HDTV? No, DTV
High Definition Television or HDTV has been heralded as the wave of the future in broadcast television for the past two decades. To its developers, HDTV meant a crisper, clearer picture with the aid of increased usage of "empty spaces" within regular broadcasting transmissions. To the television industry, it meant an expensive revamping of every piece of equipment it uses from wiring to satellites. To the consumer it meant yet another purchase of a new electronic device (a wider-screened television) "that will probably be outdated in five years anyway." In the long run, it's always the consumer that's right and that rule still remains.What the developers and marketers of HDTV didn't realize back then was how the Personal Computer was going to redefine the way the world looks at communication and entertainment. Currently, streaming video is very alive on the Internet and is just waiting for some big companies to invest their big bucks in development. Luckily, the U.S. broadcasting companies stayed cool (unlike some of their European neighbors who have made HDTV the new national standard) and did not immediately jump on the bandwagon. Savvy TV execs were buying their kids PCs with new-fangled Pentium processors that turned them into instant entertainment centers. PCs are everywhere. Televisions are not. Society is entering the dawn of the information age and censored television is not the consumers route to enlightenment.Coined the "idiot box" by some because of television's reputation being that of people staring, blankly at a monitor with no interaction and no means to control the information thrown at them, television's capabilities pale in comparison to the PC. Broadcast television is controlled by a few people and watched by millions. Enter DTV or Digital Television. . . where it is watched by millions and controlled by millions. Currently anyone who has a PC video camera can broadcast over the Internet real-time and in color as well as pre-record video and make it available for download to anyone anytime. Ironically, the biggest user of this technology right now is the porn industry. It seems consumers are choosing interactive over simply just a better picture.Television executives and, now, computer executives have their ears and eyes glued to the trend. In their Aug. 12 press release, Lucent Technologies' Microelectronics Group announced that it will join Compaq Computer, Intel Corporation and Microsoft Corporation (surprising) in their efforts to accelerate the deployment of digital television (DTV) technology for PCs and television sets. Last year, Lucent and Mitsubishi announced they were jointly developing high definition television (HDTV) receiver chip sets and Motion Picture & Entertainment Group (MPEG) encoders for the broadcast market. Last month, Lucent's Microelectronics Group received an Emmy Award for its pioneering work in MPEG digital compression and other high-definition television work under the HDTV Grand Alliance.Through DSS (Direct Satellite Signal) television services like USSB or Primestar, viewers are now capable of checking out the first step in this groundbreaking broadcast history. MTV's M2: Music Television, a new "free form" music format 24 hours a day launched at 12:01 a.m. (ET) on Aug. 1, 1996. The first hour of M2 was simulcast on MTV: Music Television and came exactly 15 years after the launch of MTV. The playlist is made up of the entire spectrum of artists that have graced MTV since its humble beginnings as a public access show in New York City plus a lot of 120 Minutes-type videos. M2 is what MTV used to be: music 24-7, no game shows or dating game clones and no commercials.M2 can also be plugged into anyone's PC. Intel's Intercast technology makes M2 come in full stereo and digital video right to the desktop. It combines the interactivity of the computer, the rich programming of broadcast and cable television, and the worldwide information resources of the Internet. The result is a whole new way to enjoy television and the Internet. How it works: take the cable coming from the satellite dish and instead of plugging it into the DSS box, plug it into the PC, or specifically a card that is installed for Intercast broadcasting and then turn on the computer. That's it.M2 is not alone in joining with Intercast. CNN and QVC are broadcasting 24 hours a day as well and WGBH and MTV who are broadcasting at specific times. In the line up to begin broadcasting in the near future are NBC, Lifetime, The Weather Channel and ESPN and HGTV (Home & Garden TV). ? 3MELISSA MASTERS1 is co-owner of PC Medic & Assoc., http://www.thinktank-fx.com, 969-2659.