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Today's Special: A Pizza-Size TV Satellite With the Works


It's here at last--a satellite dish no bigger than a large pizza. RCA's Digital Satellite System, with its 18-inch dish, is available nationwide this month, offering TV viewers a nifty alternative to a big, ugly disk that takes up half the yard.

The DSS was launched in Los Angeles stores last week by RCA/Thomson Consumer Electronics, DIRECTV, a unit of GM Hughes Electronics, and USSB (United States Satellite Broadcasting Co.), a division of Hubbard Broadcasting. Through the compact RCA dish, viewers can get about 150 to 175 channels of digital programming from two satellites.

DSS buyers will have the option of ordering USSB and DIRECTV programs in combination or separately, with programming packages ranging from $5.95 to $34.95 a month. Among those offered are popular subscription channels such as CNN, ESPN, TBS and USA Network and premium services such as HBO, Showtime, the Movie Channel, Cinemax and FLIX.

There also is a pay-per-view movie setup and extensive sports programming, with more in the works. With DSS, parents also can lock out channels they don't want their children to see.

The only drawback--because DIRECTV and USSB are national programming distribution services--is that DSS won't serve up local channels. To receive local stations, DSS owners must maintain a basic cable service (usually about $7-$10 a month) or use an antenna. (The DSS has a simple switch that enables viewers to go easily between DSS and local stations.) The basic DSS ($699) includes the 18-inch satellite dish, a digital receiver and an interactive remote control for hookup to one TV set. The Step-Up System ($899) allows for multiple television hookups.

DSS is available at a number of chain stores and selected electronics stores.

Professional installation costs $150 to $200. Do-it-yourselfers can buy an installation kit for $69.95 at any authorized DSS dealer.

A Faster Cup of Joe

Coffee fanatics will want to check out a new automatic brewer that hooks up directly to the home's water supply.

Built by AquaBrew in Santa Ana, the Thermo Express is a commercial-grade brewing system constructed of stainless steel with an appliance white finish. Installation is similar to hooking up a refrigerator's ice maker.

AquaBrew President Patrick Rolfes says Thermo Express uses less coffee than other machines because of a consistent high brewing temperature (205 degrees Fahrenheit) and accelerated brewing time. It brews a 10-cup pot or half a pot at the push of a button and shuts off automatically.

The coffee goes into a removable Thermos carafe that will keep it hot up to eight hours.

Thermo Express ($299) is available from AquaBrew, 3421 W. Fordham Ave., Santa Ana, Calif. 92704; (800) 888-BREW.

A Killer Sponge

3M has just developed another innovative way to improve a lowly household product: The O-Cel-O StayFresh Sponge kills germs and odors in the sponge before they can be spread on kitchen counters and cutting boards next time you use it.

The sponge resists common kitchen bacteria, including E. coli, salmonella and others known to cause food poisoning.

3M scientists and independent laboratories did a number of tests comparing the StayFresh to other sponges. In one, a StayFresh sponge and two regular sponges were subjected to 100 minutes of continuous use wiping out heavily soiled dishwashers and left damp for five days. By the end of the second day, all the bacteria in the StayFresh sponge were killed; bacteria counts in the other sponges stayed the same or increased.

O-Cel-O StayFresh sponges and scrub sponges are available nationwide in a variety of sizes, shapes and packages at groceries, mass merchandisers, discount stores, hardware stores and drugstores. They're priced reasonably. For example, the "handy" size is sold in four- and six-count packages at $1.29 and $1.59.

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