End of the line for the tube

`TV as we know it will disappear by the year 2000'. And revolutionary products are on sale now. Janet Knight reports

That square black box sitting in the corner of your living-room is about to disappear. Soon you'll be watching the news, Panorama and EastEnders on huge plasma screens so thin that you can hang them on the wall.

Not only will they have unrivalled sound and picture quality; you'll even be able to interact with the characters in your favourite soap. Sounds far-fetched? Well, maybe joining in the milking at Emmerdale is pushing it, but the technology to do so is not far away.

To give us a glimpse of what the future holds, Bang & Olufsen have unveiled the BeoCenter AV5, which incorporates a flat-screen TV, a radio, a CD player and a powerful loudspeaker system.

With a flick of the remote control you can swivel the screen to wherever you want. When you're ready to watch, an electronic curtain unveils the screen. If your room becomes lighter or darker, the TV automatically adjusts the picture. The CD player has CD-I (interactive) technology, allowing you to use CD videos and photo CDs, where images are stored on disk rather than in an album.

Of course, all this comes at a price, and at pounds 4,650 it is a hefty one. Not everyone will be rushing out with a chequebook when the new BeoCenter goes on sale next month, but most of us will soon own or rent a slim and wide TV screen, because the cathode-ray tubes that make our sets so bulky are being replaced with sleek, 10cm-deep plasma gas screens.

Philips are at the cutting edge of design and technology with their wide- screen 32PW9763C TV (price pounds l,899). It has full surround sound, crystal- clear pictures, a split screen allowing you to watch two TV programmes side by side, and an electronic TV guide.

Wide screens may be expensive now, but they will get cheaper - just as colour TV sets did in the Fifties, when they began by costing as much as a family car. Already prices are tumbling. Last year, customers paid pounds 2,000 for a 32in Philips model which now costs pounds l,400.

As fast as the design is changing, so, too, is the technology. Not content with five terrestrial TV stations and myriad cable and satellite channels, next year we see the arrival of digital TV. This will give access to hundreds of programmes from around the world, via a little box in the living-room. Who will operate it, and how much it will cost, are issues yet to be finalised.

"The TV as we know it will disappear by the year 2000," says Simon Poulter, of Philips. "Instead of 21in-wide sets we will have a variety of "intelligent" screens up to 42in wide, which we'll use for watching TV, gathering information and accessing our e-mail."

Bang & Olufsen's Malcolm Savill has a clear vision of the future for TV technology. "It's going to be really interactive," he predicts. "The viewer will be able to choose the storyline for a drama and whether they want a sad or happy ending.

"An interactive disc would also give you more information about what you're watching. If it's a wildlife programme, you may want to ask some questions about the animals, or the country."

He also believes that: "The future is in linking the computer and TV, so that you can channel programmes from the Internet... making it an information and entertainment centre capable of gathering material from all over the world."

The only thing blocking interactive TV is a disagreement within the industry as to the type of technology to be adopted as the standard: CD-I or DVD (digital versatile disc format, which looks to be the current favourite).

It's all a far cry from the first flickering black-and-white screens that were switched on when BBC TV was born, at 3pm on 2 November 1936. At that time, fewer than 400 sets could receive the service, via a transmitter with a 30-mile radius. A year later, 2,000 families huddled around monster-sized mahogany sets with 10-inch screens, marvelling at history being made with the coronation of George VI.

One of the first sets was HMV's Television Autoradiogram, which cost 120 guineas. By today's standards it could hardly be called user-friendly. The picture was reflected on to a mirror on the TV's lid, while the radio and record player snapped, crackled and popped like a breakfast cereal.

It wasn't long before HMV and Philips were mass-producing them, joined in the Fifties by Bang & Olufsen, whose original sets have become design classics. Sales continued to rise as sets dropped in price, from pounds 60 to as little as pounds 25. And when Elizabeth was crowned Queen in 1953, 20 million people tuned in. Now 98 per cent of the UK population has a TV set, and one in four households has three.

With 4 million new sets being sold each year, it won't be long before we're all reaching for the popcorn, dimming the lights and spending a night in at the movies.

News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Finacial products from our partners
Property search

Two million first-time buyers are locked out

The drought in lending to people with low deposits has created legions of frustrated buyers, writes Emma Lunn

Leaving money to charity in your will could help reduce the tax bill for your loved ones

Next week has been designated "remember a charity in your will week", to put the focus squarely on the subject
Money is slipping through our fingers: the UK is falling behind other countries in the amount we put away

How to save money: UK is crashing down the European league table for putting money away

The UK has slipped to 11th in the latest European league table of savers. Rob Griffin checks out the best options

Energy firms found guilty of bad practice could have licences revoked under Labour government

Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, says a Labour government would create a new energy regulator

A student's guide to financial survival: You don't have to drown in debt at university

Fresh from A-level delight, the moment does not have to be soured by students resigning themselves to thousands of pounds worth of debt in three years' time. Rob Griffin sees how to pass the university challenge

'Dismal' eurozone data sparks concerns

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi is under pressure to launch promised stimulus before the EU slides further
Love but not marriage: property is one area where cohabiting couples are in danger of losing out

How couples can protect their financial interests when cohabiting

People who simply live together cannot assume they have the same rights to each other's assets as spouses or civil partners. Michelle McGagh sees how they can protect their financial interests

India could be jewel in the crown for investors

With a new government and an ambitious prime minister, the country offers the prospect of strong returns. But there may be hiccups ahead, warns Simon Read
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 Money & Business

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

    £320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Head of Audit

    To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

    Audit Manager Central Functions

    To £85,000 + banking benefits: Saxton Leigh: You will be expected to carry out...

    Credit Risk Audit Manager

    Up to £90,000 + benefits: Saxton Leigh: Credit Risk Audit Manager required to ...

    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