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Circuit City Gets Hip-e Teen Line

The Digital Lifestyles Group will start selling its hip-e teen-oriented computer through Circuit Stores starting April 1 and in stores nationwide two weeks later.

The agreement has The Digital Lifestyles Group placing a 4-foot by 2-foot end-cap in 364 Circuit locations nationwide. The display will house what Digital Lifestyles calls a “node,” which is what the company calls its all-in-one PC design, said Kent Savage, company CEO. The node will run a demonstration of the hip-e’s proprietary “hang out” software interface and display the various accessories available for the computer.

Doug Moore, Circuit’s senior VP and chief merchandising officer, said the hip-e gives teens something they cannot currently find elsewhere.

The node’s design is centered on a 17-inch LCD and a keyboard equipped with docking stations for the hip-e accessories, the “beatbox” speaker system, “playme” MP3 player and “reachme” cellphone. The node’s pricing at Circuit will remain consistent with its current cost when purchased directly from The Digital Lifestyles group with a node and beatbox carrying a $1,699 suggested retail price. Adding a playme brings the total to $1,799, adding a reachme to $1,768, and purchasing all the devices with the node is $1,868, according to the online store.

The company will continue to use its teen marketing force to help sell the computers. These hip-e brand ambassadors will be asked to bring friends into Circuit City stores to expose them to the products. In addition, the teens may participate in special in-store promotions.

Savage said the company does not plan any hardware upgrades to either the PC or notebook versions in the near future, a fact he says should make the devices even more attractive to retailers.

“The market has always been beholden to the speeds and feeds game. Vendors cycle through product which puts a strain on the retail community because they have to mark down and blow out old inventory,” he said, adding the original hip-e configuration was designed to last. Software upgrades are planned.

The basic node is powered by an Intel Pentium M 1.6GHz microprocessor and has 512MB of memory, 120GB hard drive, ATI Radeon 9700 graphics controller, DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, six USB ports and built-in 802.11g/Ethernet networking. The basic notebook, called the “nodebook” configuration, is similar to the desktop node. It will cost $1,599.

With the hip-e, he said, we are delivering an Apple-like proposition by selling a lifestyle experience.