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HP Rolls Out 150 CE, PC SKUs, New Retail Merchandising Effort

8/18/2003 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Hewlett-Packard rolled out the largest product launch in the company's history, introducing nearly 150 new devices ranging from a new 17-inch wide-screen notebook, eight-ink photo printer and a new retail merchandising program at a press conference, here, last week.

"At 150-plus products, there are almost as many new products as there are candidates in California," joked HP president Carly Fiorina, who heralded the launch flanked by a towering wall of new devices.

Fiorina stressed that while the "digital revolution" has transformed the way people interact with photos, music, videos and communication, the experience was still daunting to the consumer.

"We have to move HP out of the study and into the living room, so that every consumer can use and enjoy this technology," said Fiorina, who added that the company's next big challenge was simplifying the storage and organization of digital content.

Educating the consumer was the motivating factor for HP's partnership with Microsoft to develop retail "experience centers" — a pilot program that will be tested at Circuit City, Microcenter and J&R Computer World. CompUSA will be added to the pilot next month.

The retail experience center, which will have a dedicated sales staff, will let the consumer "touch and feel" the technology as it works together in an integrated environment, said Vyomesh Joshi, executive VP of HP's imaging and printing group.

It will be organized around kiosks representing digital photography, music and more, with connected cameras, printers and computers on hand to give customers the chance to see how, for instance, a digital darkroom functions. In the digital photography experience, HP will feature an all-in-one, two photo printers, four digital cameras, two scanners and a Presario and Pavilion desktop.

"It is all about experiencing the equipment, because that is the only way consumers will understand how it is suppose to work together," said Joshi.

"Complexity is the enemy of progress," said Alan McCollough, CEO of Circuit City, who was on hand for the event. "We hope these experience centers will show our customers how easy it is to use all these products."

Some of the new products introduced include the eight-ink Photosmart 7960 printer, with an estimated street price of $299. The shipment date is September. The 7960 is the first eight-ink consumer photo printer on the market. The additional inks improve the quality of black and white photos. HP also announced new, low-cost paper media to compliment its entire photo printer line. One hundred sheets of HP's Everyday Semi-gloss 4-by-6-inch photo paper will have a suggested retail price of $9.99.

The company also unveiled a WiFi enabled multifunction printer, the HP PSC 2510, shipping in October for a suggested $399. The all-in-one can be connected to up to five home computers and has built-in flash-memory-card slots.

Scaling down in size, HP added to its line of compact 4-by-6-inch photo printers with the Photosmart 245 and 145, which can print a photo in 90 seconds directly from a flash memory card. The 245 (suggested $199) features a 1.8-inch color LCD screen for previewing images while the step-down 145 (suggested $149) sports a multi-line text LCD. Both models ship in August.

Among the three new Instant Share digital cameras introduced, the flagship will be the 5-megapixel Photosmart 945. The camera, which ships in September, features an 8x optical/7x digital zoom lens and suggested retail price of $499. It connects to the optional Photosmart 8881 camera dock.

HP introduced a DVD Movie Writer, the dc3000, which converts analog video tapes to DVDs. The dc3000 connects to a PC via USB 2.0 and writes to +R/+RW discs. It can convert video from VHS, Hi8, Digital 8 and BetaMax, as along as the appropriate format player can connect to the Movie Writer (which can also function as a stand-alone DVD burner). The dc3000 will ship in mid-September with a suggested retail of $399.

In notebook PCs, the company announced the 17-inch widescreen zd7000, which will start shipping in the fall for a suggested $1,499. The notebook sports NVIDIA's GeForce FX Go5600 graphics processor, as well as 802.11G wireless networking, built-in Harman/Kardon speakers, and a Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor. It weighs in at 9.3 lbs. and will feature an optional expansion base. The base, which will retail for an estimated $249, is bundled with a wireless mouse and keyboard and built-in Altec Lansing stereo speakers.

Sam Szteinbaum, consumer computer VP and GM, said that thanks to retail demand HP will launch its first "gaming" desktop sometime in the fall, which will command $2,000-plus price points and feature high-end video cards, sound and graphics processors.

The company also gave a glimpse of future technologies in development, including a hard-drive based HDTV recorder with built-in DVD burner, and an e-book with a more realistic book interface and display.

Fiorina said HP would compliment the product blitz with a hefty $300 million consumer ad campaign geared around the tagline "enjoy more."

For more details on HP's new products please see TWICE.com.