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Thomson plans TV Net box

The electronics giant plans to produce a set-top box that will allow people to surf the Internet and send email with their television sets.

Electronics giant Thomson Consumer Electronics said today that it plans to produce a set-top box that will allow people to surf the Internet and use email with their television sets.

Thomson, the parent company of RCA Consumer Electronics and one of the world's largest TV manufacturers, will base its device on Oracle's (ORCL) branded Network Computer design and NC System Software Suite.

The device, smaller than a VCR, will easily connect to a standard color TV and promises hassle-free operation, the company said. Under the arrangement, the company will market the set-top box under the Thomson brand in Europe and under the RCA, ProScan, and GE nameplates elsewhere.

For content, RCA is aligning itself with NetChannel, a company that will offer subscription-based service to deliver full Internet access, as well as special entertainment programming. NetChannel says its service can automatically deliver individualized broadcasts directly to the TV through the set-top box.

The two companies did not set an availability date for the set-top box.

In a separate announcement earlier this year, Thomson said it would partner with Compaq Computer to combine a 36-inch RCA TV and full-featured PC.