Compaq Computer Corp will anger consumers with its strategy to internalise S3 Inc’s multimedia chip set in top-level Presarios because there are still no agreed video standards, according to internal and industry sources. The rationale behind Compaq’s use of S3’s video chip set on the motherboard of high-end versions of the Presario model is to […]
Compaq Computer Corp will anger consumers with its strategy to internalise S3 Inc’s multimedia chip set in top-level Presarios because there are still no agreed video standards, according to internal and industry sources. The rationale behind Compaq’s use of S3’s video chip set on the motherboard of high-end versions of the Presario model is to give the computer television quality video, CD quality audio and high performance graphics for an extra $100 on the current list price (CI No 2,686). But the plan has been questioned both internally, and from the industry, for not providing consumers with the flexibility to change video graphics standards. David Moore, Compaq’s senior desktop product manager in charge of the company’s corporate offerings, said he would not consider using the technology at such an early stage in the game. Aimed at the consumer, he said the strategy might be acceptable as specific costs were not so important to the consumer, but the corporate sector would not yet welcome multimedia as a standard. There are different solutions for different customers, he said. Quality is not so significant for the consumer market and the corporate buyer is not prepared to pay for additional multimedia equipment like speakers. German video board manufacturer Spea Software AG said the strategy was likely to mislead consumers who would buy a complete multimedia machine expecting it to endure. Graphics cards are changing too regularly, said Mohammed Mirazimi, Spea’s UK sales manager. Changing a board as the technology changes is easy, he said, but what happens when you want to update a chip set? Mirazimi said many graphics chip sets had leaky BIOS disable switches – used to turn the multimedia chip off when an update video board is installed – which meant that the old chip set could still interfere with the working of the computer’s video. One industry insider said that it was not an uncommon recommendation for people to disable video chip sets was to locate a crucial resistor on the motherboard and pull it out with a pair of pliers. He also said that chip sets often lacked true PCI/VESA local bus compatibility as the bus only connected the chips on the motherboard and was not available to external slots. Sue Forkin, Compaq’s consumer product manager admitted that patrons of the Presario range would have to weigh the benefits of cost against flexibility. The S3 chip set will mean consumers will be able to use MPEG, she said. Most people don’t care how it gets to them. The majority aren’t interested. But there is always a trade-off. This (S3 strategy) means we are able to bring this at a lower cost, she said, adding that she had not yet decided whether the UK market was ready for such a bold move. Tim Hill, a senior analyst at market research firm Inteco, said he thought sound was ready to be put on the motherboard but I would question the wisdom of machines being geared to (video) multimedia. The S3 three-chip set comprises S3’s Trio64V+ and the S3 Scenic/MX2 MPEG audio and video accelerator; the Scenic/MX1 PCI and S3 Scenic/MX2 audio-video MPEG-1 decoder accelerator; and a Sonic/AD programmable sigma-delta audio digital-to-analogue converter.