The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas has made it clear that the age of the Internet connected TV is definitely upon us.
It would seem that every HDTV manufacturer is coming out with a TV that interacts with the Internet in one way or another. Whether it be streaming content from a site like Netflix, getting information from Yahoo Widgets, or even interacting with social networking sites like MySpace, there seems to be little bits of the Internet popping up all over the place.
LG Electronics is going to be building the ability to stream the Netflix Watch Instantly service right into their units. The only problem is that you are looking at a $300 boost to the price for the privilege.
Samsung is going the extra step by allowing you to not only connect to your home network via an Ethernet cable, but they will support 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networking capabilities via a wireless USB dongle. Depending on the placement and size of the dongle, this may cause a problem with TV placement, but we will have to see.
The new networking feature will be called Internet@TV and will allow you to use the Yahoo Widget Engine for all sorts of content like Flickr, news, weather, sports scores and so on. Also, with connection to your home network, you will be able to stream music, video and pictures from other computers in your home.
Later this year, Toshiba will adding a lot of computer goodies to their REGZA line. You will be able to add widgets to your TV for things like local weather, top news stories, favorite sports scores, stock quotes, pictures, videos and more.
They will also be adding support for Microsoft’s Extender for Windows Media Center. This will allow you, via your TV remote, to control the video files on your connected computer, and play them directly to your television. No more having to go through a third item like an XBox 360.
Vizio seems to want to really leap out in front of the competition, and is cramming streaming compatibility for just about everything you can think of into their television sets this year.
Their sets this year will, besides putting in the Yahoo Widget Engine everyone seems to be adding, include Accedo Broadband gaming, Amazon Video on Demand, Blockbuster OnDemand, Flickr, Netfix Watch Instantly, Pandora and Rhapsody. Controlling all of this should also be a breeze as you can see from the picture of their remote. Who would have ever thought we would see a TV remote with a slide out QWERTY keyboard?
While all of this is very exciting, all of this technology is still in its infancy. Prices this year will be inflated, and you are almost guaranteed that the 2010 models of these televisions will have major improvements over the ones released this year. I personally would recommend not rushing out to purchase any of this technology quite yet. Give it some time to mature, and for the prices of the included hardware to drop.
There is no doubt that this is an exciting time in the advancements of TV technology, and it almost makes you wonder why we will even need cable or satellite television providers some day. The TV is moving in to a new age where it is not merely a way to display a signal you receive from an antenna, but in to a true, self-contained entertainment provider. There is quite possibly a day coming where people will buy a TV and an Internet connection, and leave the programming providers completely out of the equation.
Cable companies and satellite providers need to start getting very, very nervous.