Our second set of home-theater predictions for 1998

Last week we predicted the skid of Divx, the plod of HDTV, and the advance of the home-theater computer. This week we add three more prognostications to the list:

4) Hanging your TV on a wall becomes a viable but pricy reality.
Plasma screens, ranging from $12k to $25k in price and 40" to 50" in size, start shipping to the more opulent home-theater addresses. But the big push for this technology will be in the boardroom and commercial markets, and will drive prices down to more reasonable levels by 1999. Bonus prediction: Expect to see some "breakthrough" flatscreen-technology announcements near summer.

5) Surround-sound websites begin to appear late in the year.
Don't laugh. Gamers are pushing internet boundaries faster than anyone else, with 3-D sound one of the hot features currently winding its way through the development stage. It may take a while for a clear online surround winner to appear, but keep an eye on this one---it may affect your home-theater purchases in years to come.

6) The DVD release of the film Titanic becomes the hot ticket driving DVD player sales during Xmas '98
Sometimes it just takes a little nudge to get things hopping, and nothing can boost sales of DVD players like the release of a hot title. From what we've seen so far, the picture should be gorgeous, the sound ought to be all-consuming, and the film actually has a decent story to go with all those special effects.

Titanic Trivia: Director James Cameron checked with a shipyard in Gdansk, Poland and discovered it would be cheaper to build a real, full-size Titanic and sail it on the sea than to create everything with special effects. But he couldn't sell the movie studios on the film unless he did it the nerd way.

Have any predictions of your own? Send 'em in to SGHT.