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Interview: Keith Sugawara of Silex Technology on the wiDock

Last week we brought you details of the wiDock, a new iPod accessory from Silex Technology that answers the call of many an iPod owner: it brings wireless syncing of an iTunes library for both Mac and PC, and it contains A/V outputs to play nicely with your stereo and TV. Plugging your iPod into your entertainment center - and leaving it there - is finally looking to be a possibility.

This week, we had a chance to interview Keith Sugawara, VP of Network Division for Silex Technology on some of the finer points of this highly anticipated accessory. Read on for some details on what's shaping up to be quite the cable-cutting dock, just in time for the 2006 holidays:

TUAW: Considering that you're first to market with a long-requested iPod accessory, the wiDock seems to be quite a first-time splash for Silex Technology. How long have you been working on it?

Keith: We have been working on wiDock for 6 months now. It utilizes the same technology that is found in our other device server products. We have leverage our core technology and have adapted it to fit the iPod market.

Can you give us an overview of the wiDock's feature set?

In addition to the big wireless syncing feature everyone's hearing about, here's a summary of everything else the wiDock can do:
  • Charge your iPod battery
  • Control your iPod using the Apple remote
  • Connects to 802.11b/g wireless networks
  • Wireless security includes WEP, WPA and WPA2
  • Connects to 10/100 networks
  • 3.5mm audio output
  • S-Video output
How does the library syncing process work? Is it initiated from the wiDock, or from the host computer? We've heard you have software for both Mac and PC that works with iTunes to manage this. Can you explain any details?

Both - you can inititate the syncing process from either the wiDock or the host computer. On the wiDock there is a button that you can push that starts the syncing process. It comes with the SX Virtual Link (SVL) software that allows the user to connect and synchronize from the PC, or the button on wiDock allows you to connect to the computer from the iPod.

Great idea to make the wiDock shake hands with the Apple Remote. We heard there are both audio and video out ports. Does the wiDock have any TV-based 'media center' software to facilitate the video experience?

We are looking at the next generation wiDock to have software to facilitate the video experience. It is true that it is compatible with the Apple remote and has audio and video outputs.

We noticed you're using both 802.11 b and g. Obviously a lot of factors can affect Wi-Fi performance, but can you offer any estimations or examples of file transfer speeds between these two standards?

Obviously g is faster than b - but both work well between the file transfers. We have not had any problems in the speed in our testing.

Can you give us a price and any ideas of where we'll be able to pick one up? Will you be landing on Apple Store shelves?

Price will be $149.00 and you can pick one up at J&R (or online at jr.com). On the west coast, it will be available at Fry's Electronics (frys.com). More information can also be found on silexamerica.com. We will be shipping the product Dec. 1. During Q1 we will be in more traditional retail stores.

Thanks again for your time. We're excited to finally un-tether our iPods.