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Kenwood goes straight to video

Best known for its consumer electronics products, Kenwood will make its forway into the computer world with CU-SeeMe videoconferencing for laptops.

Best known for its consumer electronics products, Kenwood will make its foray into the computer world with CU-SeeMe videoconferencing for laptops.

Kenwood announced today that it plans to ship by the end of the year a PCMCIA card and miniature digital camera that will let up to eight laptop users participate in a single videoconference, provided each user has the card. The card will include software for full-duplex audio that allows users to speak simultaneously as if on a telephone. The camera will be Kenwood-branded.

However, the package will not include the actual videoconferencing software. Users will have to buy Enhanced CU-SeeMe separately from White Pine Software, a Kenwood spokeswoman said. The software requires at least a 28.8-kpbs modem connection.

The announcement further foreshadows the blurring of the lines between the computer and consumer electronics industries. For example, Sony has already begun its campaign to be a frontline PC maker for the home market, and several traditional consumer electronics companies are lining up to produce televisions that provide Internet access.

The PCMCIA card and camera will cost less than $500. More specific pricing was not announced.