Features

Starsight Allows Viewers To Scroll Through Program Listings

Turn control of your television and videocassette recorder over to a higher power: StarSight.

In the process, you become omnipotent.

Imagine pressing one button to see the entire grid of TV program listings appear in color on your TV screen. Press an arrow key on the convenient remote control to scroll and scan any and all programs for the present, and a week into the future. Choose a show, and one more button push displays a synopsis on your screen. Or you can scroll a continuing display of synopses if your prefer.

Finally, find a show you like, and a button push either brings it up on your TV screen or automatically programs your VCR to record it. In the process, StarSight also commands your cable box.

This is the greatest thing since wireless remote control. StarSight gives immediate program guide gratification that automatically programs your VCR. This ranks right up there with automobile cruise control and power garage door openers.

StarSight raises channel surfing to a whole new dimension.

But please read on before grabbing your credit card and heading for the store. StarSight is a system, not a specific product.

Currently Zenith and Mitsubishi build StarSight into their TVs; Samsung and GoldStar build it into their VCRs; Zenith, General Instrument/Jerrold and Scientific-Atlanta incorporates it into set-top cable boxes; and Uniden even includes it in a satellite receiver. By later this year, StarSight will be a part of products from RCA, Sony, Panasonic, Daewoo, Sharp and Toshiba. You can also buy a stand-alone StarSight adapter, the Magnavox CB1500, although this is the expensive way to benefit from the system.

When purchased as a part of TV or VCR, StarSight probably adds less than $25 to the cost. The separate Magnavox CB1500 has a list price of $150 but likely sells for less.

You must pay a monthly subscription fee for StarSight to work its magic. Depending upon how long you decide to subscribe, it can be as low as $3.54 per month, which is less than a subscription to some TV guides.

StarSight works by sending an invisible stream of data via satellite to Public Broadcasting Stations around the country. A local PBS station then broadcasts this unseen, unheard data with its programs.

The StarSight circuits split the data from the TV signal, decode it and store it in computer memory chips. Every day, even when you’re not viewing TV or using your VCR, StarSight tunes in PBS and downloads new programming and programming updates.

Unlike printed schedules, StarSight is updated daily, and sometimes more often. For people who rely on satellite transmission (such as those using the Uniden IRD satellite unit), MTV and Nickelodeon also transmit the StarSight data.

Obtaining omnipotence requires a telephone call to an 800 telephone number once you set up your new StarSight-equipped component. It will display a number on your TV screen that you read to the technical adviser at the other end of the 800 number.

He or she then zaps your TV, VCR, cable box or satellite receiver with authorization via PBS or the satellite signal. It then takes about four hours for your electronics to download the initial program guide. After that it automatically updates in the middle of the night, or at a time you choose.

Every manufacturer implements StarSight slightly differently. On some sets you can bring the program guide up as part of the picture-in-picture feature.



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