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Aardvark Daily

Product Review
Epson 600 Colour Printer

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12th May 1997
WebTV or TVWeb?
There's a lot of people betting pretty significant amounts of money on the belief that every-day people will want to access the Internet's World Wide Web through their television set.

It's a great concept and maybe it will fly - but for reasons I've stated in previous editions of Aardvark - I don't think so. TV sets have atrocious resolution - they can't even manage standard VGA (640x480) graphics with any degree of legibility and you can bet that as soon as one member of the family wants to surf the Net, someone else will want to watch Shortland Street or use the phone.

With a probably a $500-$1,000+ premium attached to any TV capable of surfing the Web - odds are that the bulk of people might consider a subscription to Sky or a new Nintendo 64 to be a better use of that money. This implies that any TV capable of surfing the Web is going to be targeted mainly at the "top-end" of the market. Unfortunately the top-end market is also the one most likely to already have a PC with modem and Internet connection.

Where does that leave the WebTV set?

Put the TV in the PC?
Now I probably spend a lot more than most people on my computer equipment - although I save quite a bit by buying clone stuff at reasonable prices rather than "brand name" hardware.

Of late, I've been adding some interesting little bits and pieces to my development PC. It's a Pentium 166MHz with 64MB of RAM and 4GB of hard disk and as regular readers will be aware - it's recently had an IOMega Zip drive and Epson 600 Colour printer added - but that's not all.

Perhaps the most interesting addition of late has been a TV/Video card. It's a Prolink PixelView Combo-card which includes a PAL standard TV tuner, 64bit graphics accelerator and 2MB of RAM.

Unlike some of the cheaper cards on the market it lets me create AVI files from live TV or video recordings as well as capture individual frames and save them as graphics files in a number of formats.

All in all it's a nice addition to the system - significantly faster than my old ET4000w32 video card and with the bonus that I can listen to TV and, in the click of a mouse button, pop up a live TV window on my display if I hear something of interest. Unfortunately it's about to be committed to serving my new WebTV site so it'll be going into another machine and I won't be able to sneak a glimpse of MaxTV while I'm working.

TV on my PC
how much would you expect to pay?
So what's my point?
The point is... my desktop PC is now capable of playing music CDs (at 100WPMO), recording sound in CD quality stereo, recording video (albeit with nowhere near the quality or capacity of even the cheapest VCR), receiving and displaying TV broadcasts, playing synthesized music (MIDI), acting as an international telephone - and (of course) surfing the Web.

Now how much would you expect to pay for this combination stereo system, TV set, VCR and Net-capable computer?

Well, at today's prices you could build a system with this level of functionality for a little over $2,000 (or maybe $2,500 with a cheap 20 inch screen).

How much would you pay for a mini-system, VCR, Colour TV and computer plus modem individually? A whole lot more than $2,500 I suspect.

How much would a Web-capable TV set cost? A whole lot more again! Just check out the price of a decent TV with NICAM stereo and Teletext these days - then add the $1K for the Net-guts.

But wait... there's more!
Let's take this a bit further and add a cheap ($400) full-page colour scanner and colour printer ($200).

We've now got a device which for a price which could still be well under $3,000 and becomes:

  • A Net-capable computer
  • A TV set
  • A VCR (well, almost)
  • A CD Player
  • A CD-quality audio recorder
  • An electronic synthesizer
  • A "games console"
  • A Fax machine
  • A Full-colour copier
  • An international toll-free phone

Within six months - the price of this gear will drop by another $500 and you could create such a system for little more than $2K.

So ... I ask, is the future merge of the Net and the TV going to be a Net-capable TV or a TV-capable PC?

Talk about features!
Do we know what we're doing?
Computerland Site in trouble again!
Some time ago, Computerland WCS got itself in trouble with the Net community by posting some pages which were considered to be in "bad taste". These pages were eventually pulled from their site as reported in this story carried by Aardvark Daily on the 7th of March.

Well it seems their Web site is tarnishing their reputation again.

Late this week I received several emails from people who had noticed an amazing similarity between the latest Computerland pages, which offer a list of "free" web-page hosting services, and those at another site.

Indeed - one of those who emailed me was the owner of the site which (it appears) has been plagerised.

Come on guys... think before you act!

Navigator 4 Beta 4 is out
If you're one of those people who gets a buzz from running the "bleeding edge" versions of software then you'd better run off to Netscape's site and download the beta 4 version of Netscape.

Fortunately (and unlike Explorer 4's beta release), you don't have to put it on a separate machine if you want to retain your existing browser's sanity.

It seems a little faster (than NS 3.01) and the news "Explorer-ish" toolbar and user-interface will take some getting used to but it seems remarkably stable so far.

prepare to bleed

I Can't Believe It's True!
Oops! Simon Seagrave better act quickly! Not only is he running the risk of Dilbert's lawyers slapping a breach of copyright suit on him, he's also stretching the credibility of the term "real soon" - check out the "Last Modified" date on this page.

Has this guy died or what?

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