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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Device Allows TV Web Access

NEW YORK -- A new company rolled out a low-cost device last week to browse the Internet's World Wide Web, blasting in front of computer industry veterans who have talked about the idea for months but not delivered.


WebTV Networks Inc., a Silicon Valley startup firm, demonstrated its device publicly for the first time and announced two powerful partners. Sony Electronics Inc. and Philips Consumer Electronics Co. will start selling devices based on the technology in September.


Nearly a dozen companies, including large ones like Oracle Corp. and IBM have talked about lower-cost Internet access devices in recent months. WebTV Networks kept quiet, working with Sony and Philips for months and building their trust by adhering to design deadlines.


If the product becomes available for just a few hundred dollars as expected, it could open up the Internet to a huge number of people who have been put off by the high cost of personal computers and the difficulty of installing software and signing up an Internet access company.


WebTV's machine uses a phone line and universal remote control to navigate the worldwide computer network. Logging on is as simple as pushing a green button marked "Web" on the remote. A wireless keyboard is optional.


Through clever programming, the company has overcome a major hurdle by making Web pages look good on a TV screen, which portrays images with less resolution than most computer monitors.