In November, Digital Lifestyles Group Inc. plans to ship the hip-e, a new Windows-based PC inspired by the iMac, specifically designed to cater to teenagers. It was Chairman and CEO Kent Savage’s own experience after his son asked him for an iMac that led to the new all-in-one system’s creation.
“We believe we’re the world’s first lifestyle computer for teens,” Vice President of Marketing Annie Bacon told MacCentral in an interview on the floor of Digital Life, a consumer expo taking place this week in New York City. “We’re targeting 13 to 19 year olds, but we’ve designed hip-e specifically with the 17 year old in mind — partly because 13 and 14 year olds aspire to be 17 and have similar tastes.”
Behind a 17-inch widescreen LCD display running at 1,440 x 900 pixels lies the heart of a PC running Windows XP, but Digital Lifestyles Group has created a package that offers its teen users an integrated experience with music, e-mail, instant messaging, gaming and more — along with peripherals including flash-based MP3 players and a cell phone.
The core system is called the hip-e node. It has a white exterior with a faceplate that can be switched out with other faceplate designs to offer some customization. The node features a 120GB internal hard drive and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive mounted vertically on its right side. Underneath the plastic lies a Pentium M processor running at 1.5GHz and an ATI M11 graphics chip. Three USB 2.0 ports and one firewire port offer external connectivity with other peripherals. The system also feature’s built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking connectivity.
The hip-e node includes plain vanilla Microsoft Windows XP, but also features hip-e hangout, which serves as the communications hub of the system. A rotary interface provides users with access to games, shopping, built-in television and DVR capabilities, instant messaging, movies, news, resources for homework including thesaurus, encyclopedia and dictionary, and security features that help protect kids from spyware, viruses and other problems on their computer.
The hip-e sports a battery-powered wireless keyboard — the nodeboard — and mouse that communicate with the node using RF. The nodeboard is equipped with hot keys that are pre-programmed to bring kids instantly to their favorite Web sites. The top of the keyboard is equipped with separate ports to attach the playme — hip-e’s flash-based MP3 player, which can optionally be worn as a pendant — and the reachme, a basic color screen-equipped cell phone that works on Sprint’s PCS cellular network. The phone is available with prepaid calling plans and connects to the nodeboard for charging. Also included are 7-in-1 memory card slots for downloading photos from digital cameras.
Beatbox is hip-e’s speaker system, which connects to the bottom of the hip-e node. It’s detachable, and the center of beatbox features an interface that lets users connect their playme MP-3 player. A detachable shoulder strap lets users carry beatbox independent of the hip-e node, boombox style.
Digital Lifestyles Group Inc. plans to ship the hip-e by late November 2004. The basic bundle package costs $1,699, and includes the node and beatbox. Adding the playme MP3 player or reachme cell phone adds an additional $100 each. The company also plans a laptop computer called the nodebook, and sells playme, reachme and beatbox peripherals independently for $149, $149 and $79 respectively.