CES - New HP products aim for multimedia mesh

HP released a host of new TV, laptop and digital camera models Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Hewlett-Packard released a host of new TV, laptop PC and digital camera models Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, underscoring the company's work to ease the sharing of videos, music and photographs between devices and the Internet.

HP announced nine high-definition digital TV models with LCD (liquid crystal display), micro and plasma displays. The company also presented four laptops, seven digital cameras, a digital entertainment desktop PC and a new home movie feature on Snapfish, HP's online photo service site.

HP's flagship TV is the 37-inch (94-centimeters) Advanced Digital Media LCD TV, which is capable of showing videos or slide shows with music streamed from a PC, according to a news release. With that model, viewers can also see online photos via Snapfish in addition to listening to songs on RealNetworks's Rhapsody online music service. The television can also link to CinemaNow and MovieLink, which are legal online movie download Web sites.

But absent from HP's lineup was a mention of a formerly hyped product, the Linux-based HP Media Hub, announced last year at CES by former Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina. The company decided to scrap its media hub last March following Fiorina's ouster from the company, according to an HP executive quoted in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.

Last year, HP said the device would combine the capabilities of high-definition television (HDTV), a digital cable set-top box and a dual-tuner digital video recorder (DVR). The device would also be able to store and manage digital photos, music, TV and video.

HP officials could not immediately comment early Wednesday.

HP's digital camera line has been further integrated with its Snapfish service. Models have an on-camera button for ordering photos through Snapfish, the company said. Other features include the ability to tweak photos -- such as adding borders or adjusting the color tint -- using only the camera without a PC, HP said. HP also introduced a wireless camera docking station.

The Snapfish service will now accommodate digital videos from cameras and phones. Those videos are converted to a format using a Snapfish technology that makes them viewable through most Internet browsers, the company said. The service is free for the first month of use, then costs US$2.99 a month or US$24.99 annually.

On the desktop, HP released the Pavilion Media Center TV m7300 Series PC that is capable of viewing, pausing and recording TV. It is available with an optional wireless keyboard, mouse and remote control that works up to 10 feet (3 meters) away, HP said. It's also Wi-Fi capable.

HP will offer two call-in help packages. Smartfriend, described as a tech support service, comes with two options: 30 minutes of support for US$59.99 or 60 minutes for US$99.99. HP's PC Tune Up Service has what the company calls "trained tech mechanics" available for US$99, however the time period wasn't specified as of Wednesday. The new options fall under HP's Total Care service.

HP's four new notebooks include new versions of the Pavilion dv1000 Series Entertainment Notebook and the Pavilion dv8000 Series Notebook PC. Some versions of the dv8000 will include Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition, HP said.

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Jeremy Kirk

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