By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Hewlett-Packard unveiled at International CES a wireless digital media receiver (DMR) that will give any TV the ability to connect via wired or wireless networks to multiple PCs in a home to collect and display on the TV screen digital: photos, music and video files, among other things.
The HP MediaSmart Receiver will be positioned under the company's MediaSmart product line, which is currently used for flat-panel LCD TVs with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for similar applications.
HP said the new product will "turn any HDTV into a next-generation connected TV." The DMR will work with both Microsoft XP and Vista PCs, and has a high-gloss, piano-black finish with HP's "Zen" imprint design pattern.
The product features advanced network connectivity, including 802.11a, b, g and n, three embedded antennae and compatibility with other universal plug-and-play- and DLNA-compliant devices such as the HP MediaSmart Server.
The device also is DivX certified, demonstrating interoperability across a range of digital devices.
Consumers can access and share content directly from any PC source by adding a Pocket Media Drive via a front-loading slot to playback digital content.
HP also said the Extender for Windows Media Center technology, which was first unveiled at the 2007 Digital Life Show in September, is planned to be available this spring on both the HP MediaSmart TV and the MediaSmart receiver.
Extender for Windows Media Center functionality offers a Media Center experience using Vista Premium and Vista Ultimate PCs. HP MediaSmart technology will automatically update all MediaSmart TVs over the Internet, delivering on the promise that MediaSmart products keep getting smarter.
Extender for Windows Media Center technology offers consumers increased personalization and interaction, including the ability to stream live or prerecorded high-definition TV (for Vista-based systems with TV tuners) and to stream Internet content from Web-based content providers.
HP also introduced a new line of 1080p MediaSmart LCD TVs, with models featuring an updated cosmetic design, built-in Extender for Windows Media Center technology, three HDMI ports and wired and wireless network connectivity.
The new HDTVs come with a back-lit universal remote that can control up to four additional devices.
HP MediaSmart LCD HDTVs will ship this spring at a $1,899 suggested retail for the 42-inch SL4282N and $2,399 for the 47-inch SL4782N.
Through a recent deal with online movie distributor CinemaNow, MediaSmart TV users will have access to movies and other programming via CinemaNow's online service. Users will be able to rent or purchase premium Hollywood features. More than 18 other services are available through Microsoft's Online Media.
Another product line, called the HP Media Vault, offers a pair of model series — the mv2100 and mv5100 — that combine features found on the MediaSmart Server with a less-expensive price and a new category classification that HP is calling "NAS Plus."
The new HP Media Vault mv2100 series is designed for homes and the mv5100 series is targeted at small businesses. Both combine MediaSmart Server features, such as Photo Webshare and iTunes server, with basic storage requirements.
The devices are expandable and are based on the Linux control software to provide consumer PCs with continuous backup and a central location for storage and sharing of digital media and files on their home network or remotely.
The Media Vault products incorporate a Marvel processor and PacketVideo's PVConnect software for enhanced storing and streaming performance and ease of use.
The entry-level HP Media Vault mv2100 series offers 500GB of storage capacity, while the mv5100 series features 1TB and 1.5TB versions. Models also have 2GB of enterprise-class offsite online backup and are equipped with PC backup and restore capabilities in the event of hard drive failure, and virus or spyware infection. The solution includes support software designed to require limited to no IT support.
Meanwhile, HP said all buyers of a 2007 MediaSmart Server will get enhanced capability through an automatic upgrade delivered to their current servers via MediaSmart's Internet-based upgrade manager.
The update will enable the integration of server-side anti-virus software from McAfee into the device. The software will provide added security for customers both at home and remotely. This will allow for basic virus scans as well as deep scans at the operating system level. The software will be free for the first seven months after which there will be a minimal charge.
MediaSmart Server pricing runs $599 for 500GB and $749 for a 1TB version.
HP said it is building upon the Windows Home Server platform and working with PacketVideo to enhance the media streaming process from the server to other digital media devices in the home, such as MediaSmart TVs.
Benefits to the user include advanced graphics such as thumbnails of photos in-menu browsing and album art. The device also will support Vista 64-bit for the serious computer users who have advanced, high-performance needs.
All new products and enhancements are planned to be available in spring 2008.
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