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Sunday, August 29, 2004
HP Moves Deeper Into Consumer Electronics

Personal computer giant Hewlett-Packard Co. is stepping deeper than ever into the consumer electronics arena with its fall product lineup - so don't be surprised if you hear about ``HP TV'' along with ``HDTV'' when shopping for your next television.

Included among two dozen new consumer products to be unveiled Friday will be the company's first-ever televisions - a 42-inch high-definition plasma TV and a 30-inch flat-panel LCD TV - and an all-in-one home theater projector system.

As part of its foray from the home office into the living room, the Palo Alto-based tech company also has deals with large retailers such as Best Buy Co Inc. and Circuit City Stores Inc. to erect at some of their stores so-called ``immersion displays'' which would showcase HP's digital products.

HP officials say they are trying to emphasize quality, ease of use and affordability in the new products.

``We've earned that reputation in the printing business, and we'd like to earn that same status in the living room,'' said John Solomon, vice president of HP's U.S. consumer business unit.

HP declared a year ago its heightened interest in consumer electronics with a rollout of 158 products grandly dubbed ``Big Bang 2.'' But many of the products were still related to printing, including digital cameras with easy hookups to portable printers.

This fall's inventory also includes printers, but they will work with a new generation of cartridges featuring HP's new sub-brand of Vivera ink - designed to help HP better compete against rivals and generic cartridge refillers. The HP Photosmart 8450 Photo Printer even connects to the Internet so users can send pictures to each other's machines.

But the most anticipated items are those that HP chief executive Carly Fiorina previewed during her January keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show.

They include the HP ep9010 Instant Cinema Digital Projector that has a built-in DVD player, subwoofer sound system and an estimated price of $2,499; the 42-inch plasma TV, which will be $2,999 for the enhanced-definition model and $4,999 for the high-definition model; and the LCD TVs, which will be $2,499 for a 26-inch model and $2,999 for a 30-inch model. All will be available in September.

A digital entertainment center that serves as a repository for digital photos, music, video and movies is also planned, but details have not been announced.

HP's expansion into the living room follows similar efforts by other PC makers, such as Gateway Inc. and Dell Inc., to look for revenue sources beyond the slow-growth PC market. All are aiming to make headway in the fledgling market of converged devices that link PC functions to home television and stereo systems.

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