TECHXNY - Compaq unveils IPaq music centre for home

If you need evidence that the much-predicted convergence of computers and consumer electronics may finally be upon us, consider this: PC heavyweights Compaq and Hewlett-Packard's latest devices compete head-to-head--for a place in your stereo system. HP announced its Digital Entertainment Center last week, and this week Compaq unveiled its similar IPaq Music Center at PC Expo/TECHXNY here.

Like the HP product, Compaq's device is an MP3 jukebox that also receives Internet radio. With a $US800 price tag, it's slated to hit store shelves in mid-July--beating HP's unit, which isn't expected until the fall.

The slick black IPaq Music Center is designed to sit in a stack of stereo components along with your receiver, tape deck, and other audio equipment. It also has a built-in modem and connects to a TV for video output. The unit has a CD player; stick in a music CD, and the Music Center identifies its tracks (via the Internet's CDDB music database), catalogues them, and stores them as MP3 files on its internal hard drive. The drive can store tracks for approximately 400 CDs (5000 tracks) according to Compaq.

The TV display and a button-laden remote control let you navigate and organise your music collection by artist or genre. A jack on the unit's front panel lets you download MP3 tracks to one of Compaq's portable MP3 players.

Surf here for more tunes

The unit can also play streaming Internet radio stations, either over a standard dial-up line or--thanks to built-in HomePNA networking--over a broadband connection. However, it isn't compatible with the newer wireless home networks that use the 802.11b standard.

Audio buffs who buy the Music Center will also be able to use it to buy music from an online store, although Compaq says that e-commerce won't be a major focus of the product.

One significant difference between Compaq's product and HP's similar device is that Compaq doesn't include a built-in CD-R that lets you burn custom CDs. However, the Compaq may be cheaper--HP has said only that its Digital Entertainment Center will be priced under $US1000.

Of course, even $US800 is a big investment for most families. But unlike some convergence devices (such as the TiVo personal video recorder), Compaq's Music Center doesn't make you pay a monthly service fee. You can dial up your existing ISP account through its modem.

Compaq and HP aren't the first companies to ship MP3 components of this sort. Similar machines have been available for a while from smaller vendors such as AudioRamp and Request Multimedia. Also, some add-on products help bring digital music to your stereo. Still, the computing behemoths' entry into the market could help popularise these devices, or at least test whether mainstream America is ready for MP3s in the living room.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Harry McCracken

PC World
Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?