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Zenith, Diba to produce PC television

Zenith Electronics and Diba have launched a collaborative project to develop interactive, Internet-ready TVs.

Zenith Electronics and Diba have launched a collaborative project to develop interactive, Internet-ready TVs.

Zenith will use Diba's Internet technology in a family of interactive televisions called "NetVision" slated for introduction by Christmas. The sets will cost less than $1,000 and let users browse the Web, access email, run Java terminal applications, and, of course, watch television, according to the two companies.

The price of a NetVision TV with a 27-inch screen will be thousands of dollars less than Gateway 2000's recently introduced Destination "Big Screen PC," which takes the opposite approach of the PC-TV convergence, adding television reception and other bells and whistles to a personal computer.

"We're not putting a TV into a PC; instead, we're using a TV platform and including some computer technology--a much more cost-effective approach," a Zenith spokesperson said.

Zenith is the latest home electronics vendor to map its future in the convergence of television and personal computing. Others, such as electronics giant Sony, have made similar moves in recent months as technology and lower labor costs have made it more difficult for companies to compete in the home entertainment market.

The NetVision TV will include a 28.8-kbps modem and a remote-control device for cruising the Web or an optional wireless keyboard. Zenith also said the Diba technology will display "excellent" graphics on a standard TV screen.

Diba, a privately held Silicon Valley firm run by former Oracle senior vice president Farid Dibachi, has developed a technology platform for Interactive Digital Electronic Appliances (IDEAs). Glenview, Illinois-based Zenith is a long-standing manufacturer of television sets and other consumer electronics devices.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), meanwhile, is moving forward with a proposed standard for televisions with sharper resolution, digital sound, and Internet content delivery, The Wall Street Journal reported in today's editions.

An advisory group has recommended a standard of 14 different TV formats, but computer companies such as Microsoft, Apple Computer, and Compaq Computer are objecting on grounds that the imposition of a standard could slow the convergence of PCs and TVs, the newspaper reported

FCC chairman Reed Hundt is said to agree that consumer demand should drive the market, but he is expected to vote for the standards proposal while reserving the right to veto any final decision, according to the report.

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