Internet Connected HDTVs
The next wave in television evolution has arrived in the form of the marriage between Internet connectivity and HDTVs. Many television manufacturers have joined this trend by releasing their latest broadband HDTV models with the ability to connect directly to the Internet, bringing some pretty cool interactive online services to your TV screen...
What is an Internet Connected HDTV?
Relax, it's not WebTV all over again. The new generation of Internet capable HD television sets (also called Broadband HDTVs) have a real ethernet port (or wireless adapter) that connects them directly to your Internet router. So your television is truly "on the Internet." What does that mean? For starters, it means browsing the Web on your big screen HDTV. Beyond that, it enables the integration of entertainment services like Netflix and Yahoo TV Widgets with your television.
By integrating Netflix OnDemand with your HDTV, you can browse the Netflix library of movies, TV episodes and other high-def content, then view it right on the big screen. That beats getting a DVD in the mail, or even watching a downloaded version on a relatively small computer screen. I'm sure that integration of Hulu and similar online TV services is not far behind.
And here's why widgets are cool. You can use on-screen widgets to watch stock prices, keep track of sports scores, play online games, shop on eBay, even view a web video, while watching your favorite show. Think of it as a combination of picture-in-picture and those little banners that display various types on info on news, sports and financial channels. But widgets are interactive and customizable. You decide what happens, and it doesn't matter which channel you're watching. Read more about Yahoo TV Widgets to see what else you can do.
Samsung, Vizio, Sharp, Sony and Panasonic have recently announced Internet connected HDTV sets that will bring you high-definition movies, music and other online services on demand. Let's take a look at the offerings from these manufacturers...
Samsung Series 6 and 8 Plasma HDTVs
The brand of HDTVs that has one of the most developed Internet connectivity capabilities is Samsung. Their Series 6 and 8 HDTVs are equipped with the Yahoo! Widget Engine which allows you to surf the net using little more than your remote control. The Yahoo! Widget Engine lets you click on content and services that are delivered via a wired or wifi connection. These services include everything from gaming to on-demand videos. All you have to do is connect your TV to a broadband internet router using the ethernet port found on the back of your HDTV.
One of the televisions in the Series 8 line is the Samsung LN46A850 46 inch Series 8 HDTV. It retails for about $2,599.00. It has four HDMI V1.3 ports, 1080p panel, it is wireless DLNA-compliant and it is an Energy Star Efficient product.
Vizio's "Connected HDTV"
Vizio is one company that has thrown its hat into the internet connected HDTV ring. Their recently announced "Connected HDTV" platform includes new models that offer Netflix OnDemand, Blockbuster OnDemand, Amazon Video, Rhapsody music, and Flickr photos.
While the complete list of connected HDTV models for Vizio has not been released yet, one model that is expected out in the summer of 2009 is the Vizio VF551XVT. It will retail for under $2,000 and offer a 55 inch LED HD monitor. It will offer an integrated 802.11n WiFi connection, an integrated sound bar and the latest Yahoo! TV widgets.
Sony's BRAVIA® Line
Sony is another company that has developed HDTVs with an eye toward making them more than mere viewing devices. This line of televisions offers Internet connectivity, multiple HDMI inputs, a PC input port, VESA compatibility for various wall mounts, and a special circuit that helps reduce video noise. BRAVIA Widgets will allow these next-gen televisions to access free high-definition web videos from AOL, Yahoo! as well as from Sony Pictures and Sony's BMG Music.
If you can't afford $2,500 for a new HDTV then you can save money by buying a 19 inch BRAVIA® M-Series LCD Flat Panel HDTV. This product retails for about $499.99 and it has a resolution of 720p.
The Panasonic TH-50PZ850U is another high quality HDTV with a 50 inch screen and 1080p resolution. It retails for $2,999.99. This product has a PC input, as well as an IPTV (Internet Protocol TV). This model sports a 30,000:1 native contrast and deep color technology, as well as offering four HDMI inputs, an SD card slot, a V-chip and a four speaker, 31-watt audio system.
With the VIERA Cast IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) capability, you can display online content via your broadband Internet connection. So why crowd around your tiny laptop screen to view videos or cool internet sites? The Panasonic TH-50PZ850U (what marketing genius names these things?) can bring the best of cyberspace to your living room television.
Sharp E94U Series
Sharp has also launched Internet connected HDTVs. Their E94U Series include a 46 inch, a 52 inch and a 65 inch Internet connected HDTV available in early 2009 with prices ranging from about $3,199 to $10,999. These models will feature special widgets that will allow users to connect with online services and content. One of the special widgets offered only by Sharp Internet connected HDTVs is a pop up help menu that will allow you to connect directly to Sharp customer service representatives. They will then be able to walk you through everything from setting up your Sharp television to troubleshooting problems.
If you can't afford the E94U Series, Sharp will also be launching a budget line, the D64U Series. This series will offer Internet connectivity, smaller screen sizes and smaller price tags. The price for these models will range between $999 and $1,299 and have monitor sizes between 32 inches and 37 inches.
Buying an Internet Connected HDTV
2009 is the model year that internet connected HDTVs will hit the market in a big way. As always, early adopters may have a few bugs to work out, and I expect television manufacturers will try to capitalize on this trend by offering proprietary fee-based services. But over time consumers will smarten up and gravitate to the freebies. You can also expect the availability of more and more useful widgets, since most vendors offer programming toolkits that allow people to develop their own. As the technology becomes more popular it will evolve and users will have more options to choose from in regards to Internet content and widgets.
Do you have an internet connected HDTV, or "broadband HDTV" set? Post a comment and tell us what kind of online content you're viewing on the television...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 26 Jan 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Internet Connected HDTVs (Posted: 26 Jan 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved