance 200. It should be
understood that the number and functions of buttons 206 is
not limited to that depicted in FIG. 2.
[0053] A separate remote control 210 may also be used to
control the operation of appliance 200. Such a device, as is
knoWn in the art, contains a plurality of buttons 212 Which
are used to direct the operation of appliance 200. Apush of
a button 212 results in the transmission of infrared light
signals to a receptor on appliance 200 Which translates the
signal into the appropriate command.
[0054] With reference to FIG. 4, a simpli?ed block dia
gram of the internal layout of an exemplary embodiment of
an appliance 300 of the present invention is shoWn. Carrier
204 is as described above With respect to FIG. 3. Hard drive
302 may be an EIDE hard drive With a large amount of
storage capacity, e.g., such as capacities in the range of
20-30 GB. In the alternative, hard drive 302 may be a SCSI
hard drive With a similarly large amount of storage capacity.
Control unit 304 serves to control the operation of appliance
300. Output controller 306 is con?gured to forWard the
output of appliance 306 to another audio/video device.
[0055] As mentioned brie?y above, hard drive 302 suit
ably alloWs the functionality of media appliance 300 to be
upgraded and/or changed. For example, in accordance With
various aspects of the present invention, the functionality of
media appliance 300 is controlled by softWare drivers. For
example, in accordance With one exemplary embodiment,
hard drive 302 Would suitably be loaded With a DVD
softWare driver for running a DVD carrier. In this exemplary
embodiment, optical carrier 204 Would derive the capability
of playing DVD discs through the installed DVD softWare
driver. If at a later point, a user of media appliance 300
desired media appliance 300 to have the capability of
playing, for example, DVD-audio, a softWare application for
a DVD-audio driver could be loaded onto hard drive 302,
thus giving optical disc carrier 204 the capability of playing
DVD-audio discs. It should be appreciated that the loading
of neW softWare onto media appliance 300 can be performed
by any means. For example, neW softWare can be loaded via
the internet or, alternatively, through optical discs loaded
into optical disc carrier 204. Similarly, it should also be
appreciated that nearly any type of softWare may be loaded
onto hard drive 302 and still fall Within the ambit of the
appended claims.
[0056] Control unit 304 is con?gured to perform a variety
of different functions. For example, various interface fea
be con?gured to hold and read a DVD or a CD. Carrier 204
may also be con?gured to hold and read a CD-R or CD-RW.
tures are controlled by control unit 304. The various inter
In an alternative embodiment, carrier 204 may also be
con?gured to Write to a blank CD-R or CD-RW. The various
buttons 206 serve to direct the operations of the appliance in
display that is physically located on the face of the media
appliance. Adisplay on the face of the media appliance may
the playback of the disc, e.g., starting playback, stopping
playback, and advancing betWeen tracks or scenes. There
may also be a poWer button 208 that sWitches the appliance
into an “off” or “standby” mode. Carrier 204 may suitably
be replaced by a number of different means to carry and read
a disc, such as a slot in Which to insert a disc or a top-loading
system. In the alternative, an apparatus con?gured to accept
multiple discs may be used lieu of carrier 204. For example,
a “carousel”-type apparatus that accepts multiple discs may
be used. In the alternative, multiple carriers or an apparatus
With a single carrier that accepts multiple discs may be used.
Buttons 206 may also be con?gured to direct the operations
faces available may include an on-screen display or a
be used to indicate, for example, the timing of the currently
playing track on a CD or a scene of a movie DVD. Adisplay
on the face of appliance 200 may also indicate the currently
selected channel or the channel that is currently being
recorded. Control unit 304 also performs the functions as the
functions are selected by the user from, for example, a
remote control unit, buttons located on the face of the media
appliance, or other various input means.
[0057]
Control unit 304 also performs the functions
needed to store data to and read data from hard drive 302.
The data stored on hard drive 302 is stored in a variety of
different formats, as Will be detailed later in this speci?ca
Jun. 13, 2002
US 2002/0070960 A1
tion. One particular use of hard drive 302 is to store and play
back television programs, e.g., in the same manner as a
stand-alone PVR device.
[0058]
Control unit 304 is con?gured to perform the
various decoding functions needed to process the data that is
in a variety of formats. For example, control unit 304
performs the processing needed to decode MP3 ?les into
listenable audio ?les. Control unit 304 also performs the
processing needed to process, inter alia, the video and audio
digital satellite television signals. Control unit 304 may also
be con?gured to process high-de?nition television signals
for the latest generation of high-de?nition television
(“HDTV”) sets for output to compatible HDTV monitors
attached to the media appliance.
[0063]
Control unit 304 may comprise a microprocessor or
a plurality of processors situated on a motherboard or other
printed circuit board (PCB) surface. For example, control
contained on a DVD, audio and video contained on a CD,
unit 304 may contain an Intel Architecture engine. Control
unit 304 may also comprise an amount of Random Access
still images stored in a variety of different formats, and the
Memory (RAM) Which is accessible by the microprocessor
data stored on hard drive 302. Control unit 304 also per
for use in performing various functions.
forms the processing needed to communicate With various
netWorks to Which the media appliance is connected.
[0059] Control unit 304 may also be con?gured to control
the deck located at carrier 204. The deck is preferably
con?gured to be multiread compatible, i.e., able to read
CD-audio, CD-ROM, CD-R, and CD-RW discs. Carrier 204
is also preferably con?gured to read DVD discs. The deck
may also be con?gured to read DVD-Audio discs, HDCD
(High Density Compatible Digital®) encoded CDs, or
SACD (Super Audio Compact discs).
[0060] The deck may also be con?gured to Write to blank
CD-Rs and CD-RWs at a variety of speeds. The media
appliance may be con?gured With multiple CD drives that
are simultaneously operable, in order to facilitate the CD-R
functionality. In the alternative, music or video ?les from a
CD or a DVD may be copied to hard drive 302 ?rst, then
later Written to a CD-R or CD-RW. In another aspect of the
present invention, one could use music stored hard drive 302
in a jukebox-type mode such that it Would no longer be
necessary to place the CDs in the drive, music Would be
played from hard drive 302. The bene?ts of using hard drive
302 as a jukebox is that a user could store, for example, 30
CDs in a 20 GB of hard drive space if stored uncompressed,
and approximately 290 CDs if the audio ?les are compressed
into, e.g., MP3 ?les. Auser could also choose certain music
?les for storage in the jukebox. In this manner, only a user’s
favorite tracks Would be stored in hard drive 302. The deck
may also be con?gured to Write to blank DVD-ROMs or
other forms of Writable DVDs that are available or may
become available in the future.
[0061] Control unit 304 may also be con?gured to perform
a variety of different digital signal processing functions. For
example, control unit 304 may be con?gured to perform
noise reduction; may contain scratch ?lters; may contain
Q-sound; and may contain a variety of digitally produced
surround sound modes. Control unit 304 may also perform
equalization for playback in other environments; simulation
of acoustic environments; enhancements for surround
sound; and other pre-compression processing.
[0064] Control unit 304 may also comprise specialiZed
processors to perform a variety of functions. For example,
there may be a speci?c processor or board Which contains an
MPEG-2 decoder for use With DVD-Video. There may also
be a separate board Which translates data to a video format
Which is usable by a typical consumer television monitor.
One or more of the above boards may also perform a
de-interlacing function, for translating interlaced video into
non-interlaced form, for those television monitors Which
accept non-interlaced signals. Current NTSC (National Tele
vision System Committee) standards use approximately
59.94 “?elds” per second. Each ?eld comprises half of the
image, With tWo ?elds interlacing With each other to display
an image. Therefore, tWo ?elds comprise the television
equivalent of a ?lm “frame” (approximately 29.97 “frames”
per second). With the neW HDTV standard is the ability to
shoW a complete image at the rate of 29.97 images per
second, as opposed to shoWing tWo interlaced ?elds at 59.94
?elds per second. When shoWing an interlaced image on a
progressive television monitor, the image must be de-inter
laced ?rst to display properly. A board or processor con?g
ured to perform that function may be present in control unit
304.
[0065] Another possible function for appliance 200 is a
line-doubling function. While most television signals are
limited to 525 lines of resolution, certain television monitors
are able to display more lines of resolution. A line-doubling
function interpolates additional lines to present a higher
quality signal to those types of television monitors.
[0066] As mentioned above, an optional feature that may
be present in a preferred embodiment of the present inven
tion is a Quick-Boot feature that enables the processor of
control unit 304 to transition from an “off” state to being
ready to respond to commands in a relatively short amount
of time. The quick-boot functionality may be accomplished
in a number of different manners. For example, a typical
processor requires an operating system to perform certain
input/output functions and to give various functionality
the same manner as a tuner, accepting radio and television
elements to the processor. The media appliance may contain
a Linux operating system in a stripped-doWn form for
embedded applications. Such a custom Linux platform may
signals and processing the signals such that the television
be able to be booted in as little as ?ve seconds.
signals can be vieWed on a television monitor connected to
[0067] One of the bene?ts of using a relatively common
operating system such as Linux is that the reprogramming
[0062]
Control unit 304 may also be con?gured to act in
the media appliance and the corresponding audio can be
reproduced on one or more loudspeakers coupled to the
appliance. The television signals may be in a variety of
formats. For example, control unit 304 may be con?gured to
process analog, over-the-air radio and television signals;
digital, over-the-air radio and television signals; analog and
digital cable television and radio signals; and analog and
and upgrading of various softWare is greatly simpli?ed by
the availability of a large community of programmers.
[0068] It may also be desirable to have a media appliance
With the capability of displaying a variety of ?les that can be
transmitted via the Internet in various formats. For example,
Jun. 13, 2002
US 2002/0070960 A1
as MP3, AAC, MS Audio, MS Media, Liquid Audio, and
currently eXist or may be developed in the future. The above
description of video connectors is intended to be illustrative
Real Audio. Control unit 304 can be con?gured to process
those ?les and playback the audio over the attached loud
currently eXist or may eXist in the future may also be used
speakers.
With this invention With no effect on the operation of an
there are a variety of different formats for audio ?les, such
[0069]
There are also a variety of different video ?le
formats, such as MPEG, QuickTime, Vivo, Real Video, and
WindoWs Media Player. Control unit 304 can be con?gured
to process those ?les and playback the video over an
attached television set and the audio over an attached set of
speakers.
[0070]
There are a variety of different ?le formats avail
able for graphic ?les, such as JPEG, GIF, and BMP. Control
unit 304 can be con?gured to process those ?les and display
the graphics on a television set attached to the media
appliance.
Ware to perform some of the above-described functions. The
softWare is typically provided in the product as shipped.
Control unit 304 may also be upgradable. The upgrade may
be performed through the use of doWnloads. The upgrades
may concern product updates to correct unforeseen prob
lems. The upgrades may also add neW functionality to media
appliance 200.
[0075] There are various types of audio interfaces avail
able as Well. For eXample, the media appliance may be
coupled to an ampli?er Which is, in turn, coupled to one or
more loudspeakers. The media appliance may have stereo
analog audio outputs for a left channel and a right channel.
Types of analog outputs include, inter alia, the RCA type or
the XLR type. One embodiment of the media appliance may
contain a surround sound decoder and, thus, may contain
three or more analog audio outputs. The media appliance
may also contain a digital output. RaW digital audio in PCM,
be output via a digital connector to a surround-sound pro
cessor or a digital/analog converter. The digital output may
use a S/P DIF coaXial format, Which uses an RCA connector.
In addition or in the alternative, the digital output may be in
the TOSLINK format, With a ?ber-optic connection. The
above-described digital output Would be transmitted to a
processor for the processing of the formatted digital signal.
[0076]
While there are many function that can be per
formed by control unit 304, as detailed above, it may not be
economically desirable to include all of the above listed
functionality. For example, it may be more cost effective to
include a CD/DVD drive instead of one capable of Writing
to CD-R. For cost purposes, the appliance may be con?g
ured to not contain any HDTV functionality in control unit
304. Along With the upgradability described above, media
appliance 200 may be con?gured to alloW upgrades to the
hardWare as Well. For eXample, as described above, if a
device that Writes to CD-R/CD-RW Was not included With
the product as purchased, a consumer may be able to add
such a device at a later time, along With the softWare needed
to operate such a device. Thus a manufacturer can offer a
media appliance at a variety of different price points merely
by inserting different components into media appliance 200.
[0073]
eXemplary embodiment.
MLP, Dolby Digital (AC-3), DTS, or MPEG-2 format may
[0071] Control unit 304 requires various pieces of soft
[0072]
and not limiting; other forms of interfacing video that
An on-screen display may include a menu that can
be displayed by a television monitor to Which the media
appliance is connected. The menu can be used, for eXample,
to select a program to be Watched, to select a song to be
played from hard drive 302 or carrier 204, or to select a
particular scene from a DVD movie located in carrier 204.
[0074] There are various types of inputs and outputs that
may be present in an exemplary embodiment of the present
invention. For eXample, because the media appliance can
play back video images on a television monitor, there must
be an interface betWeen the media appliance and a television
monitor. This interface may be in the form of an RF
connector, such as the “F”-type connectors typically used to
An embodiment of the present invention may also
contain a poWer ampli?er. This embodiment Would thus
contain several outputs, each of Which could be connected
directly to a loudspeaker. There are several different outputs
formats available for connection to a loudspeaker. For
eXample, spring-loaded outputs accept pins or bare Wire;
barrier strips accept bare Wire or spade lugs; screWs Which
accept spade lugs or bare Wire; 5-Way binding posts accept
pins, bare Wire, spade lugs, and banana plugs; 1A1 inch outputs
accept 1A1 inch phono plugs; XLR outputs accept XLR
cables; and Speakon connectors accepts speci?c tWist-lock
connectors. Various other forms of speaker connectors may
also be used Without adversely affecting the operation of this
embodiment of the present invention.
[0077] An embodiment Which contains a poWer ampli?er
also contains pre-ampli?cation features, such as the ability
to sWitch among various sources, control the output level,
and perform various signal processing functions.
[0078] There may be a plurality of additional ports that
can be used for other various input and output functions. For
eXample, in an embodiment including a SCSI hard drive,
there may be an external SCSI port such that a user can add
additional storage. There may be one or more USB ports that
can be used for a variety of functions. For eXample, one can
add a mouse or keyboard, printer, scanner, modem, still
cameras, game controllers, or a variety of other devices to
the media appliance. There may be one or more IEEE 1394
ports (also knoWn as “FireWire” ports) available. FireWire
ports can be used, for eXample, to load movies from a digital
camcorder, or to attach an external hard drive.
connect a television to an antenna via a coaXial cable. In the
[0079]
alternative, there are higher quality methods of interfacing
media appliance can be connected to a local area netWork
There may also be an RJ-45 connector such that the
With a television monitor. These interfaces include, in
(LAN). By connecting to a LAN, the media appliance can be
ascending order of video quality, composite video connec
tions, S-video connections, and component video connec
Another use for an RJ-45 connector is to connect to a cable
connected to transfer ?les to and from another computer.
tions. The above-described interfaces may be in the form of
modem, DSL, or other broadband Internet service. In a
“RCA”-type
connectors,
similar manner, the media appliance may include other types
“SCART”-type connectors, or other forms of connectors that
of connectors that are commonly used, noW or in the future,
connectors,
“BNC”-type
Jun. 13, 2002
US 2002/0070960 A1
to connect to a LAN. There may also be an RJ-11 connector
if the media appliance is con?gured With a built-in modem.
[0080] When connected to a network, the media appliance
may gain a number of additional functions. For example, the
media appliance may be able to use the hard drives of other
devices connected to the netWork for increased capacity. The
media appliance may also be coupled to video cameras,
exercise equipment, or even a ZOO-disc carousel.
[0081]
The connections available on an embodiment of the
present invention ensure that future products, both digital
6. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 Wherein said user
interface is a keyboard.
7. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 Wherein said
executive determines a requested function and ensures said
function is carried out.
8. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 Wherein said
executive is a softWare enabled manager for organiZing,
distributing, retrieving or otherWise controlling data.
9. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 Wherein said
executive has multi-tasking functionality.
10. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 Wherein said
and analog, can be connected to the present invention.
Furthermore, in the event that a neW medium is developed,
a user need only update the softWare present on the media
executive can distinguish betWeen users.
appliance to gain support for the neW product.
code.
12. The multimedia appliance of claim 11 Wherein said
identi?cation code alloWs said executive to provide content
recommendations.
13. The multimedia appliance of claim 2 Wherein said
[0082]
The media appliance, as a Whole, may also be
upgradeable through the use of interchangeable modules.
For example, several of the various connections detailed
above may be located on a replaceable card. Therefore, if a
user Wishes to add a neW interface, he may do so merely by
adding a neW module or replacing an existing module. For
example, if a user does not have a television monitor that
accepts component video inputs, the user may Wish to
purchase a media appliance that contains S-video outputs
but no component video outputs. In the event the user
obtains a television that accepts component video inputs, the
user may Wish to obtain a module for the media appliance
that contains component video outputs.
[0083] Thus, the forgoing combination product alloWs the
user to carry out multiple tasks, such as Watching or listening
to one source While simultaneously recording or searching
other information to be vieWed or listened at a later time.
Additionally, the interconnection of the multiple multimedia
devices is performed such that each device is fully knoWl
edgeable about the action of the other, thus suitably pre
venting any con?icts that could arise betWeen the actions of
each device.
[0084] Lastly, While the principles of the invention have
been described in illustrative embodiments, many combina
tions and modi?cations of the above-described structures,
arrangements, proportions, the elements, materials, and
components, used in the practice of the invention, in addi
tion to those not speci?cally described, may be varied and
particularly adapted for a speci?c environment and operat
11. The multimedia appliance of claim 10 Wherein said
executive distinguishes users based on an identi?cation
executive, said user interface and said output are remote
from one another are connected by a cable netWork.
14. The multimedia appliance of claim 2 Wherein said
executive, said user interface and said output are remote
from one another are connected by a Wireless netWork.
15. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 further compris
ing a display unit.
16. The multimedia appliance of claim 15 Wherein said
display unit comprises an LCD display.
17. The multimedia appliance of claim 16 Wherein said
LCD display is con?gured to display a spectrum analysis of
various data.
18. An integrated media apparatus comprising:
a drive con?gured to read a ?rst data from a disc-based
medium;
a storage medium for a second data;
a processor for processing at least one of said ?rst and said
second data to produce an output signal; and
an output for conveying said output signal.
19. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said drive is a
DVD carrier.
20. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said drive is a CD
carrier.
21. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said drive can read
ing requirement Without departing from those principles.
at least one of the folloWing: CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW,
PhotoCD, and VideoCD.
We claim:
22. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said output com
prises a video output.
23. The apparatus of claim 22 Wherein said video output
1. A multimedia appliance comprising:
an executive for locating and directing manipulation of
data content to create manipulated data;
comprises an S-video connector.
24. The apparatus of claim 22 Wherein said video output
a user interface for directing said executive; and
comprises an RF video connector.
an output for conveying said manipulated data.
2. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 Wherein said
25. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said output signal
is an analog audio output signal.
executive, said user interface and said output are remote
from one another.
3. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 Wherein said
executive, said user interface and said output are on a local
device.
4. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 Wherein said user
interface is a remote control.
5. The multimedia appliance of claim 1 Wherein said user
interface is an on screen display.
26. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said output com
prises a plurality of RCA connectors.
27. The apparatus of claim 25 Wherein,
said processor comprises an ampli?er con?gured to pro
duce said analog audio output signal in a format usable
by loudspeakers; and
said output further comprises a plurality of loudspeaker
connectors.
Jun. 13, 2002
US 2002/0070960 A1
28. The apparatus of claim 18 wherein said output signal
comprises a digital audio output signal.
29. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said output com
prises a ?ber-optic connector.
30. The apparatus of claim 28 Wherein said digital audio
output signal further comprises surround-sound encoded
digital data.
31. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said output com
prises at least one USB port con?gured to operate in both an
input mode and an output mode.
32. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said output com
prises at least one IEEE-1394 port con?gured to operate in
both an input mode and an output mode.
33. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said output com
prises a printer port.
34. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said storage
medium comprises a hard disk drive.
35. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said processor is
con?gured to store audio data onto said storage medium.
36. The apparatus of claim 18 Wherein said processor is
con?gured to store video data onto said storage medium.
37. The apparatus of claim 18 further comprising a tape
drive con?gured to read data from a magnetic tape-based
medium.
38. The apparatus of claim 37 Wherein said tape drive is
con?gured to read a video cassette tape.
39. The apparatus of claim 37 Wherein said tape drive is
con?gured to read data from at least one of a VHS media, an
8 mm media, a DV media, a U-Matic media, a Beta media,
and a mini-DV media.
40. The apparatus of claim 37 Wherein said tape drive is
con?gured to read an audio tape.
41. The apparatus of claim 37 Wherein said tape drive is
con?gured read data from at least one of an analog cassette,
a digital cassette and an open-reel tape.
42. The apparatus of claim 18 further comprising an input
interface.
43. The apparatus of claim 42 Wherein said input interface
comprises a remote control unit.
44. The apparatus of claim 42 Wherein said input interface
comprises a keyboard unit.
45. The apparatus of claim 42 Wherein said input interface
comprises a pointing device.
46. The apparatus of claim 18 further comprising a
display unit.
47. The apparatus of claim 46 Wherein said display unit
comprises an LCD display.
48. The apparatus of claim 47 Wherein said LCD display
is con?gured to display a spectrum analysis of various data.
49. The apparatus of claim 18 further comprising a tuner.
50. The apparatus of claim 49 Wherein said tuner is
con?gured to process analog audio radio signals.
51. The apparatus of claim 49 Wherein said tuner is
con?gured to process digital audio radio signals.
52. The apparatus of claim 49 Wherein said tuner is
con?gured to process television signals.
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