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1/7/2005
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HP's Fiorina Eyes Center Of Home Network

This fall, Hewlett-Packard plans to launch a non-PC device that would enable the access, management and distribution of digital content, and combine several consumer-electronics technologies.

This fall, Hewlett-Packard plans to launch a non-PC device that would enable the access, management and distribution of digital content and combine several consumer-electronics technologies, HP Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina told attendees Friday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Speaking in a morning keynote address, Fiorina said HP aims to position the device, dubbed the HDTV Media Hub, at the center of home networks and make it a linchpin of the Palo Alto, Calif., company's digital media strategy for the year.

"Consumers looking for living room, family room experiences will be able to enjoy multiple kinds of content through a single, simple-to-use platform that is remotely managed from the couch," Fiorina said. In a demonstration during her keynote, the device organized digital photos, music and movies in a user interface similar to the way a Microsoft Windows Media Center PC would do so.

However, Fiorina stopped short of describing the device's components--speculation has centered around its use of Linux rather than Microsoft software--other than saying that it would be able to access PC-based content. She added that HP also plans to roll out 17 new HDTVs and entertainment-focused displays in the fall as well as bolster its nascent lineup of theater systems, which were launched last year.

Fiorina's keynote came on the second day of CES, where one consumer-electronics or IT vendor after another showcased bigger TV displays, more powerful digital media devices and grand visions for integrating digital technology with consumer lifestyles.

"We think the real story here is not just new products, but the millions of experiences they make possible and the countless stories they enable people like you to tell," Fiorina told CES attendees. "If consumer electronics were like a passive form of entertainment, then digital entertainment is about active participation, where we all create the entertainment experiences we want to have."

Three years ago, HP was among the first OEMs to begin shipping an entertainment-focused PC to market, primarily through the consumer retail space. But over the past two years, the company has found itself competing with traditional LCD TV vendors as well as PC makers like Dell and digital camera manufacturers.

To help spur the creation and availability of digital content, HP also will continue to invest in research and development of IPTV networks and work with Hollywood studios on digital copyright protection, Fiorina said. A private demonstration of an IPTV deployment scaled out to 500,000 TV and movie viewers, she noted.

Fiorina shared part of her presentation with DreamWorks Animation SKG's CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who detailed his company's work with HP in the development of its animated movie, "A Shark's Tale," and provided a film clip of Dreamworks' upcoming animated feature, "Madagascar," due out this spring.

Fiorina also was joined on stage by recording artist Gwen Stefani, who helped HP with a new designer digital camera that's slated for release later this year.

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