Computer Makers Focus on Set-top Boxes to Merge TV, PC

Despite the ocean of ink that has been spilled on the subject, most consumers are indifferent about the inclusion of TV tuners in their computers. "Convergence" might be simply another intellectual fad---popular among journalists because it seems so logical, yet flopping among consumers because it really isn't. Most computer users who have responded to marketing studies indicate they don't care if they can receive television on their computers or not.

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The Video-On-Demand Gold Rush Continues . . .

More set-top box news this week: On April 21, <A HREF="http://www.sciatl.com">Scientific-Atlanta</A> announced an agreement with <A HREF="http://www.schange.com">SeaChange International</A> to develop a complete server-to-set-top digital video-on-demand (VOD) system for cable networks. This agreement makes Scientific-Atlanta the first company to offer cable operators all network components for an integrated, commercially feasible digital VOD service in 1998.

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Digital Video for the Home: More Products from NAB

The <A HREF="http://www.nab.org">National Association of Broadcasters</A> (NAB) show earlier this month featured all manner of professional high-tech toys, from HDTV cameras to the latest video-production devices. But among the broadcast-industry announcements, several products of interest to cutting-edge consumers were also presented.

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Home Theater Affects Housing Design, Furniture Sales

The living room in most American homes has traditionally served ceremonial purposes. It's the place where your parents entertained visiting dignitaries, like the local minister who came to offer consolation after your grandmother's funeral. It's the place where they took pictures of you and your senior-prom date. As a showcase for stiff, uncomfortable, and rarely used furniture, the traditional living room is an ornamental vestige of a bygone, formal era, like buttons on the sleeve of a dinner jacket.

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Warner Bros. to Rent DVD Players and Flicks

On April 13, <A HREF="http://www.warnerbros.com">Warner Bros. Home Video</A> announced a program intended to introduce the DVD to a new generation of movie fans. WB will bundle DVD players and discs for video dealers to rent to their customers. "The rapid growth of DVD now makes rental a viable business opportunity for rental retailers," says Thomas Lesinski, Warner Home Video senior vice president for marketing.

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Faroudja Launches 14-City HDTV Demo Tour

Manufacturer <A HREF="http://www.faroudja.com/">Faroudja, Inc.</A>, famous for its video projectors, line-doublers, line-quadruplers, and other ultra-high-quality video processors, kicked off a nationwide HDTV road show last Thursday with a well-attended open house at The Audible Difference, a high-end dealer in Silicon Valley, about 25 miles south of San Francisco.

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USWest and Sony Corp. of America Invest in Intertainer, Inc.

Last week, <A HREF="http://www.intertainer.com/">Intertainer, Inc.</A> announced that both <A HREF="http://www.uswest.com/">USWest Communications</A> and <A HREF="http://www.sony.com">Sony Corp.</A> have invested in the company, which provides a broadband entertainment-on-demand programming service of the same name. The two investors join <A HREF="http://www.intel.com/">Intel</A>, <A HREF="http://www.comcast.com/">Comcast</A>, and Sterling Ventures in committing capital and technological resources to Intertainer. As part of the agreement, <A HREF="http://www.uswest.com/interprise">USWest !nterprise Networking</A>, the data-integration arm of USWest Communications, will supply the Interprise service to its customers via Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) wire centers in 40 cities starting in June 1998.

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Hundreds of DVDs Available as Mail-Order Rentals

Hollywood is now cranking out DVD titles at a rate of more than one per day, but rental outlets have only a few of the most popular titles in stock. This is clearly a problem for home-theater owners and movie fans looking for new material.

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RCA to offer Dolby Digital via Satellite

Digital Satellite System dish owners could soon be enjoying Dolby Digital surround sound. Next month, DSS dealers will start taking delivery on RCA's new DS5451 receiver. The new receiver will incorporate an optical Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format (S/PDIF) jack that sends a Dolby Digital signal to an appropriate surround decoder or A/V receiver.

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Tower Construction Could Delay HDTV

Delays in tower construction could cause broadcasters in some big cities like New York and Chicago to miss their government-mandated May 1, 1999 deadline for initiating HDTV. The problem is this: The strength of terrestrially transmitted digital signals is dependent on the height of transmitting towers, and big-city broadcasters are having trouble finding the space to build them. "The rollout might be a little slower than anyone anticipated," said <A HREF="http://www.nab.org/">National Association of Broadcasters</A> executive vice president Chuck Sherman at the NAB's annual convention in Las Vegas.

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