Hewlett-Packard Co. is unveiling a broad new line of consumer electronics products and peripherals, including its first plasma and LCD TVs, new inks that purportedly print long-lasting photos, new paper, a clutch of printers and multifunction devices, and a home theater projector with an integrated DVD player.
Some products, such as the ink and the media-friendly HP Pavilion DV1000 Entertainment Notebook PC, are shipping now; other products will be shipping over the next couple of months.
First Plasma, LCD TVs
HP makes a big splash into the living room with its new large-screen plasma and LCD TVs. Competing PC manufacturer Gateway is already offering both plasma and LCD TVs, and Dell is selling LCD TVs.
Scheduled to ship this fall, the 26-inch LC2640N (priced at US$2499) and the 40-inch LC3040N ($2999) are identical except for the size of the display. Each of these LCD TVs has a dual-NTSC tuner for picture-in-picture or simultaneous side-by-side viewing. They also have 1280 by 768 resolution and DCDi video processing from Faroudja, and can support high-definition broadcasts with DVI-D inputs.
In addition to the LCD models, the company is offering two 42-inch plasma TVs for release this fall. The two units differ significantly, in both price and resolution.
As its name implies, the $4999 HP PL4245N HD-Ready Plasma Television supports HD broadcasts at 1080i and a resolution of 1024 by 768 (you’ll need a separate HDTV set-top box to view high-def content on it, though). By contrast, the $2999 HP PE4240N Plasma Television offers only Enhanced Definition TV, defined as 480p, at a resolution of 852 by 480.
The models share a sleek, ebony-black design that will fit right into even the most stylish living rooms. Other shared attributes: Both have dual integrated NTSC tuners for picture-in-picture displays, use DCDi video processing by Faroudja, and support DVI-D with HDCP for optimal digital video connections with devices that use DVI-D connectivity (including set-top boxes and DVD players). Both are rated for 50,000 hours of viewing. The PL425N also has a 3000:1 contrast ratio.
At first glance, the oval, off-white HP EP9010 Instant Cinema Digital Projector looks like a giant mushroom–albeit one with a variety of control buttons on top.
A cool concept for an all-in-one home theater, HP’s EP9010 combines an HDTV-ready digital projector with a DVD player and 2.1-channel sound system, all in a hefty (23-pound) yet movable package that you can set up on a table to watch movies (if you have a projection screen or convenient wall) and store in a closet or cabinet. Best yet, because the DVD player and speakers are integrated, you can move the product from room to room without having to disconnect and reattach a bunch of separate components.
The unit uses Texas Instruments’ DLP projection technology, with a color wheel optimized for home theater viewing (there’s no white segment, which is typically found in business projectors but not dedicated home theater models). Likewise, the brightness level is also optimized for video playback. HP says the product is rated for a 4000-hour lamp life, and it carries a relatively low decibel rating of 34dbA.
The new photo printers are aimed at different audiences. The $399 Photosmart 2710 All-in-One has fax, copying, and scanning capabilities in addition to printing, and it can print wirelessly using its built-in 802.11g radio. With the addition of an optional Bluetooth adapter, the MFP can print from Bluetooth-enabled devices such as cell phones. It supports the PictBridge standard for printing directly from cameras and allows you to print from memory cards as well. The 2170 has a color LCD for previewing your photos before printing them. The 2710 is expected to be in stores in October.
Though the $299 Photosmart 8450 Photo Printer lacks the scanning, faxing, and copying functions of the 2170, this high-end photo printer uses eight inks to add depth to photos. It is networkable via wired ethernet, so multiple users can share it. Like the 2170, the 8450 can print from media cards or directly from digital cameras via a PictBridge port on the front, and it has a color LCD for previewing shots and doing some basic editing tasks such as cropping and removing red-eye. It will be available in mid-September.
The new $199 Photosmart 375 Compact Photo Printer is designed to print snapshots on the spot, wherever you are. It is dedicated to producing 4-by-6-inch prints and can run on an optional internal battery or an optional car adapter. It weighs less than 3 pounds and has a PictBridge port and memory card slots, as well as a color LCD, and will be available in mid-September.
HP says it is already shipping its new ink line, dubbed Vivera, which is expected to improve photo fade resistance and permanence. According to HP, independent tests show that some of the new Vivera inks could result in a photo that lasts 95 years, and others could produce photos lasting up to 115 years.
The new HP 95, HP 96, HP 97, HP 99, and HP 100 Inkjet Print cartridges will work only with new HP inkjet printers and will range in price from $20 to $35 per cartridge. To lower ink costs to consumers, the company also plans to offer bulk packaging of inks with HP papers in larger retail outlets.
An addition to the line is HP’s new black pigment-based ink, available in the HP 95 and HP 96 cartridges. These black ink cartridges print laser-quality black text and crisp graphics, even at the higher speeds of new inkjet printers.
Tracey Capen, Rebecca Freed, Anne B. McDonald, and Melissa J. Perenson of PC World contributed to this report