COMDEX: Panasonic to show DTV PC tuner

Panasonic AVC American Laboratories and Compaq at the upcoming Comdex trade show will demonstrate the prototype of a device that allows computers to receive, decode and broadcast digital television signals.

The two-card digital television (DTV) tuner-decoder is compatible with all approved Advanced Television System Committee (ATSC) digital broadcast formats and with the existing analogue format. The device will be marketed through OEMs to manufacturers, broadcasters, content creators and developers and will cost $US800 to $US1000 in quantities of 10,000.

The device is expected to be available for OEMs sometime next year, said Sai Naimpally, vice president of Panasonic's DTV laboratory.

Although the first generation of the device is expected to appeal to specific markets such as the broadcast industry, "when the cost ... comes down, then we expect to see this at retail as well," Naimpally said.

Whether consumers will embrace the highly publicised DTV remains to be seen. Naimpally said he cannot predict whether PC users will clamour to watch digital broadcasts on computers rather than televisions.

"I think that this is really a question of how people live rather than a question of technology. People have both computers and televisions in their homes," he said, adding that the card system allows another option for receiving digital broadcasts.

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