SGHT home-theater predictions for 1998

This is the year that the computer industry and the home-theater companies start to seriously rub edges, and the sparks are set to fly. But fear not---we have seen the future, and it looks (and sounds) pretty good for the folks at home. At least, it will be fun to watch.

1) Divx will launch later in the year, but consumers won't care.
After the public-relations fiasco of the initial announcement of Divx, its proponents regroup to repackage the scam---er, technology. But it's too little too late. Consumers are ready for pay-per-view, but not something as dumb and confusing as Divx.

2) DTV limps a little closer.
18 standards and multiple skirmishes later, HDTV will finally start to come into focus after all these years. But it may be the computer biz that moves the format into the home. (See next prediction for details.)

3) The war for eyeballs continues unabated---computers get the edge.
Intel tipped our hand on this one with their recent announcement about digital TV chips hitting reasonable price points. But the smart money in 1998 will be on beefing up existing TVs in consumers' homes with hybrid set-top boxes and format converters. Intel also thinks we'll want high-tech TV tuners in our PCs. We're not betting on that one.