Tech Pac beefs up home strategy

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Tech Pacific has signed an exclusive distribution agreement to push the Home Media Centre (HMC), an all-in-one set-top box, DVD and music player designed and assembled by Australian upstart Development One.

Tech Pacific has signed an exclusive distribution agreement to push the Home Media Centre (HMC), an all-in-one set-top box, DVD and music player designed and assembled by Australian upstart Development One.

The device - which plugs into an existing TV or living room stereo - will store all forms of digital media and is operated via remote control.

Users can record and rewind live television with the box; play DVDs, VCDs, audio CDs, MP3s, view pictures and hook up to the internet. It also features TV program guide information, which essentially lets users record a full season of TV shows.

According to Development One, the box uses the internet to connect to TV guide information and uses this information to co-ordinate the viewing and recording functions, which sets it apart from other similar products in the market today. Weather information is also sourced from the internet with updates as required.

Joshua Velling, systems and peripherals category manager at Tech Pacific, said the agreement forms part of the distributor's emerging digital home product portfolio.

He said the distributor was already in negotiations with mass market retailers to take on the product.

Velling said digital home is an emerging category that has enormous potential. 'How big that potential will be is a matter of time,' he said, adding that the machine addresses a market of users who have an existing VCR or DVD player.

The box can be connected to a home network via a standard router. Although the box does not yet support wireless connectivity directly, it can be connected using a wireless access point and also required a wireless Ethernet bridge to bring a wireless network back to the hardwire, the company said.

Velling said the product fits well for resellers who are developing home networking strategies as part of their larger product portfolios.

Tech Pacific would soon add more products targeted at the home market to its distribution list. 'I see this as a whole new product category coming to market,' he said.

Daniel Elbaum, MD at Development One said the HMC had been in development here for the past 11 months. He claimed there's no other system available in Australia that can match its functionality. 'There are set-top boxes out there, but [there's] nothing that concentrates on all your media needs,' he claimed.

Elbaum wants to grab between five and ten percent of the Australian set-top box market over the next year. According to Digital Broadcasting Australia, there were 291,000 digital receivers sold in Australia from June 2002 to February 2004, up 41,000 units on estimates at the end of 2003.

There are three HMC models which have hard drive capacities of 80GB, 160GB and 250GB. Development One uses drives manufactured by Samsung, Western Digital and LG Electronics, an Intel Celeron processor and motherboards manufactured by various Taiwanese companies, which the company declined to name. The box is priced between $1799 and $2199 (RRP).

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