Hewlett-Packard is in discussions with content providers to bring user-generated content, movie previews and TV shows to its line of Internet-connected MediaSmart LCD TV sets.
HP already has a deal with CinemaNow to offer MediaSmart users the ability to browse and purchase or rent more than 4,000 titles directly from the TV set. Videos are downloaded to a consumer’s PC, then streamed wirelessly to the TV.
Alex Thatcher, senior product marketing manager for HP’s Digital TV Solutions group, said the company expects to announce additional Internet-video-content partners next month. “It should be a pretty extensive library of content,” he added.
HP launched the MediaSmart line last year with a 37-inch TV, which can play music and video and display photos stored on PCs.
The Internet features of HP’s MediaSmart sets are similar to other products that have recently hit the market, including Apple TV set-tops. Apple last month announced a deal with Google’s YouTube to provide access to the site’s user-generated content on Apple TV.
Thatcher acknowledged that Apple TV captured the lion’s share of buzz. “There’s a little bit of frustration here,” he added. “It’s hard to beat the hype machine across the street.” HP’s TV group is in Cupertino, Calif., which is also home to Apple headquarters.
HP’s new Internet-content partnerships will be part of the debut of 42- and 47-inch MediaSmart models, expected to be available by the end of August in retail channels including Best Buy stores. The TVs -- with list prices of $2,199 and $2,799 respectively -- support 1080p HD programming and include 802.11n wireless network connectivity.
“We knew TVs were destined to become connected devices,” Thatcher said. “Sometime down the road, it will be unusual to see a TV that isn’t connected.”
So far, the most popular feature of the MediaSmart TVs is perusing personal photos, Thatcher said. “People are just looking for a simple way to get their personal photos on the TV,” he added. “That’s still pretty revolutionary.”
Next year, HP plans to introduce the MediaSmart Server, a network-attached storage device that can hold up to 4 terabytes of content and serve content to the TV and other devices in the home.
HP demonstrated the new MediaSmart TV models at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.