October 20, 2003 10:23 AM PDT

Dell turns on satellite TV

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Dell is finalizing a deal to sell satellite TV systems provided by DirecTV.

Beginning next month, the Round Rock, Texas, PC maker plans to sell hardware and to sign up subscribers for DirecTV's digital video recording (DVR) service, a Dell representative said. A DirecTV representative confirmed that the two companies are discussing a deal.

The system combines DirecTV's satellite TV with TiVo's digital video recorder (DVR), which can store and play back TV programs.

Dell sells a wide range of third-party products, including digital cameras, televisions and TiVo DVRs, through its software and peripherals division. However, recently it has spawned a digital home effort that seeks to reach deeper into the consumer electronics market with a line of Dell-branded devices for the home. The PC maker aims to double its annual revenue over the next few years.

As part of that effort, Dell plans to come out with a Dell-branded LCD television, a Dell Digital Jukebox portable MP3 player, and other products. Dell already has launched a new Axim X3 model under the digital home banner, and on Monday it began offering the Dell 2200MP, an $899 projector, designed for home and office use.

Dell's home products will be augmented by music content and DirecTV and tied together by the Dell Media Experience, a multimedia user interface designed to simplify sharing files between devices. Dell will partner with companies such as DirecTV and Musicmatch to deliver content to the devices.

The company is launching an online Dell Music Store that offers customers songs for download to Dell's PCs and Digital Jukebox. Dell will use Musicmatch's song-selling service to provide the music. Dell is expected to formally announce the partnership soon, along with the jukebox when it ships.

The DirecTV DVR would complement Dell's music store and bulk up its personal video recorder offerings.

Dell recently began offering Dimension desktop PC models with Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004. Desktops that come with the operating system include DVR capabilities. Dell has been selling TiVo DVRs since last June.

DirecTV with DVR systems start at $99 and require the purchaser to agree to a one-year service contract, which the company's Web site says starts at $33.99 per month and, in some cases, requires a $4.99 per month DVR service fee.

 

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