Thomson Multimedia and MS announce interactive TVs

Consumers will be able to access the Internet and interact with TV programmes without being charged a subscription, but there's still the small matter of paying the phone bill

French consumer electronics group Thomson Multimedia announced Tuesday a range of interactive televisions that will support Internet access and email.

The Thomson TAK television will also let viewers interact with television programmes -- by voting, playing games or accessing additional information. It will allow family members to have individual email accounts, and users will be able access the service, dubbed TAK, directly from the keyboard controller.

Users will not have to pay a subscription fee to use the televisions, but will have to pay an Internet Service Provider (ISP) in order to access the Web.

The TAK service, which is based on Internet technologies such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and HTML, was co-developed by Thomson and Microsoft. Thomson claims that this alliance with the software giant means the televisions will be upgradable in the future.

The sets -- scheduled to go on sale around Europe in the first quarter of 2001 -- come with a wireless keyboard, which will let users operate the television and browse the interactive services.

The Thomson TAK range will consist of 12 products, which will range from 28in (70cm) to 32in(81cm) and will come with either flat or standard screens. UK pricing isn't available, but they are likely to retail between £500 and £1,500 (inc VAT).

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