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Just been to a press launch of a new digital television set top box called the iPlayer from French company Netgem. It offers digital terrestrial television channels, and incorporates a 56K modem to hook up to the Web. Priced at around �150.00.

Interestingly it uses a PowerPC chip running Linux, and has a USB port, which means that it can be upgraded at will to run peripherals such as Web cams, external hard disks and printers. The company has plans to upgrade the system at regular intervals with new drivers so that you can attach these sorts of gizmos, and so upgrade the basic box to be a PVR, rudimentary video conferencing system and the like.

The demo was quite cool, and it’s a nice idea to bring the Net into the living room without scaring those who might be intimidated by a PC centric product. The set up is very simple and the whole thing operates very easily via channels (i.e. you want to send an email, you press 777 on your remote control and there it is). Cool.

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