Unlike most other set-top units, Green Technologies' net.top.box doesn't restrict users to one or a special set of ISPs.
Green hopes that in addition to home users, as well as educational and business organizations will see the unit as a low-cost access option.
The cigar-box sized unit includes a 33.6-kbps modem, printer output, infrared remote with mouse (keyboard is optional), VGA input and outputs, SVHS port, and two phone jacks, allowing users with a single phone line to attach a telephone.
The net.top.box can be programmed by a corporate sponsor or distributor to open to a particular Web page each time it's turned on, allowing it to be used as an advertising outlet.
It is expected to cost $399 when it starts shipping at the end of June.
Although the ability to connect to ISP gives the net.top.box one advantage, the unit's price is a bit steep, according to Van Baker, an analyst with Dataquest. "It's too expensive. WebTV is headed towards 200 dollars each," said Baker. "These things need to get down to where they're pretty much in the impulse purchase category."
Baker notes that although the net.top.box has a long list of features, "the typical customer for these could care less about the feature set." Another problem Baker sees is the browser software--because set top boxes don't run standard browsers such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer, some sites might not accessible through the set boxes.
In the near future, Green Technologies intends to add such features as videoconferencing, a CD player, smart card reader, home banking capabilities, TCP/IP networking, floppy drive, and word processing software to the unit.
The net.top.box will be manufactured by Daewoo Electronics.