Microsoft to release new MSN TV set-top box

Microsoft is about to release a new version of its MSN TV set-top box — this one targeted to more tech-savvy users.

While the original WebTV and its successor, MSN TV, were targeted largely at older users who wanted a simple way to get e-mail, the upcoming device is tailored to networked homes that already have PCs and a broadband connection, CNET News reported.

The MSN TV 2 box is among a wave of new products that promise to shuttle audio and video content throughout the home. In a separate effort, Microsoft plans to introduce Media Center Extenders this fall, a family of set-top boxes designed to display TV shows stored on a Media Center PC in another room. Other companies, including start-ups such as Roku, are also getting in on the act.

The MSN TV 2 device, which is expected to sell for $199, is designed to stream video and music either from the Internet or from a PC. It also grabs photos from e-mail and computers for a living-room slide show. The device will carry the RCA brand of consumer electronics maker Thomson, which is manufacturing the boxes.

The product will be timed to hit shelves for this year’s holiday buying season.

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