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Do you fancy watching Four Weddings and a Funeral on your PC? Well Compaq thinks you might. Compaq is the first of the major PC manufacturers to introduce MPEG video playback as an integral feature of one of its PCs.

MPEG (Motion Picture Expert Group) is a system for storing highly compressed video on an ordinary CD. More than 70 minutes of VHS quality video can be stored on a disc by using clever tricks like only writing the information that changes from frame to frame (the computer knows that the blue sky in frame one is still blue in frame two, for example).

Compaq revealed its MPEG machine last week when it announced a whole new family of PCs for the home market. While only its top-of-the-line Presario 9538 will have MPEG, the rest will have some impressive features. Several of the cheapest machines will have built-in answerphone facilities, all will have easy-to-use software for less experienced home users, and most will have fax modems. But it is the top-end machines, ranging from around pounds 1,700 to about pounds 2,000, that are really special. These include hands-free speaker phone systems, a fully operational voice mail system (so, for example, you can have separate voice mail boxes for individual members of the family) and a special 3D sound system.

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