HP, RealNetworks to develop home entertainment devices

The products, which will be built around a Real-supplied Linux platform, will employ RealJukebox and RealPlayer for their multimedia capabilities. The devices will allow consumers to download or stream music and video, according to a news release.

Though the release is short on details as to what form the products will take, the first device will be a consumer electronics appliance and service combination, which will sit in a home stereo, according to John Spofford, vice president and general manager of Colorado personal storage solutions, a division of Hewlett-Packard. The device will attach to a television for its user interface, will link to a stereo to make use of speakers and will connect to the Internet either through a broadband or modem connection to download its content, he said.

The initial device will be only one in a family of forthcoming products growing out of HP's experience in the digital entertainment world which began with its sales of CD-R (CD-writable) drives, Spofford said. While the first product will focus primarily on music, Spofford said that HP will eventually offer a family of products and services that could include video, ebooks and other digital entertainment.

The devices will aim to capture "a lean-back experience," that is, the experience of using digital content from the living room, where one leans back in chairs or on couches, rather than the "lean-forward" experience of PCs, he said.

Further details about services and partnerships were not forthcoming, but Spofford did say that HP is in negotiations with other companies for future offerings.

Pricing for the first device is not yet set, though a good estimate would be under $US1000, Spofford said. That price is not final as details are still being worked out, he said. The device should be available through traditional HP retail channels, but will also likely expand to other channels, with availability in time for the holidays, he said.

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