Available now at your local Circuit City is AOLTV, selling for $250. It does for TV watching what AOL does for computer surfing. When you tune in, using a set-top box with a conventional phone line, there is the welcome screen, echoing its brethren welcome on your PC.
Using a wireless keyboard, the technology allows you to chat with fellow media junkies about what just happened on "ER," surf the Web and check e-mail, all while watching your favorite programming. A future feature may include clicking on a button to purchase the clothing just modeled by your favorite "Friends."
In light of the pending merger between AOL and Time Warner, most of the interactive fare AOLTV dishes up is Time Warner created. This is causing more than rumblings among cable rivals. After the deal is done, the merged company would control almost 20 percent of the pipes entering customers' homes. This gives AOLTV the muscle to shut out any other rivals' advertising, products and services. Therefore, AOLTV has been rolled out quietly, trying not to further raise the eyebrows of the FCC, the government agency that may approve the merger later this month.
Regardless, if subscribers don't mind the typical sugary AOL content, it could be fun. But nobody is twisting arms here.