The final quartet of prescient home-theater ponderings has arrived

In installment one and two of this series, we presaged the crawl of HDTV, the rise of the flat-panel TV, and the demise of Divx. For our final set of guesses---er, prescient opinions, we tackle four more topics.

7) Digital TV gets a little closer.
With DTV announcements hitting a fever pitch at CES '98, several large companies---including Intel, LG Electronics (Goldstar), Philips, and Panasonic, among others---will be showing prototypes throughout the year. What's less certain is whether they can pull off an actual product before year's end. But expect this to be second only to DVD as the home-theater technology to watch in '98.

8) 1394/FireWire video breaks out of the standards committees and onto the desktop.
1394 is the new networking scheme that promises to revolutionize the way you connect and use consumer electronics and computer equipment. In fact, you can already purchase a 1394-ready, hand-held video camera from Sony. The problem is, what can you hook it up to? Count on this to change in 1998 with the introduction of 1394-equipped computers for both Mac and Wintel platforms, and a smattering of 1394-equipped consumer-electronics products.

9) Ticket sales at movie theaters increase yet again.
1997 was a good year for the economy and a good year for the movie business. It has also been pointed out that movies always do well even in bad years, since people like to escape to fantasy land as things around them get worse. So here's a safe prediction: Even though the movie studios will claim that DVD piracy is going to kill them, they'll enjoy another record year at the box office. We want one condition on this one, however. All bets are off if they decide to release 20 stupid movies in a row---which is not out of the question.

10) DVD will drive home-theater system sales by the end of the year.
There's nothing like a good front-end technology like DVD to inspire folks to upgrade the rest of their home-theater systems. Many will invest in surround sound for the first time because of DVD. But format wars and selfish moves by Circuit City (Divx) will keep things cool for at least eight months. Toward the end of the year, though, the smoke will clear enough to get Ma and Pa Kettle in on the action.

Bonus Prediction: There will be over 1000 DVD titles by the end of 1998!
And we're not talking Divx disposables. Currently at 500 releases and counting, this number is sure to top 1000 quickly---even late summer is not out of the question. Once Divx falters and the last studios sign on to real DVD, the floodgates will open.