Maxtor sees a promising new market selling hard disks that act as home-entertainment hubs whether or not they are connected to a personal computer.
The new system, which Maxtor is set to unveil on Wednesday, makes the company
the first hard-disk supplier to begin marketing its product as a home-entertainment center that can
bypass PCs and allow consumers to watch movies or play music or video games.
"It is truly an entertainment device without a PC in the equation," said Paul Streit, director of
product management at Maxtor's branded products group.
Maxtor is best known for making the 3.5-inch disk drives that store
data on desktop computers. With the launch of its Shared Storage Plus storage hardware, the company is
bypassing the personal computer, traditionally the heart of home computing.
When connected to a home network, the new drive acts as a digital entertainment media center. For
example, one family member could listen to music in a room upstairs while another watches a movie in
the living room and a third views a slide show of vacation photos on a laptop in the kitchen, Maxtor
Consumers can use the hard drive to manage different music playlists in up to 10 rooms of a house. For
movies, separate family members could be watching up to four different movies at a time.
The Shared Storage Plus drive relies on media-management software from Mediabolic. By relying on
industry standards that allow an increasing number of consumer electronics gadgets to easily connect
together, the hard drive and related software can essentially do without a PC as its central
The Shared Storage Plus drive comes in three sizes: 200 gigabytes, or billion bytes, costing $300; 300
gigabytes for $400 and a higher-capacity 500 gigabyte model to be introduced in October for $500.
The new product is essentially a software upgrade of existing 200 or 300 gigabyte hard drive models
introduced earlier this year, which were marketed as a means for home and small business PC users to
automatically back up data.
Owners of these existing hard drives can download the home entertainment hub capability for free, the