The Destination PC will be the first system marketed by a major U.S. computer vendor to pitch a PC as a true rival to the TV set, albeit an expensive one with a price tag between $3,499 and $4,699. Gateway said the Destination will both replace and improve upon the TV by letting users watch television, surf the Net, and play games all with the same device.
Gateway can claim to rival the TV because of several special components, including a large 31- or 33-inch monitor--a size that matches large television screens but with sharper images, according to Gateway--a TV tuner, software for channel surfing, and a wireless keyboard and mouse that lets users control the system from their sofas. The CPU itself will come in a small, VCR-sized cabinet. The system can accept video feed through either cable connections or plain old antennas and can be linked to other home entertainment devices such as VCRs, stereos, and laser discs.
But the machine is still definitely a PC: it comes with a 120-MHz Pentium processor, a hard disk drive of up to 1.6GB in size, a 28.8-kbps modem, a 16-bit sound system, and a 6X CD-ROM drive. Models with a 166-MHz Pentium will also be available. The Destination will also come bundled with Windows 95, software to cruise the Web, and Harman Interactive SmartTV software, which includes an electronic version of TV Guide program listings.
The Destination system is the result of Gateway research that found that consumers want technology that lets others share the experience with them instead of technology that can be used only by one person at a time.
"This system introduces a category of technology that will revolutionize the way people use computers," Ted Waitt, Gateway chairman and CEO, said in a prepared statement. The company is also hoping that businesses and schools will buy the PC for making presentations.
All the systems are being custom-built, and the company said it will begin accepting orders April 8.