NEC includes videophone with PC

NEC adds a new videophone-enhanced model to its Ready series of home PCs.

NEC's computer systems division announced today a new model in its Ready series of home PCs, offering videophone capabilities along with either an MMX-enabled Intel 166-MHz Pentium or a 233-MHz Pentium II processor.

More computer systems are including videophone capabilities, but Internet telephony technology is in its infancy. Video telephones such as Intel's Video Phone, VDOnet's VDOPhone, and White Pine's CU-SeeMe have yet to become commonly used communication tools because transmission quality is still hampered by slow Internet connection speeds.

NEC has included a 56-kbps modem from U.S. Robotics to address the need for more bandwidth. The company says that users can connect their home camcorders to the PC, which saves the cost of buying a separate digital camera that is normally required. The included software, Intel's Video Phone, allows prerecorded video to play on the screen, and people can send video messages that can be retrieved and played back later.

NEC says the Ready 9722 comes with a 166-MHz MMX Pentium, 32MB of EDO memory, a 16X CD-ROM drive, and a 4.3GB hard drive. The Ready 9725 comes with the 233-MHz Pentium II processor instead.

The Ready 9722 is available immediately at an estimated street price of $1,999, according to NEC. The Ready 9725 is expected to be available in June at an estimated street price of $2,399.