PC Video or TV Computing?

Last week, NetTV, which markets progressive-scan digital televisions and set-top boxes with integrated DVD-ROM players, announced that the company's High-Resolution DVD and digital television will be showcased at the DVD PRO Conference & Exhibition, to be held later this week in San Francisco. NetTV claims it is building digital-entertainment systems that combine progressive-scan video with Dolby Digital 5.1-channel audio. The company's products include the ExtremeDVD digital entertainment set-top box and DTV Series digital televisions (29, 34, and 38 inches).

According to NetTV President Ron Perkes, "NetTV was founded in 1996 on the concept that computing technology will eventually take its rightful place at the core of the living-room entertainment center. The high-resolution capability of DVD is wasted when displayed on a conventional TV. In contrast, ExtremeDVD is a digital entertainment PC that performs the function of a very expensive line doubler."

Perkes goes on to say, "This system has the intelligence to de-interlace content that originates as video in so-called 'bob' mode and display film in so-called 'weave' mode. In both instances, the system steps up the resulting output to a progressive-scan monitor at a horizontal frequency of 47kHz, instead of stepping down the resulting display to a slow, interlaced 15.75kHz. The improvement in onscreen quality is breathtaking. The resulting 480- or 600-line progressive display closely resembles the clarity of HDTV at 720p."

Kilroy Hughes, a Microsoft employee working with NetTV, says, "With digitized film content, the PC exactly reproduces the original high-resolution frame scan without chopping the resolution in half and without introducing artifacts by converting to interlaced fields at a different display rate." Perkes adds, "DVD playback in a PC environment is no longer the exclusive domain of technologically savvy computing gurus, and it has a place in your entertainment area."

NetTV states that its ExtremeDVD system provides DVD, high-speed Internet, streaming media, digital music, HDTV, and computer games, along with conventional PC functionality, in an entertainment set-top box.