Comdex Fall: Cyrix showcases set-top box

Cyrix showed it is moving towards its vision of a cheap PC in every home by displaying a set-top box entertainment centre and sub-$500 PC at Comdex.

The Media Center is a 2-in thick black pizza box-style case with 200MHz MediaGX processor, DVD player, TV and radio tuner, 3D audio, 56kbps modem, USB and IEEE.1394 FireWire ports, infra-red keyboard, microphone, full duplex speaker phone, answerphone, CD player, floppy drive and remote control. The whole design is by Cyrix.

The chip maker said the unit was only a technology demonstration but confirmed that it expects OEM customers to offer the product from summer of next year in the US. It is likely that the UK and Europe will have to wait a little longer while Cyrix jumps the hurdle posed by differing TV standards.

Prices are estimated at starting from $1,200 but Charles Ajouri, MediaGX product manager, said that rental deals could mean users need never actually purchase the box.

The sub-$500 PC on show was from US cloner Micro Center and is based on a design by Taiwan OEM Elitegroup. Based on a 166MHz MediaGX, with 16Mb RAM, 1.2Gb hard drive, 28.8kbps modem, CD-ROM drive, floppy disk drive, speakers, Windows 95 and Microsoft Works, the system costs $499.

Cyrix's Ajouri said it will in the next few weeks release a new MediaGX chip set with support for MMX and USB. Next year, Cyrix plans to add IEEE.1394 FireWire and 3D graphics into the mix.

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