Portals offer gateway to infotainment
The dot-com phenomenon is spreading. A growing number of bilingual Internet portals is providing infotainment targeted at young computer fans.
Portal is a new term, similar to gateway. There are general portals and specialised or niche portals. Some major general portals include Yahoo!, Excite, Netscape, Lycos, CNET, Microsoft Network, and America Online's AOL.com.
Examples of niche portals are Garden.com for gardeners, Fool.com for investors, and SearchNT.com for Windows NT administrators.
Typical services offered by portals include a directory of Web sites, a facility to search for other sites, news, weather infor mation, e-mail, stock quotes, phone and map information, and a community forum.
Hongkong.com (http://www. hongkong.com/) offers a wide range of infotainment topics. The bilingual user-friendly interface allows surfers to click on the topics easily. On its index page, users can have a quick look at up-to-date local and interna tional news from Chinese and English language newspapers.
The portal's 18 channels cover topics ranging from entertainment, technology, travel and sport, to romance, business, education and job-hunting.
On the technology site, you can find out about the latest computer products and download links to popular wallpapers and screen savers, game reviews and multimedia development.
The love corner features stories from well-known romance writer Erika Lee Man, comics and a letter box on sex. A Valentine's corner (http://www. hongkong.com/valentine/ index.html) allows people to send electronic greeting cards, flowers and presents to their loved one. You can also send love poems to the site. If you en joy horror stories, the mystic corner provides a comprehensive guide on unusual happenings.
There are also opinion polls, chat rooms and public forums to help Internet fans exchange views on current issues or selected topics.
The cityguide (http:// cityguide.hongkong.com/) introduces surfers to the latest Web sites and community events.
Olympic is another hot portal. On http://olympic.hongkong. com/, you can find out the latest news related to the gala event which is held every four years. If you enjoy reading adventure stories, you can select where to go next in the Post4U novel corner (http://post4u.hongkong.com/novel/). It features six multimedia stories with interactive elements you can customise.
An English version of the site can be found at http://english.hongkong.
Tom.com (http://tom.com/), an Internet joint venture between Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong (Holdings), is set to become the largest content provider in the mainland.
The portal will carry items on news, travel, culture and the arts, among others.
Unlike other portals, Tom.com is a more personalised site.
You will have to download a personalised broadcast system, Tomcast, to receive the infotainment you want.
Sina.com and renren.com are two bilingual portals covering Southeast Asia, China and North America.
Sina.com (http://www.sina. com.hk/) comprises five main categories - search engines, news, business and finance, infotainment, and the Internet community.
Users of Renren (http:// www.renren.com/) can select content from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and North America.
These major portal sites not only provide free e-mail accounts, but also homepage space and electronic greeting cards at no cost.