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Vendors Bow New Products At DigiLife

Several vendors used DigitalLife to launch new products or discuss those upcoming.

Dellofficially unveiled its 42-inch plasma TV (see story, p. 6) along with two printers and a new PDA line.

The Photo All-In-One 942, $149 street price has inkjet printing, copying and faxing capabilities, and the 540 Photo Printer has a $189 street price. Both feature 2.5-inch LCDs for previewing pictures. The 540, which is a dedicated photo printer, adds a five-in-one flash memory card slot.

The Axim X50v PDA has a 3.7-inch screen with 480 by 640 pixel resolution, as well as a new Intel 2700 multimedia accelerator for the high-end gaming market. The unit is also aimed at corporate customers. It offers a 624MHz XScale processor and 128MB of flash ROM, and, like other X50 models, features Bluetooth 1.2 wireless and dual Secure Digital and CompactFlash expansion slots. The top two models, including the Axim X50 midlevel and Axim X50v, also have 802.11b Wi-Fi.

The full X50 line is the first Pocket PC series to run Microsoft’s new Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition software with Media Player 10 for Mobile, said Dell. The lineup has also been slimmed down for a sleeker profile.

The Axim X50 entry-level model and midlevel models offer QVGA screens with 64MB and 128MB of flash ROM, respectively, and 416MHz and 520MHz processors at $299 and $399, respectively. The Axim X50v has a list price of $499.

Google launched a free hard-drive search service. The application is downloaded onto a PC and is used to search every aspect of a person’s computer using Google search engine technology for the requested data. In addition, the search extends to the Web. The company said it is not gathering the data found.

Plextor showed its ConvertX PX-TV402U device. Unlike earlier ConvertX products, this model can add PVR functionality to any PC, while retaining its predecessor’s video capture and viewing features. Dirk Peters, Plextor’s director of marketing, said the company will soon take the next step and integrate a DVD burner into the ConvertX chassis. It is studying whether or not consumers would want a hard drive as well for built-in PVR functionality. The current model uses the PC’s hard drive to store TV programming.

Software maker Meedio and hardware vendor Gnojo teamed up to display the Guava Media Center. Despite the name, this full-fledged PC does not use the Windows Media Center operating system to handle the computer’s A/V networking. Instead, the Meedio Essentials application is loaded. A company spokesman said it handles all the same tasks as the Windows software, but can be used on any computer.

Two versions of the Guava are available. A basic version lacking DVR capability, and an upscale model that includes this technology are now selling direct from Gnojo. Respective pricing is $999 and $1,299.

Digital Lifestyles Group had a large booth displaying its Hip-e teen-oriented PC. Kent Savage, the firm’s CEO, said the hip-e, which was designed with input from kids, essentially will be sold by kids. The company plans a direct marketing approach that follows the Avon or Tupperware model, and it has already recruited a corps of 1,000 teen evangelizers. These high school salespeople will staff the mall kiosks the company is planning and use word-of-mouth to push the brand. The teens can earn a 5 -percent commission per computer sold, which will be paid through a Visa debit card. Digital Lifestyles trained the junior sales associates through a series of seminars held at Dave and Buster’s entertainment centers around the country.

The computers are priced between $1,699 and $1,999, depending upon the bundle. Some SKUs come with a cellphone, an MP3 player or both. Savage said the Apple-like design will grab kids’ attentions while the fact that it is Windows XP-based will encourage parents to make the purchase.