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Report: PC-TVs set to take off

"Sky's the limit" for entertainment PCs in the next few years, as tech breakthroughs drive sales, according to a new study.

    Watching TV on a PC could become big business, according to a new report from research company In-Stat/MDR.

    Sales of terrestrial set-top boxes and TV tuners that let a PC double as a television set could hit $3.8 billion in 2008, the company said Monday.

    The market for PC-TV tuners will see a technological change too, moving from add-in cards to built-in tuners in devices such as PCs, the report's authors said.

    PC manufacturers and chipmakers will lead this change, paving the way for both analog and digital television reception via the motherboards of computers, In-Stat/MDR said. In addition, digital terrestrial set-top boxes will use chips and other components worth $1.6 billion during 2008.

    Computer makers are preparing to launch entertainment PCs designed to cater to all the digital-entertainment needs of consumers. These PCs act as home stereos and DVD players, record TV programs and display slide shows on a TV set, for example--all operated with a click of a remote.

    In-Stat/MDR said Europe will continue to lead in the market for analog PC-TV tuners and digital terrestrial set-top boxes, followed by Asia. Microsoft's Media Center PCs and new Media Center PC Extenders, alongside other technology, will fuel the growth of entertainment computers, the research company predicted.

    The market is expected to evolve to include an expanded range of devices, researchers said. The term "E-PC," or entertainment PC, will come to cover home computers with multiple PC-TV tuners or with different types of tune--analog, digital, cable TV and satellite. These machines could also have massive disk storage, DVD-recording capabilities, high-definition video outputs and recording, surround-sound audio outputs, home-networking features and external networking over broadband connections.

    "The sky truly will be the limit," Gerry Kaufhold, a principal analyst at In-Stat/MDR, said in a statement.