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Intel working on TV set-top box

Intel has announced it will sell a set-top box that brings internet-delivered movies and shows to a TV set this year.

Erik Huggers, general manager of Intel Media, said the company plans to sell a box that will offer "a vastly superior experience" to today's cable boxes.

There are various boxes today that bring internet content to TV sets, with popular ones made by Roku and Apple. But Intel wants to go further and make its box and streaming service a replacement for cable.

Rumours of an Intel set-top box and video service emerged last year. Mr Huggers did not say what the box and service would cost, or when this year such a device would come out. He said Intel's goal is to provide quality rather than undercutting cable pricing.

The video service would also be available on non-TV devices such as the iPad, Mr Huggers said. Cable companies have been making some content available on smartphone and tablet computers as part of their TV Everywhere initiative, but the selection of programmes and channels is limited.

Intel is the world's largest chipmaker, but has little direct contact with consumers.

Its chief business, making processors for PCs, is stagnating as PC sales are declining and consumers are moving to tablets and smartphones, most of which do not run Intel chips.

Mr Huggers said the company was motivated to get into the consumer business after realising that it needed to control every aspect of the service, from chips to software, to get it right.

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs told his biographer before his death in 2011 that he wanted to revolutionise the TV, but Apple so far has not revealed anything about those plans.

A big obstacle is believed to be that movie studios and TV networks like the current cable model, under which TV customers cannot choose to pay channel by channel, but have their choices limited to certain packages. It's a profitable model for them, and they have been reluctant to open up to more flexible programming models.

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