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Gateway debuts new PC-TV

The manufacturer offers a new version of its Destination PC-TV, one with a built-in DVD drive.

Gateway 2000 will announce a new version of its Destination PC-TV with a DVD drive today at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Atlanta, according to industry sources.

Gateway joins a slowly growing list of manufacturers introducing computers with DVD drives. Earlier this month, IBM announced a consumer PC with a DVD-ROM drive, while Toshiba said it is selling a similar system to content developers.

DVD drives, which are expected to be the catalysts for the "convergence" of home electronics devices and PCs, are beginning to make their way into consumers' hands. Manufacturers have been reluctant to sell PCs with the new drives because they are more expensive, and few DVD-ROM titles are available so far.

The Destination PC-TV can play DVD video titles in addition to the PC's normal capabilities and will incorporate a media processor developed by Chromatic Research and Toshiba which generates very-high-quality images. DVD drives can also play the current catalog of CD-ROM titles.

Today's announcement is an indication that momentum is building for the new technology. However, one industry analyst does not believe that it will immediately spur developers to create new DVD-ROM titles for PCs.

"When you get DVD drives in a large number of PCs, you'll see a large number of developers aiming at that platform. Development hinges on these drives getting a large enough market penetration before it is exciting to a software developer," says Ed Wolkenmuth, president of market research firm Vantis International.

The drive will be standard on the top-of-the line 266-MHZ Pentium II system, which will come with 64MB of memory, a 6.4GB hard disk drive, a 56-kbps modem, and a built-in PhotoDrive photo scanner.

The system will sell for $4,799 with a high-quality audio sound system.

The least expensive system uses a 166-MHz MMX Pentium and will sell for $3,149 with the DVD drive. All models have a 31-inch monitor.

Gateway will start taking orders next week and expects to ship the system within 30 days.

The Destination has a limited number of customers because of its price, Wolkenmuth said.

The Destination's Mpact media processor controls DVD functions. The processor will decode MPEG-2 video at a full 30 frames per second and have surround-sound features.

The Mpact chip allows the viewer to see very-high-quality digital video. The chip enables all the features of a standalone player, including multiple camera angles and subtitles.

Another feature that Gateway and Chromatic engineered in was the ability to adjust brightness, tint, color, and contrast by changing the data stream.