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HP Enters NAS Market With Media Vault

Hewlett-Packard introduced part of its holiday season product lineup, which includes the company’s first network attached storage effort and a notebook computer equipped with an HD-DVD drive.

The HP Media Vault NAS will come in 300GB and 500GB capacities, but in a twist, has an open bay that will hold any aftermarket hard drive, giving the device a top capacity of 1.2TB, said Allen Buckner, personal storage product marketing manger. The Media Vault has conventional NAS capability, such as file backup, but its main focus is entertainment.

The SKUs will hit retail by mid-October with suggested retail prices of $379 and $549.

To help consumers understand that the Media Vault has a role in storing video, “The Bourne Identity” will come pre-loaded, and HP is including two free movie downloads from Cinema Now. None of the movies stored on the drive can be burned to disc, but they can be transferred to up to three other computers. The movies are most likely to be viewed on a computer display, but by using a Media Center or media adapter device they can be watched on a television.

“We want people to be able to take home networking to the next level,” Buckner said.

The Media Vault has built in UPnP media streaming so several computers can access different video content simultaneously.

The drive uses NTI’s backup software which can be programmed to back up different types of data at different rates. Photos can be backed up each time new images are added, while a full system back up might be conducted once per week.

Buckner said HP had been working itself up to this introduction for the past several years and relied heavily on its experience in the enterprise storage market to construct the Media Vault. The device also ties in quite well with the release of HP’s MediaSmart LCD that has Ethernet and is Wi-Fi capable, allowing it to be directly connected to a Media Vault.

To support the Media Vault for brick-and-mortar and online retailers, HP is planning a series in-store and flash-based web demos. Buckner hopes the Media Vault would be displayed with the MediaSmart TVs so consumers can see its full value. The Media Vault is the first HP product to take advantage of the company’s new tagline “Computing is Personal Again” on its packaging.

The notebook computers launched on Sept. 28 include the Pavilion DV9000 HP’s first using a HD-DVD drive, said Kevin Wentzel, HP’s technical marketing manager, mobility. However, HP is not confining itself to the HD-DVD camp. Wentzel said the company launched with this format because it was available and HP is still “totally open” to Blu-ray. The DV9000 has a top-of-the-line NVIDIA graphics card and an Intel Core Duo processor to properly run the HD-DVD drive.

HP also introduced the new iPaq Travel Companion. The unit features an entirely new industrial design and a feature set that is heavily skewed toward consumers interested in a portable GPS device. This is reflected in the new design, which has the user hold the device so the 3-inch LCD can easily display the map. It will carry a $599 suggested retail price.

The Travel Companion uses TomTom navigational software, has 2GB of flash memory and is a full-featured PDA. It comes with a car mount and DC adapter and started shipping in late September with a $599 suggested retail price.