After Dark Adds News To Its Views

UPSTARTS SUCH AS POINTCAST Inc. have taken screen savers to a new level, using them to broadcast customized news and information directly to individual PC screens. It's only logical, then, that Berkeley Systems Inc., the creator of those whimsical flying toasters screen savers, is getting into the act.

After Dark Online, a broadcast version of the company's popular screen saver, will let users choose among five free "channels," including USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and ZDNet. The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition is also offered--but after a two-week trial, users will have to pay a subscription fee. After Dark Online displays each channel on its own screen saver, but users can set up the system to rotate among them. You can download the program for free from http:// www.afterdark.com as well as from any of the sites operated by the content "channels." A $30 retail version of the software will have extra screen-saver capabilities and is scheduled to be available in stores in October.

While PointCast is used mainly by business users with high-speed Net connections, After Dark Online is designed to work over the 14.4- and 28.8-baud modems found in most home PCs.

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