Click To Watch, Or Even Tape: Can Tv Get Any Simpler?

The couch-potato life keeps getting easier and easier. First to go was manual programming for the videocassette recorder--a daunting chore for many viewers. That's why Gemstar Development Corp.'s VCR Plus was an instant hit in late 1990. Just tap in the code that newspapers print next to programs in TV listings, and VCR Plus handles the rest.

Now, engineers want to make it simpler to tune in your favorite shows--by putting a program guide in your set or cable-TV box. Push a button on a new remote control, and a menu pops onto the screen with a listing of local stations or one for types of programs, such as news, sports, and movies. Move an on-screen pointer to a program or station, and the TV would automatically tune it in. Or, to tape a future program, just point to it, and the system takes care of that, too.

PRS Corp., Hong Kong, which pioneered a similar scheme for radios called ID Logic, is now peddling ID TV Logic to the video industry. InSight Telecast Inc. in Fremont, Calif., is already testing its version in several cities, with a nationwide rollout expected soon. Zenith Electronics Corp. has just agreed to build InSight's technology into its TVs, VCRs, and cable boxes.

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