Built around the new 233-MHz Pentium processor and 32MB of high-performance memory, the IBM system is expected to sell for under $3,000, according to Twice, a publication which covers the home electronics market.
Some analysts see DVD-ROM drives as a linchpin technology that will spur the convergence between household consumer electronics and PCs. This is because the technology can be used to play movies on the living room television in addition to running programs or read older CD-ROM disks on the PC.
Toshiba may beat IBM to the punch by introducing its first PC with a built-in DVD-ROM drive in the next few days.
But IBM is also ready to introduce a "Convergence PC" with built-in digital satellite capability within the next several months. Although the PC is obviously designed to help tune in TV programming, the system apparently won't be sold with a large-screen television like the Destination PC-TV from Gateway 2000.
Big Blue has already demonstrated the digital satellite technology using an Aptiva PC with 200-MHz Pentium MMX and TV tuner card hooked up to a digital satellite system (DSS). The DSS-enabled PC uses Microsoft-supplied software called the Electronic Program Guide, which launches a television program guide along with a live TV window. The software will allow users to select from a menu of programs, according to IBM.
The new systems are part of IBM's plan to extend the reach of PCs in the household.
IBM has previously talked of using Aptivas as a server for the home. A home server not only would control the PC's peripherals and board functions but also would serve as the centerpiece of a home network. Using IBM's Home Director technology, users can control household appliances such as air conditioners, lights, coffee makers, and alarms.
IBM will soon begin marketing its Home Director technology, which is currently sold only in Radio Shack stores.
The company is also preparing to broaden its consumer PC line with the launch this fall of two new lines of Aptiva PCs, including a low-cost line that will be manufactured by Acer.