Do you think that consumers will embrace $5,000
digital-television sets any time soon?
Think again, said chip-maker TeraLogic Inc., which is
banking on personal computers as the fastest-growing platform for reception of digital-TV
signals from broadcasters and cable operators.
TeraLogic this week planned to announce the availability of
its new "Janus" digital-TV chip solutions for PC television-tuner cards, which
will enable computer users to view high-definition television content on their PC
Janus will be incorporated into a line of TV-tuner cards
planned for shipment this summer by Los Angeles-based silicon developer Hauppauge Digital
Hauppauge is the leading maker of TV cards, and it is
trying to capture a share of the advanced-digital-receiver business that vendors said will
be dominated by computers before TV sets.
"We strongly believe that we can get some types of
digital-TV-receiving products into the $300 range or sub-$300 range, and that will bust
the market wide open," said Ken Aupperle, a spokesman for Hauppauge.
TeraLogic is basing the HDTV-to-computer market potential
on the existing growth of the analog TV-tuner-card market.
"There's a core market of people who want to view
digital television on their PCs, especially if they only have to pay a small incremental
cost to do so," said Kashore Manghnani, vice president of marketing for Hauppague.
"That core market will move to digital much faster
than the family-room high-definition TV market," Manghnani added.
One reason why is the current capability of computer
monitors to support higher picture resolution. While analog cable resolution is 150,000
pixels per frame, PC monitors offer the capability for more than 1 million pixels per
frame -- much closer to HDTV resolution.
TeraLogic also said PC users will be the fastest early
adopters of digital-TV receivers because the PC platform affords the greatest
interactivity with the enhanced programming featured on digital TV and HDTV, such as
multicasting of programming accompanied by content on dedicated Web sites.
Josh Bernoff, an analyst for Forrester Research Inc.,
agreed that in the near term, the PC might be the easiest, cheapest way to watch the
currently limited broadcasts of HDTV with accompanying data.
But Bernoff added that it was an open question whether HDTV
tuner cards would be more than a small market niche, given the trend toward PCs with lower
prices, rather than greater functionality.
"HDTV cards also presume that people are going to sit
down and watch television on a personal computer," Bernoff said. "On a PC,
it's not so interesting."