Brazilian company launches TV with Internet access

SAO PAULO (11/24/2003) - Itautec Philco SA, a Brazilian electronics manufacturer, launched Thursday its first television device that can be used to access the Internet. The company invested 10 million Brazilian reais (about US$3.4 million dollars) in research and development of the product in the last two years and had support from Microsoft Corp. to develop the device, named NeTVision.

Philco is providing Web access via the television with the Windows XP Embedded Edition and hardware that includes a Geode processor (equivalent to a Pentium II-266 MHz), graphics card and integrated flash memory.

According to Wilton Ruas, product development director at Philco, this product design creates a great improvement in the image quality, and allows the user to zoom in on a Web page.

Home users can access the Internet using a service provider of their preference, with either a 56 K bps (bits per second) dial-up connection or a DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable modem broadband connection. To control navigation, the NeTVision comes with a remote control and wireless keyboard. A small joystick replaces mouse functions, and the device also has two USB slots to connect an extra memory card or a printer.

The embedded Windows operating system is stored in an internal memory card with 256M bytes of storage capacity. A special browser, similar to Internet Explorer, allows secure browsing via security protocols SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) 2.0 and 3.0. Since there is no hard drive, users need not be concerned about worms and viruses, said Ruas.

The browser has Java Virtual Machine, Windows Media Player and Macromedia Flash plug-ins, although there is still no support for PDF (Portable Document Format) and QuickTime files. A version of Windows Messenger gives the device instant messaging capabilities. The only printer supported by the device is an Epson Stylus C43UX.

Windows Embedded also allows reading of Excel worksheets and PowerPoint presentations and writes Word documents with WordPad. Due to the hardware limitations of NeTVision, users can't download files or install new software on the device, but users could plug an external memory card to work with Microsoft Office files and MP3 music files. The OS can be upgraded through the Web using Philco's website.

Philco is selling a 20 inch NeTVision model in Brazilian market, for 1,600 reais (about US$548.) The model will be sold only directly by Philco, not by retailers, on the NeTVision website (www.philconetvision.com.br) and by phone. Philco expects to sell 6,000 units before the end of 2003, and plans to launch 21 inch and 29 inch models in the first quarter of 2004.

The company will show the NeTVision models at Microsoft's booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), to be held in Las Vegas in January 2004.

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