RealTime IT News

HP Pumps Up its Media Center PC Lineup

Building on the success of its HP Media Center launch last year, Hewlett-Packard bolstered its offerings with two devices that let users manipulate digital media.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker launched the devices last year to become a powerhouse in the living room with a PC designed to be an audio/video entertainment hub.

The new HP Media Center PCs 864n and 854n feature a six-in-one media card reader, improved graphics, faster processors and larger hard drives than previous models.

Similar to personal video recorders (PVRs), the devices let users record live TV with new Sonic MyDVD software, burn the content to the DVD writer, and then watch the DVD in many standard home DVD players.

The PCs also feature the ability to download, alter or burn their own digital music, digital photos, digital video and DVDs. The system can be operated in a standard PC format with a keyboard and mouse or with a remote control. Similar to its previous offerings, the HP Media Center PCs include Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition.

The new models now come standard with a DVD+RW/CD-RW drive (DVD writer and CD writer combo drive).

"Introduced just in time for the 2002 holiday buying season, retail sales for this new category of product far exceeded our expectations," said HP North America Consumer Computing vice president and general manager Sam Szteinbaum. "We expect these new enhancements to make the HP Media Center PC even more desirable and further revolutionize the way people think about home entertainment."

The 864n includes an Intel Pentium 4 2.66/533-MHz processor with a 160-GB hard drive and 512-MB DDR SDRAM. With a hard drive that large, HP boasts the device could store more than 100 hours of recorded TV. The 864n also comes with Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX-certified 200-watt speakers and the Creative Labs Audigy 5.1 multi-channel sound card.

It's lower-priced version, the HP Media Center PC 854n, features an Intel Pentium 4 2.53-GHz/533-MHz processor, 512-MB DDR memory and 80 hours of recorded TV storage capacity on a 120-GB hard drive. Speakers are sold separately, but consumers can upgrade.

Both models offer a high-resolution 128-MB NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 graphics card.

The six-in-one media card readers on the front panel of the devices enable users to quickly and easily transfer digital data from all common flash media formats -- letting them, for example, download images or files directly from the media card of a digital camera or handheld.

The HP Media Center PC 854n retail model will be offered on-shelf in retail outlets including Circuit City, CompUSA, Best Buy, Fry's Electronics and Micro Center starting March 16 for an estimated U.S. street price of $1,399.

The 864n will be available at Circuit City, CompUSA, Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, Micro Center and Office Depot, and at select retailers in Canada starting March 23 for an estimated U.S. street price of $1,699.

Both models also will be available direct from HP online at www.hpshopping.com and through HP retail kiosks in the United States.

All the PCs in the HP Media Center line include a remote control, 48x CD-ROM drive, floppy drive, PVR TV tuner card, TV-out, one front-access and four rear-access USB 2.0 ports, one front-access and one rear-access IEEE 1394 port, an IR blaster to control a set-top cable or satellite box and a 10/100 Base-T network interface.

HP is also offering 24x7service and support via phone or online in English or Spanish.