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PC offers World Cup in HD

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Is a brand new high-performance PC worth £1,400? What if it means you can, after all, watch the World Cup in high definition? That's the deal, anyway, from PC Heaven, which last week announced its "Match Day" HDTV range of PC Systems.

It's a super-spec PC built into a living-room friendly Shuttle-style box; but the details, such as the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 processor and the huge chunk of RAM and the special display codec software, is probably just a list of: "yes, yes, get on with it!" features for most customers. This range of computers is designed to allow users to view HDTV signals in real time via either DTT (Freeview) or satellite reception.

And it's available now, while your Sky HD box is probably not even built yet, the company says.

The secret behind the box is a trial HD service from the BBC, which is being authorised purely on a test-the-technology basis by Ofcom. It's broadcast from London's Crystal Palace transmitter, or as an alternative, there's another transmission from the Astra 2D satellite. As the BBC isn't making it commercial, it's unlikely that you'll see full-colour adverts for this in all the Sunday magazines.

Due to the limited supply of "Match Day" PCs, customers are advised to place their orders as soon as possible. "We will only be able to fulfil a few hundred orders for our Match Day systems," PC Heaven managing director Inder Rana said. "Obviously we expect great demand for the systems and we will only fulfil orders on a first come first served basis."

The "Match Day" solution comes in two models, either the DTT (Freeview) version which is only usable in the London area (customers must be able to receive their DTT signal from the Crystal Palace transmitter), or the satellite version which will only work with a satellite dish pointing at the Astra 2D satellite.

Prices start at £1,399 inc VAT. Both systems can be purchased for self installation "or installation by one of our qualified engineers for an extra charge".

The good news is they expect to be able to meet demand before the football mania gets going in two weeks. The better news: if you want to watch the ITV high definition trials, this is the only way to do it.

The bad news: you don't get a five foot high definition display with it - you have to buy your own.

What is a suitable display? "It's one that supports either DVI or VGA connections," Rana said, "and for surround sound, you also need a Dolby Digital amplifier that supports either optical or component connection to get that."

At time of order customers must specify which screen and amplifier they are using to ensure they get the correct cables. ®

Full details at PC Heaven.

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