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Thomson to delay WebTV-enabled TV rollout

Thomson Multimedia said it would delay its long-anticipated all-in-one TV and WebTV product until next year.

Thomson Multimedia said it would delay its long-anticipated all-in-one TV and WebTV product until next year.

Thomson, which will market the receiver under its RCA brand, decided to wait for Microsoft to transition WebTV to Windows CE.

Windows CE, a consumer version of the Windows operating system, is typically used in handheld devices, but Microsoft is enhancing it for other consumer devices.

But the delay is much more than about waiting for Windows CE.

"I think next year is better timing in terms of having a variety of interactive content on the set that can link, at the consumer's option, to the Internet," said Rich Phipps, Thomson's general manager for multimedia products. "It gets back to the chicken-egg thing with the availability of content and receivers."

Thomson's RCA division and Microsoft have been working on the project, called E-TV, or Enhanced TV. Besides regular television programs, subscribers will chose from different levels of service, all the way up to the full WebTV Plus service.

In the meantime, Thomson announced today the RCA RW2110 WebTV Plus receiver for $249. The product comes with one level of services, which includes email and chat, picture email, the ability to watch TV shows and surf the Web simultaneously, and access to interactive TV links.

Thomson has big plans for WebTV receivers and will introduce a number of consumer electronic products to enhance the service, including two digital cameras in the fourth quarter.

The cameras, which will be compatible with standard PCs, are designed for sending picture email over WebTV.