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Hauppauge joins DTV push

The company will demonstrate a circuit board for adding digital TV capabilities to personal computers.

Hauppauge Computers Works, a small but successful supplier of circuit boards, is throwing its hat in the digital TV ring today, announcing that it too would demonstrate a board for adding digital TV capabilities to PCs.

New York-based Hauppauge will show at next week's Comdex trade show a prototype add-in circuit board for PCs, joining the growing list of vendors such as Intel and Compaq with an interest in melding PC and TV technologies together.

Hauppauge's WinTV-D uses software technology licensed from Intel which allows it to handle any digital TV format, including high definition TV (HDTV) signals, and play them back on the PC. The company said the WinTV-D product line is expected to be in volume production in the first half of 1999. No pricing was announced.

"We believe the PC will make its move into the living room as the rightful center of digital information and entertainment in the home," asserted Ken Plotkin, Hauppauge's Vice President of Marketing, in a statement. Other industry observers, however, believe that advanced digital TVs and TV set-top boxes may ultimately become the digital entertainment centers.

But PC gear vendors such as Hauppauge have an advantage currently: DTV on a PC is relatively cheap, about one-fifth the cost of DTV. Also, a personal computer is almost a ready-made DTV as the technology is already digital. All that is needed is some additional hardware to receive the signal for viewing on a computer display.

Compaq and Panasonic, among others, will show off hardware--which consists of two add-in cards--as options for its Presario line of consumer PCs. Pricing for the two circuit boards is expected to range between $800 and $900, Compaq said.

Intel and Philips Semiconductors are also trying to promote DTV on a PC. In addition to a DTV tuner card, Philips will be demonstrating a prototype DTV tuner that plugs into a computer via an IEEE 1394 high speed connector.