WebTV: Easy, Cheap and Limited Internet Access

Joachim Feise (jfeise@ICS.uci.edu)
Tue, 03 Feb 1998 21:51:23 -0800

The NY Times has a nice review of WebTV at

Some highlights:
The WebTV network can upgrade the unit's internal software automatically, and it
has slowly been improved to understand more types of information, including
standards like Realaudio and MPEG-1. But WebTV still cannot work with many forms
of data common on the Web, including Java, ActiveX, Quicktime, streaming video
and most plug-in software, so surf potatoes see messages like "You are
unsupported" or nothing at all instead of some of the most advanced visual
experiences the Web has to offer.

But since $20 a month for Internet service is the going rate and you can quit
anytime, think of the current WebTV units as the Volkswagen Beetles of the Net.
Their cheap, dependable, cramped transportation lets you tilt back and relax
while they take you almost everywhere that is really important but not
necessarily everywhere you want to go. When the money rolls in, you can abandon
them for unreliable roadsters that go fast, require lots of attention and make
you sit up straight.