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Press release: 1996-09-17: Sega brings fun and games, ease-of-use to TV Internet market

From Sega Retro

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This is an unaltered copy of a press release, for use as a primary source on Sega Retro. Please do not edit the contents below.
Language: English
Original source: The Free Library


REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 17, 1996--Sega of America Tuesday said it will break down the "techno" image of the Internet with its low-cost videogame console TV Web device called the Sega Saturn Net Link.

Working with four leading Internet companies, Sega will offer a 3D Net Link city interface, point-and-click navigation and a custom designed Web browser making Internet access on a TV as easy as playing a videogame.

Sega Saturn Net Link combines two consumer entertainment products in one: an advanced 32-bit CD-based videogame system offering more than 150 interactive entertainment titles, and a modem providing full Internet functionality for email, Web surfing and ultimately networked gaming.

"Sega's research shows that consumers' No. 1 reason for using the Internet is for entertainment," said Shoichiro Irimajiri, chairman and CEO of Sega of America. "Sega Saturn Net Link is inter-tainment in a box -- a combination of Internet applications and entertainment activities packaged in an engaging, easy-to-use format only Sega could deliver to the consumer market."

Sega Saturn Net Link is the only affordably-priced TV Internet product offering a hybrid of CD drive functionality combined with Internet access -- an advantage for users and content providers alike. Not only can the drive be used for online gaming in the future, but it can hold important sound or graphics files that speed access to particular sites and can house premium, exclusive content customized for Sega Saturn Net Link users.

The Sega Saturn Net Link Web browser uses new image processing and text display technologies to give Web content a crisp, clean look and prevent picture flicker on the TV screen. The browser's proprietary technology compensates for the reduced line count of television screens, compared to the display capabilities of computer monitors, to ensure clear visibility for informational and entertainment Web activities.

Sega Saturn Net Link will be available nationwide on Oct. 31 for a suggested retail price of $199.99. That price includes a 28.8 Kbps speed modem cartridge that plugs into the Sega Saturn, a phone cord and a CD containing the Web browser and 3D city interface. Sold separately are the Sega Saturn system (SRP $199.99), a Sega Saturn mouse (SRP $24.99) and a PS/2 keyboard adapter (SRP $19.99). A bundled package will also be available (SRP $449.99) combining the Sega Saturn, the modem/browser package, a custom Sega Saturn keyboard and the hit arcade game "Sega Rally Championship."

Net Link Partners

Sega is working with four leading Internet content and service providers to customize this product for the mass consumer audience. The 3D Net Link city, on the popular Planet Oasis interface, is under construction by Ark Interface Inc. in Seattle. The TV-based Web browser was created by PlanetWeb Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif. Excite, based in Mountain View, Calif., has created custom search directories and indexes with "Sega-style" graphics and layout for the Sega Saturn Net Link.

Concentric Network Corp., of Cupertino, Calif., is the only bundled Internet service provider shipping with Sega Saturn Net Link. Users receive their first month of service free and then can choose either unlimited access for $19.95 per month or five hours access for $7.95 per month. Sega Saturn Net Link is also compatible with most other Internet service providers, so that users who already have a provider have the option of using their existing service.

The Net Link City

The Net Link city on Planet Oasis is a 20-block 3D "Internet city" complete with a movie cineplex, airport, financial district, museums, and even a shuttle launch pad, as well as a boat-lined canal and cars and buses on the streets. Users can click on the neighborhood of their choice to find up to 15 different sites they can explore in that content region. More than 225 informative and commercial sites are accessible in city neighborhoods, including the Smithsonian, the Youth Hall of Fame, Gatorade Sports Drink, Disney Online and Specialized Bikes.

The Net Link city is "home" base for Sega Saturn Net Link users and will be expanded to include more custom features in the city, such as virtual user apartments, user home pages, city-wide telephone service and other "citizen" programs. Ark Interface, the developer of Planet Oasis, also designed Packard Bell's successful Navigator interface, which has shipped to more than 10 million machines in 31 countries around the world.

Net Link Browser

Once Sega Saturn Net Link users venture beyond the city limits of the Net Link city, they will take a ride on the Net Link Web browser, designed by PlanetWeb. The browser was designed specifically for TV display with features that make Web browsing, email and other Internet activities simple and fun.

Text is clear and readable on the TV screen due to anti-aliasing technology that smoothes and shades the areas around letters. Custom image processing techniques reduce "flicker" on pictures and graphics and produce bright, accurate colors. The browser supports all HTML 2.0 and most HTML 3.0 extensions and can play AU, AIFF and WAV audio files. It supports POP3 and SMTP email standards so users can send and receive email from anywhere on the Internet.

An easy-to-use on-screen keyboard can be accessed for text input using the Sega Saturn control pad or Sega Saturn mouse. This "software" keyboard offers shortcuts to commands such as "www." and ".com," which reduces on-screen keystrokes. Users can also interact with the browser via a standard PS/2 keyboard attached to the Sega Saturn with a low-cost Sega keyboard adapter.

Users have complete freedom of movement with their cursor on each page, unlike other TV Internet systems that restrict movement to highlighted parts of pages. Web pages load all at once, text first, so users can begin scrolling uninterrupted through the entire site before all graphics appear. Sites can be stored in available bookmark files.

The browser features an extensive parental control function offering 15 categories of restrictions and several gradations in each category. In all, more than 170,000 rated sites reside on the server and are constantly updated so parents can customize the type and level of restrictions they want to enact.

A translucent tool bar and a pop-up command compass allow users to access the browser's navigation controls; both can be hidden to allow unobstructed visibility of content on screen. Cursor movement is fast, smooth and unrestricted, with capabilities to scroll up and down as well as side to side. The browser's "magnifying glass" gives users three levels of enlargement to view detailed images or small text.

Sega plans to offer upgrades to the browser supporting technologies like VRML and standard audio features in the future.

Searching for Intelligent Life Forms

The Sega Saturn Net Link search engine and navigational network consists of TV-display versions of Excite Search and Excite Reviews, featuring custom sub-directories and indexes created by Excite. Excite designed the search interface to be fun as well as functional, with non-traditional colors, layouts, fonts and graphics.

Excite Reviews, which previews more than 100,000 Web sites, will be available to Sega Saturn Net Link users. The reviews are written by a team of professional journalists who have expertise in specific content categories.

About the Partners

Sega of America (www.sega.com) is the arm of Tokyo, Japan-based Sega Enterprises Ltd. responsible for the development, marketing and distribution of Sega videogames in the Americas. Sega Enterprises Ltd. is a nearly $3.6 billion company recognized as the industry leader in interactive digital entertainment media.

Ark Interface Inc. (www.arkspace.com) Contact: Abby Mates, Kaufer Miller Communications, 206/450-9965/[email protected]

PlanetWeb Inc. (www.planetweb.com) Contact: [email protected] or 408/982-4688.

Concentric Network Corp. (www.concentric.net) Contact: Donna Loughlin, 408/343-2203/[email protected]

Excite (www.excite.com) Contact: Brian Sinderson, Wilson McHenry Communications, 415/638-3400.

NOTE: Hardware and screen shots available on BusinessWire PhotoWire today and upon request.

CONTACT: Sega of America

Dan Stevens, 415/802-3996

or

Manning, Selvage & Lee

Kelly Fitzsimmons, 213/782-6600 ext.235
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