The Next Magic Box?

With his whiz-bang Multiplayer and big-time backers, Trip Hawkins hopes to revolutionize home electronics

ANYONE WHO OWNS THE USUAL cumbersome assortment of home-entertainment gadgets -- CD players, game-playing computers, Cable TVs, videodiscs, and VCRs -- will immediately appreciate why the consumer-electronics industry is panting after something called the "universal box." What that box should do is act as an electronic one-stop shopping center, unifying all the different functions, . from cable to highly sophisticated interactive games, in one place with one set of controls. What has prevented such a box from being produced commercially is the wildly proliferating assortment of electronic gadgetry, all of it clever but not always compatible.

Until now, that is. Or...

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