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Media Center PCs are Crossing the Chasm

USA Today reports that Specialty entertainment PCs have suddenly topped regular PCs in popularity � and sales might soar higher, thanks to Disney-ABC news, tech analysts say.

A typical entertainment PC looks like a regular computer. But it has high-end audio and video components, and usually an entertainment-focused version of Microsoft's Windows operating system called Media Center. It can be hooked up to a television or stereo.

Media Center PCs were a flop when they made their debut in 2002. Now, they make up about 59 percent of the U.S. retail PC market, researcher Current Analysis says. Sales should keep growing, especially if online TV becomes common, says PC analyst Toni Duboise at Current Analysis. Television "really increases the audience."

The market still has room for growth, Duboise says. Entertainment PCs can be equipped with TV tuners, so they can receive cable, satellite or antenna TV broadcasts. But only about one in every four Media Center PCs sold in March had this option, she says. That's a sign that consumers use them for managing digital music and photos, but not yet for watching much TV.

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