From PC to TV at the press of a button

ICL says its PCTV will revolutionise the multimedia market. But is it just an expensive television? David Bowen explains

ICL, once the flag-carrier for the British computer industry and now a subsidiary of Fujitsu of Japan, has been doing remarkably well during the past few years. By sticking to specialist products such as point- of-sale equipment, it has stayed in profit while other European makers have gone into the red.

Now, however, ICL has decided to plunge into the choppy waters of personal computers, because it feels the action for the next few year will be in consumer-driven multimedia, rather than in devices for business. Its PCs will be branded Fujitsu-ICL (people trust Jap-anese-tagged gizmos, apparently), and it is certain to make the biggest splash - if not the most money - with Europe's first combined PC and television.

If the information superhighway is about technologies converging, putting a television and a PC in the same box seems an obvious step. Why has it not been done before? Mainly because it is technically tricky - televisions are analogue (they work on continuous wavy signals), while computers are digital (they use varying discreet signals). It is possible to add a card that will provide a television window on a computer screen, but the quality is never brilliant.

The PCTV uses its considerable processing power to take the analogue signal, digitise it and then display it on the PC monitor. From a brief viewing, it seems to do the trick.

Having cracked that problem, ICL has been busy cramming its new toy with goodies. Fire up the computer, and you are shown a picture of a room called the Den, which is in fact the anteroom to myriad devices. Click the mouse on the telly in the Den, and you get the telly in real life. It has teletext with a difference, for the computer can automatically update your favourite Ceefax pages.

Click on the hi-fi, and get a picture of a hi-fi. Load a music CD, click on the "buttons" on the screen, and you get music. ICL claims its seven watts-a-side amplifier and 12-watt speakers provide hi-fi sound: that depends on your definition of hi-fi.

Click on the games cupboard, and you can choose which CD-rom you want (the PCTV comes equipped with three). Then, of course, there is the computer itself. This has Windows and the usual software. It does not yet have a card that allows you to watch video CDs, but that will come; so will built-in software that offers access to the Internet.

You can even control the mouse with the remote control, which leads to the key question. Is this not technology gone mad, technology for the sake of it? The PCTV will cost about £1,500 when it hits the shelves at the end of April. ICL says that is what you would pay for a powerful multimedia computer on its own. Others would say it is a very expensive television.

ICL's market research suggests young families will buy it as a second set, for kids to use as a television and the whole family to use as a computer. But what if both "sides" want to use it at the same time? Where do you put it? How far away from it do you sit? The PCTV will either set the consumer market alight, or become the next Christmas turkey. Watch this space.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
news

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head
news

Revellers will have to pay to see New Year's Eve fireworks in London

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Life and Style
tech

Try putting that one on your Christmas list
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Experienced Cover Supervisors Needed

    £55 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education have cover s...

    **** Calling All NQT's ****

    £90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Are you a Newly Qualified Teac...

    Cover Supervising Roles Longridge

    £50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Preston: A mainstream secondary school i...

    Cover Supervisor Preston

    £50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Cover Supervisor Jobs in Presto...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week