Ogg Vorbis enters the living room

A consumer electronics maker has introduced a DVD player that can decode the open-source audio format, a step towards Vorbis' acceptance into the mainstream

A Danish consumer electronics maker has unveiled the first DVD player to support the Ogg Vorbis music format, a favourite among technology enthusiasts.

Kiss Technology, based in Denmark, will add Vorbis playback to its new DVD players, and is offering a Vorbis upgrade to its DP-450 player. When the DP-450 appeared in October, it was the first DVD player to include a decoder for the DivX compression format, which has seen success in Internet video similar to MP3's success in audio. It also decodes MPEG-4 files.

Ogg Vorbis's backers claim that it produces higher-quality, smaller-sized music files, but just as important, it is free of patent issues. MPEG-1 layer 3, better known as MP3, has become the standard format for high-quality sound files distributed over the Internet, but the technology is controlled by The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft research organisation and electronics giant Thomson. Ogg Vorbis, on the other hand, was created by open-source developers and is in the public domain.

Xiph.org, the not-for-profit behind the Ogg project, also offers Ogg Vorbis decoder software that is covered by the open-source BSD licence. Open-source software, generally speaking, can be freely modified and redistributed, as long as the changes are returned to the developer community.

The Vorbis specification reached its 1.0 milestone last summer, clearing the way for its adoption by commercial software and hardware. Since then some products have begun to appear, such as players for handheld computers and a pact with RealNetworks to integrate Vorbis into Real's Helix DNA client. Vorbis' supporters hope that its licence-free nature will help it catch on with electronics makers and PC software developers.

Consumer electronics generally take longer than PC software to latch on to new technology, but Kiss is offering a firmware upgrade that can be downloaded from its Web site and burned onto a CD.

"By being the first company in the world to support Ogg Vorbis on our newest DVD player, Kiss Technology is once again showing the advantage of bringing PC technology and home-entertainment together," said Kiss marketing manager Bo Lustrup in a statement.

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