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InfoWorld: You need to look beyond the hype to see the truth behind set-top boxes

Jul 10, 1999, 23:29 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bob O'Donnell)

"...there's been a lot of talk recently about developments related to set-top boxes. ..the devices that sit on top of a normal television set and supposedly bring advanced features such as Internet access and simplified PC operation to the TV."

"...when I read about Windows CE set-tops or Linux-based set-tops or some other cool technological development, I just have to shake my head. The reality is, it doesn't matter what OS or what applications are embedded into these devices because the display upon which their results are viewed doesn't cut it. It's basically the same as using a sub-$100 14" interlaced monitor along with a new Pentium III-based PC. That combination is a ridiculous waste of the PC's capabilities, yet that is essentially what these set-top devices -- no matter how powerful and feature-rich -- are doing."

"With the rise of the free PC movement, with its bundled Internet access and better viewing experience, however, I believe both existing WebTV users and future budget-driven consumers will opt for the free or low-cost PC route. Not only does a real computer offer a better viewing experience, it offers support for other Web-based technologies that may never reach the set-top boxes. ...until we start seeing the higher resolutions offered by HDTV, I just don't think set-top boxes of any kind make any sense."

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