FORGET that 44-inch television. Forget that hi-fi system with everything from surround sound to a sub-woofer that can knock your undershirt off. Forget that new laser disc player that will allow you to play interactive CD-ROM games against monsters with three heads. Head over to the nearest computer arcade and pick up the latest in personal computer technology - if you can afford it - and you will get all of the above in one box. This is the vision of such technology stalwarts as Microsoft's Bill Gates, AT&T chief executive officer Robert Allen and Compaq's Eckhardt Pfeiffer. These leaders have predicted a time when everything you ever needed to entertain yourself - or be productive - will be rolled into a single box that will resemble the average personal computer. But with a large, high-resolution screen, of course. While Apple Computer has been no slouch in this area, some of the pioneer companies to combine technology to produce a complete personal entertainment centre in a box were makers of IBM compatible PCs. Among them were Packard Bell, Compaq, AT&T, IBM, Acer . . . you name it and the firm probably has a multimedia PC that does just about everything. Browsing the Internet's World Wide Web - bouncing around from sites ranging from Penthouse On-line to the Church of the Sub-Genius - becomes a breeze. Getting on to Internet Usenet newsgroups - dealing with such diverse topics as earthworms and egg nog - is easy. As with most new PCs, this machine - built around chip-maker Intel's fast Pentium microprocessor - comes with a CD-ROM drive. And not just any CD-ROM drive - a six-speed version which is the fastest around. It costs less than $20,000. Sure, the PC comes with speakers that would not necessarily satisfy the world's hottest hi-fi buff, but there's no stopping you from going over to a Bang & Olufsen retailer to pick up a set of speakers and plugging them into a computer. Add to that a TV card that will allow you to watch everything from satellite television to TVB in a window on your PC screen. But perhaps a standard 14-inch PC monitor is a little small to watch TV in one corner while E-mailing grandma in another and playing Doom in the middle. In that case, about $30,000 more will get you a 21-inch monitor from the Japanese giant, NEC, along with a good enough graphics card and sufficient video memory to keep it going. However, if that still is not enough, there are 128-bit graphics cards available that go with new high-definition wide-screen monitors. This is wonderful technology and will change your life . . . if you can afford the $100,000 to buy it. Packard Bell is not alone in selling all-in-one boxes. The same week it launched My Secretary, Compaq, the world's largest supplier of personal computers, introduced a range of similarly priced Presario PCs that do the same thing. Ideal for all types of PC users, Presario's six new powerful home computers offer a multi-media solution for everything - from home management to education aids. In featuring high-end 486 to 586-class processors and quad speed CD-ROM drives, the line provides a faster response for running computer games and other programmes. Best described as a total entertainment centre, the line also comes equipped with built-in stereo speakers. No matter who makes the PC you buy, what you can add on is amazing, and fairly simple. Throw in a MPEG video card and you will be able go over to the friendly neighbourhood KPS mega-store, pick up a CD movie - not a video or laser disc - and watch it on your PC with your CD-ROM drive. Need some human interaction but don't feel like getting on the Internet? Dial up the PC of a friend, launch a session of Network Doom and proceed to spill the virtual blood of unmentionably horrible monsters - along with a few litres of your own. As if that isn't enough, virtual reality headsets are now available for about $5,000. These can be plugged into a PC or Macintosh so you an escape the real world by simply sitting down at your computer. And coming soon to a vertebrae near you, courtesy of scientists in Britain and the US, is a microchip implanted into the back of your neck that will let you do all of the above without ever getting out of bed. Forget active sports such as soccer, basketball or tennis. Forget chess . . . even that requires muscle movement. The time of ultimate home entertainment is at hand . . . a time when everyone will be able to score goals like Maradona and shoot hoops like Michael Jordan by simply thinking about it. The Day of the Blob is near.