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ViewSonic Intros Digital Media Center PC

Las Vegas – ViewSonic broke into the PC business at CES with the introduction of two Digital Media Center computers.

The company also announced the availability of its airpanel smart display and offered some early information on the upcoming ViewSonic Personal Video Player (PVP).

The M2000 and M1000 are home PCs in all, but name. They are specially designed for use on a living room floor or to reside sit in an entertainment system and not in a home office, but also has the same functionality as any high-end PCs, said Donna Ogilvie, ViewSonic’s business development director for advanced technologies.

The M2000 and M1000 will start shipping next month with respective street prices of $1,895 and $1,395, after $100 rebate. They are part of ViewSonic’s NextVision product family.

The Digital Media Centers, which ViewSonic does not like to refer to as a PC, are based on the Windows Media Center operating system. Each has PVR functionality, can burn CDs and DVDs, has a Dolby Pro Logic Surround Sound decoder, and can display digital images and home video onto a TV. A cordless keyboard is bundled.

The M2000 is powered by an Intel Pentium 4 2.8Ghz processor, has a 160GB hard drive, front mounted 1394, USB 2.0 and A/V ports and Ethernet networking capability. The M1000 is slightly less robust with a Pentium 4 2.4GHz processor, 80GB hard drive and only a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive.

Ogilvie said the M1000 is likely to find its way into secondary TV viewing areas such as bedrooms.

The models also have all the necessary digital outputs to directly connect to a LCD monitor and become the hub of a home theater set up.

Merchandising these products is still an issue since they fall into both the PC and home theater categories. Ogilvie said the products are likely to be sold in each area, but eventually retailers should create special sections to sell this type of device.

ViewSonic’s role in the Personal Video Player category was not very well defined by the company. It is expected to ship either late this year or early 2004 with a 4-inch LCD, 20GB hard drive and the ability to connect to a PC or Digital Media Center. Ogilvie said it will be considered a companion piece to the Digital Media Center, but did not have any details as to pricing, how it would interface with a computer or exactly when it would be available at retail.

The PVP will enable consumers to take video, audio and digital images stored on a PC or Digital Media Center on the road

The V110 and V150 airpanels, which were announced at Comdex/Fall in November, are now shipping with suggested retail prices of $999 and $1,299, respectively. Through an 802.11b wireless network these products can interact with all other networked computer and entertainment devices.

The new addition to the airpanels is the inclusion of Universal Electronics’ Nevo home control software. This enables users to connect and control all their home electronics through one device.

ViewSonic’s CES introductions will play a large part in shifting the company away from historical role as a PC monitor company, said Ogilvie. This is a necessity since the traditional lines between the PC and CE worlds are now blurry and will only continue to merge.