HP unwraps Media Center PCs

HP unwraps Media Center PCs

HP's new Media Center PCs come with docking stations for iPod music players and a fresh new colour scheme.

The vendor has updated its Media Center PC line-up in the US with a new family of desktops - the m7000 Photosmart series. It has also introduced new Pavilion desktops along with Pavilion and Presario notebooks.

HP tends to introduce new PCs on a quarterly schedule, but the new Media Center PCs are the company's first update to those products since the introduction of new units in October, when Microsoft unveiled the latest version of the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system. The new units come with a light grey exterior, a significant departure from the stern black used on the older m1050 series Media Center PCs.

The m7000 series also features a special dock on the top of the PC that can be used to connect an iPod or an HP R-Series digital camera.

The m7060n Media Center PC comes with Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system, Intel's Pentium 4 630 processor, 1GB of memory, a 200GB hard drive and a DVD+/-RW optical drive.

While the industry was pushing Media Center PCs as a natural response to the surge in popularity of digital cameras and video, the systems also generated higher margins, director of research at NPD Techworld, Stephen Baker, said.

Companies had a hard time selling low-end or mid-tier desktop PCs without slashing prices, because many users were realising they could get comparable performance from notebooks for a similar or slightly higher price, he said.

This led to extremely low margins on most desktop PCs, which was already a problem in the market, Baker said.

However, Media Center PCs generally shipped with high-end components that allowed the industry to charge more for the product.

The other new desktops introduced fall into its Pavilion lineup, which offers PCs that run the standard Windows XP operating system. They are less expensive and powerful than the Media Center units.

HP also introduced two new notebooks in the US with AMD Athlon 64 processors. AMD recently introduced its Turion lineup of processors for notebooks weighing about 2.25 kilograms.

A spokesperson for HP Australia said it was reviewing the new Media Center Edition configurations for the local market.

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