Hewlett-Packard confirmed a long-standing industry rumor that it would jump into the flat-panel television market with the announcement during CES that it will ship two models later this year.
The company gave only a few product specifics, saying a 30-inch LCD and 42-inch plasma set would be available by the 2004 holidays. HP will use its own imaging engine and said the displays will feature advanced panels that offer deeper black levels, vibrant colors and high-definition resolution. Pricing was not available. HP joins Gateway and Dell as recent computer-centric companies that have launched themselves into the CE category.
HP was busy on several other fronts at the show:
It announced a deal with Apple to produce an HP-branded digital music player based on Apple's iPod.
Added DVD-RW capability to its aftermarket DVD Writer line.
This fall HP will ship an entertainment hub that will serve as a central distribution and access point for a variety of multimedia.
The company announced three new notebooks and eight desktops.
The HP music player is expected to ship during the summer, with pricing to be comparable to other such devices. Product specifications for the HP iPod were not available, but Apple sells several versions starting at $299 for the 15GB version. Also available are 20GB and 40GB models.
As part of the agreement HP will install Apple's iTunes Digital Jukebox software on upcoming HP desktop and notebook computers starting this summer.
The addition of dual-format DVD-RW rewritable drives into HP's aftermarket segment is a major departure for the company, which up until this point would only sell drives featuring DVD+RW technology.
Steve Johnson, HP's worldwide product marketing manager for optical storage, said having only a single-format drive was a major detriment to sales in the aftermarket because consumers were worried that format might not remain available in the future. This consumer worry has meant that dual-format drives have dominated sales so it was simply poor business to not jump on the bandwagon, Johnson said.
This information was coming from HP's channel partners and sales associates, Johnson said.
However, this change will not impact HP's desktop and notebook computers. These will continue to only feature Plus drives, said Tom Markworth, product manager for HP's North American consumer computing.