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Stars Help Fiorina Focus On Media Hub

 Las Vegas — Hewlett-Packard’s CEO Carly Fiorina did not disappoint the CES stargazers with her keynote address here last week, which included walk-ons by Dreamworks Jeffery Katzenberg, singer Gwen Stefani and a performance by Vanessa Carlson.

Fiorina’s entertainment-heavy presentation underscored HP’s trend to bring digital entertainment to consumers with a slew of new products, including a new digital “Media Hub,” HDTVs, and a digital camera and accessory line designed by Stefani.

During her 90-minute talk Fiorina explained how HP has partnered with Dreamworks to supply the technology behind hits like “Shrek 2”, and Katzenberg used this CES venue to debut a trailer for an upcoming animated film called “Madagascar.” HP’s Hollywood connection was also reflected in the company’s continued commitment to “Project Greenlight,” run by actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Damon gave a video presentation of what HP has been doing for “Project Greenlight” during the past year.

After showing the crowd HP’s big picture entertainment project, Fiorina then broke it down to the consumer level giving a demonstration of the company’s upcoming Media Hub.

The Hub, which will receive a snazzier name prior to its launch later this year, will supplement its current crop of Digital Entertainment Center (DEC) Media Center PCs. Fiorina said the product was developed in light of consumer reaction to the company’s first generation of DEC devices. Engel said a segment of consumers were not interested in the PC functionality; all they wanted were the bare bones features.

The Media Hub physically resembles HP’s DEC, but the company has stripped out all the PC functionality, leaving just the A/V capabilities, said Bob Engel, HP’s director of product marketing, consumer digital entertainment. The Media Hub will incorporate an HDTV tuner, DVD burner, hard drive, flash card slots, DVR and DVD playback. HP will supply an electronic program guide for the DVR; it is able to be networked and includes cable card technology and a broadband connection.

Fiorina then refocused her talk back to the music world by announcing HP will roll out an Apple iPod Photo by HP in the near future. She then touted HP’s iPod printable tattoos, which are used to personalize an iPod, by saying the most popular tattoo download is that of Vanessa Carlson, who then came onstage to sing one of her songs.

As part of its tsunami relief effort, HP is slated to be the primary sponsor for MTV’s Asia Aid program, in February, to raise money for the victims.