The shimmering silver compact disks look just like those that play
music; their player-machine, like another black box for your stereo
rack. But this gear gets hooked up to your television set. And it's
interactive, which means you can use it for state-of-the-art video
games and to otherwise cozy up to your TV.
You'll soon be hearing plenty about this new form of advanced
technology, known as the interactive compact disk. This month,
Philips will begin selling ^ its $1,400 interactive-CD system; the
Commodore $999 machine arrived in stores this past April.
These machines show still or moving pictures and text and deliver
CD-quality sound. They are not to be confused with CD-ROM devices,
which you must hook up to a computer and whose compact disks are not
always interactive.
You interact with these CDs by means of a special remote control.
For example, a golf CD lets you hit a round of 18 holes without
leaving your easy chair. You see a photo of an actual fairway and,
using your remote control, choose a club, set direction and
trajectory and make a shot. The image shifts to show where your ball
has landed. When you sink a putt, you hear gentle applause from the
Interactive disks generally cost $40 to $60, but they can go as
high as $395. About 80 CDs are now available for the Commodore,
including disks based on Grolier's encyclopedia, a game called Battle
Chess and an atlas CD that displays maps and emits the appropriate
folk music as you skip around the globe. Among the 50 titles Philips
promises by year-end: a Sesame Street disk that will let kids visit
Bert and Ernie's house; a video jukebox that allows you to hear
Beethoven as it flashes a capsule biography of the composer; and a
Smithsonian CD that permits you to ''walk through'' the museum and
choose the exhibits that interest you while listening to a ''tour
You can't use the disks made for the Commodore on the Philips or
vice versa, however. So be sure to check out which software appeals
to you before buying either machine.

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