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

“…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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