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music players, iPod, song download, entertainment hub, consumers, computers, home
Published on August 26, 2004 By joetheblow In Pure Technology

HP's iPod to lead consumer push
Published: August 26, 2004, 10:14 AM PDT
By Ina Fried
Staff Writer, CNET

update Hoping to make a big bang in consumer electronics, Hewlett-Packard plans on Friday to unveil its long-awaited HP-branded iPod, along with its first televisions, an entertainment hub and the usual array of new printers and cameras, sources said.

Also among the dozens of new gadgets that HP CEO Carly Fiorina will introduce at a Miami press event is the company's first digital projector for consumers, a product the company has been developing for some time. HP has been working on the projector, already a business staple, for more than a year.

The iPod, while expected to be similar to Apple Computer's version, is important both as the company's entree into the music market as well as a part of HP's strategy to become cool enough to be allowed in the living room.

"There is nothing hipper and nothing cooler than an iPod," said Gary Peterson, an analyst with Gap Intelligence, a San Diego-based market research firm. "They have to stop being a boring old printer and server company."

That's especially key for HP's desire to sell things like televisions, where having an appealing brand matters. As for its televisions, HP is expected to introduce 42-inch plasma televisions in both extended definition (ED) and high-definition (HD) formats, along with 26-inch and 30-inch LCD televisions. HP also plans to introduce a digital storage console as part of the "entertainment hub" concept Fiorina outlined at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

HP's chief technology officer, Shane Robison, talked briefly about the TVs at a conference this week in Aspen, Colo. On Thursday HP issued a media alert for the "unveiling of new digital photography, music and entertainment experiences." However, the company declined to talk in detail about the new products that would be introduced on Friday.

HP will face retail shelves already crowded by TVs from PC rivals. Gateway and Dell also sell several LCD TVs each. Gateway already sells plasma TVs, and Dell has said it will offer them later this year.

Dell charges $1,399 for a 23-inch LCD TV and recently dropped the price of its 30-inch LCD TV by $300 to $2,499. Gateway charges $1,499 for its 23-inch model, $1,999 for a 26-inch LCD TV, and has also lowered the price of its 30-inch LCD TV to $2,499. Gateway offers two 42-inch plasma TVs: a $2,499 extended definition model and a $4,499 high-definition model. Gateway sells a 50-inch HD plasma TV for $4,999. HP is expected to specify pricing on its models when they're unveiled on Friday.

Friday's launch is part of what has becoming an annual tradition of launching the bulk of the company's consumer products at one event. The original Big Bang in 2002 showcased the revamp of HP's entire printer lineup, while last year's sequel had 158 new product introductions, including a see-through scanner and a 17-inch notebook.

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