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HK, Zap Team For Internet A/V Device

LAS VEGAS -Harman Kardon plans a CES debut of a Web-browsing set-top device that streams and downloads Web-based audio and video content, rips and stores CD music on an internal 30GB hard drive, and plays DVD-Video discs on its single-disc DVD/CD transport.

The device, called the DMC 100 Digital Media Center, is the product of a collaboration between HK and technology company ZapMedia, said HK president Tom McLoughlin. The product ships in the spring at a price that wasn’t set at press time.

The device, which connects to a TV and home entertainment system, accesses any website through an internal V.90 56K modem or through an Ethernet-connected broadband modem. It comes with programmable remote and wireless mouse-equipped keyboard.

The hard drive stores up to 10,000 songs in the MP3 or Windows Media Audio (WMA) formats, and it supports Microsoft’s digital rights-management (DRM) technology. Stored songs can be ripped from CDs in the device’s transport or downloaded directly from the Web. Stored music can then be transferred via USB to Sonicblue’s Rio Internet audio portables and to other select portable players.

The DMC 100 also streams Web-based MP3 and WMA audio.

Video capabilities include streaming Web-based video and storage of up to 30 hours of video downloaded from the Web. It’s not designed to pause live TV or time-shift TV programs.

Consumers can use any ISP but AOL to access any website through the device, but ZapMedia will also offer an optional subscription-based portal service formatted for display on TV screens.

ZapMedia pages will feature bigger type for viewing from a distance, and they’ll be formatted to simplify navigation through the up/down and left/right buttons of the supplied remote control, said ZapMedia president Eric Hartz.

The portal will offer audio and video content that can be downloaded or streamed free or at a price, a ZapMedia e-mail box, online purchasing of CDs and DVDs, and software upgrades for the device. Subscribers will also be able to automatically download CD cover art, album and song titles, and artist name whenever they rip CDs and store them to the hard drive. The data will be sorted and displayed on the connected TV.

The subscription price wasn’t determined at press time.