Boot Up The Pc And Get Ready For Your Close Up

FOR YEARS, ALTEC LANSING Consumer Products has been synonymous with loudspeakers designed for multimedia PCs and home-theater systems. But soon, the privately held Milford (Pa.) company will sell a device that breaks out of the audiophile-only niche.

The AVC1000 is a peripheral that allows for inexpensive videoconferencing by means of a built-in camera that can be focused on a person's face or on an object placed on the unit's platform. Using Israeli military technology, the gizmo can send digitized video signals to any other AVC1000-equipped PC over standard telephone links, the company claims. With its digital pen tablet, the device also can be used for collaborative computing--thus allowing workers at different locations to annotate drawings and documents. A Los Angeles office of a law firm might want to mark up a legal brief with colleagues in the New York office, for instance.

The video signal runs at only 10 to 15 frames per second--half the rate mf normal television-quality video. But the unit is expected to retail at outlets such as CompUSA for less than $800.

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