Dell Taps Cable with New PC

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Las Vegas -- Michael Dell, founder and chairman of computer maker Dell, announced the company’s first PC capable of receiving and recording HD cable-TV programming during his keynote speech here Tuesday morning at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

The Dell Home Media Suite -- a bundle that includes an XPS 410 desktop and 1 terabyte of disk storage -- is outfitted with a CableCARD and a digital-television tuner that let the computer function as a digital-video recorder to stream video wirelessly to other home devices.

“This enables Vista PCs to tune, pause, view and record TV right on the hard disk,” Michael Dell said.

The company expects to ship the Home Media Suite bundle in the United States after Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system becomes available, scheduled for Jan. 30. Vista supports CableCARD, a device developed by the cable industry that plugs into consumer-electronics systems to view or record programming.

Michael Dell didn’t disclose pricing for the bundle, which includes the company’s newly introduced 27-inch flat-panel monitor and a Linksys 802.11 wireless router.

“Until now, it hasn’t been very easy to watch things online from your TV, or from your TV on your PC, or to listen to your music library on your stereo,” he said. “We think we’re perfectly positioned to make digital-media consumption easier for our customers … We focus on making complex systems work together in a seamless way.”

In his keynote, Michael Dell called on service providers to turn up more bandwidth to the home to enable new digital-media services. In 2006, he noted, YouTube alone used more bandwidth than the entire Internet consumed in 2000. In the United States, broadband penetration is 44%, and of that, fiber-to-the-home represents 1%, he added.

On this front, Michael Dell gave a plug for Verizon Communications’ FiOS network, which is the largest FTTH deployment in the United States. The FiOS network could eventually provide several gigabits per second of bandwidth to an individual home.

“Real broadband requires fiber and will enable a real digital home,” he said. “I encourage the entire telecom industry to step up and make such fiber available much more broadly.”

In other announcements, Dell introduced an environmental campaign, “Plant a Tree for Me,” that will let customers donate money to “offset the emissions” generated by electricity that powers PCs. Customers can donate $2 for notebooks and $6 for desktops to a fund that will be used to plant trees around the world.

Later this year, the company will launch Dell DataSafe, which will let customers back up data from their PCs to a password-protected Internet site; recover or access data from any other PC; and migrate data to any PC. Dell will also load DataSafe customers’ existing data and preferences directly onto newly purchased PCs at its factory. “Only a direct company can do that for you,” Michael Dell said.

On the gaming front, Dell rolled out the XPS 710 H2C, the first computer to incorporate a two-stage cooling process that uses a liquid-to-air heat exchanger in conjunctions with ceramic-based thermoelectric cooling modules to remove additional heat. The “midnight-black” XPS 710 H2C is priced starting at $5,499.

Dell also announced Studio Dell, a Web site that will provide three channels for home, small-business and information-technology customers with various how-to videos, like setting up a Web site.

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