HP MediaSmart Connect wireless HD media streamer up for pre-order

First spotted back in January at CES, HP networked media player – then known as the MediaSmart Receiver – is finally available for pre-order. Now called the MediaSmart Connect, it still has WiFi a/b/g and dual-band draft 802.11n, two USB ports for plugging in removeable storage and a bay for HP's Pocket Media Drives. Output is via HDMI or component video with optical audio, and a convenient front-mounted button toggles between 1080i and 720p.

Not only will MediaSmart search out and suck up all the audio, video and photos on your network, presenting them as a straightforward menu, but it's compatible with movie downloads from CinemaNow, photo site Snapfish and Live365 streaming radio. It also uses Microsoft's Extender for Windows Media Center technology, meaning it can control and play back content from a Windows Media PC.

Supported formats include MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DiVX, XVID, DVR-MS, WMV and WMV-HD; MP3, WMA, WMA Pro and AAC (unprotected); JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF and PNG. The MediaSmart can connect to other UPnP- and DLNA-compliant devices, such as NAS drives.

Pre-orders start today, priced at $349. That gets you the box itself, an HDMI cable, a learning remote control that can control four additional devices, and a $20 CinemaNow movie certificate.

Press Release:

HP MediaSmart Connect Makes It Easy to Enjoy Digital Media from Any HDTV

PALO ALTO, Calif., June 17, 2008. HP today announced that HP MediaSmart Connect, a digital receiver that brings digital media from around the home or the Internet(1) to any HDTV, is now available for pre-order.

Whether digital videos, music and photos are stored on a notebook across the room or a desktop in a home office,(2) HP MediaSmart Connect can find and display them all in a single list on any HDTV.(3)

Additionally, the digital media receiver can connect people to a wealth of online content from wherever they watch TV. Consumers can, for example, rent or purchase thousands of day-and-date release movies from CinemaNow, share and purchase photos from Snapfish and discover new Internet(1) radio stations from Live365.

First announced as part of the HP product launch at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, HP MediaSmart Connect features a sleek design with a piano-black finish as well as HP's exclusive "Zen" Imprint design and ambient blue lighting.

"HP MediaSmart Connect is an ideal complement to any HDTV," said Carlos Montalvo, vice president of marketing and services, Connected Entertainment Business, HP. "Consumers can use it to enjoy videos, music and photos – once trapped on PCs – on their big-screen HDTVs. Show and tell has never been more fun."

Extender for Windows® Media Center offers extended world of entertainment

HP MediaSmart takes advantage of Extender for Windows Media Center technology, giving owners an additional set of features using PCs with Windows Vista® Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate operating systems.(4)

Consumers can enjoy a world of content from online services such as Vongo, MovieLink and FOX Sports. Windows Media Center also features the Internet TV Beta, which offers more than 100 hours of video from MSN, including new shows from providers such as A&E, Bio, CNBC, DIY, Fine Living, Food Network, FOX Sports, HGTV, History Channel, iFilm, MSNBC, National Geographic, NBC News and StupidVideos. Consumers with a PC that has a TV tuner(5) can record and watch broadcast TV through the MediaSmart Connect on their HDTVs, too.

"With HP MediaSmart Connect, HP is bringing to market a compelling Media Center Extender device," said Ron Pessner, general manager, Connected TV division, Microsoft. "Connected CE products like these are delivering engaging consumer experiences for today's digital lifestyle. The new MediaSmart Connect will enable people to extend their entertainment to their HDTV from a Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate-based PC – delivering innovation as a result of our relationship with HP."

"HP's new MediaSmart Connect delivers the finest Media Center Extender consumer experience," said Richard Doherty, research director, Envisioneering Group. "HP has heeded consumers and engineered in everything from DivX support to Windows XP compatibility, all propelled by HD-quality 802.11n wireless connectivity."

Streaming digital media to HDTV made easier

HP MediaSmart Connect can connect to other UPnP- and DLNA-compliant devices, and as part of the HP MediaSmart family of products, it also can access personal content from the HP MediaSmart Server or HP Media Vault. HP MediaSmart Connect can stream digital media over wired and wireless(6) (802.11a, b and g, and dual-band draft 802.11n)(7) networks and features two USB ports as well as an HP Pocket Media Drive bay (drive sold separately) for easy transition of digital media from HP PCs.

HP MediaSmart Connect makes it easy for the whole family to enjoy photos, music and videos together in front of a big-screen TV by supporting a wide range of video, audio and image formats, including MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DiVX, XVID, DVR-MS, WMV and WMV-HD; MP3, WMA, WMA Pro and AAC (unprotected); JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF and PNG.

HP MediaSmart Connect owners can choose to connect to their HDTV through an HDMI port or component video with optical audio out.

Connected entertainment industry experts discuss the HP MediaSmart Connect

HP, in conjunction with Microsoft and retailers Amazon.com, Best Buy, Circuit City and Newegg.com, will conduct a series of webinars to discuss and demonstrate the capabilities of HP MediaSmart Connect. In addition, these experts will spark conversation and shed light on the future of connected entertainment. Consumers can sign up to attend a webinar at www.microsoft.com/hpmediasmartconnect.

Date Time Guest expert

Tuesday, June 24 10 a.m. PT Ed Bott – Independent blogger for ZDNet.com

Thursday, June 26 1 p.m. PT Ian Dixon – TheDigitalLifestyle.com

Tuesday, July 8 10 a.m. PT Patrick Norton – Tekzilla.com

Thursday, July 10 1 p.m. PT Mike Garcen – MissingRemote.com

Pricing and availability

HP MediaSmart Connect can be pre-ordered beginning today from Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, CircuitCity.com and Newegg.com. HP MediaSmart Connect includes an HDMI cable, a learning remote control that can control four additional devices, and a $20 CinemaNow movie certificate. Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $349.(8) More information is available at www.hp.com/mediasmartconnect.

On June 18 at 12 p.m. PT, HP will open a trade-in program for HP MediaSmart Connect. The first 100 participants can exchange their old digital media adapter for a new HP MediaSmart Connect. Details are at www.hp.com/go/mediasmartconnect/tradein.

About HP

HP focuses on simplifying technology experiences for all of its customers – from individual consumers to the largest businesses. With a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure, HP is among the world's largest IT companies, with revenue totaling $110.4 billion for the four fiscal quarters ended April 30, 2008. More information about HP (NYSE: HPQ) is available at http://www.hp.com.

(1) Internet access required and sold separately.

(2) Wired or wireless home network required.

(3) HD content required for HD performance.

(4) Certain Windows Vista product features require advanced or additional hardware. For details, visit www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/hardwarereqs.mspx and www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/capable.mspx. Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor can help determine which features of Windows Vista will run on a computer. To download the tool, visit www.windowsvista.com/upgradeadvisor.

(5) Availability of signals limited by the strength and accessibility of the originating TV signal, location and other factors. Performance issues may arise, and do not constitute defects in the product.

(6) Wireless access point and Internet service required and not included.

(7) The specifications for the 802.11n WLAN are draft specifications and are not final. If the final specifications differ from the draft specifications, it may affect the ability of the notebook to communicate with other 802.11n WLAN devices.

(8) Estimated U.S. retail price. Actual price may vary.