HP discontinues piece of home automation puzzle

Friday, June 1, 2007

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Hewlett-Packard announced in late March that it is discontinuing the manufacture of its Digital Entertainment Center, which is part of the home automation package DSC unveiled at ISC West along with Exceptional Innovation, a manufacturer of the Life|ware home automation software (see "DSC unveils home automation partnership" at www.securitysystemsnews.com). The company intends to focus its home automation efforts on standard PCs that run the Microsoft Vista Media Center software and products like the MediaSmart TV, essentially an IP-addressable television which is not Microsoft dependent, along with products that are not currently on the market.
As one of the biggest manufacturers supporting the home automation space, this move by Hewlett Packard has been extensively covered by trade publications in the consumer electronics space and IT space. "It's a disappointing decision," said DSC's Bryan Watts, manager of new business development and channel management at DSC. However, HP still has thousands of units left to sell and "we still do have a very good relationship with HP," said Watts. "They're definitely doing everything they can to assist us on the transition and support for our customers." That relationship will not induce DSC to recommend an HP PC as part of its home automation package, however.
"The form factor of the DEC brings a lot of value, we think, to the approach that we're taking to this bundled package," said Watts. "We believe that the deck concept has a lot of value, so of course we were maintaining an awareness with other centers. We started making some phone calls to get back on track with others of these suppliers in this category, and we hope to be able to make an announcement in the near future."
Bret Fitzgerald, director of operations for Life|ware at Exceptional Innovation, agrees it's important that computers that run home audio/visual systems not look like traditional PCs.