KDDI Corp and Okinawa Cellular Telephone Co will start a rental service of the "au BOX" set top box (STB), which enables TVs and mobile phones to download music and video content, in November 2008.
The service is primarily targeted at au mobile phone users. It can be subscribed for at au stores or using EZweb service from Nov 1 with a rental fee set at ¥315 (including tax, approx US$3). The rental service requires subscription to au mobile phone service or "Hikari one TV service" (video-on-demand service using optical fiber).
"It can be used easily in your room without a PC," said Makoto Takahashi, KDDI's associate senior vice president and general manager of the Consumer Business Sector.
He stressed that au BOX is a new content service system that can be used like a mobile phone and realizes the "FMBC: fixed mobile broadcasting convergence" (a communication service that fuses the fixed phone, mobile phone and broadband), which KDDI is promoting.
The service's key targets are young people from the age of 10 to 39, who have a TV but no PC in their room, said Toshitake Amamiya, general manager of the Content and Media Division, Consumer Business Sector of KDDI.
au BOX (manufactured by Motorola Inc) is connected with a TV via video I/O ports. It can also be used as a CD/DVD player. It can store music CDs in the ATRAC3plus and other formats in its built-in flash memory (up to about 200 Mbytes of music can be stored in the 1 Gbyte memory).
If connected to a broadband environment using an LAN cable (5m) in the package, it can also be used to purchase and replay songs and movies from the "more for LISMO" music delivery service and the "LISMO Video Store" video delivery service. Users can pay for the content through the "Matomete au Shiharai" (all-in-one au payment) system, which charges download fees with the au mobile phone service fee.
Furthermore, if an au handset is connected using an optional USB cable, songs and movies purchased through LISMO and music recorded from CDs can be transmitted to the phone. Music data can be transmitted to Sony Corp's Walkman (only compatible models) via USB as well.
The au BOX also features a function to convert specified videos in the connected camcorder and video deck into the "au Keitai Movie" format and transmit them to a mobile phone.
Users can listen songs downloaded with mobile phones through the built-in speakers in an au BOX, which features US DiMAGIC Co Ltd's "Euphony" surround audio playback technology. Also, as au BOX supports the "Hikari one TV" service's STB function, subscribers to the "Hikar one TV" service can enjoy 40 exclusive channels using au BOX.
"We are planning to gradually replace the Hikari one TV service's STBs with our au BOX from now on," KDDI said.
KDDI will exhibit au BOX at CEATEC JAPAN 2008, which will take place at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture, japan, from Sept 30 to Oct 4, 2008.