Bits & Bytes
IT'S A PC... IT'S A CD PLAYER... IT'S A SONY
In the so-called digital future, it will be difficult to tell the difference between a computer and a consumer-electronics device. Sony Corp. is rolling out a prime example of such a product. Called the Multimedia CD-ROM Player, or the "Bookman," this two-pound, portable gadget is based on an Intel Corp. microprocessor and runs the MS-DOS operating system. But it also plays audio CDs and CD-ROM disks that store text, video, and graphics. About 60 titles for business, education, and entertainment will be available by November. IBM has developed five new titles, including A Corporate Guide to the Environment, which displays maps and government data.
Chances are Sony will have a tough time selling this newfangled gizmo. At $899, it can't quite be considered an inexpensive consumer product. In addition, its gray-scale screen doesn't match sophisticated, full-color laptop screens. But the Bookman does plug into ordinary television sets for displaying images to a group of people. And Sony is betting heavily that corporations will buy many copies of the gadget for their salespeople, who might like a compact machine that can play custom-developed, multimedia presentations for their clients.EDITED BY EVAN I. SCHWARTZ