ECTS: PCs will rule entertainment - Intel

Intel's Ronald Whittier, content group general manager, mounted a robust defence of the PC at today's ECTS London keynote, following Sony's Chris Deering suggestion yesterday that PC manufacturers have lost the plot.

Whittier promised PCs ten times more powerful than today in three years time and said "that the PC is the entertainment platform second to none".

Recent successes for the PC in the entertainment sphere have been the uptake of Pentium technology at the heart of a new wave of arcade games. Whittier said that at a major arcade event in the US, 15 new Pentium-based arcade games were demonstrated.

However, although Whittier was at pains to stress the PC's gaming credentials, it was in the wider entertainment space that he believes the PC will win out out over all other competitors. Most important of these is interactive television, and towards this end Whittier promised that Intel will demonstrate a PC capable of receiving digital TV at Comdex in November.

Intel's TV pitch aims at covering all bases, as the muddied picture of digital TV evolves towards the turn of the century. Receiving conventional broadcast TV is already possible on most PCs though Whittier acknowledges that "watching TV on a PC is one of the most boring things you can do with it". But as digital interactive TV develops, the potential for using PCs in tandem with broadcast content is huge. To illustrate his point, Whittier showed a broadcast of U2 concert with a Web site running beside.

Switching from full screen of the video, to the Web page, and then running the Web page inside a window on top of the video, it was possible to see how both media types could work together.

Part of this covering bases means that whatever method digital TV comes into the home, satellite, terrestrial digital, or cable, the PC will be capable of exploiting it.

"The video capability of the platform is such that all of this information can be broadcast to PCs...and by 1998 we will see the first of shipments of PCs that can receive broadcast information on the lower channel ... Now this is a bit like teletext except we are talking about megabits per second downloading, so that you can download magazines, video films, just about any content you want in a relatively short period of time ... This opens up all kinds of options for the TV industry. We think this is the future of broadcasting and TV programming and we think it will bring another dimension of fun to the personal computer"